Marta Materska–Samek

Marta is thirty and since she was a teenager she has been connected to cinema. Being impressed by the mystery of cinema exhibition she worked voluntarily at the 36th to 44th editions of the Krakow Film Festival devoted to shorts. During her studies she won an internship at the Apollo Film Institution, where she was dealing with distribution issues. When she was on the Socrates Erasmus scholarship - Strasbourg (IEP Robert Schuman University), she applied for the Eurimages internship and during that time she deepened her knowledge of film co-production and as a consequence she gathered material to write a master’s thesis.

After her studies Marta took a job at Apollo Film – the commercialized former national institution, where she was responsible for new media and marketing. In those times, there were very few people in Poland who knew what D-cinema was. One of them was Tomasz Maciejowski, CEO of Apollo Films. His dilemma was how to save Kiev cinema (Kijów), which is a place where famous premières and national film events have taken place. The history of the biggest cinema, which seats 828, started in 1967, when it was built and opened to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the October Revolution. The gigantic cinema screen (18m x 10m) showed such events as the world première of Steven Spielberg’s “Schindler’s List” featuring the cast and crew of the film. However, the increasing number of multiplexes constituted a threat to the cinema and hence resulted in the lack of 35mm prints for traditional cinemas to show films on their first run.

The natural solution was to introduce the D-cinema technology, but the problem was not only financing but also a lack of critical mass making the investment profitable. In 2005 Marta was leading a team, whose goal was to prepare a proposal for a call from SPO WKP 2004-2006 (a sectorial operational funding programme oriented to strategic investment in SME’s). Despite being positively noted and approved, unfortunately, the project was put on a reserve list waiting for allocation, which never came. Finally in 2006, the cinema was equipped with a 2K Christie d-cinema projector, a Doremi server, a scaler and a 3D Xpand (former Nuvision) system entering the XDC lease agreement.

After this, the opportunity came up: the benefit of the synergy and scale effect due to creating a regional d-cinema network from the traditional, local cinemas. But it took four years to achieve this goal. Apollo Film, as a limited company, had no direct interest in support for sustainable film development because of its profit orientation; this is why in 2006 it established the Cinema Development Foundation. In January 2006 Marta Materska-Samek became the Vice President of the Foundation and a month later she was the happy mother of Maja Samek – her daughter. The same year the Foundation, prepared two crucial projects that received financial support. The first of them was Digital Days in the Kiev cinema. It was an international professional conference with seminars, screenings and trade shows on new technologies. The second one was a media literacy project “The Multimedia School” for fifty schools of the region. It consisted in introducing individual school programmes supported by ICT tools taking into account the influence of culture as a factor of human development. The budget was half a million Euros and the project was co-financed by the European Social Fund.

Meanwhile Marta was looking for an opportunity to implement the d-cinema project. In 2008 there was a call for proposals for the Malopolska Operational Program 2007-2013, Priority 3: Tourism and entertainment industries. It aimed at enhancing the tourist attractiveness of the region, so the digitization project focused on network creation as well as on the transformation of the local cinemas into tourist attractions. It thus aimed at the creation of “digital art houses” showing new product (alternative content), value-added product (3D and premières shown in digital with 5.1.Dolby Digital sound), combined products (weekends with sightseeing and cinema screening), cross-promotion (promos on attractions of the cities in the network).
In 2008 there were only ten cinemas interested in participating in the project and getting 75% of the project costs.
The Cinema Mirko in Krakow managed by the Cinema Development Foundation became a leader. The rest of the cinemas came from different towns in Malopolska with great cultural potential, whose population ranged from 14,000 to 60,000 inhabitants. They included the following:

  • Bochnia
  • Brzeszcze
  • Dabrowa Tarnowska
  • Kety
  • Krynica Zdrój
  • Limanowa
  • Oswiecim (Auschwitz)
  • Trzebinia
  • Wadowice

The project was submitted in July 2008. The selection process took 5 months and lasted until the end of December. Unfortunately, the project got first place on a reserve list, but by the end of March 2009 the allocation was made and on 9 May 2009 the Cinema Development Foundation signed an agreement guaranteeing Malopolska D-cinema Network structural funds for co-financing.

After the public tender procedure that took half a year, the contractor was chosen and on 12 February 2010 the Cinema Wisla in Brzeszcze showed Avatar 3D with a new NEC digital projector, Doremi server and Dolby 3D system. Since then there have been openings every weekend and the last cinema in the network (the Cinema Klaps in Limanowa) was open on 22 April.

The second part of the project consists in implementation of a regional platform helping the cinemas in the Internet aided marketing (CRM, newsletter, on-line bookings etc.). The project has also to meet the success indicators:

  • Up 1% on admissions per year
  • Diversification of the program (18 titles per year, every year up 20%)
  • New products (1per month)
  • Value added products (4 per year)
  • Complex product (3 per year)
  • Cross-marketing and cross-promotion (5 minutes before every screening)
  • Cooperation in the field of culture.

Marta Materska-Samek is a Ph.D. student at the Faculty of Management and Social Communication of the Jagiellonian University (Cracow). She is preparing a thesis on strategic innovation in local cultural institutions as a result of digitizing their cinemas. She was a graduate of the programme for young researchers Doctus and a Scholarship and Training Fund scholar who received a research grant (Action III- Individual Mobility Grants). The grant was devoted to the study of local cinemas in Norway. Being an experienced project manager and a specialist in the cinema management field, she works as a Vice-President of the Cinema Development Foundation and as a coordinator of the “Malopolska D-cinemas Network", which is co-financed by the structural funds of the regional D-cinema project in Europe.