I was in a bar one night at the end of a long day when I overheard one of the staff talking about an incredible cinema experience. When I asked her to tell me more she told me she couldn’t, it was a secret.
Sometime back in April I got the email asking if I would like to invest in BNV with no information as to what the company did. In May I got an email saying the recruitment centre was now open, and I could choose a profession and join BNV on a undisclosed mission.
The day before I got an email telling me the meeting point was Euston station, next to the statue known as The Engineer and I needed a uniform – a boiler suit.
I had a ticket to Secret Cinema’s latest production, I had no idea what I was going to see, where it was, or what to expect.
The garage at the end of my road lent me a set of disposable painters overalls and I rushed to North London wondering if I would find the meeting point.
As I rounded the corner there were literally hundreds of people, all in boiler suits, being herded into long lines according to their declared profession. I could have seen the meeting point from a satellite in space.
BNV personnel marched up and down the lines, inspecting us, reminding us of the rules, informing us the mission could be arduous and yelling at us through megaphones to stay in our ranks.
Soon we were all walked in strict single file down the streets round the corner to the undisclosed location. Here we were given retinal scans, changed our Earth money for tokens that could travel through space, and were decontaminated.
What followed was three hours of performances, games, and exercises all related to a film we were to see as the climax to our evening. All in a huge dystopian playground covering 20,000 square metres over 4 floors of what was once a hospital.
Secret Cinema is a monthly gathering of all that love challenging and groundbreaking cinema, screening mystery films in extraordinary locations. This production is their 18th since 2007, it’s their largest to date; a team of 160 people, dressed in the same outfits as the audience take on roles from the film, transforming the night into interactive set pieces, staged laboratories, outdoor scientific endeavours, in a facility of the future. And that is all I can tell you.
Well, I could tell you what I saw but ‘they’ would be obligated to feed both of us to a large monster, and that is all I am saying.
Huge scale props, complete scene set-ups, lasers, video installations and enactments of the film fill every second of the night. It is as immersive an experience as you want it to be, the scale is so vast and so spectacularly different from the real world you can get as lost in it as you want.
It is a trust game, you sign up and allow Secret Cinema to guide you through the night. You will not know where the film is to be shown, but they will get you there. You just have to throw yourself into the experience that is your only job.
I loved seeing the director of the film, who I can not name for reasons that should be obvious by now, giving a filmed introduction to the movie and seeing him embrace this way of his film being experienced.
I love this direction of film presentation, I know I didn’t see all of it, I didn’t experience everything on offer, I’m not sure you can and eat and drink at the onsite catering facilities all in a single night.
I love being in on the secret.
I hated the film, but I can hate a film I go to the cinema to see, that’s the gamble, the difference is this time … I want to go again.
Find more info @ bravenewventures.org - well I say that but good luck with it ..
You can find more about Secret Cineama on its website.
PS. I chose a grainy, environmentally degraded look for the images to reflect the feeling of the experience, and have deliberately kept the photographs mysterious so as not to identify what’s screening, I would hate you to guess what it is – that is half the fun.
Melanie Gow is editor at Glow Magazine, an online journalist, mobile photographer and iArtist, producer and cultural events organiser.
She is on Instagram as @Princesss_MeLeia and on Twitter: @melgow