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Interview: Ned Loach and Robert Gontier open up on Love


Successfully running one of the most buzzworthy events in the city, and maintaining a solid marriage is all in a day’s work for 360 screenings’ Ned Loach and Robert Gontier. In a short two year time span, the awe-inspiring duo have established the exciting theatrical experience wherein Torontonians get to collectively become part of a popular film in a top secret historical building. These fascinating collaborators also sweetly perpetuate an intense personal bond that one rarely sees off-screen.

With this month’s 360 screening having the theme of ‘Love’, I chatted with the charming couple about their love story with each other, and with the cinema.

Scene Creek: How did you two first meet?

Robert: I was commissioned to write a new musical for a theatre production in Toronto called Smile Theatre and Ned happened to be interning with the company, which had an open concept office. So when I walked in to have my meeting, I was introduced to everyone and Ned was one of those people. We shook hands and I instantly knew that this was going to be the man that I would spend the rest of my life with. On my way out I said to myself, “If I look back and Ned is looking back at me, then I’ll definitely pursue this.” I looked back and he was looking at me, and it’s been fate ever since.

SC: What was your most memorable date/Valentine’s Day?

Ned: We started dating right before Christmas and went for a long walk through Yorkville and it was all very pretty and nicely decorated with lights. They had their Christmas tree across from Sassafraz and it’s Robert’s favorite time of year (I like it as well). So we were standing looking at the tree and I felt Robbie grab my hand and it was the very first time that we held hands. It was a very special night for us.

SC: What was your first movie-going experience together?

Robert: The earliest one I can think of is Avatar. Well when we first started dating we used to watch a lot of movies on Netflix or DVDs that we owned, so we both had different favourite movies we wanted to share. So one night Ned chose Atonement and I chose It’s a Wonderful Life because it’s my favourite film.

SC: Both very different love stories.

Robert: I guess they’re more romantic than Avatar. But I do love me some Sigourney, I will say that.

SC: You obviously work together and live together, how do you balance it so that you’re not at each other’s throats all the time?

Ned: We have a very strict rule where we try to stick to speaking about 360 screenings stuff before 5pm. Any time after that we leave it at the desk. Well any time until the week before, and then it gets a little crazy.

SC: What do you think is the key to a lasting and successful relationship (personal and/or professional)?

Robert: I think the key is listening. It’s the key to a lot of things but especially in a loving, caring relationship. You have to listen before anything else because you really need to hear what the other person is saying.

SC: In terms of love, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned from a movie (or movies in general)?

Robert: I would say that true love and your soulmate do exist.
Ned: And I would say that running towards one another, a la The Notebook in the rain, is always magic.

SC: I’ve read in other interviews that you two have very different taste in movies. How do you come to a decision together on what would make a successful 360 screening?

Robert: We come up with a bunch of different films that we want to do and then look for a venue, a Toronto historic building, that matches the concept of one of the different films, and then use the space as much as possible. When we find that match we narrow down the list, and the list is usually 75 to 100 films now that we wish we could do.

SC: What is your dream 360 screening?

Both in unison: Jurassic Park!

SC: What would you tell potential ticket buyers who are debating going to this Love-themed 360 screening?

Ned: One of the things that makes our events exciting and successful is that you can go with a person that you love, or with a group of friends or even on your own. You get to experience the film in a brand new, communal way that you can share with other people.That’s one of the things that we love about the company-we’re reliving a fantastic movie paired with an amazing historic building, and that creates conversations in our audience.

Robert: And our events are fully licensed, so that’s important to create conversation too.

360 Screenings LOVE themed event will occur on Feb. 7 and 8 (two shows). For more details visit 360screenings.com

Leora Heilbronn

Leora Heilbronn is a Toronto based film aficionado who has a weakness for musicals and violent action flicks. She can often be spotted reading a wide range of literature or listening to show tunes.