I may be guilty of having a rather eclectic taste when it comes to events (but we all love a good shindig, don’t we?) There are two things though, that make me a secret nerd – a love of costumes and space. So, when the invitation for Underground Cinema ‘DREAM’ came through directly from “Mission Control,” I was more than a little excited – it ticked all the boxes. UGC, for those who don’t know, throws secret experiential film parties, where you immerse yourself into the plot of a movie without even knowing what it is.
The immersion started with the emails from Mission Control themselves – each crafted to make you feel more and more as though you were leading a covert double life. By the time we’d received the final email with the secret location, we were dying to jet off on our space adventure.
On arrival, we were greeted and subjected to a medical and security exam by a daunting clearance team (which we almost thought we wouldn’t pass). Once cleared, we received wristbands and were promptly ushered into the complex where we noticed a rather inconspicuous barcode. Scanning it with the app we’d been asked to download, we were notified of a security breach and that there may be an imposter amongst us. On high alert, me and my plus ones suspiciously scanned the crowd when a stranger approached us with a request – our first task. He wanted us to spy for him! We spent the next few minutes plotting and making creative attempts at taking secret snaps of a particular individual within the compound without getting caught. As soon as we’d succeeded at this task – having nearly gotten caught, adrenaline pumping – an announcement summoned us in for training.
The group got ushered into a large theatre where we were introduced to the Director and assigned the title of ‘Navigators.’ We were to be prepared and tested for Mission Hermastratus – the future of mankind – and only a handful who pass muster would be selected. This was starting to seem more and more familiar, and this sense of only pseudo-familiarity only added to the thrill of it all.
After the briefing, we made our way to two sets of dimly-lit training rooms where both our cognitive and physical skills were put to the test, as we fought the clock to prove our worth. Halfway through the second test, something bizarre happened. While discussing strategy with the other Navigators, I felt a firm tap on my shoulder. Turning around, I was greeted by a couple of rather intimidating-looking agents in suits who quietly guided me out and to a secluded area of the complex. The next 10 minutes saw me being interrogated by a larger group of agents about my activities and role on the day. Straight out of a spy movie – this felt surreal!
Having passed the interrogation, to my relief, I was reunited with my plus one who was rather shocked by my sudden disappearance. We were then herded to an intimate bar area with the remainder of the navigators, where we could take a break with some much-needed, delectable cocktails (or go on more adventures if we chose to). After we’d mingled and regaled each other with our experiences on the night over some stellar live entertainment, it was at long last time for the big reveal. As we made our way back to the theatre – where it all began – the proverbial curtains raised and the movie was revealed to be Gattaca. It was as though all the pieces suddenly fit in.
While I’d initially thought the event ticked all the boxes, I had underestimated just how many. A night at the movies, to a gig, to interactive games sessions, a costume party, experiential theatre, and more. If eclectic is the name of the game, UGC’s one of the best tickets in town.
Ace is the director of The Plus Ones, Sydney. He suffers from a chronic case of the FOMO, an insatiable thirst for novelty (as well as good Negronis), and is a major not-so-secret-anymore space nerd.
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