Early Doors - a wonderfully inspiring film community
‘Would you like to introduce our Early Doors screening?’ read the email that dropped into my Inbox just as I had finished prepping class for Film Studies students at Sheffield Hallam University. It was from the Audience Engagement Coordinator at the Showroom cinema. I hadn’t heard of Early Doors and had no idea what to expect. ‘It’s our special weekly screening for over 55s’, the email continued. ‘It takes place from 11am on Thursday mornings, with coffee, cake, and a screening all for £6 – and we’d like you to introduce the film’. The film was Matthew Warchus’ Pride (2014), which is inspired by the real-life 1980s story of the unlikely union between striking Welsh miners and out-and-proud gay Londoners. ‘I’d love to’, I wrote back.
I take my film introductions seriously: no spoilers, just facts – talk around the movie not about the movie – add a touch of humour, and always keep it brief! That Thursday morning, I strolled from my office at Sheffield Hallam University to the Showroom cinema. I figured the screening would be a small affair: in Showroom 1 - 83 capacity – and with about ten people or so there to watch the movie. I arrived at the Showroom Café entrance – it was packed! I opened the door to the sound of excited chatter, the smell of fresh coffee, and the sight of cake crumbs on small plates. ‘I’ll go through the main entrance’, I thought, ‘that’ll be less crowed’. I thought wrong. Very wrong. I whizzed past the long line of over-55s queuing at the box office and meet the Audience Engagement Coordinator – ‘what’s going on?’ I asked, expecting there to be a major conference event taking place in the building that morning too. ‘Early Doors’, she replied as she smiled and greeted the patrons as they passed through to take their seats. The screening was in Showroom 4 – 282 capacity – and it was completely sold out. As I stood in front of the Early Doors crowd I thought, ‘Wow! What a wonderfully inspiring film community’.
I have since done nearly fifty Early Doors introductions. The final one I did was for Celine Sciamma’s Portrait of a Lady on Fire (2019), which incidentally was the last Early Doors screening that could be held at the Showroom. Coronavirus was spreading fast in UK and sadly the Showroom had to close its doors. I look forward to the time when Early Doors at the Showroom can beam the light from the projector for that wonderfully inspiring film community again.
Portrait of a Lady on Fire is now available to rent on Curzon Home Cinema and MUBI, which is free for three months to all Showroom Members.
This article first featured in the Sheffield Telegraph 16 April 2020.