Making the audience part of making the experience
We’re just back from an amazing weekend working with the Motovun Film Festival to help deliver a live and interactive cinema event. The project is part of the Live Cinema EU project, funded by the Creative Europe Media Desk and is the culmination of a series of workshops exploring the possibilities of live cinema for film festivals, as well as some amazing work from the festival programmers creating their event.
The event itself delivered on its promise to be a truly memorable audience experience. Live Cinema can take many forms, one of which can be to use a live band to create a soundtrack for a film experience. The Motovun experience went beyond just a soundtrack. The Croatian artists Mr Lee & Ivansky had been commissioned to add a live musical element to the (near) silent film Tuvalu. In their own words the band were old hands at doing soundtracks for TV and cinema. Rather than think of this as a soundtrack their approach had been more club inspired wanting to see the evening more akin to an outdoor techno event with a film as part of the experience. They’d created a continual live piece that reflected and enhanced the narrative and events within the film itself and ranging from incredibly loud and intense movements accompanying chase and protest scenes to romantic melodies accompanying the two lovers. In combination with the setting high on a hilltop in the beautiful outdoor square of a medieval village it promised to be an amazing night.
Our role was to involve the audience in the action. Some of this made use of our standard BoomBeam technology to add promotional elements and polls to the festival’s digital platform. But for the main event we’d developed a whole new element of BoomBeam technology to enable audience interactivity. The musicians / sound artists were already deeply committed to making audience involvement part of the event. They had included a number of elements in their own planning to make the audience part of making the experience. From recruiting audience members to come and play homemade instruments, to exhorting them to hum or dance at key stretches of the film they wanted to create a communal, interactive experience.
It was our role to enhance that. We’d built our system to let their smartphones become a communications tool throughout the performance, By going to a single URL on their phones or tablets, which was promoted at the beginning and throughout the event, their phone became a messaging device allowing them to receive “messages” and “instructions” at key moments. We worked closely with the artists during the run in to the event and the dress rehearsal to ensure these interactive “moments” were rooted in both the narrative of the film and the musical experience. At the beginning the moments “set the scene” and drew the audience into participating to support the heroes or the villains in the film. Moments throughout included getting the audience to become part of a protest scene, shouting and protesting, assisting film characters with noises and movements, dancing and raving and a final exhortation to join the lovers in the climactic kiss!!
We didn’t disappear on the night, we were there with the music artists making sure the app triggers were synced with the timing of the film and playing our own part in driving the audience to get involved. Audiences often need that tipping point of seeing others involved before they’re willing to do it themselves.
Every event we run we learn something new about what works in participation, how we’d get even more people interacting at future events and how to get through another 48 hour event without any sleep (you can always crash on the plane home!). It was one of those experiences for us where we were so blown away by the experience that we had to pinch ourselves and remember we were one of the cogs that made it happen. We were utterly inspired by every moment of being part of such an innovative event and such a powerful demonstration of the role live cinema can have in creating audience experiences that bring new audiences into European cinema.”