Secret Cinema has been going for nine years and yet it was only in 2015 that I first heard about it. It is a British events company that sets up live cinema experiences and combines outdoor film screenings of classics, in purpose built sets with interactive performances. I had the fabulous opportunity to go along with two friends to the screening of Dirty Dancing this summer and I can whole heartedly recommend going along if they are showing a film you love.
So what has this got to do with photography, you may be asking. Well I will come on to that, but the big thing this events company highlighted to me, was a trick, or two about marketing and how it can be so effective when it is not necessarily following the rule book.
When you look at the company, the imagery is often about just stock images from the films and not photographs of the sets, or people having a wonderful time. This is the opposite of many event companies that use images of participants to encourage trust in the viewers, who then want to be a part of that world and book in. The clever aspect of Secret Cinema is that it is about word of mouth and intrigue. This for me, worked more effectively. I had also, this summer, signed up for a Colour Obstacle Run and despite the fact that I had always wanted to do one, it was the imagery that they had blasted social media with that made me sign up for a more expensive course. Despite having a great time, the event did not match my expectations, because I had been led in to this world of music filled, colourful, high energy atmosphere from the marketing and the event lacked that on the day. Secret Cinema on the other hand had simply been recommended to me by a friend and so when I entered the location I thought it was amazing.
The fact that you are not allowed to take photographs, makes it even better. (Yes, you are asked to put your mobile phone in a little sealed bag and not open it until you leave.) Not only does it add to the intrigue, but it also allows you to digitally detox and simply immerse yourself in the world that they have created. We were able to buy a disposable camera and between the three of us, we went old school in trying to capture the fabulous atmosphere of such an event in just 24 photos. Combine not seeing what you are taking on the back of a screen, with waiting for them to come back from development and collecting the package to open, took me back to being younger and the excitement of collecting your holiday photographs. More clever marketing considering we had been to ‘Kellerman’s Holiday Resort’.
The marketing to create such an awesome atmosphere, from the first booking, outfit suggestions, secret location, a walk to the secret location and more was perfect and gave me an idea of what it is like to go the extra mile to inspire your clients. I won’t give too much away about the dancing, live music, resort staff, live car drive, games and even the staff quarters that replicated what the film is about, but these few film stills and pre-show phone images will show you how much fun we had … and yes, I did carry a watermelon!