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how to build a cinema

how to build a cinema

~10 mins - Super16mm - B&W - 2015-16

in the first half of 2014 myself and a handful of others took over a building in lewisham, south east london, with the intention of turning it into a volunteer-run, not-for-profit arts cinema. lewisham is one of two london boroughs with no dedicated cinema at all, despite being in one of the world's wealthiest cities, which is also an international centre of film exhibition and production.

our aim was not to single-handedly build a cinema, but to invite anyone who was interested to help set up, build, programme, run, clean, promote, and generally be part of, a forward-thinking arts organisation and community. by july we had our first public meeting, and this has happened weekly ever since. we're now programming films; have a nearly-complete two-floor cinema and arts space; and above all, a community of around 400 people who have volunteered in some capacity, big or small, to make it happen. the cinema is a truly shared joint effort, and i have met some of the best people i know through being part of it.

whilst all this has been going on, i have been documenting our work on film. working on B&W negative super16mm, with a bolex, i've been capturing the building in different states; fellow volunteers undertaking different tasks; the local area. the film is process-driven and true to the ethos of the organisation. whilst it is 'authored', it is also rooted in a place, and co-operatively made. we will ultimately build a darkroom within the cinema, and process the film together there. its first screening will be in the space of which it documents construction.

Commissioned by: Deptford Cinema