All who live or work in Rusthall or the surrounding area are encouraged to suggest films by completing the contact form. There is no limit to the number of films a person may submit but please indicate the relative priority of each film as if too many suggestions are received only the most preferred few may be used so as to keep the resulting long list at a manageable size. Also please include the year the film was made if you want to suggest a specific release. These suggested films are then passed on to a selection panel of all members for consideration.
Twice a year all members are invited to meet and discuss the long list created in stage one. Members receive the list of nominated films a week before the meeting so that trailers may be watched and research completed. At the meeting the merits of each film may be extolled by the original suggestor or another member may comment. Once films have been discussed the selection is put to the vote of all those present and any absent members who submitted a vote in advance of or shortly after the meeting. When voting each film should be compared with a set of criteria (detailed below) to ensure that we screen the most suitable films.
Members are asked to chose their top 12 films from the long list and when all votes are counted the top 26 selected by a simple majority are those that make it through to the final stage: the public vote,
The short list that comes out of the members' vote is made into an online survey and anyone who lives or works in Rusthall or the surrounding area may vote to indicate their preferences using the single transferable vote system (explained below). The most preferred films from the short list ballot then become those that are screened in the months following the current season. Any films not selected are then open to be put forward to the following long list - none are automatically carried forward.
Before the main film we usually screen one or two short films - typically totalling 20 minutes. While all members are welcome to submit suggestions using the contact form, the choice of which film(s) to be screened in this slot rests with the videographer of the day. The shorts are intended to be an interesting surprise. They are often specialised films (as defined below) that deal with a controversial topic, could be in a subtitled foreign language, possibly a documentary, perhaps locally made, and are usually not from the main stream production houses.
For the public (stage three) vote each film is given a relative preference by the voter; It is possible to assign equal preference to films but the voter splits one vote between however many are equally ranked. Not all films have to be ranked, the voter should stop when they perceive no preference of one of the remaining films over any other.
The total number of validly completed ballot papers is divided by the number of films to be chosen plus one to give the quota that each successfully selected film must attain. For example if 100 ballot papers are submitted and five films are to be chosen the quota would be 100 / (5 + 1) = 16.6. Any film that has achieved more than the quota of votes is now selected. Any surplus votes a film attains in excess of the quota are then allocated to voters' second preference films. To ensure that all voters are treated equally, a equal fraction of a vote of all those who selected the current film (beyond what is required to enable the quota to be met) will be taken to form a pool to be allocated to voters' second preference films.
With the newly transferred pool of votes the films are reassessed to see whether any now exceeds the quota required. Any that do are now chosen to join those on the winners list, and any surplus votes transferred as above. If no film has sufficient votes to meet the quota then the film with the fewest votes is eliminated and those who voted for the eliminated films have their votes reassigned according to their next preference. This process continues until the required number of films are selected.
This procedure is explained in greater detail and eloquence by the Electoral Reform Society.