Mic on Mondays | George Wood - Colliers International | London

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  1. October 2018

  2. Mic on Mondays | George Wood

    9 October 2018
    George Wood is the managing director of The Luna Cinema, which is the UK’s number one open air cinema.

    Tell us about The Luna Cinema?

    The Luna Cinema is the country’s biggest open air cinema producers, we specialise in putting on cinema events of classic films shown in incredible settings, places that you would never normally expect to watch a film on a big screen.

     

    How was The Luna Cinema established?

    The company was established ten years ago, when I had a bonkers idea that open air cinema in the UK was going to work out to be a great business! It was something that I’d seen in Australia,  and I thought ‘what a great idea that is!’ and all my Australian friends when I was out travelling over there, said to me ‘your weather’s rubbish, it will never work in England.’

    Everyone said to me ‘You’re going to do open air cinema?!’ when I told them that was my big idea, ‘open air cinemas in a country that is renowned for your terrible summers!’ But bizarrely I just knew it would work, I knew that we had these incredible settings such as palaces, parks and castles; the countries’ littered with the perfect backdrop for open air cinemas. That was always in the back of my head, and it started off on a win, we trialled it once in my local park and I knew instantly that there was something brilliant about watching a film, outdoors where there’s planes going overhead and birds and the atmosphere amongst the audience was so different to a normal cinema screen. It was that that then made me think; okay this is what I’m going to do, and that was as I said ten years ago.

     

    How do you decide on the best locations to show the films?

    Choosing the best locations to show a film, is never easy in that there’s a list as long as your arm. When I first started, I remember thinking ‘if only we could get a venue like Hampton Court Palace’ which was one of the first ones that I saw as the goal, and since we got that it was amazing and incredible but then I thought ‘wouldn’t it be amazing to show a film at Warwick Castle.’ There’s always something else that I think ‘wouldn’t it be amazing!’ So in answer to the question, finding the perfect venue is always based on finding an incredible setting for the audience that amplifies the whole experience of watching this film. Whilst getting a good number of people in as we are a commercial business, we have to look at how many tickets can be sold, so we rarely make it work on a really small site. 

     

    Where is your favourite location?

    It’s really difficult choosing a favourite location, only because it feels like choosing between your kids! These are all venues that are amazing, and I’ve become friendly with the venue managers. But if I am going to choose my favourite, I suppose there is always something magical about going back to the first venue which I ever played which is Dulwich Park, which is my local park so it always feels like going home, to this corner of South East London which just makes me think ‘this is where it all began ten years ago!’ So there is something romantic about that being my answer. 

    But in terms of a venue that I think is incredible, where I feel like this venue was made for open air cinema, there are so many but Cardiff Castle is a good example, right in the middle of Cardiff is this incredible medieval castle, I always say if I were to design a venue specifically for open air cinema, it would probably be this one. Huge capacity so that you can get a great number of people in, but you’ve got these incredible medieval walls that we can up light, you’ve got a perfect backdrop of a Motte-and-bailey castle and it’s slap-bang in the middle of a major city. Everything about it works, it’s flat which we need for our screen so it’s up there. Last week we were at the Houses of Parliament and that was incredible, one of those jaw-dropping moments of watching the film against the backdrop of the Houses of Parliament, you think ‘we couldn’t be anywhere else in the world it’s amazing.’ So yeah, there’s a handful! 

     

    What does the future hold for The Luna Cinema?

    The future of The Luna Cinema, hopefully we’ll carry on doing what we’re doing. What’s kept it fresh and what’s kept me excited for a decade of doing this, is always the thought of ‘where else can we do this?’ But also looking out for the next film that’s going to move what we do onwards, and it means that it never seems to go stale. There are times that people say ‘I can’t believe you’re still showing Top Gun or Dirty Dancing or The Goonies,’ these films that we’ve shown for ten years and I always say that actually we are never just repeating these films, we are always adding something new – whether its adding in extra lighting, or updating the food menus.