>>>How to get a part in your favourite film
Photo: Secret Cinema/Mike Massaro

How to get a part in your favourite film

Do you want to go back to the future in a DeLorean, or succumb to the power of the force in the Mos Eisley Cantina? We’ll show you how (no 3D glasses required).
T
ell the girl the killer is just behind her, comfort our star and convince them everything will be okay, or grab a lightsaber and help defeat stormtroopers at the Battle of Endor. We have all wanted to climb into the screen that separates us from our heroes, and become part of their story. Secret Cinema makes it possible.
This London-based company has managed to break through the fourth wall, raise the viewer’s status and transform cinema into a participative experience. At their screenings, you can take a stroll through the scenes of the film and interact with the characters. Dance to ‘The Time of My Life’ alongside Baby and Johnny at Kellerman’s Resort, sing along loudly to Marty McFly’s Johnny B. Goode or get on the fair rides in the final scene of Grease.
An army of stormtroopers received attendees at the abandoned printing warehouse where Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back was screened.
Photo: Secret Cinema/Paul Cochrane

Keep their secret

The film begins as soon as you buy your entry ticket. They even use immersive creativity to reveal the location and dress-code: for the zombie apocalypse of 28 Days Later, for instance, the invitation was sent out as a hospital appointment. There is only one rule: no photos.

Secret Cinema recreates the film universe in 360º. They choose secret locations and transform them into Hill Valley, the Death Star or New York in the 80s (with the Ghostbusters melody playing in the background). In the buildings, the film set is reproduced to the millimetre. But the ambiance is not created through props alone. The atmosphere is crucial. All attendees have to dress up for the occasion: full skirts, leather jackets and 50s hairstyles for Grease, bell-bottoms for Saturday Night Fever and fezes and leather coats for The Grand Budapest Hotel.
Immersive cinema is a response to a need felt by the audience: a generation no longer satisfied with the passive experience of staying in their seat, according to the creators of Secret Cinema. The idea goes far beyond showing the film to people wearing fancy dress. Film, music, art, theatre and dance are blended with the fan phenomenon and 80s nostalgia. There are live performances, actors who recreate legendary scenes from the films, and a devoted audience whose members won’t pass up the opportunity to take part.
Screening of Dirty Dancing, by Secret Cinema.
Photo: Secret Cinema/Camilla Greenwell
They have done it with classics like Casablanca and Lawrence of Arabia, and other more recent films, like The Grand Budapest Hotel. But the most popular are the 80s blockbusters. Dirty Dancing even managed to sneak into the Top 10 box office films in the United Kingdom this summer. These “storytellers, inventors, explorers, place-makers, cultural entrepreneurs, and film fans,” as they define themselves, know how to make the line between fiction and reality disappear, little by little. And how to make it profitable.
28 Days Later, according to Secret Cinema.
Photo: Secret Cinema/ Olivia Weetch
People’s love for the cinema plays in their favour. “Now, every time I see the film I’ll think, I was there,” says one of the attendees at the first screening of Back to the Future, which took place in East London. Dressed for the 1950s, they made the same trip to the past as the star of the hit movie. And to those might be somewhat suspicious of such group ecstasy, as Marty McFly would say: “I guess you guys aren’t ready for that yet. But your kids are gonna love it.”

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