I had the opportunity recently to go to the current Secret Cinema showing of Blade Runner. I’m going to try and not spoil things but will give you my thoughts on the experience.
For those of you who haven’t been to Secret Cinema before the way that it works is that you spend a couple of hours having an in universe experience before watching the film and then partying to the latest tunes. Beforehand, you create a character who is of a specific type, and will be asked to bring specific props that you may use during the evening. My friends and I all came out as detectives, so we suited up and off we went.
I have been to the Empire Strikes Back version previously. I enjoyed it, but thought that the experience belonged more with A New Hope. A new feature for this year was different ticketing levels, I ended up going for VIP (everything else was sold out) which promised me a hyper real experience.
One bonus thing we got was a ride from the tube station to the cinema by Tesla. Yes, we probably walked just as far to get into the car than it was from the tube station to the cinema. However, it meant that we arrived in style, and air conditioning considering how sweaty we were from the tube ride.
I use the word bonus, because it didn’t look like a VIP thing. I think it was a mixture of them knowing that we were at the top level; there being three of us; timing; and looking like we could afford a Tesla (that is my excuse and I am sticking to it). However, it meant that we arrived in style and were made to be special.
Once we arrived we then got into the role playing aspect of the evening. You’re walked through certain scenes and most people will just observe. I was with two experienced LARPers so we played off the NPCs (the hired actors) a bit more than most people.
There was one part when we were undercover. I would ask to look at the picture at the top of the post which shouted “DETECTIVE”. Unsurprisingly, it didn’t last long. So, when were found out it was really enjoyable shouting abuse about going to arrest every single one of them whilst being booed at. I think we even convinced some of the other cinema goers that we were NPCs. I even got to do some strutting!
While watching Bladerunner later, it made me giggle that a couple of the set pieces that I took part in matched pretty well with the film. The one thing that made it for me, was the performances from the actors. It was easy to get yourself lost in the universe. Big props to the actor playing Gaff, who was simply superb.
The other thing to congratulate the organisers for was the lack of downtime. By the time we got through the acted bits, did a bit of exploring, and then got something to eat\drink, it was time for the film. I left wanting to spend more time in this world, which is far better than being bored.
The theming and set design was great, considering how small the venue seemingly was and how many people that were there. As we went to watch the film I was asking myself where all these people come from. I felt I was in Sector 4 of Los Angeles in that futuristic year 2019. Yikes 2019, that’s next year.
I’ve probably seen Blade Runner a dozen times, and I like it so that part was enjoyable. So, was the comfy VIP seats and the at seat drinks service. I still unsure about the in film extras. I liked the added crowd bits, but I’m not sure about the off screen re-enactments. Am I meant to watch those instead of the film?
Now for the big question. Was the VIP experience worth the price? For me, yes. I can be easily bored at these sorts off things if left to my own. I felt really engaged throughout the evening, and I had a large amount of fun being part of the L A P D . Having more confidence in role playing probably helped, and I had a good time. It was the sort of experience which allowed me to put my brain in a jar, which I wanted to do.
Could I have had a similar experience at a lower level? I can’t say for certain, but I was bored on Tatooine. I think I would have been if I didn’t have as much to do. I could afford it, and I left on the evening feeling happy about it.
I’ll probably be at the next sci-fi related Secret Cinema, and if there is a VIP, that’ll be me.