Play or do not, there is no pause - Top tips for recreating the cinematic experience in quarantine
Watching a film at the cinema has a special power to keep us glued to our seats, unless your toddler is running up and down the aisles. Whether it’s the darkened auditorium or the obvious cost of the entry ticket, it’s a specific experience that has to be truly poor to encourage a mad dash for the exit.
Now that cinemas are shut and the home cinema is our only option, how do we keep ourselves from pausing the film constantly, or stopping it entirely without reaching the film’s end? Here’s some tips to preserving that feeling of a night out to the pictures.
Tip 1 - Create the same atmosphere
The auditorium is designed to focus those beady eyes on one thing, so you need to create that same feeling. Dimming the lights or simply shutting it out entirely seems obvious, but it is key, so close those blinds or embrace the night, depending on the time of day.
Sound is another essential element. Whether you have a surround system or are simply working from your TV audio, opt for the loudest setting with the widest reach: a 7.1 setup with rear surround speakers works best, but most systems offer a preset for cinematic sound. After all, immersion is the aim of the game. Whether it’s Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan or Jane Campion’s The Piano, they’re all made to be heard: even Chaplin's silent films have a score for a reason!
Tip 2 - Gorge on the good stuff
When you go to the movies, you’re opening your wallet or purse anyway, so you tend to choose those treats that you’d normally reserve for special occasions. A large Coke, bag of mixed popcorn and a hot dog are your Cinema’s Basics range. But if you’re going for that same feeling, and without the expense of a cinema ticket, why not splash out on some of the same indulgences?
I recommend something that’ll last - we tend to fall victim to eating everything during the trailers. No excuses now when you head straight to the main menu and start the film up. Maltesers are always an easy win, but who can argue with Minstrels either?
Hot dogs could be a great family treat also: a jar of frankfurters is affordable, so throw them in a pan, get some buns and essential sauces, and tuck into them together while the film is on. Or, if you’re flying solo, a burger is a luxury that you wouldn’t find at your Odeon or Cineworld multiplex.
Tip 3 - Keep talking to a minimum - this includes phones!
Does anyone like John Doe giving his shot-by-shot analysis while the film is playing? Absolutely not. So why put up with it at home? Get your words out before you hit play. Look up any background info you need. Save your thoughts for the end. At the end of the day, Joe and Anthony Russo didn’t direct the hell out of that Avengers team-up in Endgame for you to shout ‘wait for it, wait for it, Cap’s about to grab the hammer!’.
This is particularly true if it’s a new film. Talking might block out a line of dialogue that either unlocks layers to the character or hints at revelations in the plot. If every line had an intention when written, each should receive your full attention. This includes phones - turn those devices off to avoid an unnecessary distraction.
Tip 4 - Variety is the spice of life: choose a variety of movies
Your attention might wane should you be watching films that are similar, in terms of story, directorial style or genre. If you’re watching a franchise back to back, that works as it’s told as an entire story. But if you watch sci-fi after sci-fi, it might all start to look or feel the same. Blade Runner and Mad Max might offer polar opposite visions of the future, but their lone, moody wanderer might grow stale as a protagonist to follow, for example.
Pick something different to keep things interesting! Ocean’s Eleven gives you some glossy entertainment with all of the Hollywood stars you could ask for. Why not throw a curveball with the follow-up and choose a gritty, independent thriller like Green Room? Tonally, it’s yin and yang: for your experience, it’s a jolt of energy that keeps your attention peaked.
What do you think? Is there anything you do to keep your eyes peeled to the pixels? Leave some feedback and let me know! If you liked the article, subscribe to the website! I'll keep you updated on all of the latest posts. And follow The Film Foyer on social media! All of the links can be found in the feedback form at the bottom of the page.