Melanie Pearson, co-founder of The Magic Lantern Film Club, writes about the project

By October 17, 2015



There suddenly seems to be a lot of it about – pop up cinema, secret cinema, interactive cinema and so on – a new wave of excitement and passion for film – film as an event as well as an entertainment. 

These days you can see pretty much any film you want, when you want, from the comfort of your own home. Yet there is something special about the shared experience and watching the film as part of an audience.

Sheffield has always been a cinema-loving city but Magic Lantern started because there seemed to be something missing. We were craving the kind of quirky free-range film night that you got with music. Serendipity (and a lifelong love of the moving image) brought three strangers and some secondhand equipment together and the city’s first pop up cinema was born. 

Magic Lantern is a club without a clubhouse, our members are whoever turns up to a screening, and our motto is ‘Experience Cinema Anywhere’.

We’ve screened a film on average once a month for the last four and a half years in all sorts of different places around the city, from church halls and bars to empty shops, a secret location by the canal, and a bicycle repair yard. However we do like to ring the changes, so recently we’ve taken up more permanent residence in the mini cinema at Picture House Social.

We show films that we love and want to share – from art house oddities to blockbusters (we have screened “Jaws” and “Alien”, in appropriate locations) locally made shorts and documentaries. We have regular 16mm and occasional 8mm screenings. 

Sometimes we push the boat out and run a themed event (“Viridiana” in an old chapel with a Spanish feast), sometimes it’s just the audience and the film.

But then, it’s never just the audience and the film: there’s a magic that’s created by a bunch of people sitting together in the flickering light. 

It’s nice to sit back in a comfortable seat with surround sound and a giant screen that engulfs your whole attention, but if you want to be part of a more intimate audience experience, watch a film in the way that people used to when cinema began, and feel full of wonder at the sheer spectacle of the moving image, then come and see us. We’ll be putting on a movie again in a place near you…

Our next screening is in November. For more information see our website