Rooftop Film Club

Gerry Cottle Jnr left his job in promotions and PR to create his own concept ‘Rooftop Film Club’ three years ago, bringing classic and well-loved movies to an outdoor rooftop location in London. With a regular program of favourites on the Queen of Hoxton’s roof, classic films on Kensington Rooftop more one off events above Nettle house, he has now moved south and started a program of events on the top floor of the Bussey building.

Rooftop Filmclub

The screenings aren’t just about movies, each rooftop offers a very different experience be it the spectacular 360° view above London from the Bussey building, to the cityscape surrounding the Queen of Hoxton. Some are family sit-down affairs, others like the recent projection of the 1986 Queen at Wembly concert shown above Netil house, encourage people to stand up, drink and dance.

Sowing the Seeds of Rooftop Film Club

Taking the simple idea of combining a classic, well loved movie with an unusual location to create a universally appealing experience, Gerry took out a bank loan and started solo with his idea. Rooftop Film Club has had to provide all the equipment needed to project a film, gain all the relevant permissions and licenses and manage to overcome sound issues by providing headphones for the events (these have now become the company’s trademark). It became clear that in order for these events to work for the venues and attract a regular public, he would have to bring a whole package to each rooftop;  comfortable seating, food, projector, screen and headphones. The first projections held at the Queen of Hoxton have undoubtedly contributed to the growing popularity of this venue with Rooftop Filmclub now a regular feature in their program of events all year round.

Despite all the difficulties and expense of putting the business together, Rooftop Film Club is now in its  third year, with events spanning across four rooftops. Gerry has teamed up with a good friend to grow the business and now employs several members of staff. He has found an idea for an event with a wide appeal across all age-groups and as more venues exploit their rooftops the business can just keep spreading over on London’s skyline.

The Plot

Rooftop Film Club is now a regular feature at Queen of Hoxton and Bussey Building with a mix of classic movies and more recently released films, Kensington Roof Gardens has a more family feel and Netil House now features live concert screenings.

Roots

Outdoor cinema has always been a popular summer event, with the first screenings documented in Berlin at the beginning of the century, so the idea is as old as cinema itself.  It has only been since the radical decrease in projector prices that these type of events have been democratised, no longer relying on large city council budgets, but pretty much available to anyone with the inclination to hoist up a make-shift screen or use a building wall outside somewhere. Music festivals increasingly offer an entertainment alternative by including a ‘cinema’ stage and pop-up style cinemas are a regular feature (see lost pictureshow) of many local summer community events. Although such screenings are more widely available, it is interesting to see that people are willing to pay almost cinema prices for a more organised outdoor event.  Perhaps it’s the cinema ‘experience’ but in a more unusual setting that appeals. More established cinemas are also launching into outdoor screening events (Everyman and Curzon). Wireless headphones have allowed these events to be more urban, avoiding the crashing and banging of a loud soundtrack that would drive anyone mad if they weren’t invited to the party.

Shoots

Rooftop Film Club’s new venture is to bring iconic filmed concerts to a roof and creating a more laid back, bar experience. With one under their belt so far, we have yet to see if this catches on. As more rooftop venues in London are created, so are the opportunities for sky-high film projections. It looks as though Gerry and his team can spread across the city, yet keep organising the intimate, friendly screenings they have become known for as well as working with brands like Samsung for larger scale branded events.

Useful Stuff

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