not so long ago, in a theatre not so far away...
“Daa-daaaaa, da-da-da daaaaa-daaaaaaa…” The whooshing sound of lightsabers. Tales of heroes and bad guys, good vs. evil.
A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, David Billson saw Star Wars: Return of the Jedi. (Our youthful president and CEO was an infant when the first film was released.) The story and the characters hit him hard, and he was one of the many people anxiously awaiting the opening of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, and looking forward to sharing the experience with his children.
David says he was watching social media on Friday, December 18th, the day SW:TFA officially opened, and saw that a lot of companies were taking their staff to see the film. He says his first thought was, “Why didn’t we think of that?” This thought was quickly followed by a number of other thoughts—the inside of David’s head is a busy place. The train of thought arrived at “The real shame is that no one is doing this for the people who can’t afford to see it,” then continued to “Why don’t we see if we can do it?”
- Hillel the Elder -
The idea rattled about in David’s brain for a bit, then he pitched it to his two partners, and fellow rebels, Shawn Adamsson and Josh Dow, who loved it.
“Star Wars had a huge impact on us as kids. It showed us that there’s a hero in all of us. It’s a shame not all kids will be able to see this movie.We want to spread that message around. We know that going to the movies is a luxury that not everyone can afford, especially at this time of year.” - David Billson
Cue the montage: Shots of plotting and planning by Shawn and our resident angel, Jennifer Murray; calls and e-mails to social service agencies and groups that work with disadvantaged children all over London, including our SoHo neighbours, the Boys & Girls Club of London. Calls on social media asking for people who wanted to help bringing a new hope (see what I did there?) to kids by sponsoring refreshments at the event. Posts retweeted and shared, and an overwhelmingly generous response from the people and companies of this city (those not wishing to remain anonymous have been thanked at https://www.facebook.com/EllipsisDigital). Planning at Rainbow Cinemas to make sure that a rush of people would be able to get snacks and seats without any trouble.
David, the father of six (soon to be seven) children, knows the importance of the extras, having had the experience himself: “When you take a big family out, it’s enough of a challenge just to get the tickets to get in the door. You still might take your kids to the occasional movie, but you definitely skip the snack bar, so for some of the kids, it was a novelty to experience that.”
Another novelty this time around: a group of London cosplayers dressed up as Star Wars characters, who threw themselves into their roles before the movie, getting photos with our guests and engaging in lightsaber fights with kids little and big.
David was delighted by the turnout, which was close to 500 people, who were equally delighted. “It was really a diverse mix of folks who hadn’t had the opportunity to see the movie. It was very rewarding to share that geeky passion with others.”
Copywriter Laurie Bursch quotes her favourite Star Wars character, but with a slight alteration: “Size matters not. Look at me. Judge me by my size, do you? Hmm? Hmm. And well you should not. For my ally is words, and a powerful ally they are."