We are delighted that over 330 people turned out to watch The Artist (Hazanavicius, Fr/Bel, 2011, 100mins) which we programmed as the main feature for our FILMBOX launch. Thankfully somewhat different from the 5 people and a stray cat I had imagined in my worst fears! As the place filled up, it was great to see so many guests turning up wearing black, white and red, as requested, a visual homage to the film’s era.
The bar was busy and guests enjoyed the novelty of Harrington’s Kitchen’s focaccia, with their pre-film refreshments, signifying that FILMBOX is not going to be an average cinema.
After the welcome by Ian Rowe, AHT at LPSB and Director of Performing Arts, I introduced the audience to the concept of FILMBOX, a private members’ cinema club as well as a ‘live’ business model for our 6th formers to develop a range of useful skills, including creative and entrepreneurial skills.
As I sat down and watched the new FILMBOX ident tick across the screen (courtesy of A2 Graphics student Sarah Wickings and A2 Media Studies student Simon Burgess) I suddenly felt anxious. We were about to show a short silent film from 1919, Buster Keaton’s Backstage, would the audience get it? Would they laugh? Our surprise element was provided by Laurence Panter, wearing elegant tails, who sat down at the piano and then, the most mellifluous music flowed from his fingertips. Every thought, emotion and detail of physical comedy was represented by a journey through ragtime, jazz and classical pieces, beautifully connected by Laurence as he watched the film on screen.
Sniggers and gaffaws prefaced ripples of laughter as Keaton dead-panned it throughout the film (even when in drag as Roscoe ‘Fatty’ Arbuckle’s love interest on stage) and the moral of the story, typically for Keaton, involved the triumph of the ordinary man, in this case, Arbuckle, who got the girl. Lots of applause for Laurence, and a second burst when I explained how he had gone about creating his score for the film. Thank goodness, the audience entirely got it!
Stefan Kopczynski (an AS level Film Studies student) introduced The Artist, first checking whether the audience realised they were going to watch a silent film and explained why he liked it.
The audience was amazed at the high quality big screen image from our HD Blu-Ray projector and stereo sound (sorry, a tad too loud in places – we’ll remedy this). The Artist reeled the audience in and its climax, shamelessly recycling Bernard Herrmann’s score for Hitchcock’s Vertigo (1958), held the audience in ts power. In the silent sections it was as if the entire Performance Hall was holding its breath, you could not hear a thing.
After I explained how FILMBOX would hopefully develop and thanked everyone for coming, Bill Malyszko (AHT and Head of Media & Film Studies) invoked the audience’s generosity in ‘folding’ their donations for the retiring collection, a fund to start up our community cinema venture.
Thank you all for your generosity, we now have a healthy start-up fund to get us going and, thanks to El Molino, Harrington’s Kitchen and Holwood Farm, we now have some special foodie features for guests at the next three screenings.
The January 2013 screening is now up to Year 13… who’s in charge then?
One observer commented that, easily beating the current picture and sound quality of Beckenham and Bromley cinemas, we probably already rival Greenwich Picturehouse as a film venue. With the 600-seater Performance Hall and 72-seater Studio 609, the launch has given us an insight into the potential for cinema at Langley Park Centre for the Performing Arts (even if a multiplex materialises at the end of Westmoreland Road one day…). I’m already plotting…
Membership raffle prize winners: Mr Sexton, Clare Phillips and Jon Vickery. Our programme, ticket prices and membership package will be sent out very soon to everyone who was in touch with our Box Office. We’ll hopefully have an online box office very soon!
A level Film Studies teacher and FILMBOX founder
(Launch programme to download in the previous post)