Alex CowleyHome

The Plaza is a charlity cinema in Waterloo Liverpool, run almost entirely by volunteers from the local community.

Jon, one of my closest friends, has worked as the Volunteer Manager there for many years, and one evening he approached me with an exciting proposition: the Plaza was soon to celebrate its 20th anniversary as a Community Cinema with a big event held in the main screen, and they wanted to produce a film for such a special occasion. I said yes instantly, thinking “this should be a nice little project.”


Initially we assumed that we would create a 5-10 minute video, but the film quickly began to grow as we delved deeper and deeper into the Cinema’s fascinating history, beginning right back at the start of World War 2. We spent countless hours researching and compiling archive pictures and footage, plotting the story of the Cinema from its beginning through to the present day.


We jumped right into the deep end, and over the next two months we set about planning and shooting interviews with key people from the Cinema’s history, among whom was the renowned cinematographer and the first British Film Commissioner Sir Sydney Samuelson. Jon and I were juggling so many roles during filming: lighting, sound, camera, footage logging, planning and interviewing.


Returning to our makeshift edit room in Jon’s little office, we digested over 50 hours of footage and gradually pieced together the narrative of the now-40+-minute film, writing and recording our own voice-over to join up the many pieces. With time getting tight, we were flat out, with Jon editing on one computer while I was composing the soundtrack across the other side of the office. We finished with a mammoth 26-hour edit stint on the morning of the event, and watched a test screening at 9am on the big screen.

We were delighted with the final film, as was the cinema and all of the attendees. This project ranks as one of the best I think I’ve ever been involved in, we both pushed ourselves to the absolute limit and beyond and produced something to be proud of.