Interview 6- Friday, July 2nd
Interviewee- Fern Edwards
Interviewer- Lucy Westcott
Recently graduated from Brighton University, Fern Edwards is also a new member of staff at the Duke of York’s, mainly running the Kid’s Club. For many avid film fans, getting a job at the Duke’s would be an ideal way to spend one’s time, so I asked Fern what it was like to work at Britain’s oldest purpose-built cinema and if she does actually get to watch any films.
As Fern is originally from Bournemouth, she talks about her first impressions of the Duke of York’s.
“I was really impressed by how the Duke’s kept a lot of its original décor, it had a very homely feel to it. It was nice not to walk into a cinema that is blaring adverts at you. It felt very authentic and the people in there were very friendly in there all the time. It made a really welcoming impression straight away.”
Fern said that she had always wanted to work at the Duke’s so she explains her job duties.
“I’ve only been at the Duke’s since February, so I’m still settling in as I’ve only been doing weekends. It’s been a really amazing job, everyone has been fun to work with but they’re all really passionate about their jobs as well. It’s a good motivation and atmosphere. Outside of work a lot of people are engaged in either writing about film or art, or are musicians, so there’s a lot of enthusiasm around the workplace all the time. ‘
‘My regular shift at the moment is Kid’s Club, which is a new experience, as I hadn’t had much experience working with children before. I took on Kid’s Club because I thought it would be fun, even though you do have to get up at 8 in the morning on Saturdays. It’s really fun- you go in the morning, you set up, prepare party bags, little bags of sweets, miniature bags on popcorn. When the kids come in there is a drawing competition and you mingle. They’re all between the ages of 3 and 10, so they are at the age when they’re beginning to understand cinema and they’re fascinated by all the equipment. When it’s your birthday you go to the projection room to press the start button. It’s quite important, I think, to understand how it all works, especially now that everything has gone digital. We also do parties upstairs in the bar, so I do face painting and party games.’
On the films shown for children at Kid’s Club.
“It’s not just all contemporary films, sometimes they show old school classics for the children and it’s really nice to see them on a big screen again. A few weeks ago we showed ‘The Secret of Nimh’ which I remember watching all the time when I was a kid. We do show contemporary kid’s films as well, like ‘Alvin and the Chipmunks’ and ‘Finding Neverland’. We also showed ‘Up’- the kids didn’t cry, they found it more funny than sad. They’re a bit too young to understand the sadness of it. When I was talking to the children at the kid’s party afterwards, they realized that it was sad because the old man’s wife died, but they were more taken by the happy side of the film, the talking dogs and the adventure.
It was really interesting when we showed ‘Where The Wild Things Are’ because it’s not really a film specifically for kids, as older people appreciate it as a film about childhood. Not many children actually liked it, as for the actual pace of the film they found quite slow and long’.
On her experience of attending the late-night screenings
“I’ve done a few. Depending on the film, the experience of going to a late-night screening is different for everybody. The only ones I have been to are dark, harrowing films, both David Lynch films, actually. The first one was ‘Eraserhead’ and that was the first time I had been to the cinema by myself as well. I’m used to going to the cinema with friends and it being a social, get-together event. ‘Eraserhead’ was a really intense experience and you know that you’ll never get the chance to see it on a big screen again. I had to get a coffee to keep me awake for it, which got me quite wired and because the screen was so big, for the really intense scenes in ‘Eraserhead’ you got them at maximum impact. When I left I felt a bit shaken up, but in a cool way, because film is meant to do that do you. The most recent one I saw was ‘Blue Velvet’, which was very busy, possibly because Dennis Hopper had just died. ‘Eraserhead’ wasn’t busy at all. I watched ‘Blue Velvet’ from the balcony and couldn’t exactly get comfortable on the big sofas because I was on the edge of my seat the whole time.
On seeing bands at the Duke of York’s during Brighton’s annual music festival, The Great Escape.
“I’ve been to the Great Escape and seen bands at the Duke’s, which is an awesome experience. To be sitting down in a cinema, watching a band, is really something quite different’.
On the future of the Duke of York’s.
“The Duke’s is great on its own, it’s the oldest purpose-built cinema in the UK, it should stay like that, but for cinema’s sake you will get more people coming to see great films. If more people are going to come and see good films and the money is going to a good cause, Picturehouse cinema, who can about film and music and entertainment. Picturehouse are a great company and it would be great for them to make more money’.
“It’s a really awesome cinema, everyone that works there is awesome, Picturehouse is fanstatic and everyone should get memberships!’