The Red Bulletin June 2019

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Secret Cinema

create the world.” After a guest buys a ticket,

they’re assigned a character and given outfit

suggestions. “For The Shawshank Redemption

we asked everyone to come in a suit, but once

they were stripped we needed 1,200 prison

uniforms. I found a guy with some original

’40s Norwegian prison uniforms in his garage.

That made the audience feel part of the world,

because they were wearing something real.”

It was very different in 2009 when Kulkarni

first joined Secret Cinema for a one-day popup

of the Marx Brothers’ A Night at the Opera.

“That was the first that had costumes. It’s just

me with a rack of clothes and two days to

outfit 40 people,” she recalls. “A tall man

came in asking for costume. I put an outfit

together and because I didn’t panic I got a call

to join the company.” The man turned out to be

Fabien Riggall, the founder of Secret Cinema.

The idea came to Riggall as a child living

in Morocco in the ’80s. “I was 11 and I

went to this fleapit cinema in Casablanca

without knowing what the film was,”

he recalls. “It turned out to be Sergio Leone’s

Once Upon A Time In America – an insane film

with an epic [Ennio]Morricone soundtrack.

The protagonist was this boy a bit older

than me – Noodles – who was in love with

Deborah, played by Jennifer Connelly.

I transported myself and became Noodles.”

Seventeen years later, in 2003, Riggall

launched a short-film festival called Future

Shorts. “A friend of mine had this venue,

an underground bunker in Shepherd’s Bush

Green [in west London] called Ginglik, which

was one of those lavish toilets from the old

days. I put on a night – 12 short films, a DJ,

people chatting, drinking, in those days when

you could smoke inside. The idea evolved into

the feature-length Future Cinema with 1922

horror Nosferatu at London club SeOne.

“We didn’t reveal the film or location, and I

thought, ‘It’s not going to sell,’ but 400 people

came.” He experimented with an immersive

adaptation of Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. “The

concept was, ‘How can we make this more

real?’ We wanted to play with mystery.”

In 2007, this became Secret Cinema.

The first [Secret Cinema] was [Gus Van

Sant’s] Paranoid Park, about a skater accused

“People want

experiences that are

mysterious [and]

part of a bigger thing”

46 THE RED BULLETIN

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