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Connecting residents through film

08 Oct 2015

Connecting residents through film Image

Sovereign apartment residents Paul Doyle and Chris McGill have recently launched a one-of-a-kind cinema club for their fellow residents.

Now approaching its fourth meeting, the cinema club has proven to be an innovative apartment living initiative, with up to 30 residents in regular attendance since its inception in July.  

Organised by career production manager Paul Doyle and curated by former filmmaker and professor Chris McGill, Sovereign residents have been blessed with access to a first-class set up.  

In an effort to provide a platform for residents to meet and form friendships, Mr Doyle said he first thought of the idea after reading a notice from the building’s owners’ corporation (OC) encouraging residents to form social groups.

Having previously encountered stumbling blocks in trying to re-establish a film society at his current workplace at the Victorian College of the Arts (VCA), he said issues such as distribution and copyright had initially put him off the idea.

However, having been a neighbour of Mr McGill’s on the same floor for seven years who had a personal collection of many wonderful movies, he said he eventually had an epiphany.  

“I was aware of Chris’s background as a filmmaker and I sort of had a little bit of an epiphany. When you buy a DVD it’s okay to watch it in your own residence. That’s the licence you’re buying,” he said.

“If the residents are watching a film together, we aren’t creating any issues for film distributors because we’re not charging entry fees, we’re not in a public space, and we’re on our own turf complying with their requirements.”

“The whole building could benefit from Chris’s wisdom and experience and would be taken on a journey. So I had a meeting with Chris and worked out a plan and started this little venture.”

With the support of the OC, Paul has since been able to purchase a new television and secondhand surround sound system for the club and make use of what was previously an almost redundant function room.

So far, residents have been treated to some of history’s greatest films, including Cinema Paradiso, To Kill A Mockingbird and The Last Emperor, and each screening is followed by a group discussion led by Mr McGill.

As a former film and television writer, director, producer and teacher, Mr McGill said he had thoroughly enjoyed passing on his expertise to residents.

“I’ve really enjoyed it because you look around and you see the people very happy to be there and that’s my only thing. If that weren’t happening I’d get a bit depressed but the films that we’re showing are classics,” he said.

“Eventually when it grows we’ll ask people to make suggestions so they feel very much part of the whole process.”

The club will next be screening The Exterminating Angel and Mr Doyle said many new friendships had already been formed through the initiative.

“It’s been freezing every night so far so we’ve been constantly amazed that anyone comes at all but what people feedback to us is how much they enjoy the comradery.”

“And bring as much wine as you like because you don’t have to drive home! People make popcorn and they bake treats and stuff like that it’s really great,” he said.

Find out more about Paul Doyle in this month’s Southbanker column.

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