Julian Agostini, managing director of Mash Media, reflects on his Secret Garden cinematic experience
When I was a kid, I used to love going to the cinema. It was a truly exciting day or evening out, almost magical. The big screen and beautiful, expansive auditorium filled with anticipation and the rustling of hands delving into popcorn, sweets and chocolates.
The truth is, I normally managed to get through Pearl and Dean (one for the old school) and the opening exchanges of whatever film before falling asleep in the lush velvet seats as smoke from the back circled over our heads. Those were the days.
However, for a good period after my 20s, cinema, for a time dropped out of my life completely. It was too easy to see new releases via other channels and many of the experiences I found exciting, as a child and young man, had become irritations.
In the last six or seven years, I’ve got over myself and started going again but now cinema is evolving and last night the experience returned me to those childhood levels of enthusiasm.
We went to see Rocket Man at the Secret Garden cinema; from the name you’re hoping for something at least a little off centre and this experience does not disappoint.
From the moment that you step past the ticket desk and welcoming committee, you realise that this is an event not just a film. As we were led through a mini-wonderland and met by a ‘woodland creature’ that guided us, there was no option but to smile, enjoy and be thrilled about not quite knowing what to expect next.
We ate, drank and were generally looked after before reclining onto bean bag like sofas to enjoy the show. Most of those I was with had seen the film already, which is exactly the point.
This isn’t just about the film, but the next step in cinema which is not quite as interactive as Secret Cinema, but not so much effort either. I won’t describe the whole experience as you should go yourselves, but I will definitely be returning.
The point is that going to the cinema has now become an event, like so many activities. As the High Street reinvents itself, where is it looking towards? Our industry, of course. Make coming back into town to shop part of an event and it will revitalise.
What an opportunity for our industry. The world has really woken up, over the last decade in particular, to the power of events. Let’s make sure we maximise the opportunities; they are everywhere, although you may have to turn a few stones as they might be hidden in secret gardens!