Cinema has always been about reinvention.
The first groundbreaking films of Georges Méliès and the Lumières brothers changed visual art forever; the introduction of sound transformed the way films were made, acted and enjoyed; Technicolour was pure aesthetic magic; CGI became a revolutionary game changer.
With a history like that, it’s hardly surprising that the way we watch films is changing yet again.
These days, it’s not enough to simply watch a movie. Cinema-goers can experience it, too.
Arguably the most notable example of interactive movie watching is an accolade belonging to British-born events company Secret Cinema. What began in 2007 as an achingly cool and exclusively underground way to (literally) bring movies to life has boomed in the last few years into huge festival-style cinematic experiences.
Whether it’s learning some Dirty Dancing as a guest at Kellerman’s Resort, taking on the Death Star as a Jedi in a galaxy far, far away, or falling in love as an Absinthe-soaked revolutionary at the Moulin Rouge, Secret Cinema allows you to enter the world of the film and join in with the action.
With the recently increased production values and fantastic casting choices, Secret Cinema is quickly becoming a staple in any Londoner’s diary, with other cities soon to join the party. Though with their heavily publicised shows – the next project has already been announced and – spoiler alert – it’s a Spielberg Dinosaur classic – Secret Cinema might actually be London’s worst kept secret. And that’s no bad thing.
Following Secret Cinema’s impressive success, it’s unsurprising that their format is being recreated in other similar interactive events, proving that a new era of film-going truly is upon us. One such company doing this is TwoBox Productions, whose events blur cinema with theatre and music to create a totally immersive experience.
One such production is the upcoming “Rocky Horror Live!”, described as the “biggest Halloween event this side of Transylvania”. Following last year’s sell-out run, this immersive night returns to London’s Two Brewers for several dates later this month.
Can there be a more perfect way to spend Halloween than watching cult classic movie The Rocky Horror Picture Show? Yes, it turns out there can! How about watching the movie surrounded by a cast of actors, who perform the iconic musical numbers and memorable scenes live, before the whole night transforms into a wild club night?
Taking Secret Cinema’s winning formula and putting it in a more intimate party setting proves that our desire to live the movies and not just watch them reaches far beyond the big branding of Secret Cinema. Is this something we might see more and more?
To answer this question, HISKIND caught up with established film director and videographer, Sandeep Gill.
Gill pointed out that the advent of Virtual Reality and the age of instant streaming have created “a mindset shift towards films that are mosaics of different art forms which involve some sort of audience participation”
“Whether that’s active participation – such as in a huge physical warehouse space – or passive – such as a 360 primarily viewed on your mobile device – or even a combination of the two, remains to be seen”
Gill’s own critically acclaimed work, in multimedia productions such as The Fall with EmpathEyes Theatre and Constance and Eva with Urania Theatre, showcased this growing trend of interactive cinema.
The Fall, an adaptation of the cult film of the same name, combined live action drama, projected film (directed by Gill), animation and music to create a multi-sensory experience in which the actors actually interacted with film. A far cry from “traditional” film display.
Constance and Eva, conversely, used Gill’s cinematography in a more subtle way to enhance the action onstage. This beautifully acted piece about two sisters during the Irish revolution was made all the more poignant and captivating by the highly clever use of film and a wonderful soundscape.
To describe these productions as theatre would be a disservice to Gill’s work. To label them as cinema would jar with the existing conventions of the genre. They are something entirely new, and seem to herald in a new age of interactive, 360o filmic entertainment.
As for Gill’s predictions on what the next generation of cinema will look like?
“There are any number of ways film can be used”, Gill explained. “And some of them we’re only just starting to explore”
The best may well be yet to come.