Art, Films and Television
The cinema would show independent films
Black Lamp Cinema to light up Bridgwater?
by Drew Savage
Somerset-based director Julien Temple wants to bring independent films to Bridgwater with the Black Lamp Cinema, as part of the Bridgwater Town Hall Island site project.
The town hall theatre already has a cinematic history – according to Julien Temple, it was one of up to 11 cinemas in Bridgwater and was the most successful between the 1930s and the 1950s.
The Black Lamp Cinema would take its place in a new arts complex in Bridgwater Town Hall, sharing space with the Arts Centre (which would move from its current premises on Castle Street) and the existing performance societies in the town.
"It's to bring back not just music and the carnival concerts and the pantomime," said Julien Temple, who lives locally and directed 'Glastonbury – The Movie'. "Keep that going, but give it an everyday use which would be a cinema taking advantage of the new digital revolution that's happening in films."
The cinema would aim to allow independent film-makers to have a chance of screening their films in Somerset and allow local people to see films which are usually only screened in London.
"Not the big Hollywood blockbusters that you see at the Odeon or the local Scott's," said Temple. "Slightly more challenging films as well as family entertainment. You can programme lots of different films in a day because you're not having to lug these huge prints around."
The Stones played at Bridgwater Town Hall in 1963
Somerset Film and Video, based at The Engine Room on Bridgwater High Street, is also part of the Town Hall Island Site project. The Black Lamp Cinema hopes for a synergy between the different groups involved with the scheme.
"The Engine Room is here for local people to make films," said Temple. "There used to be a tradition of showing short films before movies in the cinema. Now with digital, that's totally possible.
"A student can have his thing on a tape and you just bang it on the digital - you don't need to make a film print which is very expensive.
"So the plan would be to show local people's work before the screenings of some big films."
Like many parts of the town hall scheme, there's a connection with former Clash frontman Joe Strummer who lived near Bridgwater. Joe played a benefit gig for The Engine Room three weeks before his unexpected death in 2002 and Strummerville, the charity set up in his memory to work with young musicians, are involved with the project.
Strummerville was instrumental in persuading Madness to play at the Bridgwater Palace to launch the Town Hall scheme. Temple, who directed a documentary about Strummer's life, is hopeful that the town's connection with Joe means that January's gig is the first of many.
The legendary Joe Strummer (pic: Sho Kikuchi)
"The Madness concert is the beginning of that process, it's as much to make people aware that this is something for everybody in Bridgwater as to start a fighting to get the thing on the road and make it a reality.
We'd like to get more big names down here and have local bands play at the Town Hall like the Rolling Stones did in 1963 - get up and impress people. The (Red Hot) Chili Peppers have told me they'll do it, so if we can bring them there it'll be a great thing too.
"We want to think big, we want to think out of the box and we want to involve everybody in this town in feeling proud about where they live, because it's the best place in Somerset."
last updated: 16/01/2008 at 16:03