Our Suffolk cinema
We thought you may like to see our last foray into cinematic themed events, so here are a few photo's and a couple of reviews.
Like in Lurgashall this summer 2017, we were set up in a glorious traditional threshing barn in Framlingham, Suffolk. It's a glorious location and even has it's own vast castle, but is perhaps somewhat better known as the home of Ed Sheeran these days.
The interior was decked out with a mix up of retro sofas, kindly donated, while remaining for sale, by the Framlingham Furniture Project. These were super cosy and everyone had their favourite to make a beeline for.
Chris Hook is one half of Framlingham-based pop-up Suffolk cinema project Little Lightning, and he certainly knows his film.
He’s a director, producer and cameraman who’s made over 200 hours of broadcast television, shooting snipers for the Discovery Network, and Jeremy Clarkson for the BBC’s Top Gear. He’s also produced high profile commercials for the likes of Sony, Microsoft and BMW, and shot promos and concerts for artists including The Cure, Pink Floyd and Phil Collins. However, Little Lightning sees him sharing his passion for other people’s films with audiences in Suffolk.
Chris spends most of the week at his office in Wardour Street but decided to bring a slice of Soho back to Suffolk with him at the weekend. He found the perfect location for the cinema in the shape of a barn dating back to the sixteenth century. While this may, on the face of it, appear a somewhat eccentric decision – the experience does feel somewhat akin to watching a film in the bowels of the Mary Rose – Chris feels this is entirely in-line with the Suffolk ethos:
“I’m a relative newcomer to the county and what struck me from the outset is that Suffolk is hugely creative, but dare I say, has a slightly eccentric character. Somehow large swathes of the county have remained under the radar, which means there are lots of fantastic, almost secret places to find if you poke around. From that perspective I think Little Lightning is a great fit for Suffolk.”
Audiences have certainly been receptive to Chris' vision for a Soho arthouse in the depths of the Suffolk countryside and the inaugural opening night’s screening of ‘Cinema Paradiso’ sold out well in advance. Ironically, given the name of the cinema, it was accompanied by one of the most dramatic electrical storms to hit Suffolk in many months – it has to be a sign!
There are some substantial differences between Little Lightning and its Soho equivalents; it’s just round the corner from Framlingham Castle, so the views are better and audiences certainly aren’t paying central London prices. The venue’s decor has a handmade aesthetic, literally in the case of the bar, which Chris built himself using ash sourced from the farm. Seating comes in the form of armchairs and sofas on loan from local charity, The Furniture Project. Speaking as someone who’s over six foot, the leg-room and general level of comfort compared to the average cinema was greatly welcomed!
Tickets for each screening include a glass of fizz on arrival and a meal themed to the film being shown. The concept works marvellously, I went along to the matinee screening of Mumbai-set romance ‘The Lunchbox’ and was greeted with a glass of (surprisingly good) Indian wine on arrival and a delicious curry was served during the intermission.
The programme mixes the latest indies, such as cult-movie-in-the-making ‘Frank’, classics like Pedro Almodovar’s ‘Talk to Her’, and family favourites.
When questioned on the rationale for the inaugural three month programme Chris’s enthusiasm is infectious: “We just want to show really great films, I realise this is subjective to an extent but there are some movies that are just so well-crafted that they deserve to be seen on a big screen.”
This month’s showings are ‘The Thomas Crown Affair’, now sold out, and a special kid’s matinee of Pixar’s ’Up’ on 17th August, which comes with Hot Dogs and juices, or Rosé and coffee for the grown-ups. September treats are ‘Frank’ and ‘Talk to Her’.
Posted - 13 August 2014
If I could write a review with one singular adjective that would be it. I didn’t know what to expect from Little Lightning. Professional director, producer and cameraman Chris Hook had been a guest on my radio show The Mira Effect and told me a little bit more about this venture.
“It’s in a barn and we just thought, wouldn’t it be nice to have a film playing and maybe with the cost of their ticket, people could get a lunch and a drink with it. The lunches are themed, American, Spanish etc.. Usually with the theme of the film. Thomas Crown Affair and UP! have been sell outs. We are so happy people are sharing this experience with us. You should come along Mira…”
So I did. I summoned my best friend from London. I wasn’t going to be watching a film (Frank, inspired by the career of Frank Sidebottom and starring Michael Fassbender) in a dark barn alone, and she was just happy she was going to see a farm. We drove past a majestic view of Framlingham Castle. When we approached the farm there were portable toilets and peacocks. Hens were clucking in a corner whilst five or so beautifully shaven sheep were munching on the green. We walked to the barn to find a kingdom of magic: comfy sofas upon comfy sofas of cushioned wonderment. Blanket throws, candles in jars, and all in front of a grand screen and projector.
Behind the projector was a pop-up bar, where we were greeted to our entry drink of an elderflower juice or cider-champers. The bar was elegant. And the staff were just lovely. We quickly picked the most suitable sofa, trying out different ones and reaching the conclusion that we were to get a big one to share. Not single armchairs; we were in for potential best friend snuggles amongst the couples.
The room quickly filled, before it was announced that lunch was served. Like children in a dinner queue at school, we hurriedly joined and waited to see what was in the room beyond the door which we hadn’t even noticed upon arrival.
There, tucked to the side of the barn, was a small kitchenette where staff with beaming smiles, were serving bangers and mash drizzled in a light mustard gravy along with a sizeable slice of Bakewell tart, topped with a large dollop of clotted cream.
Needless to say the food didn’t last long. You could almost taste the care and effort put in to the locally sourced ingredients. We were invited to enjoy the sunshine outside or return to the sofa with our delights. After feeling truly fulfilled it was quite fitting to be slumped into a sofa for the next few hours.
Through the film the weather had changed, and our British autumnal rain and wind took its course. Through the odd creeks in the woodwork this did nothing but add to the atmosphere of this gorgeous barn atmosphere. There was an interval where refreshments could be purchased at the bar and in true old-school form a member of staff served ice-creams on a tray to purchase. Locally source, it had to be the best ice cream I have ever had.
My only reservation was that dietary requirements could not be catered for, but as its popularity grows I am sure this is something that could be rectified. At least to provide some sort of vegetarian option, or to specify the specifics of the menu before arrival. The surprise was quite fun though.
And I’m no film critic, but Frank is an exceptional movie, and one befitting from the setting it was viewed in.
Little lightning created a movie experience for this movie buff like no other. They are considering plans for a winter/Christmas movie and will be returning in the New Year. And do you know what ? So will I.
Posted - 13 August 2014