Forging into the future with 4K projection and 3D to maximize their customers dependence on their product, the Film Industry has left open water in its wake for a new type of Cinema based on the 2K technology they want to abandon. 2K, now cheaply available as home movie equipment, is the equivalent of 35mm – the traditional industry standard. So it’s the old type of cinema really, the cinema of the thirties and fifties with a digital bolt-on, that can be rebuilt here. A rebuilt outlet paves the way for are built film business. A film business operating, both in production and distribution, on a budget less than twenty percent of what is now thought agreeable and open to filmmakers on a zero budget as well; no longer dominated by taxation rules or the whim of corporate executives but subject to filmmakers and their relation with their audience. Theatre has its fringe, its Off-Broadway, its Pub Theatre, where creators can confront an audience to learn their craft and pursue new ideas. This can be Cinema’s Fringe.
The Portobello Pop Up Cinema is an excellent new and economical space for showing films relying on the latest low cost technology, which the industry has failed to exploit, indeed the Industry is headed in the opposite direction and trying to sell glasses to their customers now along with the popcorn. While our project is more serious and purist in intent, it provides a good, entertaining night out in a pleasant or some times challenging situation. Good old classic films are shown as well as contemporary independent work from around the world and especially, Great Britain. While we can present many types of films except major first releases, the space is proposed as a facility rather than a retail outlet, a facility to be used in all sorts of ways by organisations already existing or to be formed in our area.
A distinguishing feature of our approach to cinemas is that we make little impact on the space that we are maybe only using for a while; it could be a church hall, an old factory or even a theatre, in our case it is under the Westway. Many inner city councils and community groups have, if only on a temporary basis, control of space – much of it more easily adapted than our site. We hope this project might act as a blueprint for many others around the country. All we are proposing is to use available space and apply 2K technology.
If it is a blue-print and many more such cinemas can pop up they might be able to give a financial backbone to a genuinely independent Great British Cinema, admittedly low cost but not, in view of the technology, too limited by that.
We hope for a Cinema rooted in our reality, not necessarily realistic: it might be comedy, crime thriller or even a vampire movie, but, because of the demands of economy, set in familiar ground. The cinema chain is proposed as a public facility. However, like the Internet, to be used by various people in various ways. For example it is often suggested that opera and ballet, which have great public appeal only prohibited by cost, might be filmed to bring them to a wider public. The new cinemas could show such films.
Our cinema is a local cinema not anchored in an out-of-town retail park. Drawing on local talent as well as a local audience it can be a powerful regenerative tool. Other cinemas should be established in existing available space through a community group or local government but championed by local individuals and groups so that they might have originality and energy. We expect Shane Meadows or Tilda Swinton to be among the first to join us if they are not ahead of us. The cinemas can be built up on existing film clubs and societies but certainly not exclusively.
Where? All the 70 odd major cities and many of them can take more than one, there could be thirty in London. Then there’s another 1,800 towns all of whom have in the past and might again support a cinema.
- Tim Burke and Barney Platts-Mills