Interview: 360 Screenings co-founder Ned Loach talks about creating an immersive cinematic experience
Following three successful events, the creators of 360 Screenings look to build on what they’ve learned and create the best interactive showcase yet the fourth time out – but it’s still going to be a secret.
The film escape created by Ned Loach and Robert Gontier, which creates a world around a film, complete with sets and real-life characters, put on a unique movie-going experience for curious cinephiles three times last year. They return on Valentine’s Day for another marquee,asking of fans trust, and assuring something memorable and exciting.
The film and theatre hybrid kicked off in May 2012, with The Burroughes on Queen West showing the drama Ghost. Just as with the two times that followed, and as with the forthcoming installment, those who bought tickets and attend do not know the film or location until the day prior.
For when you walk through the door, you are in a new world.
“You arrive, and you are immersed into the story of the film,” explains Ned ahead of the February 14th event. “You spend time walking around the venue, exploring the set, following the actors, and engaging the characters, challenging their script.”
“When we did Fight Club, we told everyone to wear black,” explains Loach of the second installment from August 2012. Make-up artists stood buy to adorn participants with black eyes and bruises, and everyone became a part of the film experience.
The narrative, tone, and setting of the film are recreated, and the first half of the evening entails stepping into that world. While some fans will be quicker to figure the secret film than others, there is eventually a big reveal, and everyone takes their seats to watch. It should be noted there is food and alcohol – it’s a social event, after all.
This is more than simply watching The Rocky Horror Picture Show and throwing rice at the appropriate time with a theatre full of fans.
The third event took place the week before Halloween, and zombies were on the docket as 28 Days Later was served up. With this screening on Valentine’s Day, the romantic holiday looks to figure into the film selection.
“We tried to pick a movie that would resonate well with a lot of people,” says Loach, adding that it will in fact not be Garry Marshall’s Valentine’s Day (and thank goodness, I say). “We want something that has a cult appeal, and we’re looking to move away from more popular movies,” adding, “though it can be hard to convince people to pay for an experience when they don’t know what it is.”
It may be too early to draw a conclusion on the next choice given a sample size of three, but Rob and Ned have specific criteria from their list of films. “It really boils down to how relatable the characters and how dynamic the central themes are. One of our central mission pillars is to utilize historic buildings in Toronto,” says Loach, stressing the importance of space. 28 Days Later, for example, was held at the Berkeley Church.
Loach would not tell me where the next event takes place, and wouldn’t share the film. All that remains a mystery, so you just have get a ticket and discover for yourself.