VINTAGE MOBILE CINEMA
One of my favourite screenings ever put on by the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in Austin was the ‘Extreme Schoolbus Adventure’ co-presented with Skip Elsheimer and AV Geeks – who boast a massive collection of 80,000 classroom films on 16mm. The premise was pure genius: 28 passengers cram into an old schoolbus outfiited with a 16mm projector at the back, a screen at the front, and a giant keg of beer in the middle (at the time, drinking in a vehicle was allowed in Texas as long as you’re not the driver). As we drove around Austin watching classic schoolbus safety films like “And Then It Happened”, “Ghost Rider” and more, the bus driver would occasionally stop at the site of a real schoolbus accident to tell us the tragic story. While the films were amazing – especially “And Then it Happened” which was the movie The Sweet Hereafter should have been – there was something life-changing about the milieu. Watching a bunch of schoolbus safety films in a moving vehicle with a bunch of cackling drunk people is something I will never forget.
While the Extreme Schoolbus Adventure was a one-off event, moviegoers in the UK now have the chance to view classic films in a similar environment with The Vintage Mobile Cinema – a 22-seat roving movie theatre situated in a refurbished 1960s bus.
Originally built in a fleet of seven buses by the UK’s Ministry of Technology, these buses would tour the country, promoting modern production techniques to British industry. Films would be played within the cinema, with supporting displays shown in the trailer that accompanied the towing unit as they toured the nation’s factories. In 1974 the Government sold off the mobile cinemas, and this one is the sole survivor as far as is known. Rescued and refurbished by independent film-lover Oliver Halls in 2010 (after many valiant but aborted attempts by previous owners in the interim) , the bus now contains plush upholstering, HD projection complete with Dolby 7:1 surround sound, and a newly-installed 16mm film projector for the purists.
The Vintage Mobile Cinema is primarily used for third-party programming, roaming the country on demand for various festivals and special events (including Birmingham’s amazingly eclectic Flatpack Festival), and you can read all about their upcoming screenings on the official website here: http://www.vintagemobilecinema.co.uk/ .
- Kier-La Janisse
Also of interest: You can buy a DVD of the full program for ‘Extreme Schoolbus Adventure’ on the AV Geeks site HERE: http://www.avgeeks.com/wp2/extreme-school-bus-adventure/ )