The secret life of British cinema

An underground film scene is emerging – for those in the know

At Canary Wharf underground station in London, vampires and vampire hunters are following each other up the escalator in a blur of fake blood and excitement.

The blood-suckers and their seekers are, of course, in fancy dress and have all come for a special screening of 1980s cult classic The Lost Boys, organised by Future Cinema, the group which wants to "change the way we view cinema".

"California" (the event has been sponsored by www.welcometocalifornia.co.uk) has been created on a stretch of land by the docks. For the Lost Boys event a funfair has been set up, various areas are recreated to look like scenes from the film – inside "Grandpa's house" there's a bar and a chance for people to learn about taxidermy by skinning rabbits.

The event comes at a fragile time for the film industry. This year saw the demise of the UK Film Council, and last month it was revealed that demands for DVDs in the UK dropped 8.3 per cent in the past year, with the market worth £3.5bn less than it was five years ago.

So it's perhaps even more remarkable that over the weekend 8,000 people paid nearly £25 each to go and watch two films (Top Gun was on the following evening) that came out in the 1980s, the DVDs of which you could buy online for around £3.

The founder and director of Future Cinema, Fabien Riggall, says: "The main crux of what we do is: how can you get films to be seen and how can you change the way films are seen?"

Riggall is part of a new wave of cineastes, offering unconventional ways to enjoy films. Literary society Flicker Club screens book adaptations and invites special guests to read the source aloud, while the Arty Farty Film Party at Manchester café An Outlet takes a ballot so customers choose the next film. While hotels such as The Scotsman in Edinburgh, Fawsley Hall in Northamptonshire, Barnsley House in Gloucestershire and The Soho Hotel in London hold regular screenings as an antidote to the generic multiplex.

In Docklands it's difficult to tell who are the actors and who are the punters. "It's a manic film, so it was important to have a manic atmosphere here," says Riggall.

"We have 60 actors here and they help the 4,000 visitors become extras. We're getting closer each time, to the audience becoming part of the event."

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