Thinking Outside the Ice Cream Box
Last Sunday, a Peterborough animation production company invited the entire town to a free outdoor showing of PeterboroughTime (a satirical cartoon about the town and its people).
People brought their dogs and their kids (including quite a few babes in arms); planted themselves in lawn chairs or on blankets; and got ready to enjoy the show.
And what a show it was. The movie was projected on one of the exterior walls of the ice cream factory, which, conveniently, happens to be covered in white vinyl siding. There were freebies galore: free movie promos (stickers and buttons), free popcorn (donated by a local mom and pop video store), and tubs and tubs of free ice cream (donated by the same ice cream factory).
The downtown setting was perfect for a cartoon about the place. Because the ice cream factory is located across the street from the area where the crowd was seated, a steady stream of cars, trucks, cyclists, and pedestrians – and one ambulance – passed between the audience and the screen while the film was playing. From the audience's perspective, it appeared that these passersby were passing through the movie – something that only added to the realism (and the surrealism) of the flick.
The best part of the evening, for me, was witnessing such a creative use of a downtown space.
No one had their shorts in a knot about which square foot of sidewalk or asphalt was public and which was private (and whether the area was suitably zoned for use as an impromptu bring-your-own-chair-or-blanket outdoor movie event); and no one was freaking out about whether it was okay to show a movie on the exterior of a private industrial building in the downtown core on a Sunday night.
The event was allowed to unfold in a wonderfully grassroots way. It was fun, uncomplicated, and free – the result of someone's simple-but-brilliant idea ("That's not an ice cream factory: that's a box-shaped movie screen!")
We need more of this kind of creative thinking: the kind that happens when someone comes up with a great idea and is allowed to run with it, rather than being tripped up with red tape or the fear of trying anything new.
It was PeterboroughTime indeed.