AS Glasgow's Film Theatre celebrates its 40th anniversary ANGELA McMANUS enjoyed the cosy atmosphere of the Rose Street venue as she met with Jaki McDougall.

In the second part of this series on the GFT, its chief executive revealed her two indulgences

APART from a trip every year to Venice Film Festival, Jaki McDougall admits to one other indulgence in her working life.

A good hour or more every morning before staff start to arrive at Glasgow Film Theatre, the chief executive has a wander around the empty cinema.

"I still get a buzz from it," she admits, after being in the role at the helm of the independent cinema for the past 15 years.

"I started working in cinemas in front of house and I'm still looking out for what the customer will see when they come through the doors in a few hours' time."

By the time she gets to her desk in a row of offices overlooking Renfrew Street, the paperwork has started to pile up and another day at the legendary arthouse cinema has begun.

Originally from Priesthill, Jaki admits she has never heard of GFT when she was growing up and came to work here after a career in cinema and theatre that took her to Cornwall, Edinburgh and London before redundancy from the British Institute serendipitously coincided with a vacancy for the top job.

"I suppose for me it was because there had never been a woman who had run GFT," she reflects. "In its history at that point it would have been 25 years old and had two directors in all that time and they had both been men.

"The other thing was that I had big chips on my shoulders because of where I was from. It's that whole thing about being working class and being a woman and running one of the city's major arts organisations - I couldn't turn it down."

If you think the boss of a project committed to the power of cinema spends her time attending glittering red carpet premieres and knocking back glasses of champagne, prepare to be bitterly disappointed.

A not-for-profit organisation, GFT ploughs its funding into celebrating the magic of movies and making that experience as comfortable as possible for its customers.

Behind the plush velvet curtains the office area is far from glamorous and it is clear that the staff are here thanks of their devotion to GFT.

"Because it is such a small team everything comes across my desk," says Jaki.

"There's always catching up to do, supporting people in what they're doing, signing off, contributing to what they're doing, just to keep a whole picture of what's going on.

"When I first started the last director had been mainly involved in the programme and it was fair to say that along with representation to major funding bodies that was the core of his job.

" I changed that and about one-third of my job was overseeing the programme with Allison Gardner, who is still here and now our head of cinemas.

"That really wasn't Allison's job when I got here. She was heavily pregnant and I swear she only took two weeks off to have that baby, it certainly seemed like that.

"She took the computer home, and in those days it was a big computer, and worked on the programme up until the night before she gave birth. She's brilliant, absolutely brilliant at it."

The two women worked on the programme together but as the years have gone on and the annual Film Festival started, then the arrival of curated video on demand, programmes have expanded.

Now a new member of staff works with Allison on programming, freeing up Jaki to work with marketing, education, front of house and finance. "It's not very glamorous really, is it?" she laughs.

Suffice to say there is no average day for Jaki. Though at the moment she is spending a lot of time with ScotRail on the Glasgow to Edinburgh train, making a dash across country to the capital to sign paperwork, then heading back to Glasgow for her next meeting.

"We are involved in setting up a new organisation called Scottish Film, a collaboration between ourselves, the Centre for the Moving Image in Edinburgh, Dundee Contemporary Arts, Eden Court in Inverness and Regional Screen Scotland.

"It is being put in place to develop cinema exhibition and education across the whole of Scotland. We've never seen our boundaries just being the building.

"There is a huge thing that we're stronger together, we've got a big strong network."

With annual events such as the Film Festival firmly embedded in the diary, just about every day Jaki receives requests from organisations looking to collaborate with GFT.

"Loads of it is brilliant stuff and now with cinema three open we can hopefully start saying yes more often," she says.

"We want to get involved in projects but we have to make sure they are genuine partnerships.

"For me it's really important because having the third screen means there's more space for other organisations, or individuals, to have an input into what is shown here.

"GFT must be fit for purpose going forward; we're for the people of Glasgow and not just for a select few."

Back to Venice Film Festival. Every summer Jaki says this is her way of reminding herself why she does her job: watching five films a day and saturating herself in the movie world.

It's a long way from the wee girl in Priesthill sitting on the sofa watching Showboat and Escape from Devil's Island on television and going to ABC Minors in Shawlands at the weekend.