Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Taking place over the Bank Holiday weekend, 21st - 25th August 2014
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Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by bounce08 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:59 am

It's Day 3 at FrightFest's new home so we've had a chance to settle in and get a feel for what it's like and what works, what doesn't work.

You can tell in terms of the running of the festival, the boys have put a hell of a lot of effort in and to see Paul/Alan etc roaming around constantly checking on and making sure everything is running smoothly is quite impressive, especially over 4 floors and extra screens!

I think in general, the quality and choice of films has improved this year on previous years by a fair bit - most of the big films in horror this year are playing and I know a few of them were hard to get on board in the first place (Green Inferno etc).

I like the bar area on the first floor, it's a decent setting however the choice behind the bar is pretty crap compared to Empire (no spirits).

As for negatives, I do feel that moving from Empire has taken a bit of 'soul' out of the weekend. Vue is quite modern and sterile compared to the (old) big screen at Empire. You just can't beat that feeling of sitting in a huge auditorium filled with excited FF fans crammed into every seat, so it felt a bit flat on the main screen this year.

I miss a few other smaller things too - like the Film4 intro that used to play each year (the girl in the white room wearing leather walking slowly to the music). It wasn't on in the horror channel screen.

I'm also still quite hung up about the inclusion of Shockwave Darkside 3D. Yes ofcourse there will always be a few stinkers in the programme (mostly for comedy value) but this wasn't b movie funny, it was just really, really poor film making and looks bad on the organisers for selecting it.

Vue in general have been a mixed bag themselves - the ticket collection machines haven't worked at all yet, half the staff don't know what they're doing and there in general were delays in collecting passes/disco tickets so a lot of people missed the start of the first films.

Lastly, the whole discovery screen fiasco - i felt it wasn't explained properly and seemed to be put together at the last minute. I think that there were plenty of seats available so in future disco screens could be either general admission or some sort of online/over the phone booking system (I have no idea why pass holders should queue up whilst at the festival - it should all be in advance).


Good:
-Generally a brilliant lineup with decent selections and lots of choice
-Nice bar area on the first floor
-Lots more seats for discovery screens

Bad:
-Lost a bit of it's 'soul' and atmosphere
-Poor Vue staff/setup
-Shockwave Darkside 3D
-Less choice at the bar
-Disco screen ticket arrangements


All in all, the most important thing is the films and this is the best lineup in years. Thanks to all the FF guys once again as there is still nothing like this at all in the UK that comes close.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by DJBenz » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:42 am

bounce08 wrote:As for negatives, I do feel that moving from Empire has taken a bit of 'soul' out of the weekend. Vue is quite modern and sterile compared to the (old) big screen at Empire. You just can't beat that feeling of sitting in a huge auditorium filled with excited FF fans crammed into every seat, so it felt a bit flat on the main screen this year.
I'd agree with this. I'm in the HC screen too and the mood seems 'subdued' somewhat. Perhaps because there's only a third as many people as there would have been in the main screen at the empire. People don't seem to applaud and cheer as much, almost like they're holding back. The Empire used to drop the sound and bring the house lights up almost as soon as the credits started to roll, but Vue stays in darkness to the end so I'm not sure if this is holding everyone back.
I miss a few other smaller things too - like the Film4 intro that used to play each year (the girl in the white room wearing leather walking slowly to the music). It wasn't on in the horror channel screen.
Meanwhile we've had The Strain trailer 4 times. :s

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by FranksWildYears » Sat Aug 23, 2014 9:44 am

I haven't found the staff to be poor, although the lady at the head of the queue for Discovery tickets was struggling a bit on Thursday night - given the situation not that surprising, really. It's new for everybody, and I've felt very welcome and comfortable at the Vue so far.

The atmosphere was bound to go a bit when splitting a huge crowd into three, but I think the line up is great, the sound and picture quality has been terrific, the Discovery screens are far better and since I'm not much of a drinker I think the bar area (especially the big TV screens with the trailers) is a massive improvement - there was hardly any space at the Empire to sit about between films. And I didn't watch Shockwave :green:.

I have to agree about the lack of leather clad nurse-ladies though. Film4 needs to bring them back.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by adeyboy99 » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:04 am

Our 4th FF experience didn't have the best of starts on our arrival yesterday (fri) due to the aforementioned ticket machines not working. There were also a lot of confusion as to where to queue up, as nobody seemed to be sure which of the the 4 queues were for what. We were informed to join one at the Ben and Jerry's area and seemed to be there for ages whilst a young member of vue staff (that honestly admitted he had no idea about this "frightfest stuff") appeared to be using vue's main website to book up this persons endless list of films. Luckily my friend flagged down an official looking man with a walkie talkie, who was very apologetic and immediately opened up another till to print our tickets off, which took seconds. Although we were about 20 minutes late for wolf creek 2, luckilly the opening credits had only just started when we got in. There were no lights on the floor to find our seats which was a pain, so I initially thought about using my phone as a torch, however I didn't want to get lynched by an angry mob so we just found 2 seats together and settled with just getting 'tutted' at instead.

Despite the poor start, we settled in quite quickly to the new venue. The bar area was a very nice touch and made a change to actually sit down on a padded seat as opposed to the empire floor, in between films.

Having the screens spread out between 4/5 floors took a lot of the fun out of the experience for us. It all just felt a bit sterile and empty for some reason. OK I know i've just mentioned about the space that the empire had in the auditorium, but that's also what ff is all about, the gathering of horror fans from all walks of life, chatting with one another. If there was a way to combine the bar area of the vue, to the empire auditorium it would be perfect.

Would we return to the vue for FF, yeah probably. We enjoy FF that much that we would go to any cinema for it tbh. The vue online booking system would need to be sorted out though, as buying tickets at the minute past midnight time was a complete shambles. The ticket machines not working might've just been bad luck, but on their busiest few days of the year (I'm assuming) these need to be working.
Hopefully if it does come back to Vue next year then they'll be better prepared for FF.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by Rob@Sky » Sat Aug 23, 2014 10:16 am

Thursday night was ramshackle - I think some feedback has to be that Vue's training and prep for big events needs reviewing post this year's FF.

But, the first floor bar is a good breakout area and a space to catch up with friends who are in the other screens.

It's the first year so there were always going to be some teething problems. And I'd prefer it here rather than the Trocadero or the out of central London at the O2 or Canary Wharf Cineworld.

The atmosphere picked up yesterday I thought and the film's I've seen so far have been a well-selected range of fright cinema. Didn't see that Shockwave one though which I hear made Banshee Chapter look like The Shining. However, today we have The Harvest, The Babadook, Life After Beth, Show Pieces and All Cheerleaders Die to choose from. And what would FF be without the odd Bubba's Chilli Parlour? :D
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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by Jon H » Sat Aug 23, 2014 12:34 pm

I'm in the Arrow Screen and I thought the atmosphere lifted yesterday afternoon (pretty much after Green Inferno and Dead Snow 2)

Agree with everything said on this thread so far - but it is early days. It's not The Empire and there isn't the same atmosphere as The Empire, but I'm sure FF at the Vue will develop its own identity over time.

Seeing that they had to really make up some ground after the online ticket fiasco, I think everybody is a bit disappointed in Vue so far. It doesn't seem like they know what's hit them and they don't seem totally on board with the festival being here. Prime example - the disco screen tickets - the theory was perfectly sound, but if Vue are only going to open 2 out of 6 tills, then there is going to be delays. They just didn't seem ready . However, that's not the fault of the staff who are no doubt doing their best.

The bar area is great - big improvement on the Empire - I'm sitting in here now and the atmosphere is much better than yesterday.

Put it down to inevitable apprehension on our part coupled with a few teething problems by Vue. It will sort itself out. Looking forward to the rest of the festival.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by sandwoman » Sat Aug 23, 2014 8:43 pm

I came up for a few films during the day today and thought certain parts of the venue are an improvement on the Empire: the bar area feels more spacious and the flow of people is better thanks to the escalator layout. At the Empire it could be a nightmare trying to jostle your way through the crowd from the entrance to the loos, hated that, especially when there were press areas set up. Also managed to bag a comfy seat at one point - never managed that at the Empire! The atmosphere in the auditorium did feel a bit more subdued, though; there was much less cheering and clapping than usual ... mind you, that could just be the films I saw, which weren't the best, though I expected a bit more audience participation in All Cheerleaders Die :lol:

Things I didn't like: the really high arm-rests on the seats, I was really uncomfortable after three films; also really slow service in the bar (and queue jumpers). So not that much to complain about, really.

And I do like my goody bag, am grateful I got one. Arrived this morning and asked if they were available to day pass holders and the answer was "no", which seemed a bit off after all the ticket booking hassles. Then Alan announced they were giving them to day pass holders so i've got one and I'm well chuffed. The stuff in it was mostly flyers but the main thing is that it'll make a great overnight bag - love the Arrow Video design :D

Was a bit gutted this year, as I'd had the Leicester Square Premier Inn booked since last year and was really looking forward to immersing myself in Frightfest for five days. Then I didn't manage to get a weekend pass so that was my plan shot down in flames. Not sure if next year I'll be able to afford the luxury of the hotel next door, so feel like I've missed my opportunity for the luxury Frightfest weekend I've always dreamed of but I hope I'll be back next year for a bit longer than a day.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by kickasschewgum » Sun Aug 24, 2014 1:29 am

I know everyone is clinging to fond memories of The Empire, myself included, but I have to admit that I actually really like the Vue as a venue for FrightFest.

I also like the three different screens playing movies in rotation as it adds a whole new element to pre and post movie conversations.

It is definitely true that the usual FrightFest atmosphere was missing on the first night but, as a previous poster has already noted, it seemed to start coming back very quickly in the last few movies on Friday and, I would argue, it was pretty much back to its normal energy by Saturday.

Which just goes to show that it's the crowd (and the films) that makes FrightFest, not the venue.

Well done to Paul, Alan, Ian and Greg for working so hard to come up with not only a workable, but possibly superior, format in a new, potentially trickier, venue.

I for one actually hope it returns to the Vue next year in exactly the same format.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by mondodan » Sun Aug 24, 2014 7:44 pm

I wasn't around Thursday night, but I have to say Friday did feel bit strange at the new venue. I kept seeing friends for 5 or 10 minutes at a time as we moved between screens, each of us seeing different films at different times in different screens. In the old days, everyone would leave the Empire (or Odeon/PCC) at the same time, head to the pub for a pint, the return en masse for the same film in the same screen. Back then, the screen was bigger, the crowd was more enthusiastic and the atmosphere was (at times) hard to beat.... watching a film was a unique shared experience.

However, three days on, I'm really coming round to the Vue, and once a few teething problems are sorted, I think this place will (and is starting to) work brilliantly. The large bar area is GREAT - the Empire had nothing like that for hanging out between screenings, and I really don't miss that insane crush in the Empire foyer as 1000 horror fans were entering the screen simultaneously each night. The screens are smaller obviously but the screen size is good and the sound is top-notch - I sometimes felt the latter got lost a little in the vastness of Empire One. And the Discovery screens are way better - again, I don't miss that tiny room used for the Disco screenings at the Empire.

It's true that the audiences have been a bit more subdued for the obviously crowd-pleasers than at the Empire, but I suspect this is simply being in a new venue - I bet by next year we'll all be whooping it up at the gore/scares like we always did.

So yeah, the Vue is very different and really did feel strange at first, and maybe there are still a few logistics that need to be looked at. But on the whole, and as every day has gone by, I'm seeing more and more I like and prefer to the old set-up...

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by EvilAsh » Sun Aug 24, 2014 8:15 pm

Fed up of finding people in my seat who 'have a pass but for the other screen but ita fine' er no. Get out of my seat!
And the helpers arw doing the same thing!

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by leytonrocks » Sun Aug 24, 2014 11:02 pm

I like the fact that give or take ten mins the films start at their allotted time - that never happened in the last couple of years at the Empire

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by The Aylmer » Tue Aug 26, 2014 3:23 am

bounce08 wrote:Good:
-Generally a brilliant lineup with decent selections and lots of choice
-Nice bar area on the first floor
-Lots more seats for discovery screens

Bad:
-Lost a bit of it's 'soul' and atmosphere
-Poor Vue staff/setup
-Shockwave Darkside 3D
-Less choice at the bar
-Disco screen ticket arrangements


All in all, the most important thing is the films and this is the best lineup in years. Thanks to all the FF guys once again as there is still nothing like this at all in the UK that comes close.
I think in the first day or so there might have been a feeling that some of the soul had been lost from Frightfest. And while chatting to Alan (Jones) on the Monday as the final film loomed on the horizon even he admitted he'd love to be able to get everybody back into one big auditorium again. But that just ain't going to happen. As Alan said, the Odeon just round the corner is going to be turned into something like 16 screens and the Empire are now starting to regret going the IMAX route as the seats are too cramped (no leg room) and close together with little or no stage area at the front meaning not only would it be impossible to hold a Frightfest there now but they're even losing out when it comes to holding film premiers (Tom Cruise apparently took one look at the revamped main screen and nixed any idea of premiering his Edge of Tomorrow there). All of which suggests the Vue is going to be our new Frightfest home for the next few years (by the way, I thought the Vue staff were great so no complaints from me there)

But saying all of that, once this years festival was in full swing I thought it all worked really well and that atmosphere and soul soon started working its way back in. By the time we got to the final film of Monday (The Signal) in the Horror Channel screen the festival vibe was certainly back in full swing. Epitomised by the classic moment when that bloody trailer for 'The Strain' made it's final appearance of the weekend and some wag at the back yelled out "All right. I'll fucking watch it then!" Cue mass applause, cheers and much laughter from the whole of screen 7. After a cautious start the soul of FF is most definitely in good health then.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by hingethunder » Tue Aug 26, 2014 6:48 am

Overall I thought it worked really well - obviously would be better to have one big screen but as noted above it's not possible (until we get much bigger and move to the Odeon Leicester Square :) )

I was very sceptical as I remember the first year the London Film Festival used the Vue which was a nightmare, but ended up very happy - thanks to everyone involved in organising and running the fest!

Good points:
- plenty of room in the bar area, and lots of comfy seats
- more loos than in the Empire! Films finishing at different times reduced queuing times
- the staff were great! Every interaction I had with them they were friendly and helpful, even when they were coping with difficulties like Thursday's disco screen ticket queue. Hopefully someone can pass back the good feedback to Vue management.
- after the initial problems on Tuesday, Disco screen tickets worked fine. I was booking tickets up until Sunday (for a Monday screening) and nothing I wanted was sold out. Only thing I heard was sold out was Nightmare on Elm Street. Much better not having to turn up early each morning to queue up.

Things which could improve:
- screen numbering / naming was confusing - numbers on the tickets and names on the screens! At one point I helped someone find the right screen for a Discovery screening who turned out to be the director :) Also the woman who realised she was in the wrong screening on Sunday night when Jan Harlan was introduced as Kubrick's collaborator. Easy suggestion - on the website, brochure and (most importantly) the signs in the cinema, put "Screen 3: Discovery 1" etc.
- Disco screen policy changing at the last minute: see above, next year we know there's nothing to worry about
- would be great if Disco screen 2 was the same size as Disco 1.
- Wasn't clear how to return Disco screen tickets if you changed our mind
- Would be great to have an official or unofficial way of trading seats in the main screen if there's something you've missed due to a clash and someone else is in the Disco screen
- appreciated the sponsors keep the prices down, and presumably the trailers were part of this. But showing the same trailers over and over again when the vast majority of the audience are seeing every film is a bit counterproductive!

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by Bigcat » Tue Aug 26, 2014 11:49 am

Overall I liked the Vue experience.

I agree with others that the 'buzz' wasn't quite the same as it has been at the Empire, at first anyway, but by Monday night the atmosphere was brilliant in the Film4 screen, everyone joining in with the trailers, making jokes :lol:

I loved the sense of space, the bar area was particularly great. It was also very friendly this year. Not that it's ever unfriendly, I just chatted to many more people and maybe that's in part related to having more space to roam and because there wasn't the big crush getting in and out of the foyer we had at the Empire, I hung around more in between films rather than dashing out to get a bit a space.

The Disco set up worked really well for me. Queues aside, being able to get Disco tickets as and when meant no early mornings (I travel in from London Zone 3 every day) and so I went to many more Disco screenings than usual. The quality of the Disco films were great (The Canal and Coherence) and there were some legendary guests too (Robert Englund and Alan Moore).

Had no issues with the Vue staff, all friendly and helpful in the limited interactions I had - thanks to all.

I was worried about spoilers due to the three main screens alternating the films, but I should have known better. It was actually fun asking someone if they had liked the film you were just about to watch and no one spoiled anything. Thank you.

Finally, thank you to the organisers, who took the time to proactively talk to people throughout the weekend to find out what they thought, how it was going. A small touch that's really appreciated.

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Re: Thoughts on FrightFest @ Vue so far..

Post by The Soapmaker » Tue Aug 26, 2014 12:23 pm

I was sceptical but in fact everything turned out much better than I expected.

The opening night video link was awful and in Screen 7 I felt very detached from what was happening in Screen 5. Please guys, that should never be repeated!!

After that, everything was fine. Showing the films at different times on the three Main screens worked brilliantly, IMO. OK, there's a degree of pot luck about the late night films (I don't stay for those), and you might be unlucky finding time to eat ('twas ever thus) but it was basically A Very Good Idea. So long as someone introduces the film and someone turns up for the Q&A, if appropriate, you're not really conscious that it may have been done twice already.

Showing the same film on all three Main screens with staggered start times just about worked for the couple of films it applied to, but please don't extend it - there would inevitably be long and irritating delays at some point, and just too much timewasting generally.

The Discovery screens - I'm mostly a Main screen viewer but I thought the new Disco screen system was, in theory at least, much better than the old system of having to turn up early only to find things had already sold out. Our barcodes didn't work, but that was just a printer problem really. And of course we could debate about certain films (cough) that maybe should/shouldn't have been Main/Discovery films but that's unavoidable.

I did miss the Quiz and, to a lesser extent, the short films (on the Main screen). I'm not sure how the Quiz problem can be solved (....not the video link, please!)

Overall, I think it went very well, thanks and congratulations are due to the organisers. I'm sure things can be fine-tuned a bit but this really did work first time. I sincerely hope the team resist any temptation to fuck with it too much for next year. It ain't broke, please don't fix it.

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