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1997

BEWITCHED BY MAGIC OF THE SILVER SCREEN - April 1997

A CHILDHOOD passion for films and the cinema has been turned into reality for Don Currie - he's brought the big screen right to his doorstep.
The retired Navy pilot has fulfilled his dream by building his very own old-style cinema in the grounds of his back garden. Mr Currie, of Cavesham, believes he is the only person in the south of England to have built his own personal cinema in the grounds of his home.
To enter the 15-seater cinema is like taking a step back in time to see the interior and how a picture house was run, before the large cinemas were set up in the 80s and 90s.
The red seats were once used in the Manchester Opera House and around the mini-screen are gold coloured fittings.
There is even a spotlight for Mr Currie's wife , who serves ice cream to their guests. Mr Currie has made her a traditional tray to serve from. The 71-year-old film fanatic says:
"Films have been an interest of mine ever since I was at school. The mechanics of presenting films has fascinated me.
"Not far from where I lived in Darlington was a small picture house. My father knew the manager and I was allowed in the projection box."
But Mr Currie does not think much of today's cinemas, He says:
"The modern cinemas today are a little bit cold and souless.
"In the old days the presentation was the main thing. There was an organ player in the interval and it was all about showbusiness.
"Now all it is about is showing the main feature."
The shell of the private cinema was the work of builders and Mr Currie then constructed the interior, taking around six months.
The overall cost of the cinema has been around £11,000 and some famous people have sat in it to watch films, including Marti Caine and former Blue Peter presenter Valerie Singleton.
Mr Currie, who has lived in Reading for 20 years, has collected hundreds of films.
Whatever takes the fancy of guests can be played, including old newsreels, Disney flms, feature films and an assortment of tapes about aircraft, ships and railways. However, Mr Currie's passion for film and cinema dioes not end there because he is an award-winning amateur movie maker and has been a member of the Reading Film and Video Makers club for 20 years. He has recently won a Silver Seal in the IAC International Film and Video Competition with his documentary about the Paignton and Dartmouth steam railway. He says:
"The mechanics of making a film have also always fascinated me and I have been doing it for donkey's years.
"To win an award is very satisfying. It makes you feel all the work of filmimg, editing and doing the soundtrack has been worth it."
His award-winning film will be shown during Movie97, a four-day festival in Great Malvern, from Thursday April 10 to 13. The next plan of action for Mr Currie is to construct a platform in his cinema, so that an organ can be raised during the intervals. He says:
"This is a long term project because it will be complicated to make.
"But it will look nice and it would be in keeping with the place."

ROLLING BACK THOSE SCREEN YEARS - Nov 1997

A SPECIAL screeening of a film about the history of Caversham has been held by Reading Film & Video Makers club.
The group took two years to make the film and the screening was part of their 40th anniversary celebrations.The premiere of the 40-minute long Caversham Remembered was held at St Andrews Church Hall in Caversham Heights, and around 50 people attended.
Contributors included Movie Bowells from the Bohemian Bowls Club on Fry's Island. Jill's Corner in Prospect Street supplied postcards and Ted narrated .

OLD CAVERSHAM FILM SNAPPED UP - Dec 1997

A SUMMER project by amateur film makers has proved such a hit with the Caversham public that it looks like being a commercial success as well.
The video Caversham Remembered, produced by the Reading Film and Video Makers club, attracted so much interest from local people that members decided to put it on the market.
The first 50 copies of the video, taking a 38 minute stroll around the area with a look into the past, were snapped up so quickly another 100 have been produced.
Club chairman Laurie Joyce said:
"It was actually started two or three years ago as a summer project. It has taken a tremendous amount of work.
"We found, when we were filmimg it, people would come over and ask what we were doing.
"Then they would say 'why don't you speak to Mr so-and-so' and in the end we thought that we wouldn't make it a history lesson. We'd just raise people's awareness, and if they want to go off and study in more detail they can."
The film looks at Caversham Bridge and its past, the way the river was used and several of the key buildings in the area. It reveals stones from the original Caversham Bridge can be seen at Our Lady and St Anne's Church in South View Avenue.
The club bought a £10,000 video projector with a grant from the National Lottery last year and any money the video raises will help with its upkeep and to keep membership fees low.
Mr Joyce added: "It certainly wasn't intended as a commercial venture but so many people were interested we thought we would sell some."
The video costs £8.99 from Caversham Library, The Caversham Bookshop or direct from the club when it meets on Tuesday evenings from 8pm at St Andrews Church Hall in Albert Road.

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