Live Cinema Broadcast – Live cinema broadcasts, sometimes referred to as cinecasts, live casts or ‘alternative content’, are part of the ‘event’ cinema ecology which is made up of a number of genres: theatre, opera, sport and music. This is the live broadcast of events directly to cinemas or auditoria, this format of Live Cinema has a very long history dating back to the 1930s broadcast of sporting events to cinemas. With the advent of satellite broadcasting this phenomena is booming. The contemporary technological and aesthetic framework for this sector has been evolving since 2003 when a David Bowie concert was broadcast live by satellite from London to promote his new album Reality. In 2006, the Metropolitan Opera in New York began frequent live transmission of their performances while the UK’s successful National Theatre Live (NT Live) programme of screenings launched in 2009.
Live Cinema Production – This format depends upon the technological infrastructure of Live Cinema Broadcast to evolve the phenomena of films that are created and broadcast simultaneously, Blast Theory are the key artistic innovators in the space with productions such as My Own Demand and Bloody Minded.
The most well known film in this category of Live Cinema Production would be Woody Harrelson’s Lost in London Live (2017) filmed in the early hours of the morning of 20th January 2017 and broadcast live to over 500 + cinemas in the US and to a small number of screens at the Picturehouse in London.
Katie Mitchell OBE – theatre director – is another influential and critically acclaimed artist experimenting with this format whereby theatrical on stage performance is filmed and screened simultaneously creating a new aesthetic that challenges the norms of both theatre and film. Her most recent productions in this format are Maladie de La Mort (2018) and Orlando (2019 Berlin) both received considerable critical acclaim.
Live Cinema Exhibition – Live cinema exhibition involves some form of simultaneous live action or addition to a cinema screening. This is not a radically new phenomenon; on the contrary, there is a long tradition that spans the entire history of cinema itself in the form of live musical accompaniments to silent screenings. The most extravagant, large scale and economically significant productions come from the London-based organisation ‘Secret Cinema’ who regularly smash box-office records for their immersive experiences based around popular films often with very devoted fans – eg Back to the Future, Dirty Dancing, Star Wars, Romeo and Juliet. You can read our article on Live Cinema Paradox for further detail on these formats.
The format of Live Cinema Exhibition can be further categorised as follows:
Augmented – Live soundtrack to silent or contemporary films, theatrical interventions (produced by organisations such as Secret Cinema), employment of actors to interpret film elements to a live audience, live performance before/after screening, dance based events, interactive events utilising digital technology
Enhanced – Site specific events such as outdoor screening, screening on location related to film
Participatory – Singalong or quotealong (audience participate by quoting lines on screen in time with film), dress up events or themed party, eat-along/drink along etc