BY EMILY GAGNE
This Valentine’s Day, 360 Screenings, the Toronto-based company that we dubbed “the most innovative and interactive little movie club in the world,” is holding its fourth event.
For the uninitiated, 360 Screenings holds movie-themed parties which include performance art, food and interactive activities specific to a certain movie. Guests don’t know what slice of cinematic history they’ll be engaging with until they arrive on the scene and take in the various recreations (think a psychic reading for Ghost, a live fight to tribute Fight Club) manifesting around them. After spending an hour analyzing their surroundings, attendees are treated to a screening of the chosen film. Think of it as a film lover’s version of Clue. Minus all the murder nonsense. (Unless, of course the movie is about murder nonsense!!)
Having attended and loved 360’s last event, a Halloween party dedicated to Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later, the Cinefilles could not be more excited about the Feb. 14 event, which is said to be whimsically romantic. So we pressed creator Ned Loach for some hints about it, as well as some inside scoop on the next, possibly Quentin Tarantino-inspired 360.
I want to start off by congratulating you on your success! You’re getting more and more attention with every screening.
Ned Loach: We’ve been really fortunate so far, with the audience reception and from the press and media coming out to experience it themselves.
How have the ticket sales for this event been so far? The last one was sold out!
Ned: We’re right on track to do it again. There were really strong ticket sales right off the start. It’s nice to have that under our belt!
How many tickets did you allot for this 360 event?
Ned: The last time, at 28 Days Later, we had about 200 people. This time, we have capacity for about 250.
How far in advance do you start working on each screening?
Ned: We try to work one screening in advance. So we had the venue and the film chosen at 28 Days Later for this one.
We try to work really far advance, especially with venues in this city. They tend to book up really, really quickly, especially in the summer with weddings and things. We try to work ahead of the rush.
Do you choose the movie first and then look for a venue? Or do you have some set-out venues and work to find a movie to suit them?
Ned: We are working with a list of about 50 movies that we’d like to ultimately do. To go with that, we have a list about the same length of venues in the city. If there’s a really neat venue in the city, we might try to pair a movie with that. Or if there’s a specific movie, we really try and seek out a venue to suit the movie.
Are there any movies that you really want to do, but know that you probably won’t because it might be too challenging?
Ned: Totally! We’d love to do Jurassic Park. But that might not be, uh, possible. [Laughs]
Well, yeah! Where would you get the dinosaurs?
Ned: [Laughs] It might be a bit over budget.
Where do you think this upcoming 360 Screening ranks, in scale, in comparison to the previous three?
Ned: This venue is a huge, huge space. We’re really working with different levels. And the main space that we have is really quite big.
It really is the largest venue, not only capacity-wise, but concept-wise, with what we’re doing.
Is this set-up similar to the 28 Days Later event?
Ned: Yeah! Robert and I were just talking about that, actually.
At 28 Days Later, it was great having the different levels and different spaces to explore. Especially with fear. It was a lot of fun to use [the space] to our advantage, with the small room and little alleys.
This time around time, we do have multiple rooms and levels for people to explore … which we feel is the best way to do these events. To have an open space, but also small rooms to bring out a specific theme or make things come to life.
What else can you tell me about the Valentine’s Day event, without, of course, giving too much away?
Ned: Hmm …
I feel like knowing the audience and knowing the view that your website is catered for, it might be a great film for you. I’ll leave it at that. [Laughs]
What makes a great love story for you on film? Do you have favourite movie romance, or couple?
Ned: I’d tell you a few, but the movie that we’re doing is my personal favourite romance movie! [Laughs] But I think it’s a balance of really believable characters and a really strong script that is dynamic.
For our own Valentine’s Day coverage, we are taking a different approach. Instead of doing traditional romantic movies posts, we’re sharing our movie love stories, those moments when we first fell for film. What was the first movie that really, uh, reeled you in?
Ned: I have one, but it’s kind of a bizarre choice. Growing up, I used to love the movie Labyrinth.
Hey, don’t worry! I loved Beetlejuice as a toddler.
Ned: Oh yeah! I’m going to retract my Labyrinth and say Beetlejuice! Or Edward Scissorhands!
You said that you plan one screening in advance. Have you started working on the next one? Do you have any idea when it might be held?
Ned: Sometime in the spring between April and May. We try and do about five a year. So it’s about every two and half to three months.
Are you still working on coordinating multiple night events?
Ned: That’s definitely the next step for the company, adopting a model where it’s over 2 weeks and we do about ten of them. We would be able to have people come out that couldn’t necessarily make the one night event and even give people a chance to come again, or tell their friends about it.
Do you guys get any time to interact with the rooms during the screenings?
Ned: It goes by pretty quick. So we don’t usually have time to interact. We’re pretty busy trying to make sure the actors are doing their thing and that there’s enough food coming out. It’s like a blink of the eye and then people are going in to watch the movie!
At least you always seem to have someone around filming the event and people’s reactions to it. How fun is it listening to people’s guesses for the movie on tape? Because sometimes they are completely off!
Ned: It’s hilarious! People have the craziest ideas for what movies it is! Sometimes, they say movies that would have been great idea for that event. Sometimes, it’s just so off!
Would you say that the film you chose for the February screening is easily identifiable? Is it well-known?
Ned: I loved it and it’s a very, very well-loved movie. But there are a lot of people who are unfamiliar with it. This type of movie is not on people’s radar’s because of the format.
I think a lot of people in the film world will know about it. But people more in the mainstream, may not.
Back in December, you guys graciously posted a link to our Quentin Tarantino coverage. Have you considered a Tarantino-themed 360 Screening?
Ned: Yeah! I would love to!
We actually have one that’s down the pipeline, and we’re really looking forward to it. I mean, his movies are just, visually, incredible. It’s a great palette for us.
And be sure to read our review of 360 Screenings: 28 Days Later.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PhOvkk6eChI]