ldner #201: gerry cottle jr

He’s the man who took film screenings out of the cinema and onto the rooftops of Peckham, Hoxton, Stratford and Kensington before taking it Stateside with pop-ups in LA and New York. Meet this week’s LDNER and founder of Rooftop Film Club Gerry Cottle Jr…

Where do you live in London and what do you like about the area?

I live in Catford. I moved there 12 months ago and I’m really loving it, it has so much great character. There’s the obvious giant Catford Cat on the lamp post in the town centre that always makes me chuckle. There’s also a great local pub called the Catford Constitutional Club and a cheeky Nando’s! What more could you want?!

What inspired you to start Rooftop Film Club?

I had this desire to have something more than the traditional multiplex has to offer; be that in the way we encourage participation (singing and dancing isn’t unusual at Rooftop Film Club!), the nostalgia of seeing a film from your childhood on the big screen again or even just relishing in the eclectic street food we have at each of our cinemas – there’s not a dodgy hotdog or stale nacho in sight! I literally started the Rooftop Film Club by playing the majority of my DVD collection. I thought, “I love these movies and why can’t I share these memories again on the big screen?” Cinema is about escapism and what better way to escape the confines of your sofa than up high on a rooftop. Entertainment is in my blood and what we have with Rooftop is more like a show and the film is the star of the show at the end of every night. Sing, dance, clap and enjoy every minute. You’ll enjoy your favourite film like it’s the very first time you saw it!

Immersive film events and pop-up screenings have become increasingly popular over the years, how do you keep Rooftop Film Club feeling fresh and exciting?

Our mission has never changed and this is something all of us at Rooftop Film Club are passionate about. We are putting the social and celebration back into cinema and are the antithesis to the multiplex cinema with our themed cocktails, fantastic street food, immaculate service and of course the amazing views. Whilst our mission hasn’t changed, our programming is evolving to include new content: live productions, theatrical releases and independent titles – it’s one of the most exciting aspects of the job! We also take extra care to make sure all our customers have the best time possible. We are constantly working to build our own film community by making them a central part of what we do – speaking to them on social media and nurturing our relationship with each and every one of them. From film choice to what flavour popcorn we have on the roof, our customers are involved. We love them and we hope they recognise this and continue to come back time and time again to enjoy their favourite films.

Finally, we create unique experiences through the year so that our customers are never bored and look forward to what’s next. In the winter we go underground for the Underground Film Club and this summer in addition to our cinema we will have new and exciting social experiences on our Stratford rooftop to include Rooftop Roller Disco, a crazy golf experience called Birdies, Hip Hop inspired lawn bowls called De La Bowls and a unique baseball batting experience called Sluggers.

You’ve launched Rooftop Film Club in NYC and LA, where else in the world would you love to take it to and why?

This year in the US we are expanding with another venue In LA, opening our first venue in Chicago and Austin and then Miami at the end of the year. We are also looking to open up our first European rooftop cinema in Barcelona, working with local partners. Following this we then hope to open in Hong Kong, Singapore and Dubai. If you know a suitable space and want to change the face of cinema with us, then get in touch, we would love to hear from you.

Describe your perfect day in London.

If I’m feeling touristy then I love to head to Southbank and just have a wander. I love watching the crowds or looking over the Thames to the London skyline. Last time I was there was with my dad. We just grabbed an ice cream, a seat and watched everyone moving to the beat of London Town. I’m also a sucker for a cold pint and a pub in the sunshine. My wife, my son Gerry Jnr Jnr and anyone who cares to join me make for a perfect day.