For those new to the concept, Secret Cinema is a live experience that throws you into the world of iconic Hollywood movies by combining film screenings with interactive performances in purpose-built sets. Having successfully brought ‘Back To The Future’ and ‘Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back’ to life through their series of sell-out summer events, Secret Cinema returns to London for its latest immersive cinema experience.
This time around, Secret Cinema has reintroduced its ‘Tell No One’ motto in the hope that the film and the event stays a surprise to ticket holders before they enter. This makes it all the more exciting, but at the same time all the more difficult to prepare.
So, without mentioning the film or anything specific (and keeping it spoiler-free) we have some tips and advice that should help improve your immersive cinema experience.
You’ll be split up at the beginning
When you sign up for Secret Cinema 2016, you’ll be given a profile and a character type. On the day, you are immediately separated into those character groups as soon as you arrive. So if you’re going with other people who have been given different roles (this will be pretty obvious when you get your information), you will be split up right at the start. If you’re not expecting it, that can be annoying, but knowing it’s going to happen makes it much easier to plan ahead.
Speak to as many people as possible
Take this initial solitude and use it to your advantage. The first stage of the event is your perfect opportunity to chat to fellow guests (who are more than likely to be going solo at this point too). Now, you’re probably not going to be BFFs, but it’s a good idea to make interim mates between now and when you see your actual, real-life friends a little later. Also, it will help you ease into the whole evening and push you through the 'polite, silent Brit’ barrier.
This applies to the main sections of the event also. The more you speak to people, the more information you are given, the more tasks you get set and the more locations this unlocks. Go big or go home.
The toilets are a good meeting point
After about 20 mins you will have the chance to find your friends again, but it can take a while (no phones and all that). There are quite a few good meeting places at Secret Cinema 2016. Unfortunately we can’t really suggest any particularly interesting ones as they might give away some clues/spoilers. So, the best advice is just to meet up outside the toilets. There’s only one toilet area (and it’s near the entrance) so it should make it pretty simple.
Get stuck in IMMEDIATELY
Depending on what time you arrive, once inside the event, you have between 1 hour to 1 hour 45 mins to explore the pre-film world (the film part starts at around 8pm). Honestly, that time flies and there is SO MUCH to do. This is why finding your friends quickly is key. This advice only applies if you do actually want to fully engage with the experience.
Take something to write with
We’re not sure why some sort of writing instrument isn’t featured on the list of items you need to bring to Secret Cinema 2016, but unless you want to spend the evening a) unable to do any of the activities or b) constantly asking to borrow a pen from complete strangers - we strongly recommend bringing something to write with. This applies to all character types. Trust us, it’s actually pretty important.
You should do all the tasks
Each character type has a specific task set out for them when you arrive. So you’re given a good steer to begin with. Once you’ve done that, you’re pretty much free to explore. However, we decided to try our luck at the other tasks. We’d highly recommend doing this too as it helps open up entirely new areas of the event that you might have missed. It’s actually pretty easy to get involved. Just spot a group of people who are all wearing similar clothes talking to a person WITHOUT a paper folder. There will probably be a pile of documents nearby that has some instructions.
But you don’t HAVE to do the tasks
Unlike other Secret Cinemas where doing the tasks was necessary to make it to the next stage (e.g. getting some illegal spices at Star Wars), this time it’s not 100% compulsory. You can just grab a drink at the bar and get some food, but we’re assuming that if you’ve paid £67 to get in, you want to make the most of it.
Do dress up
This is pretty obvious, but this year’s dress code is so easy to execute you’d be a fool not to do it. We made a mediocre effort using clothes we already owned and it certainly made a difference. We spotted some guests who hadn’t bothered at all and they looked pretty sheepish in their regular clobber and were clearly finding it difficult to get into it.
But don’t overdress
Controversial advise here, but we’d suggest not going too OTT on the outfit. Why? People confuse you with being part of the show and you’ll get people asking you questions you literally have no idea how to answer. During the evening we asked a lot of people if they could help and were often met with blank faces and shrugging shoulders from non-actors. Do you really want to be getting that kind of hassle? Didn’t think so.
Sit in the centre of the screening room
When you’re instructed to go through to the screening room (it’s called something else at the event), try your best to grab seats in the centre of the room. As usual, the actors re-create some of the scenes while the film is playing. The majority of the action happens near the middle of the room so try to squeeze as close as you can for the best view. As we mentioned, the film starts around 8pm, so if you want the best seats head to furthest corner away from the entrance (we can’t be more specific I’m afraid) for around that time.
Stay around after the film
The film’s finished, therefore the evening is finished, right? WRONG! The bar(s) stay open after the film is over and there is live music and dancing available. So make sure you don’t just scurry out the door as soon as the credits roll.
SECRET CINEMA: TELL NO ONE is on now until 20th March. Visit www.secretcinema.org for tickets.
Image credits: Camilla Greenwell/Hanson Leatherby