My day at Filmspot: Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari

Hello, dear reader! My name is Kathrin and I’m 22 yrs old, and come from Germany. Through my internship here in Brighton I came to know Rachel Hunter, who runs ‘Filmspot’ with her partner Rob Cunningham. It was an honour for me to accompany them to the screening of ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’ in Eastbourne and to have an insight behind the scenes. Here is a little report about the day I had my first encounter with the ‘touring celebration of cinema’.

“It looks like a doughnut that has sunk into the ground.” Well, actually this is a pretty accurate visual description of the Redoubt Fortress in Eastbourne that hosted the screening of ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’ on Friday 26 September. I didn’t have any idea of what that fortress would look like, nor had I visited one before. But there is always a first time for everything!
In bright daylight, the fortress looked quite harmless. Imagining it as a sunken doughnut, as Rachel suggested, helped me to overlook the slight spooky atmosphere that lurked behind the closed doors. It is a little bit odd but these plain doors, that faced each other in a round circle, reminded me somehow of ‘Alice in Wonderland’: do you remember the room with the vast number of doors in different sizes and shapes? Basically they have nothing in common, but because there were so many of them in one space I could easily imagine various rooms and places hiding behind them – like in Wonderland. Sorry, moving on from the doors!

IMG_2038

‘Our’ room, served as our little cinema for the evening, was the perfect location for the screening of such a thrilling film. The narrow walls and covered windows conveyed the perfect feeling of being trapped – with nowhere to escape. Not a good thing when it’s dark and you are at the mercy of Dr Caligari.
But one step at a time – we were still in the phase of setting up the cinema. While the Filmspotters unloaded their kit, I was entrusted with a single-lens reflex camera to take some photos of the event. Just like that! Oh my God! I felt like I was carrying the crown jewels. I wouldn’t have dared to let it out of my sight or out of my hands. Forgotten was my small pink digital camera which I loved dearly up to that day. It was the first time I held something that precious in my hands and I could somehow understand Rachel’s fear of hanging up the projector – the most important part of their kit. It was a huge joy to spend the whole afternoon practicing and familiarising myself with the camera and taking pictures of everything and everyone around me. It was nice to have an actual task and to feel like a part of the crew. There was always something to do. The main aim was to set up the projector and adjust its height and angle as well as to test the picture on an actual screen. This might sound like no big deal, but it’s quite time consuming when you see the amount of equipment that is essential for these processes. The hours went by faster than I could have imagined.

IMG_2079

Not long after us the musicians arrived who were responsible for the live soundtrack during the screening. A big applause for ‘Partial Facsimile’ is in order at this point. Their whole performance was amazing, not only their focus on detail, but also their wonderful costumes. For a start there were Laila (who didn’t dare to catch a breath during the whole day) and Steve, both guitarists. I was amazed by the amount of stuff they brought into that little room. At some point I had real doubts that there was still space for the audience in the end.

IMG_2086

It was great fun to test my camera skills now on more than two people (I hope Rachel and Rob didn’t feel harassed by the constant clicking of me pressing the camera button, I swear I would have been). Taking pictures of moving people is harder than I imagined before, but it was definitely great fun catching people off guard and documenting their working process.

Time for the lunch break! Fish and chips are always a good thing to fill your stomach, especially when you had just a small breakfast and are rushing around all day. The break gave us a nice time to sit down and to get to know each other a little bit more. Steve is from Liverpool and composed most of the music as well as playing the guitar. The same applies for Laila. She was so engaged with the set up and preparation for the screening, she would not have a proper lunch. I know that feeling so well. When you are excited and stressed out at the same time, food doesn’t seem like a good idea. After lunch the remaining musicians arrived –Ben and Andy. Ben’s task for the screening was the impersonation of Dr Caligari himself (more about that outstanding performance later), while Andy was responsible for a beautiful bass.

At this point I’d like to stress the kindness of the people at the Redoubt Fortress. They were very friendly and quite excited to see the film themselves. Also, when I visited the Fortress’s museum, I got a very detailed tour of small, specific features the visitor may overlook. They had always a sympathetic ear for us, and were there whenever we needed a hand. Thank you!

After my visit in the museum it was my time to head out to a work-related appointment while the others were getting ready to welcome the audience. To my relief, I made it back in time to take photos of the visitors before the lights went out. The appearance of the room we had prepared in the afternoon completely changed – not only because of the darkness that conquered every corner of the Fortress, but also the vast quantities of equipment had vanished. The musicians wore their theme matching costumes and had covered their faces with white colour – a perfect addition to the whole composition of this wonderful location, the upcoming film and their very own soundtrack.

IMG_2241

The room was filled with people and I used the remaining minutes to the start of the film to take pictures of the audience and the whole ambience. The Filmspotters did an amazing job of installing subtle lights in forms of candles and background lamps in different colours to create a haunting atmosphere.
I have never seen ‘Das Cabinet des Dr Caligari’ before, so I was quite excited about it as well. While Rachel went to the front and welcomed everyone officially, Rob and the musicians got ready to start the movie and the soundtrack in the exact same moment. Their efforts definitely paid off in the end, because it was essential for the synchronicity of both elements.

I won’t talk much about the actual movie itself because I think everyone should watch it for themselves. As much as I can say is that it was gripping and fascinating at the same time. You don’t need voices to be sucked in that haunting story. You would sit at the edge of your seat, not entirely sure if you are able to stand the intensity of the close-up shots of Dr Caligari combined with the live soundtrack. But not only the soundtrack gave me the chills, it was Ben’s impersonation of Dr Caligari as well. His deep breaths, his laughter – I was genuinely scared of him, I hope he is satisfied. I almost forgot to take pictures at this point!

IMG_2247

At the end of the film I just sat there on my chair, dwelling in the post-film atmosphere, before I took some last photos.
One day with Filmspot actually reawakened my longing for watching classical movies again and my interest for touring cinemas. Not only because of the screening itself but also seeing the effort and love behind the scenes, seeing how much everyone have put into this project to make the best of it.
It was so much fun to be part of that team for one day and I would do it again immediately. I hope to be back again, maybe as photographer or just as part of the audience, we’ll see.

But I will be back.

P.S. Okay, that sounded like a threat, of course it wasn’t meant that way . . . or was it?

IMG_2289

Magnificent Motors and Amazing Aircraft…

A big thank you to all of you who came out to the Western Lawns in Eastbourne to support the Magnificent Motors drive-in on Bank Holiday Saturday last week. We helped  facilitate the screening of The Italian Job, which was run by the Eastbourne Borough Council Events Team. It was great to see you all – including some of the classic cars that came and really added to the atmosphere. We have another great event coming up this week, do see the end of this post for details!

Here are a few photographs from the evening:

photo 2

Cars of all shapes and sizes came out to enjoy this classic British film.

 

We were pleased to see so many people brave the blustery wind, which fortunately calmed down by halfway through the film.

We were pleased to see so many people brave the blustery wind, which fortunately calmed down by halfway through the film.

photo 1

As the sun went down, we were very pleased to see a ‘red sky at night’! We were also very pleased to be parked next door to this charming vintage Ford Anglia!

 

photo 4

As darkness descended, the seaside lights gave a very atmospheric glow!

photo 5

Thanks to everyone who came along – we hope you enjoyed the event!

Don’t forget we have our FREE screening of The Dam Busters at Newhaven Fort this week – it’s on Thursday, as part of Museums at NightDoors open at 6.30pm, with the programme starting at 7.30pm, and we are expecting  a crowd, so do make sure you book your ticket in advance. To book, contact Newhaven Fort on 01273 517622.

A classic British war filmThe Dam Busters stars MIchael Redgrave as Barnes Willis, the inventor of the bouncing bomb. The first section of the film focuses on the background of Willis’s work on the bomb, and solving the problem of how to attack the Ruhr Valley dams from the air. The second section of the film focuses on the ‘Dam Busters’ raid itself, with some riveting flight sequences featuring specially modified Lancaster Bombers. Here’s a great clip from the film with an unusual bit of problem solving:

We hope to see you all at Newhaven Fort!

Call for performers and unwanted brollies – and ‘Great White Silence’ postponed

Yes, unfortunately we have had to postpone our upcoming screening of ‘The Great White Silence‘ at Salisbury & South Wiltshire Museum, due to unforeseen circumstances. This was originally planned for Saturday 9 March, but will now happen on Saturday 5 October. If you already hold a ticket, these will still be valid for the new date – but if you would like to discuss the screening, or cannot make 5th October, do please contact Salisbury Museum directly on 01722 332151.

If you live in East Sussex, our screening at Newhaven Fort will go ahead as planned, on 15 June.

On a completely different note, we are looking for volunteer ushers/ usherettes/ performers for our upcoming Hollywood themed weekend at Eastbourne Devonshire Park Tennis Centre, where we will be showing:

5th April – SUNSET BOULEVARD: 7.30pm (doors 7.00pm)

6th April – SINGIN IN THE RAIN: 4.00pm (doors 3.30pm)

See my previous post for full details and trailers for each of the films.

We are looking for ‘vintage’ ushers and usherettes for both events. For Sunset Boulevard, we are recruiting performers to take the part of 1950s paparazzi, to create a buzz on our ‘red carpet’, at the entrance to the screening. For Singin’ in the Rain, Filmspot are looking for a number of dancers or performers to dress up in yellow macs, wielding brollies (the suspicious need not apply!). We will provide costumes.

We can offer travel expenses and food – and the chance to dress up and be the envy of all your friends! We are going to be filming at the event, and can provide any performers who take part with copies of videos, for their portfolios.

Email Rachel Hunter, Co-Director of Filmspot, for details: rachel@filmspot.org.uk or call 07525 357393.

ALSO! We are looking for donations of any unwanted or broken umbrellas for a large-scale installation at the Devonshire Park Lawn Tennis Centre

Any donations are gratefully received – please contact Rachel Hunter (rachel@filmspot.org.uk or 07525 357393).

 

 

Announcing our Spring/ Summer Season!

We are really pleased to be presenting our upcoming season of films for 2013. There is one final addition to the programme, which we are in the process of confirming, so do check back in the next week or two for details of that, but in the meantime, get out the diary and start marking up dates! We’re looking forward to seeing you all at events around the South East soon!

The Great White Silence (1924) [U]

at Salisbury Museum, Saturday 9th March, 2.30pm (doors 2.00pm)

I posted about this remarkable film a couple of weeks ago, so for further information, please look back to my last post. Last time, I included the trailer, but for those of you who can’t wait for the event, here’s a few Q&As about the film from the BFI:

Tickets: £6 Members of Salisbury Museum, £8 Non-Members

From: 01722 332151

 

The Golden Age of Hollywood Weekend

at Devonshire Park Tennis Centre, Friday 5th and Saturday 6th April

Filmspot are delighted to be partnering up with Eastbourne Borough Council Events to present two very different films about Hollywood, with theatrical touches, music, period trailers and themed snacks.

Sunset Boulevard (1950) [PG]

Friday 5th April, 7.30pm (doors 7.00pm)

Widely regarded as one of the greatest films of American cinema, Billy Wilder‘s classic noir is a scathing satire of the movie industry. William Holden portrays an unsuccessful screenwriter who is sucked into a web of sleaze and insanity by a deluded, faded silent movie star, played by tour-de-force, Gloria Swanson.

Tickets: £6.50 adults, £4.00 children

From: http://www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/What%27s_On/show.asp?showID=2670

Singin’ in the Rain (1952) [U]

Saturday 6th April, 4.00pm (doors 3.30pm)

Gene Kelly’s comedy-musical is a lighthearted look at Hollywood’s transition from silent film to ‘talkies’. Starring Kelly alongside the undisputed talents of Donald O’Connor and Debbie Reynolds, the films boasts instantly recognisable tunes, fun and awe-inspiring dance routines and charming comic performances. A sure-fire hit for the entire family! dance routines and charming comic performances.

Tickets: £6.50 adults, £4.00 children, £18.00 family (two adults, two)

From: http://www.eastbournetheatres.co.uk/What%27s_On/show.asp?showID=2671

Filmspot at Newhaven Fort

Filmspot are delighted to be working with Newhaven Fort again in 2013 for three exciting film screening events. Expect theatrical touches, installations, as well as period trailers and newsreels to set the scene. Themed refreshments will be available, including a licenced café.

The Dam Busters (1955) [U]

at Newhaven Fort, Thursday 16th May, 7.30pm (doors 6.30pm)

To celebrate the 70th anniversary of the RAF Squadron 617’s raid on the Ruhr Valley dams, Filmspot are pleased to be presenting a special screening of The Dam Busters at Newhaven Fort, as part of Museums at Night.

Based on true events as featured in the book Enemy Coast Ahead by Wing Commander Guy Gibson, the film focuses on scientist Barnes Willis’s (played by Michael Redgrave) work on the ‘bouncing bomb’ during WWII, as well as on the mission itself. The breathtaking footage of aircraft required that five Lancaster Bombers were rebuilt, with the aircraft expenses making up a tenth of the film’s overall budget. With its ‘docu-drama’ tone, stellar cast and memorable music, The Dam Busters is regarded as one of the finest British war films.

Tickets for The Dam Busters are free but must be booked in advance.

Call Newhaven Fort for bookings on 01273 517622 

The Great White Silence (1924) [U]

At Newhaven Fort, Saturday 15th June, 7.30pm (doors 7pm)

We are taking Captain Scott and company on the road – for those of you who cannot quite get to Salisbury on 9 March, we are presenting The Great White Silence in the atmospheric setting of Newhaven Fort.

Tickets: Adults: £6.00; Children: £4.00.

Call Newhaven Fort for bookings on 01273 517622

 

As I mentioned above, we have one more very special screening to be confirmed for our Spring/ Summer season, more news on that to follow, but in the meantime get booking your tickets – we hope to see you all soon! 

The end of summer, and looking forward to Autumn!

Team Filmspot have had a great Summer – we hope that those of you who came along to Eastbourne enjoyed ‘The Muppets‘ and ‘Chariots of Fire‘, at the beginning of the month.

‘The Muppets’ was a great success, with glorious sunshine beating down on the Wish Tower Slopes. A big audience came along, many clutching their very own muppets – it was good to see so many Kermits and Gonzos in attendance!

The people of Eastbourne, settling down in the sunshine for a screening of ‘The Muppets’.

Unfortunately, the sun did not have his hat on for ‘Chariots of Fire’ the following day, but those who braved the elements certainly seemed to enjoy themselves, and it is always good to see this classic – as one last hurrah for the Olympic/ Paralympic season!

Unfortunately, the weather was against us at ‘Chariots of Fire’. It was a bit grey and drizzly, but still we had plenty of film fans who battled the elements, wrapped in blankets, to watch the film.
Many people brought picnics, including Team Filmspot – who enjoyed it while the sun was still (weakly) shining, at the beginning of the event!

So, now we’re looking towards Autumn. We have many plans for the upcoming season, some are yet to be confirmed, so do keep an eye on the blog and the website. At the moment, our next confirmed screening is ‘ET’ at Newhaven Fort on Saturday 3 November (Doors 3pm, film 3.10pm). It will be a real occasion – an event to ward off the Autumn chill – with some typically Filmspot twists.

So, here to whet your appetite is the trailer!

Hope to see you all there!

 

STOP PRESS: Chariots of Muppets descending upon Eastbourne this weekend – and Willy Wonka report

Hello Filmspotters – lots of news for you in this blog, so I’ll just plough straight in!

Filmspot have helped to organise films for Eastbourne Borough Council’s Great British Weekend, this weekend. The events will take place at the Wish Tower Slopes, and are completely free! The films are to complement two fantastic live events, shown on a big screen, organised by the Borough Council.

On Saturday 8 September, the celebrations kick off at 4.30pm, with a screening of The Muppets [2011], followed by the BBC’s Last Night of the Proms, featuring music from Delius, Verdi,Puccini, Dvorak, Richard Rodgers, John Williams Olympic Fanfare and theme and the traditional Henry Wood Fantasia on British Sea Songs together with Edward Elgar’s Land of Hope and Glory and Jerusalem orchestration.

So, to whet your appetite, here’s a splendidly ridiculous musical moment:

On Sunday 9 September, we will all be getting into the 2012 spirit with Chariots of Fire [1981] at 4.30pm, which will of course be followed by the London 2012 Paralympic Games Closing Ceremony at 7pm, including the parade of athletes, the extinguishing of the Paralympic flame and the passing of the flag to the next host city of Rio de Janeiro, along with musical performances headlined by Coldplay.

Here’s a taster of Sunday’s iconic offering:

There will be a bar and refreshments for both evenings, and dressing in red, white and blue is definitely encouraged! It promises to be a really fun, lively weekend.

For further details, please see www.visiteastbourne.com or call 0871 663 0031.

….and in other news: WILLY WONKA A HUGE, ROUSING SUCCESS!

Yes, apologies for taking a while to post these photographs, but it has taken a few days for the Filmspot team to come back to reality after entering a world of pure imagination at Newhaven Fort over the August Bank Holiday weekend.

Image

Martyna Dawidowska created a fantastic short animation, especially for the event, which was projected in the Eastern Magazine and at the beginning of the screening

Image

Two of our wonderful volunteers, Sophie Halas and Alexia Lazou, helped to greet the audience

Image

….and everybody in the audience enjoyed a Wonka-themed treat – delightful Wonka-esque marshmallows, sourced by Sweet Moments in Seaford, and quirky cake pops

It was a sell-out show!

Image

Designer-maker Adam Prior did a fantastic job on the brilliant props for the event – even Willy Wonka himself seems to approve!

Image

As ever, veteran Filmspotter Lukas looked the part! This time, seeming to channel the spirit of Wonka himself!

Image

So here’s the team (L-R: Alexia, Sophie, Filmspot Co-Directors Rob Cunningham and Rachel Hunter, Designer Adam Prior and Magician David Girt

This great musical has a dedicated following – we had lots of interest in the event, and you may have seen/ heard some of the local media coverage. We were featured on  BBC Radio Sussex and in The Argus and Sussex Express. We’d like to say a big thank you to all of you who came along and all our helpers – you all helped to create a really magical atmosphere!

….so that’s it for now! I hope you’re now all off ransacking your wardrobes for your best red, white and blue – and we’ll see you in Eastbourne!

Happy New Year, Filmspotters!

…yes, sorry it’s been a long time coming, but the Filmspot team has been busy getting various projects together for this year. 2012 promises to be our busiest year yet!

First off, I must thank all of you who came along to our Christmas events in Eastbourne and helped to make them very special. We were really pleased to see everybody enjoying themselves, the films, and getting into the Christmas spirit. We’d like to give our special thanks to our Father Christmas (David Girt), and Abi, Aruna and Ellie – our lovely usherettes.

Usherettes at Filmspot screenings in Eastbourne

Abi and Aruna, two of our lovely usherettes

It’s difficult to say who enjoyed ‘The Muppet Christmas Carol’ the most – the children in attendance or their parents! There was a special appearance from Kermit and two muppet-like friends.

Watching a B-Movie before 'The Muppet Christmas Carol'

Father Christmas and guests enjoying the B-Movie before 'A Muppet Christmas Carol'

‘White Christmas’ went down a storm, including our wonderful ‘in cinema’ choir – everybody enjoyed singing along with ‘We Wish you a Merry Christmas’ and ‘Silent Night’, even if it was perhaps more hilarious than musical!

Filmspot projections on Eastbourne International Lawn Tennis Centre

Projections on the front of Eastbourne International Lawn Tennis Centre

'White Christmas' at the International Lawn Tennis Centre

The audience enjoying 'White Christmas' at the Eastbourne International Lawn Tennis Centre

We have some excellent screenings planned for 2012, and information will follow very soon (we’re just ironing out the fine details!), but we are very pleased to say that we shall definitely be coming back to Newhaven Fort for two big family events this year, and we will be working with the CMPCA Festival for the third year. We are also in conversation with a couple of new venues, so keep your eyes peeled for film screenings in your area.

We thought we’d kick off the 2012 blog with just a few of our recommended films from 2011…

Attack the Block (Dir: Joe Cornish)
Joe Cornish, well known here in the UK for being the Joe in the Adam and Joe Show, strutted his directorial stuff in this very British twist on the sci-fi genre. As regular readers will be aware, the Filmspot team are very much of a geekish outlook (I think it comes with the territory), so it was inevitable this one would make our list! I know many have seen the aliens as being somewhat of a ‘cop out’, but I thought that they were very effective, and the young non-actors gave the film a refreshing lift.

The Adventures of Tintin (Dir: Steven Spielberg)

Spielberg had to tread very carefully indeed to pull off a big screen adaptation of Tintin, and surprisingly he did pull it off, with gusto. Precious Tintin-nerds aside, the film really nailed the sense of fun from Herge’s original Bande Dessinees. The motion captured CGI worked well – and knowing of Herge’s reputation of perfectionism, I’m sure he would have approved of the realistic movements and textures of the visuals.

Super 8 (Dir: J J Abrams) 

Said by many to be Steven Spielberg’s protege, J.J.Abrams’s summer blockbuster took us back to the blockbusters of our childhoods, which I suppose tells you something about the age of the Filmspot team. Abrams clearly enjoyed putting across a flavour of the late 70s, and yes, it does have its explosions and CGI aliens, but the film also has a STORY – something sadly lacking in an awful lot of recent popcorn-fodder.

Pina (Dir: Wim Wenders)

We’re not always convinced by 3D films (although two make it onto our list here!), but Pina saw an interesting use of the medium. This is Wim Wenders’s tribute to the great choreographer Pina Bausch. Although much of the film is (very interesting and enjoyable) archive footage and interviews, certainly the stand-out sections are the performances of dances, taken off the soundstage and out into outdoor settings.

Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy (Dir: Tomas Alfredson)

Swedish director Tomas Alfredson brings Le Carré’s spy thriller  to the big screen, and gives it a very Scandinavian flavour. Slow-moving and filled with paranoia and intrigue, the film paints a vivid picture of the cold war era. The cinematography and editing give a very meditative, still feel – especially when seen in the context of the zippy editing and bright colours of many of the more ‘blockbuster’ popcorn titles from last year.

…of course, there are plenty of films from 2011 that we are looking forward to seeing, including Johnny Depp’s second turn as Hunter S. Thompson in Bruce Robinson’s The Rum Diaries, Terence Malik’s highly regarded The Tree of Life, Studio Ghibli’s offering of Arrietty and Andrea Arnold’s Wuthering Heights. 

As well giving us a chance to reflect on 2011, the New Year is also full of promise with some wonderful films due for release over the next twelve months, and we’ll be posting some of our most anticipated titles in our next blog post!