Saturday, October 19, 2013

Interview: Ned Loach, Co-Founder of 360 Screenings

L-R Robert Gontier, Ned Loach co-founders 360 Screenings
From Screen To Stage
by Jasmine Chen

Ned Loach, Co-Founder of 360 Screenings spoke with CharPo Senior Contributor Jasmine Chen.

CHARPO: What was the genesis of 360 Screenings? What inspired you to create this experience for audiences?

LOACH: Our Artistic Director Robert Gontier and I lived in London, UK for several years and while we were there we went to as many theatre shows and cultural events as we could. We noticed a trend of immersive theatre, but more specifically a kind of theatre that blended many different artistic forms. When we came back, we wondered if this kind of immersive theatre was happening in Toronto. While there was a lot of immersive theatre, there wasn't as much blending of different disciplines. That's when we decided to create a hybrid theatre and film event. We're a year and a half in and we're still growing.

CHARPO: How do you choose which films to screen and recreate theatrically?

LOACH: We put each film through a test that we've created. It's a test of three questions and/or guidelines. The first one is, Characters: Are they Iconic? Are they easily identifiable? Are they relatable? The second is, What is the world of the film? Is it interesting for us to recreate design-wise? Amelie, for example, is so vivid and people remember the colours. Lastly, Themes: We like to find themes to centre the screening around. For example, 28 Days Later is about survival and how far people are wiling to go in order to stay alive. In Amelie, we ask ourselves, what is the journey people go on when trying to find love?

CHARPO: Who is behind the live theatre portions of the evening? Is the process similar to theatre where you begin with a director and designer?

LOACH: We have a head designer and she does all the design work behind each event. Once we have chosen our venue, she conceptualizes the space. Robert then casts, writes the script and creates the narrative of the event, from the moment the guests arrive to when they enter the screening, which is about an hour and a half in.

CHARPO: Why have you chosen to screen the entire film afterwards, rather than have the entire evening be interactive?

LOACH: The whole evening is shrouded in mystery, the film is only revealed at the end. We hope that in the time before the screening, the audience is actively observing what is around them. By saving the film for the end, we hope that they won't miss the details within the live portions. Only once the film is on the screen, will they know what they have been participating in; it provides closure and references to what the audience has already experienced. It brings the evening to a full circle. 

CHARPO: What do you want your audience to walk away with at the end of each screening?

LOACH: We want our audiences to walk away with the feeling of being more involved in the process of watching theatre or a movie. We're challenging the way people approach being an audience member, by creating a less passive environment. Hopefully they will have more questions surrounding the film, Why was it made? What might the Director have been thinking? It is a different way of observing film.

CHARPO: What is the next step for 360 Screenings, how do you think it will evolve?

LOACH: The next step for us is adopting a model of screening where we can offer a screening every two weeks or every week, much like theatrical runs or movie showings. We hope to grow to the point where we can offer this opportunity more often. We also partner with community vendors and independent businesses that we love to involve in our screenings. We hope to give them more exposure as well. 

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