Sarah Atkinson
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Helen W. Kennedy
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Secret Cinema as industry
in Secret Cinema and the immersive experience economy
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We examine the two landmark productions of 2019 – Casino Royale and Stranger Things – through the professionals who developed, designed and delivered them. SC’s productions involve the temporary coming together of a collaborative troupe of talented professionals that combine a cross-sectoral expertise comprising film, theatre, live and event management, service industry and theme park experience. We draw on thirty-eight in-depth interviews with SC collaborators who provide extensive insight into their working practices, logistical processes and creative techniques, including experience design and spatialised game design. We present an immersive experience production model showing the division of labour and the various inter-sector collaborations that are unique to this form. We reveal the dynamic emergence of increasingly specialised divisions of labour practice and craft, focussing on the particular strategies and challenges that building immersive experiences around established intellectual property brings. We reveal new, sector-specific terminology and the unique roles that have emerged, which span the performative and the logistical. We show how these collaborations are pushing the boundaries of creative, technical and logistical problem-solving within highly hybridised spaces where the engagement with thousands of audience members is central – to innovate a model of experience design which unites the contradictory principles of massification and individualisation.

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