Chapter Voices: Stephen

Posted on: 09 Apr 2015 by Stephen Phillips

While I was studying at Cardiff University a few years ago, I joined Chapter as a volunteer usher. The cycle over from Cathays was always well worth the film programme. I then started working at Chapter just over a year ago on the caffi-bar, before being hired to help out upstairs as Temporary Cinema Programme Officer for a spell. I was on the box office the other day and out of curiosity had a look at my ticketing history; turns out I’ve been to 68 films since starting in this role and the first time I came to Chapter was my birthday in 2010!

It’s safe to say the best part of working here in any capacity is the team as a whole across the departments. Some of them are a real characters but everyone’s incredibly friendly, supportive and dedicated. If there’s a reason the organisation is doing so well in the face of austerity measures, it’s definitely that lot.

I’ve had a fantastic time in my current position and it’s gone by really quickly. I was a little concerned I’d miss being a front-facing member of staff, but after hosting discussion groups and Q&As I quickly got to know the audience and it’s lovely bumping into them in the concourse and talking about our current film programme. It might seem a bit obvious, but the best part of the job is watching loads and loads and loads of films and organising events. I can safely say there’s no other job where I can make mashed potato mountains for a screening of Close Encounters or host a Q&A with talented folk like Iain Forsyth and Jane Pollard and Dave McKean. I’m an English Literature graduate and still an avid reader, but I’ve decided to continue a career in film for obvious reasons.

I’m pleased as punch to have been part of a passionate team supporting independent cinema in Wales. We’ve been able to deliver a diverse programme ranging from low budget and crowd-funded titles to modern classics fresh from the festival circuit and it’s a pleasure to offer something for everyone.  We’ve also partnered with some brilliant organisations across the country. Throughout the autumn we screened sci-fi titles in venues ranging from Caerphilly Castle to Techniquest.

My personal highlight has certainly been screening Pride and Still the Enemy Within at Big Pit National Coal Museum last month to commemorate the 30th anniversary of the miners’ strike. Gethin Roberts of Lesbians and Gays Support the Miners and Sian James, MP for Swansea East came along for a discussion and made some poignant and inspiring comments about not only the miners’ strike, but current issues surrounding civil rights for workers and members of the LGBTQ community. Pride’s message of solidarity rang true that day and it was really cool to see them fly the rainbow flag from the winding tower. I also went for a tour of the mine with the real life Gethin and he banged his head on the beams a great deal, bless.

April has come about and I’m really looking forward to helping out with Cardiff Independent Film Festival again. They’re a pleasant bunch and the programme looks brilliant, especially the premiere of John Boorman’s latest film ‘Queen and Country’. I’ll be finishing my post at the end of the month and heading to London for a few weeks to work with Film London on this year’s Jarman Award, which recognises innovation and excellence in contemporary artist moving image – I’m really looking forward to bringing the experience back to Chapter in June. After that you’ll find me in the garden with a Erdinger Dunkel, no doubt. I’m going to stop gushing now and do some work. Over and out.

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