By Alessandra Skarlatos, Marketing Manager at Arts Alliance Media
We're celebrating our 15th anniversary this year with a look back at where we’ve been and where we’re going . We asked some of our longest-serving teammates for their perspectives on the biggest changes at AAM and the wider cinema industry since they joined us.
For an even more detailed look at how AAM has evolved alongside the industry, check out our interview with Digital Cinema Report, featuring our CEO and CTO, who have been with us since nearly the beginning!
Tom joined AAM in 2011 as one of our 1st Line Support Engineers, and is now our Technical Support Manager
“When I first joined we were still in Mission Hall, a little church with a lot of character that had been converted into an office. We were focused on supporting the roll-out of the first digital cinema equipment through the VPF (Virtual Print Fee) scheme. At that point, I think the whole Services team was 10 people, we only had 5 software developers, and it definitely still had the energy of a start-up.
Today, we have over 40 members in the software and product teams based in 3 offices, and over 30 people in Services tackling everything from remote technical support, to field engineering. We've kept the energy, and we’re still dedicated to supporting cinemas, but as the company progressed from hardware to software offerings, so have we!
I don’t think we’ll ever stop growing, especially as over the next few years I think we’ll be helping cinemas become fully automated with new cloud-based software solutions.”
Dorothee joined AAM in 2011 as one of our Credit Controllers, and is now our Senior Credit Control Manager
“When I first started, we had just embarked on the VPF schemes, and I was getting us set up with CGR, a cinema chain in France, for Europe’s first digital conversion through VPF. It was an incredible experience, being a part of transforming cinemas around the world.
The flexibility and quick adaptation to the market that AAM has always promoted means it’s hardly recognisable from when I first started. But the biggest change for me personally was the opportunity to move from London to Amsterdam, and help to set up one of AAM's first international offices.
The only thing that hasn’t changed in all that time is the people– amazing and full of energy, they believe in AAM as much today as they did when we first started!”
Joe joined AAM in 2011 as our VP of Finance, and is now our CFO
"When I arrived my first task was to look at the accounts systems, shareholder reporting and how to undertake this new thing called VPF. Within 3 months we completely rebuilt our processes and we use the foundations we implemented then to administer the VPF scheme , however we now use this for over 5,000 screens across 3 continents. As such, we've become much more international, with huge customers in every corner of the world, where previously the focus was very much on the UK and Europe.
During the time I've been at AAM, the whole industry has actually become pretty unrecognisable- the way cinemas can now operate their complexes, and the efficiencies that digital technology and software have made possible has changed everything, behind-the-scenes at least.
Over the coming years, the marketplace will only continue to adopt new technologies so they can put the focus back on customer engagement. We’ve always been a very innovative business, so I know we’ll be there pressing any changes ahead from the front, helping the industry realise the benefits of a fully connected and integrated cinema industry."
Andy joined AAM in 2009 as our Engineering Manager and is now our Technical Operations Manager
"The focus of AAM when I started was on hardware , exhibitor connectivity, and building up our exhibitor VPF estate and associated integrator partners. My job was to create technical documentation for AAM support and our integrators, develop deployment processes and build the production environment at our warehouse for technicians.There were fewer choices of Projector and Screen Server combinations back then and our TMS was honed from an embryonic form to work with these in isolation of any of the existing AAM software offerings.
Since then the proliferation of AAM software has brought with it a great deal of opportunity for many of the technical team at AAM to be involved in new technologies and disciplines, including Cloud-based services and networking. This combined with the increasing spread of supported devices has created a mine of interesting work that just keeps coming.
There has always been talk of emerging alternative entertainment threatening the future of cinema. But the endearing sensation of a shared communal experience within a quality space has maintained its attraction and I don’t see things changing for a long time. I do believe we should encourage future generations to love cinema by making it accessible, and now that cinemas have become more integrated into a maturing digital infrastructure, there is even more potential for innovation that can help make that happen."