Thursday, 20 January 2011

Where to see independent films in Guildford

This is a belated update to my previous post about the proposed Guildford Picture Palace.

Guildford Borough Council turned down entrepreneur Mark Gudgin's proposal to use the disused bookshop, constitutional hall and West's Picture Palace building on the High Street as an independent cinema. There's a good essay on the subject called Homogenous Townscapes which argues the case for an arts cinema convincingly but futilely.

Mark Gudgin's film nights at other venues in Guildford have been enthusiastically supported - to a point. While it may be comparatively easy to get a couple of hundred people turning out once a month, there's still not much evidence that nightly screenings could ever hope to be profitable. (Full disclosure: In around 2002, Andy Ga. and I wrote an extensive business case for an arts cinema in Guildford. We couldn't make our model profitable, despite then-innovative cost-saving ideas.)

In the meantime, the Electric Theatre's film society has renamed itself to Guildford Film Society and apparently offers "pre-screening talk by staff from the University of Surrey Film Studies Faculty or another expert".

This leads straight to the obvious question: since when was there a University of Surrey Film Studies Faculty? Amongst other course features, it is mentioned that the Surrey TV studio - which I had long assumed to be an expensive white elephant - is used for multi-camera coursework.

Meanwhile, one of the university's aforementioned film societies now appears to be defunct; Front Row hasn't been updated since 2008. The Shadowrooms is still going strong, with a showing approximately monthly during term time.

Guildford's new theatre, on the Civic Hall site (which closed in 2004), is not expected to be used for film showings when it opens in Autumn 2011.

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