In conversation: Katie Fewings, 2010

Interviewer : Vaska Trajkovska

Interviewee: Katie Fewings

Date : 9 September 2010

Katie and her husband moved to Brighton and Hove in 2006.When they lived near Brixton in London, they used to frequent the Ritzy Cinema and so Katie had an idea of what a Picture house was like prior to her first visit to the Duke of York’s.

Vaska: What do you think of when you think of the Duke of York’s now?

Katie: I guess, interesting films, films that are a bit different, they’re not mainstream, foreign films, and I think about the nice little café, and cake and being able to take like tea or coffee in with you, and things like that!

Vaska: And can you describe the look of the cinema from the outside but also the inside?

Katie: I don’t know, I want to say art deco, I don’t know if it is, but that’s just what sprang to mind. And hasn’t it got those legs kicking up at the top or something? Stripey legs.  And then inside it’s quite, I suppose it’s quite, small and cute.

Vaska: How does it compare to other cinemas you’ve been to, or the other cinemas in Brighton even?

Katie: It feels more homely and cosy, yeah, warm, welcoming.

When Katie lived in the city, she would mostly go to the Duke of York’s for the films. She notes that if she had lived nearer to the cinema she would have used the café as a general meeting place.Katie remembers how she bought her husband a joint membership for the cinema for their first wedding anniversary – it being their paper anniversary!Katie recounts an early Sunday morning screening of The Lives of Others and coming out of the cinema feeling emotional. She remembers there were many people there and the strangeness of coming out of the cinema in the day.She feels that maybe the smallness of the Duke of York’s allows one to feel more open with their emotions compared to if they were at a huge, cavernous, auditorium.Katie believes that the Duke of York’s is important to the city – that it fits with the independent side of Brighton. Katie describes the typical audience of the cinema as being the ‘very Brighton’ stereotype – in their twenties or thirties, Guardian-readers!Katie would normally book her tickets in advance online, particularly now that she is living in Worthing.When she was working in Brighton she would often pick up a programme but now relies on the cinema’s internet presence.

Katie: The Big Scream in general, I haven’t been to any of the others, but the idea is just that you can take your baby with you without bothering anyone else, well, obviously you bother the other mums and dads but as they’ve got their own babies it doesn’t matter! Yeah, and the babies can scream as much as they like and you can try to watch the film at the same time. I heard about it, I think the first time I heard about it was maybe from a friend who’d been to the Big Scream in Greenwich, at the Greenwich Picturehouse, and she said it was very, it used to get very busy, so the Brighton one we booked in advance and tried to get there early, and that was, I think that was to see Up in the Air, and we, it, I think , yeah, it was, it was pretty busy. And there was a fair bit of screaming!

Vaska: So had it not been on your radar until you were pregnant or had Polly?

Katie: No, not at all, no.

Vaska: And what did you feel when you did hear that such a thing existed?

Katie: I thought ‘yay, I can still go to the cinema!’. Cos everyone, when I was pregnant, everyone kept saying, ‘go to the cinema, go to the cinema, you’ll never go again!’ And then I was able to say ‘ha! I’ve been to the cinema, and I have a baby!’

Katie thinks that though her daughter is not yet one, it would be impractical for her to take her to the Big Scream showing now as she is more active and wriggly.Katie describes the seating arrangements, and how it can be quite tricky to position oneself. The buggies should be parked at the front of the screen, however, they are often positioned by the aisles.Katie remembers the first time she attended the Big Scream was when her daughter Polly was only a few weeks old, and how she would sleep on her lap after being breastfed whilst the film was being shown.The second time she attended the screening, Polly was becoming more interested in the things around her and would be happy to sit on Katie’s lap and watch the screen.

Katie notes how the ‘rules’ of the Big Scream are written in the programme and how ushers at the cinema are there to direct where the buggies are parked.

Katie found it a liberating experience to be able to go to the cinema as a new mother. She would like it to continue and feels that for this to happen there would need to be a play area for the babies, perhaps at the front if the buggies were able to be parked elsewhere.She feels quite sad that there will be some time when she and Polly will not be able to attend the cinema until Polly is of the age to go to Kids Club screenings.Katie states that the Big Scream is on every Wednesday and how she would normally plan to go to the showing, as opposed to going spontaneously. She would have gone more frequently, however, swimming club clashed with the screening.

Katie went to the Big Scream with friends and then they would go to lunch afterwards. She notes that for those who carry their babies in slings they would be able to go to the café upstairs, but for those with buggies, it would be more difficult.The films shown are the latest films – they are not certified Universal for the babies!Katie remembers how at the first Big Scream event, because it was the first showing of the day, they had arrived a little early so the doors had not yet opened. Parents and lots of buggies then congregated outside onto the pavement! She feels that the screenings are a place where you go with friends, as opposed to make new friends due to the issue of space and inaccessibility.

Katie: The first time I went it was pretty noisy when the film started, and it took me a while to kind of tune in to the film to be able to understand what was going on, but once I had it was fine. The smells. It’s… normal! You don’t smell nappies, I don’t think, or maybe I’m just immune to it! I did change Polly in there after the second film I saw. There are changing facilities, but you’re sort of in the middle of a row and so me and my friend we just changed our babies in the aisle on the floor! Quick change!

Katie has found that it is mostly women who attend the Big Scream.Katie has contacted an independent cinema in Worthing to see if they would put on a screening the equivalent to the Big Scream. Initially they said that it wouldn’t be economically viable, however some time afterwards, a new manager emailed her to ask her to let them know how many people would be interested in such events.

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