Lights, camera, action: the silver screens in Deptford

The group of volunteers are busy transforming a derelict building into a cinema Pic: Deptford Cinema

The volunteers are busy transforming a derelict building into a cinema Pic: Deptford Cinema

Plans are underway for not one, but two cinematic additions to Deptford, a permanent place on Deptford Broadway – being funded through Kickstarter – and a temporary screen in the unlikely location of Deptford Creek. EastLondonLines speaks to the proprietors about their grand plans.

The Deptford Cinema at 39 Deptford Broadway

The brainchild of a group of local residents, film makers and dedicated cinema enthusiasts, drawn from across south London, this cinema hopes to provide access to challenging films for the local community and aims to give a space for new talents, experimental filmmakers and the art-house genre.

Having secured a building at 39 Deptford Broadway, the group are in the process of transforming the two-floor derelict space into a cinema, using funds donated through Kickstarter. Here, they plan to run open film nights – where people can bring along and screen their own films – and to create a community space providing entry into the world of film including programming, curation and film making.

“We wanted to create something that would have real value for the local community,” says Edwin Mingard, one of the group. “We’ll concentrate on art and arthouse film.”

The group is made up entirely of volunteers, and its main focus is keeping the cinema as accessible as possible. “We want to keep ticket prices low enough that anyone can see high-quality art on the big screen,” says Gemma Boyle, a full-time teacher and a member of the group. “We’ll have talks with film makers, an education programme, and a space that can be hired by local groups.”

The Deptford Cinema team Pic: Deptford Cinema

The Deptford Cinema team Pic: Deptford Cinema

“We’ve set up a CIC – a not-for-profit organisation – to run the building and the cinema,” says Franck Magennis, a trainee lawyer and another member of the group. “While we have to be sustainable, every penny in ticket sales goes back into providing a great cinema experience for the people of Lewisham.”

They hope the space will not be limited to film, and plan to have musicians play live scores to films, to stage theatre performances, and to be a hub where people involved in different art forms are able to hold events.

The cinema will have approximately 50 seats, and a large screen that is able to show the latest, high-quality digital projection, as well as 16mm film. The group has plans for a small darkroom in the back where film-makers and photographers can make work for a low daily hire fee.

The group hope to have the cinema up and running by late autumn; to do that they’re counting on enough local people getting involved. “We need everyone,” explains Tyler Dunn, a musician and local resident. “Whatever you can contribute – from skills like plumbing and plastering, to DIY, to ideas about what kind of films we should show. But the most important thing is just enthusiasm.

“If you have time on your hands and you want to learn a new skill, come to a meeting, see how you can get involved. And then who knows? When things are up and running in a few months’ time and someone says ‘Hey, I heard there’s a great new cinema in Deptford’ you’ll be able to say ‘Yeah, I helped build that’.”

Find more information on this project, and how to donate or get involved, here

The Intertidal Cinema, Creekside

The Intertidal Cinema is an extension of a year-long project that Hannah Fasching started as part of her third year BA Design at Goldsmiths, University of London. It came about after she became interested in the temporary spaces that occur in nature, and looked for ways to occupy these spaces, through design, creating a new relationship with them.

The first cinema screening took place in a coastal town on the Bristol Channel called Burnham-on-Sea, where the sea has taken many lives over the years. “What I wanted to do with the cinema here was transform this resistant architecture – a sea wall built to make the tide safer – into a social space,” says Fasching, “bringing people back around the tide facing side of the wall, creating a closer relationship with this natural space.

“People gathered in the Intertidal zone as the tide was coming in to watch a series of films containing archive footage of Burnham’s seafront before the wall was built. These films were projected directly onto the curved wall. After 30 minutes the tides was right by our feet, and it was an incredibly thrilling and unique cinema experience.”

In her final year of study, Fasching won the Artisa design award, and was given funding for the project to take part in The London Design Festival, September, 13 – 21. “Bringing the project to London was very interesting. The Thames is a tidal river and fluctuates seven metres, twice a day,” says Fasching. “What better place for the Intertidal Cinema to take place?

“I decided Deptford would be the perfect place for it and started to research the history of this area. The Dock in Deptford played such a huge part in the expansion and transformation of London. I wanted to revive this lost history and bring it to life on the shores of Deptford. I decided to make a film using various forgotten and historical architectures in from the area, telling a narrative of place and creating a portrait of the urban landscape through the sites connected to how Deptford developed as a dock.

“The voices of Deptford are used to animate various sites, the physical space takes on the voice of the social.”

Fasching sees Deptford as any area undergoing transformation: “High rise flats are shooting up everywhere and a mirroring of across the north side of the river is starting to emerge,” she says.

”Issues of gentrification are hugely topical and the film touches upon these transformations, by using the sights and the people of Deptford to draw out critiques and opinions. Places such as Convoy’s Wharf about to undergo a huge redevelopment and the redevelopment site of the old Paynes and Borthwick wharfs now boasting luxury flats are just two of the sights we have included as part of the film.”

The cinema will feature three projectors hidden among the architecture of the creekside old railway bridge, and leaning out into the water from the Ha’penny Hatch Bridge. These will be used to create screenings under the arches and onto the water itself, which will begin at low tide, when the creekside will slowly be revealed as the water level lowers.

 The Intertidal Cinema will be operating as part of the London Design Festival on September 13, 14, 15. Find more information here.

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