Secret Cinema launches Hill Valley paper, TV and telecoms (Wired UK)


Secret Cinema’s Back To The
production will feature independent communications
systems, so attendees can interact with their fellow Hill Valley
residents on set.

When spoke with Secret Cinema founder and creative
director Fabien Riggall back in June, he told us the show would be the most interactive
yet. This has, of course, always been the format. To get the
audience into character, dressed up and ready to go with their
doctor’s section letter as a ticket for One Flew Over the
Cuckoo’s Nest
, and their letters of transit for
Casablanca entry.

From today Secret Cinema goers will need to visit the show’s new website,
where they can enter a special code they will receive before the
show. At that point they will be assigned a character from the
1950s Hill Valley, including a name, profession, address and phone
number. That’s despite the set being built to bridge the 50s, 80s
and present day through a series of alleyways in the town set.

We learned back in June that the entire town would be recreated
for the show, and the company is staying true to its word by
building the infrastructure to match. That means attendees can
expect a daily bulletin from the Hill Valley Telegraph,
where any updates will be posted. Secret Cinema’s commercial
prospects have also been pushed wide open, with the introduction of
Hill Valley TV and Radio stations, which will feature reports but
also adverts. So feasibly, advertisers could jump into the game –
as long as their commercials have an appropriately 50s flavour, we

Attendees will also be able to send in their film and radio
reports, which could be shown during the production in amongst the
town stores. Attendees will be able to send mail to fellow
attendees using the Hill Valley Postal Service, and lastly, call
each other. No one can keep his or her smartphone during the show
though. Attendees will have to use one of 45 landlines dotted
around the event, then call the switchboard and ask to speak with a
particular character on the rota. You can also leave messages for
those characters ahead of the event, with recipients receiving an
email alerting them to the voice mail. It’s unclear exactly how
this will work on the night, but prior to the evening it sounds
more like a telegram service, but in email form.

The idea is to bring the community together. Without
smartphones, audience members might actually engage more deeply
with the spectacle around them, and with each other. Then again,
there might be a lot of prank calls placed from hilarious
in-character Hill Valley residents throughout July and August.

Secret Cinema has also revealed the massive set will be centred
on the 1955 Hill Valley Fair, with livestock beauty contests,
country music and tractor demonstrations at Otis Peabody’s Twin
Pines Farm — where Marty McFly first reaches 1955 in the DeLorean
— taking centre stage.

This latest news is not the first mention of potential further
commercialisation of the Secret Cinema concept. The company
recently launched a series of pop-up stores on Hackney Road,
London, which will remain open until the final show on 30 August.
The stores are 50s themed, and include a beauty parlour, bar,
record store, post office — where said snail mail can be
delivered — and dress shop. It is Secret Cinema’s way of gradually
bridging the real and cinematic worlds further, to make the
experience last longer. It’s also a savvy business move. As the
productions become even more epic, expect the business prospects
that support them to follow suit.

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