Welcome to the First Weekend Club

Paul Armstrong and Anita Adams. photo: Wendy Dallian

If you want to know what's going on in the Canadian film world, the First Weekend Club is the place to be. Founder Anita Adams with Paul Armstrong, tell us how they  started and how this organization is contributing to the Canadian film industry.

AA: The First Weekend Club is a film group that is dedicated to promoting the best in Canadian cinema. We're a membership driven organization and we just try to rally the troops and get people excited about Canadian film.

As our colleague Katherine Brodsky has coined, “The First Weekend Club has been putting bums in seats since 2003.”

WD: What has the response been like?

AA: It's been great. Our membership has been growing steadily. We have 12,000 members across Canada right now. We also have a number of partners. Our partnerships just continue to grow and grow and grow, and through our partnerships we estimate we're reaching upwards of about 150,000 people across Canada.

Last year there were a number of films that we supported that stayed in theatres for five weeks or longer. There were a couple of films that stayed in theatres for eleven weeks which is phenomenal.

Eighty percent of the films we get behind stay in theatres for a minimum of three weeks. With a lot of Canadian films typically moving out within a week's time, we're pretty proud of the contribution we're making.

It's a lot of people and organizations coming together and supporting a film release. The First Weekend Club is playing a role in that. We can't obviously claim all the credit.

WD: How do you choose the films that you screen?

PA: There's a team of us that goes to film festivals, such as the Toronto International Film Festival, where we scout out the best that we'd like to screen. The First Weekend board also decides so it's a combination of people who come to a consensus of what the best films are of the year.

We also check out the Vancouver International Film Festival, Whistler Film Festival, Victoria Film Festival...

AA: And we've got people in Atlantic Canada watching the Atlantic Film Festival who give us their feedback. We're spread out.

WD: How often do you screen and where do you screen?

AA: The Canada Screen Series is a monthly screening series and that's something that we can control. That's currently held here at District 319.
In Toronto we hosted at The Drake, which is a cultural hot spot.

We've been working with a few other venues on other cities. We just did our first event in Saskatoon a few weeks ago, at The Broadway for a film called The Last Train Home, so that was pretty exciting.

And then we'll help support a film's release at the movie theatre as well. The Canada Screen Series is an advance screening series and then we'll also go right into the movie theatre wherever that film may be playing and do events at the movie theatre, as we did a while back at The Ridge theatre for Bruce Sweeney's new film, Excited.

WD: What's some of the feedback you've received from film industry professionals?

AA: The industry was been really supportive of First Weekend Club. We've got a lot of major partners on board. Cineplex Entertainment, Canada's largest exhibitor, has just sponsored First Weekend Club with a fairly significant cash sponsorship. That speaks volumes. They see that we're making a difference in the film industry and they're really supporting the Canadian film industry by supporting us.

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