Rich Lee from The Guide to Surrey writes – “One Guildfordian’s passion project has passed its first year bringing cult cinema fans together for a monthly celebration of classic movies and live entertainment…”
“It’s still the same experience I set out to offer from the start,” says Jez Gibson, who founded social cinema event Filmopolis in September 2015. “Filmopolis isn’t just a film, it’s a night out. It’s a welcoming environment where you can get a drink, something to eat and get a table for a whole evening of entertainment.”
Jez Gibson’s Filmopolis shares the same Indie spirit as the cult movies that he screens every month at the Stoke Pub in Guildford. What makes Filmopolis different from your regular independent film screenings, and built such a loyal local audience over the last year, is the inclusion of live entertainment in the form of local musicians and standup comedy – often from the man himself.
For the 41-year old, his passion for the escapist joys of cinema began with a black and white television and a VHS cassette of Star Wars Episode IV at the age of six. “That’s where the dream of cinema got me: you can cross space and time, fall in love, be the hero. I haven’t looked back since.”
Despite dipping his own toes into the industry with production company Tiger Aspect, the former youth and community worker saw Filmopolis as a way of bringing likeminded cinephiles, and those seeking something fresh from their town, together to celebrate their shared passion.
“It’s been moving onwards and upwards ever since. It’s gone from our first night and screening of the Blues Brothers and taken in another nine events, with only a pause for summer.”
Filmopolis started last September wit its first screening of Blues Brothers (1980)
Over the last year, Jez has linked up with Guildford’s Academy of Contemporary Music and local musical collective, Lark Studios, to source the best local musicians to lend a beat to proceedings, often weaving original music with covers lifted straight from the source material: think Kool and the Gang’s ‘Jungle Boogie’ at a screening of Pulp Fiction and you’ll get an idea of the synergy at play between audience, artists and the movies Filmopolis screens.
The event has covered the gamut of ground-breaking cinema, offering everything from the Matrix to Good Will Hunting and modern classics such as 2014’s Whiplash.
October sees Filmopolis celebrate its anniversary month with two screenings showing the two of the best movies from 1995: crime classic the Usual Suspects on 12th October and David Fincher’s grim thriller Seven on 26th October. So expect live music and sounds from 1995 to go with both showings.
So what does Jez see in Filmopolis’ future? “Going forward, I want to diversify what we’re offering. One thing about Filmopolis is that it’s not a film club, it’s not a society: it’s a brand. So it can also be tailored towards anything, for girl’s night out perhaps, or events for families where kids can enjoy workshops and fun activities as well as enjoying a film with their parents.
Inspired by the success of this month’s inaugural Always the Sun festival on Stoke Park, Jez has a seed of an idea for an annual Film Festival for Guildford. But his ambitions lie further beyond that: “The vision is to upscale Filmopolis, for Guildford and beyond; larger venues and even larger audiences. There are now a number of interested parties who want to work with Filmopolis for the future. So it’s all very exciting.”
Filmopolis is held in the back room of the Stoke Pub, Stoke Road, Guildford. Visit www.filmopolis.co.uk for info on all upcoming events as well as film reviews and movie news.