When news of Prince’s untimely death came through in April 2016, we were hosting a mystery screening at The Old Hairdressers. We lingered after the screening to take advantage of the special set-up (brand-new projector and tiered seating brought in for GI) and settled in to scour YouTube for whatever Prince content we could find (not a huge amount back then). Coincidentally, Backseat Bingo, about five years ago, hosted cult film screenings in The Old Hairdressers (films like Cry Baby, Teenagers From Outer Space, House On Haunted Hill and Strait-Jacket). This was just before Matchbox Cineclub started our monthly night there (and long before we moved our residency to CCA), and sadly we never made it to one of their events.
Backseat Bingo was then dormant for a few years, so altogether we were very happy, in January this year, to hear from Casci Ritchie, the brains behind BB, with a co-screening pitch. Casci, also a fashion historian specialising in Prince, wanted to mark what would’ve been The Purple One’s 61st birthday on Friday June 7th, 2019, with a rare screening of Under The Cherry Moon (1986). We jumped at the chance to screen Prince’s misunderstood directorial debut, the follow-up to the acknowledged masterpiece Purple Rain, derided as a vanity project and long overdue for critical reappraisal.
And it seemed everyone else wanted to do something special for the event too. CCA’s tech staff agreed to climb teetering ladders to add coloured gels to their lights – though the unexpectedly pouring sunshine dulled the effect a little – so the foyer greeting the audience was bathed, albeit faintly, in Prince-y purple. Saramago, the café/bar embedded in the heart of CCA, got involved by playing Casci’s specially-curated Prince playlist all day long, from doors open until our programme began at 7pm, with the best of Prince’s movie trailers. Casci even provided a stash of Tootsie Pops, Prince’s very favourite sweet, for the arriving audience to dig into.
Casci’s illustrated talk took us on a journey through Prince’s fashion evolution, illustrating his iconic style through photos, clips and her expert knowledge. From his early days as a dedicated follower of fashion, all bell bottoms and platforms, to his instantly recognisable spandex, chains and trench coat, right through to his final years of more relaxed feminine tailor, Casci covered it all. Prince is known for his outlandish dress sense, but Casci gave the audience an insight into just how considered and deliberate his choices were, reflecting his evolving artistic intentions. The audience were then well equipped to fully appreciate His Royal Badness’ outfits in Under The Cherry Moon, and safe to say everyone wanted a backless suit.
The event was sold out, and we sold tickets on a sliding scale from zero to £8, with an average ticket price of £4.86. That’s worth noting since typically we’d price our tickets at around £4 and so the sliding scale continues to provide accessibility while actual increasing our box office. That’s important because it proves screenings like these can be sustainable and accessible at the same time, and also because it means Backseat Bingo can reinvest in more upcoming events.
Casci also organised a raffle in aid of East Glasgow Music School, a project we felt Prince would’ve approved of. EGMS run on Saturday mornings during term time and offer music lessons for children in the East End of Glasgow, helping build self-esteem and confidence in their abilities. The School provides instruments on free loan to children, and is fully inclusive, welcoming children of all levels of ability and from all religious, racial and ethnic backgrounds. Matchbox Cineclub contributed our share of the box office too, making a total of £225.31 for EGMS.
Also in terms of accessibility, the main feature and the supporting programme (trailers for Purple Rain, Sign O The Times, Graffiti Bridge, our upcoming screening Der Fan and the music video for Batdance) were captioned/subtitled for the deaf and hard of hearing. That’s possible since Matchbox now has a professional subtitling arm, and the intention to caption/subtitle all our upcoming screenings and their supporting programmes (i.e. trailers, etc).
We have more team-ups on the way this year – with Sad Girl Cinema, Queer Classics and Pity Party Film Club – and we’re always looking for collaboration. This year, Film Hub Scotland’s support means we’ve been able to spark some co-screenings to encourage new independent exhibitors/programmers, like Venom Mob Film Club, or dormant ones, like Backseat Bingo, to screen more films around Glasgow. And, if you’d like to start a film night, or plan your own screening series, we’re running an open call for collaborative pitches to help launch your project through a co-screening with us. The deadline for pitches is Friday June 14th – read the full details here. And if you’re more established but would still like to team-up, we’d love to hear from you – get in touch here.
Thanks to Casci Ritchie & Backseat Bingo, Charlie, Kenny Christie, Dee Clark, Alex Misick, Ingrid Mur, Film Hub Scotland, Filmbank and CCA Glasgow.