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Ned and Rob, Founders of 360 Screenings (INTERVIEW)

A Peek into Their Immersive Movie Experiences

— June 20, 2013 — Business
360 Screenings has been providing movie lovers with incredible immersive movie experiences for almost a year. By combining theatrical performances with high-quality film screenings, the company has become one of the most unique business ventures in North America.

Since its opening, 360 Screenings has shown everything from horror films like '28 Days Later,' to quirky comedies, like the French sleeper hit 'Amelie.' Each film is accompanied by professional-caliber performances featuring trained actors as the characters from the film being shown. However, there is a twist. When audience members buy their tickets for a 360 Screenings event, they have no idea what the film might be. Over the weeks leading up to each screening, the company's Twitter and Facebook accounts release hints to their fans, leading to a lot of frenzied guessing and anxious party guests.

Before its most recent screening, Trend Hunter was able to sit down with Ned Loach and Robert Gontier, the co-founders of 360 Screenings, and go a little deeper into the inspiration behind this inventive venture.

1. What gave you the idea to create something like 360 Screenings?

RG:
We lived in Europe together for a while, and there were some really amazing artistic advances over there with cinema and theater. Then we started to do research about unique companies like this across the globe, and we found that it’s happening in the Middle East and Australia and in New York, so we thought, “How can we really make this our own, and put our own spin on it, and bring it back to Canadian audiences?”

When we started the company, it was important for us to try and do something new, because Toronto’s already a vibrant city with major established art forms. If we can influence a new art form in any way, or really bring people together from different cultural sectors, then we’ve done our job.

2. What makes 360 Screenings so unique?

NL:
I think what makes it so unique is combining two different forms of art: theater and film. When you combine the two, you get some really interesting things happening to create the experience.

3. How have people reacted to 360 Screenings?

RG:
There’s been a really unique following from both the artistic community and outside followers on our Twitter and Facebook pages. We love to release hints and clues, so people who are following us on those social media outlets really get the inside scoop on what we’re trying to achieve.

NL
People love trying to figure out what we’re going to screen, so as soon as we announce ticket sales we really start pumping out hints and clues on our Twitter and Facebook accounts. It’s a great way to up the buzz about the event.

4. How do you decide which films to screen, and how to incorporate performances into the screenings?

RG:
We always look at films that we can recreate. We need to pull out the themes and figure out how we can really translate them into a big venue.

NL:
With Amelie we really explored the idea of soul mates, and finding that special person and the journey of love. With 28 Days Later we looked at exactly how far you’re willing to go to survive, so we always try to find one specific idea or theme from the film.

Check out the footage from the 360 Screenings event featuring the film, One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest.

Image credit: The Torontoist
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