WITH a third screen at Glasgow Film Theatre recently opened and attendance figures on an ever-upwards trajectory, you could be forgiven for thinking that it's time to sit back in the plush leather chairs and enjoy the comfortable surroundings.

As the organisation gets ready to celebrate its 40th birthday, plans are ongoing for the next decade - and the one after that.

"We have always been innovators, we like to be first at things," says GFT chief executive Jaki McDougall.

"We were the first cinema in Scotland with audio description, we were early pioneers of captioned cinema, the first in Scotland with autism-friendly screenings and the first cinema in the UK to show a digital film digitally - we beat Toy Story 2 in the West End of London by 24 hours.

"More recently we were the first to introduce curated video on demand."

It is a list of achievements to be proud of, but Jaki and her team at Rose Street in the city centre aren't ready to rest on their laurels.

The opening of cinema three at the end of last year, on the site of Cafe Cosmo, has allowed the annual Glasgow Film Festival to develop and grow and increase GFT's education and outreach work as well as providing the opportunity to offer longer runs of popular films. Meanwhile, the updated foyer, with digital screens, brings the Art Deco cinema bang up to date.

Work hasn't finished and the team are now planning for the rest of the foyer, the upstairs bar and an education area with lift access to all floors.

"We are really lucky, Creative Scotland has put half the money on the table and we've raised other bits of it, but we've got a huge target to meet by February next year," says Jaki.

The digital revolution has transformed movie- viewing, but it's come at a price.

Whereas screening equipment and machinery bought in years gone by would have a lifespan of 30 or 40 years or more, the latest hi-tech hardware bought 10 years ago is already starting to need replacing.

"It would be nice to have another building as well to do even more," says Jaki, and that is no daydream.

Like Kirstie Allsopp in television's Location, Location, Location, Jaki is tapping on walls and thinking about big building projects.

"We tried to broker a deal with the people who own Tesco next door, the Belfast Presbyterians, but the Northern Ireland government intervened and didn't want them to alter the building," she reveals.

"The Singletons, the family who set up the Cosmo cinema here 75 years ago, bought the strip of offices that are linked to the cinema.

"What we had asked Tesco to do was a straight swap, whereby we would give them this bit in return for them giving us a bit that would run at the back of GFT.

"So you could just keep walking through, past the kiosk, you would walk through the wall and that would have given us space to build up as high as we want to and give us a basement area for services, a big cafe bar, cinemas three, four, five, six offices, an education suite. That would still be my dream."

She adds: "Always in the back of my head is, could we do it somewhere else as well? I'd love to open somewhere in the south Side, maybe around the Govanhill area."

Expanding and developing the very fabric of the building is one thing, allowing GFT to grow is quite another. With the right combination of funding and great ideas, the sky is the limit.

A new initiative piloting in May involves monthly sessions offering expert advice from our homegrown talent and tips for young people interested in a career in film.

"We should be building up our own talented workforce," says Jaki.

"We've got all the national broadcasters sitting on what I suppose we would call our south bank and we've got a host of production companies that have sprung up to support them: the film talent in Scotland is in Glasgow, we are a major UK centre for film and TV production.

"So how do we get our young people ready for that work?"

Nurturing that latent talent is another goal.

Glasgow's Youth Film Festival is the only one of its kind in Europe. It gives youngsters the chance to view and select films, do their own marketing, make a trailer and host Q&A sessions with the film talent.

"When we're talking to the organisers of major festivals in London they say, 'you let young people talk to film stars and directors?'

"We say, 'yes we do'. They're really joyous.

"I remember the first time I heard them on the radio, I was in the car and listening to drone, drone, drone and then it was, 'we've got the young people from Glasgow Youth Film Festival'.

"And they were just so inspiring, they're brilliant."

angela.mcmanus@ eveningtimes.co.uk