Cage-a-rama 2020 Guests + UK Tour

Black an white image: Nicolas Cage and stand-in Marco Kyris stand together, looking down - Cage holds tissue paper, Marco an empty tin can
Nicolas Cage and Marco Kyris on set

Matchbox Cineclub are pleased to announce Marco Kyris, Nicolas Cage’s official stand-in for over ten years, will attend our third annual Cage-a-rama film festival at Glasgow’s Centre for Contemporary Arts on 3rd, 4th & 5th January 2020 and afterwards embark on a UK-wide Cage-a-rama: Uncaged tour.

Marco, who worked with Cage on almost 20 films between 1994-2005, will join Lindsay Gibb, Toronto-based author of National Treasure: Nicolas Cage and world-leading Nicolas Cage expert, for an in-conversation event and a screening of Uncaged: A Stand-in Story at CCA Glasgow on Saturday 4th January. Kyris will also introduce several of Cage-a-rama 2020’s films across the festival weekend: Leaving Las Vegas (for which Cage won an Academy Award® for Best Actor), the first of the fan-favourite National Treasure films, and Martin Scorsese’s urban horror Bringing Out the Dead, the latter of which he will introduce alongside journalist Josh Slater-Williams (Sight & Sound, Little White Lies).

Kyris has also guest-programmed a special opening night screening of one of his favourite collaborations with Cage, Brian De Palma’s Snake Eyes, followed by a Q&A. Throughout the festival, Marco will be open to any questions about his “Cage Wage” years, and share genuine call-sheets and other Cage memorabilia from his archive – and might be persuaded to part with them if audience members pose good enough questions. Cage-a-rama’s opening night is sponsored by Drygate.

Directors Mike Figgis (Leaving Las Vegas) and Stephen Campanelli (Grand Isle) will introduce their films via specially recorded videos. Joining them are Nicolas Cage aficionados from across the globe, including Timon Singh of Bristol Bad Film Club, Torïo Garcia of the Spanish NicCagepedia, and Mike Manzi & Joey Lewandowski, the New Jersey-based hosts of the much-loved #CageClub: The Nicolas Cage Podcast.

Three images featuring Marco Kyris standing in for Nicolas Cage on film sets - The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air. (https://www.mkyris.com/)
Marco Kyris, on the sets of The Rock, Face/Off and Con Air

The subsequent Cage-a-rama 2020 UK Tour will feature a 35mm screening of Con Air at the Genesis Cinema in London on Thursday 9th January, and a 20th-anniversary screening of Gone in 60 Seconds in collaboration with Bristol Bad Film Club at Bristol Improv Theatre on Saturday 11th January. Both screenings will be accompanied by Marco Kyris’s short film, Uncaged: A Stand-In Story, and a post-screening Q&A.

Cage-a-rama 2020 highlights Cage’s relationship with directors: from big guns to young guns, from huge budgets to low ones, from his career’s early days to now. The festival features 10 films over three days, closing with the UK premiere of brand-new Nicolas Cage film Primal (2019), to be released by Lionsgate in February 2020. Sunday 5th January also sees the UK premiere of Grand Isle, which pairs Cage with Kelsey Grammer, set to be released by 101 Films. The rest of the programme features Cage classics from some of his earliest roles, in Francis Ford Coppola’s Peggy Sue Got Married and Top Gun “homage” Fire Birds, to blockbuster sequel National Treasure: Book of Secrets and a midnight screening of Zandalee, his erotic thriller co-starring Judge Reinhold.


Cage-a-rama 2020 Weekend and Day Passes and individual tickets are on sale via Matchbox Cineclub’s online shop. Tickets for Con Air in London are available via Genesis Cinema’s website (genesiscinema.co.uk) and tickets for Gone in 60 Seconds can be purchased via Bristol Improv Theatre (improvtheatre.co.uk).

For the first time, the entire Glasgow Cage-a-rama programme will be open-captioned for D/deaf audiences, and tickets for each film are priced on a sliding scale, £0-8, with reference to our three-tiered guide, so audience members decide what to pay.

Keep up-to-date via the Cage-a-rama 2020 Facebook event

Poster for Cage-a-rama 2020, feauring an illustration of Nicolas Cage climbing Glasgow Cathedral a la King Kong (https://veronavarro.com/)
Illustration by Vero Navarro

Gender expression in Rosa von Praunheim’s cult musical City of Lost Souls

Queer Classics’ Lydia Honeybone on queer kinship in 1980s Berlin counterculture

Growing up in the 1990s, some of my favourite films featured queer characters and, coming out as a teenager, they became my idols. I learnt about queer culture from the drag queens played by Guy Pearce, Hugo Weaving and Terence Stamp in The Adventures of Priscilla, Queen of the Desert (1994), Robin Williams in The Bird Cage (1996), and Ewan McGregor, Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Christian Bale in Velvet Goldmine (1998). But, surprisingly, these roles were all played by straight actors – not a single one of them openly identifies as queer.

I began this blog post thinking I’d write a critical text on issues raised by straight actors playing queer roles and, while I still believe there is a necessary conversation to be held about appropriation, and the need for affirmative action within casting, on re-watching City of Lost Souls (Stadt Der Verlorenen Seelen, Rosa von Praunheim, 1983), and looking back at queer/drag on-screen representation, another question arose: how have we arrived at this moment in cinematic history, where we ‘homonormatise’ our on-screen queers?

While it’s commendable that queer characters have moved from supporting roles to centre stage, from the gay sidekick BFF (see Rupert Everett in My Best Friend’s Wedding (1997)), to more fully realised characters (such as Simon in Love, Simon (2018)), these more prominent roles seem to have been made more palatable for a wider audience, a kind of glossing-over. It seems that in the process of moving centre stage, queer on-screen representation has had to be cleaned up and diluted for a wider audience.

Viewing City of Lost Souls, we soon discover there is no attempt to gloss-over or dilute queer experience. This is apparent in the choice of characters themselves, including Angie Stardust, a black trans lesbian woman and Tara O’Hara, a trans sex worker. Then there is Lila, played by Jayne Country, a trans actress/punk musician of the era. Arguably the campest and most fabulous character in the film – as well as the most confusing – I only realised she was playing a cis woman when the character becomes pregnant! City of Lost Souls intentionally fucks with you. It’s challenging, camp, and slapstick.

Between the cabaret numbers and outlandish punk performances, there are few moments that could be described as ‘tender’, but there is one that stands out. In this scene Angie Stardust and Tara O’Hara are getting ready for a night out, reminiscent of the Werk Room on RuPaul’s Drag Race, or the dressing rooms of Paris is Burning (1990), but during this moment, they discuss their gender identities and differing attitudes to gender across their respective generations.

Angie and Tara have a complex exchange about their own gender expressions. Angie is seeking gender-realignment surgery, and is adamant that, in the narrator’s words, she “won’t become an old man”. Tara, of a younger generation, self-identifies as “transvestite”, and “third sex”, not feeling the need for surgery. Identifying as a woman with the anatomy she was born with, Tara accuses Angie of being old-school in her mindset.

City of Lost Souls (Rosa von Praunheim, 1983)

Had she not been murdered in a homophobic attack in 1983, how would Tara O’Hara feel about her gender expression? Would she have found kinship in the ballrooms of 1990s New York, in Paris is Burning, and the legendary mother Pepper LaBejia of the House of LaBejia? Schooling the children, she famously said “having the vagina, that doesn’t mean that you’re gonna have a fabulous life”.

Angie is a fierce character throughout, bursting onto the screen in the opening song, telling the staff of the Hamburger Queen to stop messing around and get back to work. In her scene with Tara, this anger is channelled into educating her young prodigy on the struggles the trans community faced, ultimately allowing her to be free in her gender expression. This sensitive and nuanced exchange between these two very different women, is a rare gem of political debate in an otherwise brash, bombastic queer musical!

City of Lost Souls (Rosa von Praunheim, 1983)

The reason this otherwise inconsequential scene stands out for me, is a shocking indication of how little progress we, as queer people, have made when it comes to the wider recognition of gender diversity. I’m left questioning how queer culture has failed to make the gains we looked set to achieve in 1994, when we celebrated Terence Stamp’s portrait of Bernadette, a trans woman who performed ‘womanhood’ in her job as a drag queen in Priscilla, Queen of the Desert.

It is problematic to hold up RuPaul’s Drag Race as the benchmark by which we judge all representations of queerness on-screen, but with viewer numbers through the roof, 13 Emmys and a growing international fanbase, Mama Ru has reached audiences previously unimaginable to drag queens. For many people RuPaul’s Drag Race is queer culture. But, with their questionable stance on trans inclusivity and homogenised beauty standards, is Drag Race partly responsible for the ‘homonormativity’ we find across queer popular culture today? How have we strayed so far from the ’80s/’90s queer representation that was so gender fluid and wholly inclusive?

This is what makes revisiting City of Lost Souls so exciting and utterly pertinent. It is a chance to enter into an absurd world of queer kinship, where a trans woman plays the role of a woman assigned female at birth, a drag queen self identifies as “the third sex” and her best friend is a black, trans, lesbian who reigns over their household as a fierce matriarch. The rules of gender are broken and rebuilt in our viewing of this bizarre, queer extravaganza, about love, rejection, violence and self-expression.

City of Lost Souls never achieved the box-office success of Priscilla, or even the cult status of Paris is Burning, but it is an incredible reflection of the Berlin underground in the 1980s. Indeed, perhaps its relative obscurity allowed it to be so subversive.

Tangerine (Sean Baker, 2015)

Ultimately, I hope Hollywood casting directors will realise that they need to do better and start casting queer people in queer roles (like the brilliantly-cast Tangerine (2015)). Until then, maybe we will need to keep looking to the margins to find our contemporary queer idols.

Lydia Honeybone

Matchbox Cineclub and Queer Classics present City Of Lost Souls at Centre for Contemporary Arts, Glasgow on Monday 18th November, as part of BFI Musicals! The Greatest Show on Screen, a UK-wide film season supported by National Lottery, BFI Film Audience Network and ICO. bfimusicals.co.uk

Tickets are priced on a sliding scale £0-8, and are available exclusively here.

Three of the Apocalypse

Reptilian aliens, shoegaze and the end of the world. Diet Soda Cineclub’s Teri Williams sets up our upcoming co-screening of Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy

Is Gregg Araki the patron saint of the alienated teen? His work, which now spans over three decades, has helmed a wave of new queer cinema that began with radical low budget films like The Living End and is now cutting through the abundant noise of shiny teen TV drama with the excellent Now Apocalypse, a hark to the trilogy that arguably started this whole beautiful mess: the Teen Apocalypse Trilogy. So pucker up, light up, and read on to find out more about how the godfather of rebellious youth framed a generation in neon rainbow colours that remains ever so relevant in this strange, doom-laden landscape we’re living in right now.

Totally Fucked Up, The Doom Generation and Nowhere were made and released in the mid-90s, when tie-dye and inflatable furniture was in, and Gen Z queer icons Amandla Stenberg, Chloe Grace Moretz and Hunter Schafer were mere twinkles in their parents’ eyes. It’s arguable to say that these three films, and Gregg’s subsequent features like Mysterious Skin and Kaboom! paved the way for a plethora of queer and teen-centric media today. He’s even had a guest director spot on a few episodes of 13 Reasons Why, one of the most talked about teen TV shows of recent times.

The Teen Apocalypse Trilogy was never seen as a critical success. Maybe because most of the film reviewers assessing them at the time were deliberately far removed from the worlds shown on screen – there’s nothing a middle-aged white man hates more than teen disenchantment, disengagement, disaffection. Not to mention all of that ambiguous sexuality, questions of gender identity and complete disregard for populist politics and society. Gregg’s films depict utter doom in the purest sense, where teens find themselves facing alienation and actual aliens, out to pull them free from the crazy world they’re struggling to fit into.

The first film in the trilogy, aptly titled Totally Fucked Up, stars Araki-darling James Duval, who we see throughout a large number of Gregg’s work. His inky black eyes, pouty mouth and Keanu-hair make him an instant pin up in the franchise, but what makes James stand out is his flat, carefree valleyboy accent, often used as narration, particularly in his starring role in Nowhere. He is part of a group of six young gay teenagers who have come together as a family of misfits. Largely filmed with a handheld video camera, the movie has a grainy, homemade quality to it reminiscent to the early work of the great John Waters, and as intimate as the talking head portions of modern reality TV.

The Doom Generation, which is a roadtrip movie, stars Rose McGowan and her iconic Mia Wallace haircut, hurtling through the desolate landscape of nighttime LA with boyfriend Jordan (James Duval) and new arrival X (Jonathon Schaech). Their blossoming triage-ship is wrought with jealousy, confusion, and terrifying encounters throughout the way,

The third film, Nowhere, showcases Gregg’s obsession with alienation in a comically literal sense. Its bisexual hero, again played by James Duval, is on a manic search for the alien race who is taking over his community and friends, stalking him as he navigates his failing relationship with girlfriend Mel and falling for new town arrival Montgomery.

So there you have it. Three films – a portrait movie, a roadtrip movie, and a sci-fi fantasy – each exploring themes of existential doom and teenage heartbreak that, each with their own rad, acidic soundtrack and palette of blindingly neon colours, paved the way for a multitude of queer cinema that celebrates the weird and subversive, an aloof middle finger to the mainstream. And maybe that’s what we need to celebrate right now.

Teri Williams


Gregg Araki’s Teen Apocalypse Trilogy screens at the CCA Glasgow as part of Scalamara Glasgow on Thursday 26th September, 2019. Buy tickets here.

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel

It’s the best Soviet-era Estonian sci-fi detective story you’ve never seen – The Reptile House on why you should book some time at “Hukkunud Alpinisti” hotell

There was a time when aliens weren’t cult.

Before the greatest show on earth (The X-Files), aliens were a personal invasion of mortal safety. They signified everything wrong with the universe we inhabited and implicated a mortal terror of the unknown we barely perceived as anything other than an “it’s fine, we’ll be fine” sipped through denied lips. As metaphors, sure, as physical entities, no fucking thanks.

Estonian folklore leans a lot into the idea of host-taking and shapeshifting. The Kratt for instance, is a creature borne of hay and tools, brought to life by blood to work for its master. A Sentient used to dig, run chores, exist as a slave. Imitating human life, but being only a homunculus to the will of whoever would deal with the devil to will it into existence. Pitchforks and sinew, trowels and skulls, bread and ladder. A hollow being desperate to work, pretending its existence isn’t an abomination of magic, thirsty for work or else it would turn on its owner.  For some, the Kratt was a helper, turned into a nightmare. Given tasks so dangerous that the owner would actively seek to give it work that would knowingly kill it to save themselves the agony of its hand in death. A bite too much of Satan’s hand.

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (“Hukkunud Alpinisti” hotell, Grigori Kromanov, 1979) leans hard into its native folklore stories of host-taking but gives it a newly found sci-fi bent, mimicking Soviet-era ideas of internal invasion, gender non-conformity and country (if not world) changing ideas of appropriation and accidental exposure to life beyond comprehension.

In the snow-capped high-altitude nowheresville of mountainous Europe, Inspector Glebsky (Uldis Pūcītis) is anonymously called in to investigate a murder pertaining to a mountaineer and his dog. His location is that of a gorgeously nestled wooden hotel on what feels like the crown of earth and its inhabitants. They’re odd, one sentence sideways, unhelpful and too helpful. As labyrinthine as the hotel itself, which is itself questionable in its intent. An oblique, neo-noir Bauhaus building left to percolate and evolve on its own, becoming puzzling and obsidian. An impenetrable tableau for a mystery that the physical world can’t comprehend: aliens exist.

As an audience, we’re given the exact same amount of work that the inspector is given but with extra detail once he’s left the room. Making us more equipped to exact ourselves on what’s happening but also, somehow, feeling even more confused with what’s happening and who these people are. Why were we shown that extra eyeline? Who is whispering? What is GOING on in these mountains?

The soviet “alien” and “robots” idea is less hammy western ideals of spooky wee guys from beyond but more ideas of assimilation and folklore-bred notions of humans not as humans. Robots aren’t mechanic techno-menaces but rather fleshy familiar. The aliens are shapeshifters making us feel accidentally comfortable while they find safe passage. Their gender and sexuality are fluid, almost androgynous, to the point that their misunderstanding of the concept of biology and sexuality are critiquing our own confusingly rigid viewpoints on both.

In the hotel, it feels like tenants are both arguing with each other and harmoniously disrupting your work at decoding, so that when the reveal hits, you feel astounded at its meaning. Especially with how the film chooses to frame its core end message: if aliens exist on earth, what would it mean to the integrity of human life? And if you kill one, what kind of corruption would that cause to the human soul knowing you killed possibly the greatest discovery of Man’s existence? Is it duty of fear?

It’s extremely hard to spoil Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel, because almost everything in its filmmaking relies on your experience of its atmosphere and pace. Glacial, soothing, weird, quixotic. The first time I ever watched it, I knew it was my favourite foreign film. How could I not? Written by the legendary sci-fi math-brains Strugatsky brothers who (in the same year) had their novel Roadside Picnic turned into cult classic Stalker by Andrei Tarkovsky and later Hard To Be A God adapted twice into messianic epics, Grigori Kromanov-directed Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel has their heady, huge themes built into it, but it’s minimalistic and restrained. Enjoying every second, it teases you into each gentle unzip. Don’t ask, don’t tell, just watch.

 There’s a weird essence about the whole thing that feels like it was a sci-fi noir film made for aliens BY aliens and their secret existence on Earth, but we just accidentally found it. A true, bonafide classic.

Findlay (@antibloom)

Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel screens in association with The Reptile House at Matchbox Cineclub’s Weird Weekend on Sunday, 01/09/2019 at CCA, Glasgow

The Reptile House is a cult movie/music/art/weerd/oddball zine full of articles, film comparisons, poems, short stories and other lost and found miscellaneous junk. Everyone is welcome, because everyone belongs. Its print it out on shitty work printers at 6am when no one is in because I want it to be affordable for everyone! Any money made goes directly to local charities. Please do not tap the glass.

Buy tickets here

Weird Weekend 2019

Scotland’s cult film festival returns to CCA Glasgow this month, with three days of strange and unseen cinema from around the world.

Weird Weekend, Scotland’s cult film festival returns to CCA Glasgow this month with three days of strange and unseen cinema from around the world, beginning Friday 30th August and ending Sunday 1st September.

Weird Weekend 2019 features extremely rare screenings of lost masterpieces, brand-new restorations and UK premieres of future classics. 13 films and events over three days include a 35th anniversary, 35mm screening of the long unavailable Bill Murray sci-fi comedy Nothing Lost Forever (Tom Schiller, 1984), a rare outing for Tilda Swinton’s quadruple-role tour-de-force Teknolust (2002) and a 30th anniversary outing for the workprint cut of The ’Burbs (Joe Dante, 1989), with extended scenes and an alternative ending. Joe Dante will join the audience via Skype for a post-screening Q&A.

The film programme also includes: Brand-new 2K preservations of I Was A Teenage Serial Killer (1993) and Mary Jane’s Not A Virgin Anymore (1997) from the sadly departed “Queen of Underground Film” Sarah Jacobson, in association with Pity Party Film Club; Vibrations (Mike Paseornek, 1996); Freak Orlando (Ulrike Ottinger, 1981) in association with Scottish Queer International Film Festival; The UK premiere of AGFA and Bleeding Skull’s The Neon Slime Mixtape; Jane Arden and Jack Bond’s Anti-Clock (1979); Věra Chytilová’s Wolf’s Hole (1987); Dead Mountaineer’s Hotel (Grigori Kromanov, 1979) in association with The Reptile House; and the 2K-restored, extended cut of Chris Shaw’s Split (1989).

GIF of Christian Bale in American Psycho alongside a Deepfaked version featuring Tom Cruise, and the overlaid text "ctrl shift face"

Matchbox Cineclub also welcome prominent Deepfake creator Ctrl Shift Face in person for the panel event, Weird World of Deepfakes in association with Trasho Biblio. A specially-curated feature length programme of Deepfakes will play on a loop in CCA’s cinema throughout the festival weekend. Finally, The Arrow Video Cult Film Quiz returns for the second year, with much swag up for grabs.

All films screen with open captions for the deaf and hard of hearing, and tickets are priced on a sliding scale, from £0-8. You judge for yourself what you should pay, with reference to our sliding scale guide.

Black text on yellow - "Sliding Scale: What Should I Pay", followed by three columns of text

You can browse the full Weird Weekend programme on Issuu, and all tickets and passes are on sale exclusively in our online shop.

Accessibility for Film Screenings

Read Helen Wright of Scottish Queer International Film Festival (SQIFF)’s presentation on making your film screenings and events accessible to everyone

At the July Scalarama Glasgow meet-up, Helen Wright (Scottish Queer International Film Festival) gave a presentation and led a discussion on accessibility for film screenings. Helen covered basic principles, and practical access measures for screenings and for marketing film events.

Helen has very kindly allowed us to host the PowerPoint (above), which formed the basis of her presentation. Material from all of 2019’s Scalarama meetings/workshops in Glasgow, including guides to licensing, venues, tech set-up and social media, here.


Scalarama Glasgow is running monthly meetings in the lead-up to September’s season of DIY film programming. They’re aimed at helping exhibitors brand-new and experienced alike to put on films, and each month has two invited experts on different aspects of film exhibition. They’re free and open to all, full details here.

If you have any questions or could use some advice, get in touch with us here: info@matchboxcineclub.com

A Basic Guide to Social Media for Film Screenings

Basic principles, dos and don’ts and tips for promoting your film screenings online

ingrid
Detail from the poster for Ingrid Goes West (Matt Spicer, 2017)

This is intended to provide basic principles and practical tips for making the best use of social media, as an independent film exhibitor. It’s not intended to be definitive, or a magic wand to conjure likes, shares and follows. Different things will work for different exhibitors and different events. If you have any tips or advice to add, please let us know!

Basic Social Media Dos

  • Have a clear identity for your page
  • Have a clear idea who you want to appeal to
  • Be concise – keep it short and economical
  • Be as visual as possible
  • Be discoverable – use hashtags (appropriately)
  • Be responsive – if people engage with your posts, engage with them – and reply to queries ASAP.
  • Be a real person – e.g. post a picture of you putting up a poster, rather than the poster itself
  • Use active language and calls-to-arms (Buy, try, “get tickets”, “check this out”)
  • Post regularly (keeping in mind the requirements of each platform)
  • Tailor/adapt your content and tone for different platforms
  • Pay attention to what works well for you, your page and your events
  • Research – see what other exhibitors, venues, platforms are doing that works and suits you
  • Experiment – most platforms share information with you so you can easily find what works and what doesn’t
  • Develop a strategy based on all of the above
  • Plan and schedule posts
  • Ask people or accounts to share your content and share theirs

Basic Social Media Don’ts

  • Post/talk only about yourself/your event(s)
  • Panic cluster-post at the last minute
  • Tag random (or friendly but not immediately relevant) people or accounts in tweets and/or pictures
  • Re-use (i.e. steal) content without attribution
  • Overuse hashtags, especially “comedy” hashtags

Content | Always ask the distributor if they have marketing material available. This can include stills, posters, trailers, press releases which you can draw quotes and/or additional information from, and also any guidance to follow, especially if it’s a new or recent release – much better to adhere to their release campaign strategy, if there is one. If it’s an older film, you should still ask if there’s material available. There are also various resources online. Look for the website of the marketing team company, if there is one, which often will host marketing materials for download. For posters in particular, try wrongsideoftheart.com, impawards.com or cinematerial.com (the latter requires a small subscription fee). Don’t use images or material from other people’s screenings, at least without permission.

Presentation | You can optimise your images for presentation on the various platforms (i.e. a portrait-oriented poster won’t display fully on Twitter). Twitter now offers automatic cropping of your images in three styles on its new desktop version. Otherwise, you can make reference to the Always Up-To-Date spreadsheet for social media image sizes, which will give you the right sizes for various uses across Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, YouTube and Tumblr. There’s also a free-to-use online re-sizing tool, Landscape, which you can instruct to automatically resize and download images you upload to whatever specifications you need. Sprout Social have produced guides on presentation for images (here) and videos (here).

Any links you use, you can trim so that they don’t display all the unnecessary detail and they will still work. E.g. “https:// matchboxcineclub.com/weird-weekend” can become “matchboxcineclub.com/weird-weekend” and still work as a hot link on all social media platforms. Better yet, you can sign up for a free bitly.com account and, if they’re not already taken, create shortened links, with customised back-halfs, for free. E.g. bit.ly/WEIRDWEEKEND. On Facebook, you can also tag your events in posts the way you would a person, typing @ followed with the event name to find it.

Finally, you know how sometimes a link from another website won’t present properly, i.e. with no image, or the wrong image? That’s often because it’s never been shared before, and you can get around that by testing the link with Facebook’s debugger or Twitter’s card validator.

Timing/frequency | To boil it right down – post once or twice a day on Facebook, a similar frequency for Instagram and as often as you like on Twitter. Facebook in particular would like to encourage you to pay to boost posts or create sponsored posts, so it’s designed to discourage a wide audience for anything you share that involves a ticket link or an event page. You’re less restricted in posting Stories. Likewise, you have freer rein when posting in Facebook event pages – and it’s a good way to keep people interested between announcing your event and it happening. Beware over-posting, though, because non-stop notifications for attendees can be a drag. Getting the best from Twitter requires investment of your time above all else. A tweet has a half-life of about 30 minutes and to get people to engage with your posts, you also need to engage with theirs. In all cases, its good to share content that isn’t about you or (directly) about your event.

You can also use some statistical information to guide when to get the best response from your posts – Sprout Social (NB otherwise a subscription service) offers some insights for the various platforms. Read their “Best times to post on Social Media for 2019” post here.

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Subtitles/Captions | Providing these is necessary to make your posts accessible. It’s also a very basic way to increase engagement, since videos are automatically muted on most platforms. Subtitles draw people in. Facebook and YouTube will auto-generate subtitles which you can then edit, or you can upload them as a separate file. There are also ways to create subtitle files separately and burn them into the video. For more advice on any of that, email info@matchboxcineclub.com. Free subtitling software includes: Aegisub, AmaraBelle Nuit Subtitler and Subtitle Edit (Windows only).

NB “Subtitles” describe what’s spoken, while “Captions” also include sound and music labels and speech identifiers, etc.

Alt-text for images | This is a very straightforward way to make your posts accessible for the visually impaired – you add text separately describing the images (but not GIFs or videos) you post. On Twitter, you have to enable the feature via Settings and Privacy > Accessibility. On Facebook, it’s a universal feature, although the alt-text is extremely limited in terms of character count.  Read Twitter’s guide here. Read Facebook’s guide here. Read Instagram’s guide here.

How alt-text works on Facebook, preparing to post an image:

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How alt-text works on Facebook, after you’ve posted an image:

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How alt-text works on Twitter (NB you can’t edit after posting):

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Sponsored posts | These can be extremely effective compared to print marketing, especially for independent exhibitors who can’t rely on the same reach, footfall or press attention as venues, festivals or bigger exhibitors. Facebook and Twitter are both very good at targeting to specific people, whether it’s people who already follow your page (and may miss your posts due to the algorithm or the speed of constantly unravelling newsfeeds), or a particular demographic, e.g. people who live near your event, young people, or people who like horror films. Facebook is a lot more user friendly than Twitter, though both require experimentation and attention to get the best results. Some reluctance to engage with this aspect of social media is understandable, but keep in mind, if you’re doing it right, you’re showing people something they want to see.

NB If you’re participating in Scalarama Glasgow/West, Edinburgh/East, or Highlands and Islands, and you’re making Facebook events for September, please make your local Scalarama page a co-host. You can also add something along the lines of “Screening as part of Scalarama 2019” to your event description, and make sure to tag Scalarama in your relevant posts, tweets, etc, using the hashtag #Scalarama or #Scalarama2019.

Useful links

Always Up-To-Date Social Media Image Sizes Cheat Sheet
Social Media Image Re-sizing Tool
Facebook Debugger
Twitter Card Validator
Bitly URL Shortener + Custom Links


This guide was made for Scalarama Glasgow’s July 2019 meeting, presented by Sean Welsh. Sean is responsible for Matchbox Cineclub and Scalarama Glasgow’s social media. He also planned and operated social media for Document International Human Rights Film Festival as Production Coordinator in 2016 and 2017.