Wednesday night is Salon Cinema Club night at this year’s Scalarama Bristol. All of their screenings promise to be a whole lot of fun and they will all be screened free of charge at the Red Lion Pub.
We met up with Peter Walkinshaw, the man behind it all, to chat about what he does and how he does it.
When did you first decide that you wanted to put screenings on?
It was actually last September. I had just been a punter at Redfest 2016, a yearly community arts festival in East Bristol. It was completely fantastic; I remember sitting down with my wife and saying “there are so many people putting things on, with a lot fewer resources than I have,” I wanted to put something back into the community myself.
My angle has always been that the reducing cost of equipment means cinema can become part of the community. I am most interested in the idea of pop-up cinema, because it allows me to show the films for free.
What was your first screening and how did it go?
My first screening was of Butch Cassidy and The Sundance Kid in a local café in Redfield. It became part of the more fringe events for Scalarama Bristol last year, by which I mean I was too late for any of the print media, but I still benefited from some of the online advertising.
I included an interval in the screening, just like it would have had when it was first released, and there was chap sitting there on his own, he must have been in his late 70s, so I went over to him and I asked him “are you enjoying it?” and he spoke for about ten minutes about how he used to watch cowboy films when he was younger and about his love of cinema, and that on its own made my decision to show the film feel worthwhile.
The name Salon Cinema Club comes from the Salon Cinema that you used to visit in Glasgow. Are there any stand-out memories you have from that time?
I was fortunate enough to see Once Upon A Time In The West when it first came out and before it gained its notoriety. It was such a brave movie putting Henry Fonda in the role of villain and it really shaped my love of films. The Salon Cinema itself was a beautiful building from a different era of cinema, which I am trying in some ways to recapture.
The Salon Cinema Club line-up for Scalarama this year is quite diverse. You have a couple of modern horror films, a double-bill of music documentaries and then a screening of the Mel Brook’s comedy Blazing Saddles. Talk us through how you selected the films.
The Mist is one of my personal favourite films from recent times, I’m a big fan of the horror genre and this film does something really interesting with what it says about our lack of social integration. Cloverfield was introduced to me by my daughter, it’s such an immersive and unsettling experience.
The music night actually came about from a discussion with my venue The Red Lion, which is very much a music focused space, and I saw there was a bit of a gap in what Scalarama Bristol has shown before. Stop Making Sense the Talking Heads concert film was my idea and Ramones End Of The Century was theirs, so it was a nice collaborative effort.
And then there’s Blazing Saddles, it’s very controversial but it’s brilliant and hilarious. These are all films that I think will benefit from being seen in that communal environment.
You have managed to secure The Red Lion in Redfield for every Wednesday in September. Can you talk us through your conversations with them?
We have done a few screenings with The Red Lion before, they were our venue for Redfest and we have always been on the same page in terms of what we want to achieve. It’s great for pop-up cinema as well because they actually have cinema seats that they bring out and can accommodate about 25 people.
Looking forward – What would be your dream screening to put on?
Well I have two if I can get away with that. One would be The Exorcist, but I would try and give the audience the full context of just how controversial it was at the time. And on the other side of the fence is Cinema Paradiso, a movie about the love of cinema and the history of cinema.
Why is Bristol great for putting on screenings?
Bristol has always had a very strong arts scene and as a city is interested in all kinds of art. Bristolians aren’t content with the mainstream multiplexes and that’s why the likes of the Watershed and The Cube can do well here. There is a whole community of people who want something a bit different.
What screenings are you excited about at Scalarama Bristol?
The Cube’s Catnip series looks great, I will definitely try and get along to those nights. Then there’s the Night of Early Colour Films from South West Silents, I have started to screen some earlier cinema my self so I will be interested to see what they show.
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