Designing in secret

Very rarely would you buy a ticket for an event without knowing what you were going to see or even where it would be. But cinema experience-cum-cult Secret Cinema asks film fans to do just that and, considering the popularity of the events, the team must be doing something right.

Established by creative director Fabien Rigall, Secret Cinema takes the artistry of the silver screen and makes it into a three-dimensional space, using set designers, sound and lighting and actors to create a film-inspired theatrical experience.

A Blade Runner-themed space from the last Secret Cinema

With so much importance put on visual elements, Secret Cinema hires a crack team of creatives to take the audience on a journey into a celluloid world. Secret Cinema art director Toby Stevens gets a call once the film has been chosen ‘from a stash of films that Fabien wants to do.’ He then sets to work on the project, which usually takes a month or so to develop, by watching the film several times and scoping out the site.

Stevens says, ‘I work in film production so doing events is quite different as you have to design around fire exits and other safety things.’

Using the film as reference, Stevens gets cracking on two rooms for the event, a screening room and then another space where the bar and entertainment is located.

Working in complete secrecy, the team order in materials, telling suppliers that they need them for just ’an event’. The build tends to begin two weeks before the show is due to start, also the time when the organisers start sending out clues through social media as to what film the audience is going to see.

A Secret Cinema audience watches Blade Runner
A Secret Cinema audience watches Blade Runner

Stevens says, ‘The best thing is turning up an seeing those who know the film and half haven’t worked it out yet.’

On the first night of the event, Stevens always goes as a punter to make sure the user journey is spot on. He says, ‘It’s good to go and see people be blown away.’

Stevens wouldn’t give away any clues about the theme of the next event or what the set will entail. I suppose you’ll just have to go and see for yourself.

Secret Cinema will take place on 3, 4 and 5 September somewhere in London. See for ticket information.

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  • manoj November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am


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