How did Backyard Cinema start?
It started as a passion project in my actual back garden which is where the name comes from. I wanted to play films outside over the summer, so built a screen out of old pallets and a bed sheet. From there we introduced a BBQ, a bathtub of cold beers and extras like popcorn cups and even themed evenings where everyone came as the Blues Brothers.
At what point did you see Backyard Cinema becoming a business?
Well after a while of hosting these cinema nights it was costing me a fortune, putting on all the food and drinks so I tried to get my mates to give a £5.00 donation so I could continue hosting them. They very quickly told me where to go and I thought to myself, ‘I wonder if I could get strangers to pay for this?’ So I created a site and did a proper logo and found a venue in East London. A small basement which I filled with camping chairs and sold tickets to mainly friends and family at first but after the first show it was half full of people I didn’t know who were willing to pay for what we had on offer, that’s when I realised this might have legs.
You have done a few pop ups, which has been your most successful and why?
Our Christmas addition ‘The Winter Night Garden’ I think has to be our most successful. We were part of a much larger event, Winterville based in Victoria Park, East London and the main difference here was that we had a plot of land in an empty field and therefore had to build everything ourselves. It was Pop-up to the extreme. A huge marquee, a huge stretch tent and then inside, one of our biggest and most detailed builds, a huge enchanted forest that could only be accessed through a secret tunnel of trees through a magical wardrobe. It was hugely successful and really put us on the map for ‘themed cinema’ and has shaped the whole company strategy now.
What are you most looking forward to about the latest pop up?
Well it’s a jungle. We have actually built a jungle. That and the amazing entrance, we like to keep a few bits left as a surprise but when customers arrive, from the moment they enter into this setting they will be transported to another world and I can’t wait to see how excited everyone looks when they realise how different this is to any cinema they have ever been to before.
Do you think immersive cinemas are the future? Would you ever like to partner with a major cinema chain?
I think immersive cinema has already proven to be a huge part of the market. There are other great companies out there, Secret Cinema as an obvious flag ship for this kind of thing and with other immersive theatres or restaurants becoming more and more popular I definitely think this is at least a future of cinema. As for a major cinema, I still don’t think they really understand what we do so I think a partnership would be pretty unlikely.
Where do you see Backyard Cinema in five years?
Hopefully still creating new and exciting worlds for you to watch films and ideally providing them in multiple places across London or the UK.
What’s your favourite film?
Jurassic Park, every time. Everything about it still gets me excited. I think because when I watched it in the cinema, aged 8 I had to be taken out by my dad as I was too scared. That T-Rex eating the guy off the toilet seat was the final straw! I guess I am re-claiming it in my adulthood.
Backyard Cinema will be taking over a new space in Mercato Metropolitao, SE1 6DR. Showing films all based around the jungle theme Backyard Cinema will only be available for six weeks. Get your tickets whilst you can at www.backyardcinema.co.uk