My novel, The Screen Savers, is set in the year 2000, a time before you could watch your favourite indie film on your mobile while lying in bed eating nachos, drinking tea and snuggling with the man/woman of your dreams! In them days you had to make an effort -- you had to put some clothes on for a start; you had to leave the house and go to a “CINEMA”, or a “VIDEO-SHOP”.
Now, with so much choice at our fingertips, what’s the point in going out you may ask? Why should we go to the effort of finding our clothes, ironing them and putting them on? We're comfy in our jim-jams, I hear you say. What's the big deal here, Daddy-o? We have to go out on weekdays -- to work -- and now you're saying we have to go out again? What are you, a nutcase?
This kind of attitude, while not prevalent throughout the land, has taken its seed and is growing. How can cinemas compete you may ask? Is this the end of the cinema?
I put it to you that cinema can survive. There is a place for cinema in this land. For while you can watch indie films, now, on your own, in your underwear, it’s hard to invite a friend round to watch them with you – well, okay – it depends on the friend. But, for me, my friend John isn’t going to take it well if I ask him if he’d like to come over to have a snuggle, eat some nachos and drink hot tea with me while we watch an indie-film on an iphone in our underpants. Not John. Na-ah. Nope. To be honest, I wouldn’t know how to broach the subject. And this is where the indie cinemas win. I'm talking about the communal aspect. The social aspect. This is a great thing. It's a big part of the indie cinema experience. Many great indie cinemas have a vibe about them; they’ve developed ways in which they enhance the communal cinema-going experience, whether that be by putting effort and love into their coffee-bars or by running film programmes that bring groups together in a common love of the films they are showing. While the mainstream big chain cinemas still seem to focus on turnover of customers, pushing us through quickly, taking out snacks with us into the screening rooms, the indie cinemas are places where we congregate and hang out. We get a chance to talk to our friends before and after (but please, never during) the film, while sipping hot beverages, fully clothed.
The main character in my novel, The Screen Savers, Adam, wants to be alone; he loves watching indie films on his own at his local indie cinema, in an empty screening room, but when the cinema decide to stop showing the kind of films he loves, he has to take action. Reluctantly, he has to encourage others to watch these films with him. He has to create a sense of community. The novel is set in the year 2000, a time when cinemas had little competition. For me, and for my character, this was a time when film was king. The emotional angles and subtext and character arcs created within film narrative were vastly superior to the kind of storytelling that was prevalent in television at that time. There was little competition. Now, though, in a world where television storytelling can be breathtaking, and where indie films can be watched from your phone, television or laptop, my character would have alternatives.
I get a buzz, still, when I walk into a cinema screening room. It’s a relaxing experience, because of the environment, because of the space. There’s something about the size of the space and the darkness and layout which soothes me, soothes my character too. Yes, you have to put some clothes on – sure. You might have to get on a bus, or a train, or walk, even – and you have to leave your flat. But for me, the rewards are still worth it -- for the atmosphere both in the screening room and outside of it.
You can find out more about my novel, The Screen Savers, on my website (www.bryanromaine.com), and can purchase it in many places including Amazon (UK, US).