Pivotonian Cinema

Pivotonian Cinema

Late last year we welcomed the Pivotonian Cinema, an independent film exhibitor that is proudly Geelong. Because we’re a sucker for a good flick, we got some snacks, dimmed the lights, and got comfy with Jessica Litsas as we talked about how things have been travelling.
Hey Jess, thanks for taking the time to have a chat with Forte – we were incredibly excited to see the Pivotonian Cinema be launched a few months back. How is it all going for you so far?
It’s been better than we could have hoped! We’ve screened some great films, received copious support from our regulars and our Candy Bar products have proven to be really popular.
Take us through how the idea came to be. Obviously you guys have some ties in the film industry and a passion for cinema?
Since we first met we’ve been working on projects together, from video art exhibitions to cinema jobs and festivals. Mark [Walker] has far more industry experience than myself, though; he was a film projectionist for 15 years, which resulted in his technical work for MIFF and Lorne Film Festival.
When we first started toying with the idea, we realised Mark’s experience paired with my front of house experience meant that we had all bases covered for starting a cinema. And I suppose we’ve managed the workload by thinking in small steps, in an attempt to avoid becoming overwhelmed.
What really drove the idea for you? Is it something you always wanted to do?
Having your own cinema is, of course, a fantastic idea! But in reality, it probably came down to me cracking it with not being able to get a job in the arts. It becomes really frustrating leaving Uni and going into a field where there are virtually no jobs unless you make them for yourself.
So yeah, I cracked it and when I asked Mark he was immediately keen on the idea. And it kind of grew organically over about a year from that point.
How was the set up process?
Well yeah, from the onset it was pretty intense. We did spend roughly a year getting the concept right – right location, researching similar businesses in Australia, trying to see if we could make it viable and a lot of networking. Also, we did a short business course in an attempt to understand the bookkeeping and the more formal side of running a business.
I could keep going on for hours about the work we put into this project but at least because it is something we love, half the time it doesn’t feel like work, we just get carried away with it.
Can you tell us about the venue?
Well, it’s a cavernous old hall but we’ve kept the seating fairly small in number so that there’s something of an intimate feeling for the patrons. Our branding is very retro – burnt orange and white, so we’ve attempted to bring that into the hall. All of our chairs are retro-looking and orange, even down to the bean bags. We’re lucky; the hall already had existing red velvet curtains which add to the ‘magic of the movies’ feel.
The Uki Hall has an incredible history and we’ve been told that the gigs here were phenomenal. I think the fact we’re screening the Cosmic Psychos’ doco here next week pays homage to that.
What sort of movies are you guys playing?
We try to cover a variety of genres. We always have a doco, a family movie – at the moment that’s Paddington, but usually it’s something more obscure like Ernest & Celestine. Our next action film is The Salvation, with the fabulous Mads Mikkelsen. It’s about a Dutch man who has immigrated to the Wild West and starts kicking ass. We’re pretty excited about this film because we have an exclusive theatrical release.
In terms of the experience, how would you describe it?
Oooh, that’s a hard question… I suppose it’s casual and a bit edgy. You can have a quality beer or wine and sit on a bean bag, but it’s also cinematic. Our nine-metre screen doesn’t mess around – we have top of the line image quality with 2k digital cinema equipment!
But really, if people are curious they should come down and check it out for themselves. We keep our prices low so that it’s accessible to everyone!
Is the venue licensed and is there food available?
Yes, we are licensed and we stock a range of beers and wines from regional Victoria. We have hot dogs from Siketa Meats, popcorn, homemade choc-tops, even cheese and crackers for the wine drinkers.
How is your cinema experience different to the mainstream cinemas? 
All of our products are top of the line. We don’t have anything nasty. If you order a drink at The Pivotonian it comes in a glass and the hot dogs come in real bread, with real sauerkraut. I like to think that our films are like this too, with real characters and quality storylines.
Geelong can be a tough market at times. How has the idea been received so far?
We kept hearing this from people in the early stages of planning! It hasn’t been true for us at all. We must be doing something right because everyone’s been really supportive and very excited. It really makes us want to try as hard as possible to stay.
When you have patrons coming up and saying that The Pivotonian has to work because they wouldn’t be able to go back to the way it was, that’s pretty flattering!
Is the Pivotonian good for large groups? Should we pre-book?
Large groups are fine. We actually have a couple of private sessions coming up, which is always an option as well. If you just have a group of mates though, booking online is a good idea, so we get an idea that lots of people are coming. If it’s for a work event or something similar, people can shoot us an email at info@pivotcinema.com.au and we can go through the options together.
While a lot of the older generation would be aware of the ‘movie in a hall’ idea, most of the younger generation wouldn’t be. Why should they get down and try it out?
Easy! Beers and bean bags make for good times! Plus all of our films are top quality!
Anything you would like to add?
Well, yes actually. We have some exciting news. We’ll be staying on for another three months from the last week of March until June. We’ll just have a short break in early March. But before the break, we will try to get our March/May program out to everyone so they know what’s coming and don’t drive all the way to Melbourne before we screen it!
Pay a visit to pivotcinema.com.au to discover more about their movie magic.