A little trip back in time quite literally, to both earlier this year and 1955 simultaneously, when B and I went to Secret Cinema’s Back to the Future event. That’s right, I’ve finally got the disposable cameras we bought on site developed – as they wouldn’t let you take in technology to keep things authentic. I quite liked that about it, it was genuinely like we were in a little 50s bubble, which is a pretty happy place for me to be (as long as I know I’ll be reunited with the internet later). So the photos are not top quality images, but the grainy quality feels quite fitting somehow anyway.
Taking you now on a rough photo tour of the day… And for context, remember that as part of this event you’re given characters. I was a high school student, B was a wrangler (hence the farm get-up)…
First stop: the diner
Always thinking of my stomach first, we made a bee-line straight for the diner. I love a burger and a milkshake, which is good as that’s pretty much entirely what they were offering. There were other food places dotted about, but if I’m going back to the 50s I’m going to a diner! While I was there, an actor posing as Goldie started chatting away to me about my skirt and telling me to go over to the school once he’d clocked I was a student – if you look in the second photo you can see him in the background, before he pounced. Yes, I squirmed a lot. This ‘audience participation’ aspect of the event was one I was prepared for, but it’s a lot more personal than you think it’s going to be! Largely it’s avoidable if you want it to be, but not always… e.g. later in the day as we sat down to watch the film, a diner waitress came over and made B carry a love note over to a mechanic at the garage. Did I mention we had to write the note? Cue extreme awkwardness – the phrase “you really rev my engine” did get used.
Walking about the main square
There were ‘officials’ constantly yelling at us to stay on the sidewalk, which was mostly because there were a handful of classic cars – including one with Biff in (the black one, you can see Biff if you look!) – and a school bus driving about picking people up. Otherwise, they’d recreated a tonne of shops and the high school, which had the Enchantment Under the Sea dance going on in the back. I actually loved just walking about, looking at everyone’s outfits and dipping in and out of what was going on e.g. school lessons, salesmen pitching ‘flying’ bikes (you can see snaps of both above). At one point, we even ran into Doc!
There was a whole other bit where they’d set up some little 50s style houses which were very cute, kitted out properly inside. And when we walked back later in the day there was a race going on with people on those skateboard type things you can see in one of the pictures.
Speaking of audience participation, I previously mentioned the 20 minute (I’m not exaggerating) improv B took part in when he took a pot of jam over to them that was on his character’s list of props to bring. I didn’t get a great photo of this as I was concentrating desperately on not looking like I was staring so they didn’t notice and involve me too, which I think is what most sensible people would have done, surely?! Fortunately there were some actual farm animals I could divert my attention to. When B finally said his goodbyes they stamped a giant red P on his head to mark his participation (to be fair, he did do a pretty enthusiastic attempt at farmer boy) – if you’re wondering what the second photo’s all about (we were too, when we saw it – after we’d finally finished laughing).
Goodbye, Hill Valley!
The film was projected onto the town hall (behind us) and everyone parked up on the grass to watch. During key moments of the film, parts were re-enacted with some of the actors who’d been milling about during the day – and it really was incredible how they did that… I won’t tell you how though (although the open door you can see in the ‘screen’ behind us is a clue), as I’ve heard Secret Cinema are bringing this event to Los Angeles next year for the film’s 30th anniversary – I’d definitely recommend if the costume of it all appeals to you. In case anyone’s wondering, I’m not a mega-fan of the film. I mean, I like it enough to watch it – but that’s really only one part of a pretty unique day out!
And if you’re never intending to go or don’t mind the surprises being spoilt, Secret Cinema have recently put together a video
of the event that sums the magic up better than I ever could!