Stuff that occurs to me

All of my 'how to' posts are tagged here. The most popular posts are about blocking and private accounts on Twitter, also the science communication jobs list. None of the science or medical information I might post to this blog should be taken as medical advice (I'm not medically trained).

Think of this blog as a sort of nursery for my half-baked ideas hence 'stuff that occurs to me'.

Contact: @JoBrodie Email: jo DOT brodie AT gmail DOT com

Science in London: The 2018/19 scientific society talks in London blog post

Friday, 6 September 2013

Why don't we watch television programmes in the cinema a bit more?

Edit 5 November 2013 - well I'm very pleased to note that the first episode of the new third series of Sherlock is going to be shown at the BFI on Sunday 15 December at 1pm. Public tickets go on sale next week, or tomorrow at 11.30 am for members.

I've just been to a preview at the BFI's NFT3 screen of the first episode of Neil Brand's new BBC Four television programme on film music (Sound of Cinema). Film music is one of my favourite things ever and since there's so much going on at the moment that's about film music (events, talks, TV and radio programmes) it must seem that I'm unusually obsessed with it at the moment (yup). I've posted information about all sorts of things happening over at one of my other blogs (Sound Stuff).

Neil's programme is brilliant - the opening sequence is pretty funny and exceptionally well done. I also learned loads and have discovered what a click track is, developed by Max Steiner apparently.

As a science communicator I always enjoy hearing from people in other 'disciplines' explaining their knowledge in an accessible way so the programme ticks a lot of boxes for me. It's part of the BBC's 'Sound of Cinema Season' of film music programming across radio and television and there are three episodes in Neil's series covering orchestral scores (ep 1), pop / rock (ep 2) and electronic (ep 3). By the way there's a LOT of cool information in both of the links in this paragraph!

First episode's being broadcast on Thursday 12th September 2013 on BBC Four at 9pm. The next night (Fri 13th) I think they're showing Prom 65 which is the Film Prom I went to at the weekend. Pretty sure Neil's presenting that as well actually.

One of the audience members at tonight's event asked if all three of the episodes could be shown on the big screen at the BFI, and that exact same thought had popped into my head while watching the episode. It's an unusual treat (for me) to see television programmes on a big screen and I wondered and tweeted on my way home about why more TV isn't viewed in the cinema.

Possibly there are some good reasons why it's not done but here's my thinking on why it's an utterly brilliant idea.

1. Cinemas seem to want to increase their audiences and have tried all sorts of things to do so. Clearly film is always going to be more of a fit to a cinema screen than television but you can watch 3D sport in cinema screens these days (see 'Exploring alternative content in digital cinema' - I'm afraid only the abstract's available unless you have institutional login). Some pubs have big screens and show sport there and I've seen The Simpsons on more than one pub screen.

2. Admittedly this is more anecdata than data but there is a small precedent for this sort of thing. I went to see an episode of the TV comedy programme 'The Academy' at the Prince Charles Cinema. Ian McKellen (as his 'brother' Murray McKellen, the Principal of the struggling Clapham Academy of Creative Arts, CACA) and Jonathan Hyde and several others from the 'school' were there along with the 'students' and they performed in between clips and it was incredibly good fun. Incidentally everyone was given a card from 'Murray' inviting us to upload photographs of the event (while respecting the on-screen footage and not recording that) and tweet with a particular hashtag - it was an extremely competent bit of multimedia and social media fun.

3. The film 'A Field in England' was recently simultaneously released in cinemas, digital and on television over a weekend in August. Despite people perhaps expecting that everyone would 'just watch it on television'... apparently not, it did quite well in the cinema and has been highlighted as an example of how effective a simultaneous multi-platform release can be. Mark Kermode seems to hold that model of film release in high regard and Film4 (who were behind the film's production and release) blogged about how it had all gone, pretty interesting stuff (see 'A Field In England multiplatform release: the results' from Film4's blog).
4. Scalarama (the amazingly brilliant UK-wide film festival which encourages people into cinemas and also to turn non-cinemas into screening locations along the lines of 'let's fill this land with cinemas') happens to have some much-loved TV shows in among its programming and I've also been to see a series of 'shorts' at the BFI which was all from television, I think.

5. Thank you to @bigdinosaurprod who pointed out, after my series of tweets, that the BFI do in fact have TV marathons on the big screen and that they're pretty well attended. We both wondered why there aren't more of them.

6. Harking back to example (2) where a programme is augmented with a live event... I can imagine that the fans of Dr Who and Sherlock (for example) would welcome the idea of episodes being screened, perhaps alongside Q&As with the writers and producers etc. @bigdinosaurprod also tells me (while writing this blog post in fact!) that the BFI is indeed screening episodes from Dr Who. Gosh!

There's recently been a Dr Who prom and in the last couple of weeks there has been some mumblings about a Sherlock prom next year (see Radio Times interview with one of the series' composers and the Facebook page of the other composer where he asks 'Would you go to a Sherlock prom?').

So... assuming TV producers are happy with the idea and that it's as practicable and straightforward as I've assumed it is (I accept it might be a 'bit more complicated than that')... can cinemas show more TV programmes as well as films (after all TV shows plenty of films!) please?

7. Open air cinema has either increased massively in popularity over the last few years, or it's got better at advertising itself (or I've got better at finding it). In London alone there were well over 250 screenings during the summer in 2013, still ongoing. I collected most of them here (as I do for most years, I've a collection of previous open air screenings in London since 2006 here). I can imagine TV programmes would do pretty well on an open air screen.

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