Pop-up cinema offers movie-going alternative

Gibsons Public Market

We’ve seen pop-up stores and pop-up galleries on the Sunshine Coast. Now there’s pop-up cinema. 

Gibsons Public Market has engaged B.C.-based startup Hoovie Movie to show some films over the next few months, drawing from Hoovie’s catalogue of documentary films like Fractured Land, which the Market screened to a paying audience of about 30 people on Sunday, Jan. 27. 

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“We only have three screening venues on the Coast [Raven’s Cry Theatre, Gibsons Cinema and Heritage Playhouse], so it might be nice to see what the response is here,” events manager Jenn McRae said in an interview. “We’re really happy to make it happen and I think it’s a nice thing to be doing at the Public Market.” 

Hoovie Movie was co-founded last October by Vancouver’s Fiona Rayher and Hilary Henegar, of Duncan, B.C. The company’s ambition is threefold: to make so-called “activist documentary” films like Fractured Land more readily available; to support quality, non-mainstream filmmakers; and to offer audiences a different kind of movie-watching experience. 

“Step through the door to the new cinema – where you don’t just watch a movie, but meet people and talk,” Hoovie says on its website. “You could host eight people in your living room or 40 people in the backyard.” 

That concept of a small-scale and more friendly film experience is largely what drew Henegar into the project as chief operating officer. “You could give someone a full-body experience, sitting watching a movie, putting them with other humans outside of a big-box movie theatre. When something happens on-screen, you can turn to someone and make eye contact and connect with them about that moving moment, or you can have a conversation afterwards where you’re bringing together your ideas.” 

Henegar, who studied film at New York University and worked in the mainstream industry, also is pleased to help provide another outlet for alternative cinema. 

“Distributors are having as much trouble as filmmakers are in finding audiences. The distribution landscape is so complicated. It’s very corporate and really favours studio films and increasingly it’s harder for distributors to get their films onto movie theatre screens,” she said. “What we offer is a whole other network of audiences and screening venues.” 

The host chooses a film from the online catalogue, then creates a listing, sets whatever ticket price they want and spreads the word about the screening. Guests book their tickets via the Hoovie website. The film is made available through a temporary web link. Hosts get 50 per cent of ticket sales, the filmmaker or distributor get 30 per cent, and Hoovie “uses its 20 per cent to keep the whole thing running.” 

McRae said Gibsons Public Market has scheduled two more Hoovie-delivered films, and more might follow. How to Change the World will be shown in February, and Bugs – a documentary on insect protein – will screen in March, followed by a talk with the owner of B.C.-based Coast Protein.

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