Cinema as ‘formative’ experience

I’ve just spent the afternoon at The Light New Brighton watching Night at the Museum 3 with the wife and kids, followed by a meal at Prezzo.

Brilliant. Funny. Well made. A good, but not outstanding, farewell to Robin Williams.

A great way to spend sadly all too rare, quality, time with the family, and The Light scored ten out of ten. Thanks guys, it was fab.

But, ultimately, as a formative film experience for the kids,  yesterday’s news already.

Personally for me, memorable and formative film experiences didn’t happen in ‘proper’ cinemas, but elsewhere.

In the after school film club with Rod Steiger in the dark, very dark No Way to Treat a Lady; or in the poorly managed youth club where a wayward young man brought in and screened a dodgy cheap porno whose name I cannot remember (nor would I recommend it).

Or at art college in that exotic capital of the Home Counties, Luton, watching The Exorcist in one of the prefab units on a rainy winter afternoon overlooking the playing fields, and feeling very queasy afterwards.

Perhaps it’s not the film, but where, and when, we experience it, that makes it formative.

Which is why, when we screened Jaws last year at Hoylake Community Cinema, in the local Community Centre on plastic chairs, not plush cinema seats,  it was so rewarding to see a young teenager sit in complete awe, seeing it for the first time, with mouth wide open, eyes bulging.

Or when we screened Miyazaki’s Spirited Away, to hear afterward that an audience member’s kids were ‘utterly spellbound’.

Or when we screened Regeneration, on 11 November 2011, and, when the credits rolled, the only sound in the hall was of grown men, crying.

Because formative experiences can happen at any time in life.

We’ve given countless people wonderful film experiences that will stick with them for life. And we’ve done that without smart seats, popcorn and the latest surround sound ‘immersive’ experience.

So, why on earth are we even contemplating building a plush, smart, cinema auditorium in Hoylake which, once inside, could render the viewer to be no more than just another consumer film-goer?

Good question.

We think we can do this differently. We think we can build something that will be different, unique, memorable. More than that, we think it must be that.

Because when you walk out of the building, instead of seeing car parks stretching into the distance, PC Worlds and carpet warehouses and gaudy neon signs, you will see a beach. Clouds. Sky. Look left and see Snowdonia, Hilbre and Anglesey. Look right and see Formby and Crosby.

Look back and you will see a beautiful, iconic building.

And, we will aim to provide programming that, although may well include the likes of Night at The Museum, will also include Little Moth… a Chinese film made recently on a pitifully low budget… probably a few thousand pounds… that would have your head reeling and sear itself on your (collective) memories for life.

And we will absolutely make sure you know about it and that you will want to come.

Because The Beacon will be about Formative Film Experiences.

In nice chairs.




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