Bringing the Gala Arena to Life
Dec 12,2010 - 02:44 PM
When you enter the lavish surroundings of the Madinat Arena for a gala screening, attention is naturally focused on the evening’s forthcoming main presentation. But did you know that merely a week ago, this cavernous space was just an empty shell?
Yet according to DIFF’s Director of Festival Development, Dan Butkovich, the set-up procedure has been honed over the years to the point where it is now possible to transform the empty Arena into a state-of-the-art screening venue in an astonishing five days.
“The process starts a few months ahead of DIFF, when we begin planning in earnest,” says Butkovich. “Then around a week or so before the Gala, we begin with the scaffolds. It’s around a kilometer just of trussing– and then, the ceilings and walls are hung with fabrics. Lighting is installed at this time too, from the overhead chandeliers to the tiny stairwell lights. Then we bring in the seating, the sofas and finally test the audio system – huge, 500watt test tones booming around the arena!’”
Up in the control booth, the team has set up nine linked PCs, which orchestrate the phalanx of special effects, screen displays and lighting. And in readiness for the screening, lies the film itself, which like every film screened at DIFF, has been thoroughly prepared by a final, laborious physical check. “Each inch of reel, of every 35mm film at DIFF is examined by hand, by gloved hands, actually holding it and checking each frame. It’s a meticulous process, but it makes sure that the film you see is guaranteed to be flawless.”