Film Hub North catches up with Hyde Park Picture House Interview


Film Hub North catches up with Hyde Park Picture House

Film Hub North catch up with Ollie Jenkins the Marketing and Communications Manager at the Hyde park Picture House. Hyde Park Picture House are celebrating 103 years from their opening night the the Hyde park Picture House project and a large renovation in the new year, we thought it would be a good time to find out whats in store for the new year ahead.

Image: Ollie Jenkins, Marketing & Communications Manager, Hyde Park Picture House

Can you tell us a little about The Picture House Project?

The Picture House Project is the name we’ve given to our exciting redevelopment scheme, supported by the Heritage Lottery Fund (HLF), which will see the Hyde Park Picture House significantly grow in size, as it becomes a space that’s both more comfortable, sustainable and accessible.

The journey to this point has been a number of years in the making, and it was in 2014 - the year of our centenary – that we began working on a feasibility study supported by the Friends of Hyde Park Picture House, looking into ways the cinema could be improved, and how it could make it through another 100 years. The results of this study formed the basis of an application to HLF, and we’re extremely fortunate that last summer HLF liked our proposal enough to pledge £2.4million to making it a reality.

The proposal - which is currently in the development phase - is a substantial one, which aims to solve many long-standing issues that we face as an historic building. We are seeking to improve everything from accessibility and services infrastructure to adding a second screen to really unlock our programming opportunities.

We’re currently working closely with our architects and engineers, as well as consulting with members and partners, firming up plans and designs ahead of submitting a planning application in the new year and HLF Round II approval in the spring. We’re also working hard to raise additional match funding, engaging with trusts and foundations before we begin work on a more public fundraising campaign later in 2018.

What can we expect from the renovation next year?

The renovation due to take place at the Hyde Park Picture House will aim to improve almost all aspects of the cinema.

The biggest change will be a brand new extension along the side of the building, which will provide a new café/bar area, alongside increased foyer space. This will put an end to audiences having to wait outside before we’re ready to let them into the main auditorium, and will obviously provide a vital new revenue stream to help subsidise less commercial elements of our film programme. This extension will also house new and improved toilets as well as provide some multifunctional space on an upper floor, that could be used for meetings and activities by local groups. Essentially this new addition to the building will allow us to open our doors to more people in our local community, making us a welcoming and accessible venue for everyone.

Another crucial part to this extension is how it will provide access to a proposed second screen, to be located within a pre-existing basement, which currently sits underneath our main auditorium. This second screen will seat between 50-60 people, and will dramatically open up new possibilities for our film programme, allowing us to screen even more independent, foreign language and artist films, as well as allowing us to bring in certain films sooner and/or show them for longer than we are currently able to.

A third element of the redevelopment is for existing parts of the building, including our large auditorium, to be restored to their former glory. With this being a HLF project, a key motivation behind the work is for it to protect and preserve as many historical details and features as we can, including our unique gas-lights, our ornate plasterwork and tiled flooring – much of which is in urgent need of repair. The restoration of these historic features will happen alongside extensive activity projects, which will explore both the heritage of our venue, as well as the wider story of film history both locally and nationally.

The exact timeline for when this work will take place is still to be confirmed, and is largely based on upcoming decisions by planners, funders and more formal conversations with contractors about build time and how the work might be phased. But at present, it looks as though construction work isn’t due to start until 2019, with work likely to take the best part of a year, during which time the cinema will be closed and operating a touring programme, popping up in numerous venues across the city. This would then see the cinema re-opening its doors to audiences in 2020, hopefully in time for the busy awards season period.

More information about the project, including the journey so far, and video updates, can be found on our new dedicated minisite:

How is your Christmas Screening Programme shaping up?

As with most cinemas, Christmas is one of the busiest times of year for us, so we have a fair few festive friendly screenings taking place over the coming weeks. Next week we begin our week run of It’s A Wonderful Life, something we’ve been doing for decades now. Alongside this, we have plenty of matinees of Paddington 2 – a film we’re confident audiences both young and old will enjoy together. We also have a number of one-offs too, including the UK premier of the music-record doc Jingle Bell Rocks this weekend, to classics like Close Encounters, The Magic Flute and a Charlie Chaplin double-bill on New Years Eve. Oh and Star Wars. Obviously.

Do you have any exciting screening programmes ahead of us in the new year?

We’re currently busy working away on a number of exciting events and screenings for 2018, partnering with some great organisations in the city on these.

We’re working with local independent programmers She’s a Rebel on a mini season of films to mark International Women’s Day in March, details of which should be confirmed early in the new year. We’re also supporting Leeds Young Film Festival again in April, who will be screening a week’s worth of brilliant films for young people of all ages. Further ahead in October, we’re looking forward to collaborating again with Dr Emily Zobel Marshall (Leeds Beckett University) on screenings for Black History Month, following some great events we held with her earlier this year. And we’re excited to be developing some new pilot activity too, specially trying our first dementia friendly screenings and engaging with schools on new projects – as part of our on going HLF supported activity programme.