So last night I had great trouble sleeping; one of those nights where I seemed to be constantly waking up from a light sleep to keep checking my watch in complete bewilderment that it still wasn’t the morning yet and it didn’t feel like I’d slept at all. But insomnia aside I did also have a rather vivid and quite spectacular dream of an amazing pop-up cinema experience…
My dream had me sat one night on the lawn in Deans Park in York, Deans Park is the small and rather lovely park at the side of York Minster. I remember being sat there on the lawn seemingly completely alone and at first feeling overwhelming melancholy, but then something fantastical occurred! On the side of the minster a screen suddenly unravelled and behind me from some building or another came a bright white light that shone onto it and out of no where I was sudden sat with warm grass between my toes watching what appeared to be The Name of the Rose on the side of York Minster! A very aptly religious themed film for one of England’s most iconic religious monuments.
That dream stuck with me this afternoon and it got me thinking if money were no option what would be my fantasy pop-up cinema experience?
For those of you who have never come across the term, the concept of ‘pop-up cinema’ is pretty self explanatory. It’s a group of film fanatics or events organisers who take the film projector away from it’s natural habit of the theatre and out into the big, wild world outside of the picture house. Pop up cinemas can occur anywhere from somewhere as humble as a pub or a friend’s garden to much larger scale ‘theatres’ in abandoned train stations, old WWII air raid shelters or aircraft hangers!
My personal favourite pop-up experience was at the Abandon Normal Devices art and film festival in Manchester during August 2012.
The Empire Drive-In team from the US built up a cinema made out of old broken down cars and huge shipping containers. I watched Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior whilst sat on an old abandoned car. It was such a fantastic film to suit the rusty aesthetic of the cinema, as well as a brilliant homage to old style American Drive-Ins.
Speaking of idealistic themes from popup cinema I always come think back to this fantastic image of some cinema goers floating along in rubber rings watching Jaws!
This is exactly what I love about good pop up cinema, it’s a special kind of experience where the cinema and environment its self plays a part in the atmosphere of the film. I bet there weren’t many feet dangling in the water after the halfway point of this film!
Whilst pop-up is growing in popularity it is still quite an underground niche. Smaller scale events are becoming more frequent but the more ambitious and grandiose pop-ups usually only follow suit alongside arts festivals and special occasion events. The problem being the cost involved to put on such large scale events, not to mention the willingness to get local Council’s or property owners on board plus numerous health and safety concerns. Indeed a large pop up event as part of the International Festival 2013 at the ‘ghost station’ Mayfield Depot in Manchester had to be cancelled over increasing concerns over the security and condition of the old building.
What then would be my dream pop-up experience?
After thinking long and hard about this I decided on a screening of La Haine. Those of you who have seen this exceptional French film will know it is a hard hitting drama about social tensions, crime and inequality in Paris and portrays a lot of contrasts between the idealistic lights of the historic city centre to the dark, dangerous streets of the city’s ghettos; a location you won’t see on any postcards. Indeed there is a brilliant and powerful scene where the protagonists turn their backs on the city skyline and the Eiffel Tower and the lights blink out. So that’s what I’d do, perhaps it’s my inner rebellious Sociology graduate inside me but I love the idea of making a social statement with this film, screen it on the Eiffel Tower, switch off the lights at the end of the film.
Perhaps I’m dreaming, but watch this space if I ever become super-villain rich…