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Amid COVID-19, firm innovates with drive-through Cinema

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A scene from the drive-through film screening


While the entertainment industry continues to hibernate as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, cinema got a bold rethink recently when Swift Think, an innovative idea development and management company, hosted a novelty drive-through pop-up experience with its eye-catchy mobile High Definition LED screen.

The move fired an arm shot of hope at Nigeria’s thriving movie-going experience, which has taken a hit from the negative economic impact of coronavirus. As a result of physical distance regime, Nigerian cinema has been practically grounded alongside all leisure and tourism activities.

During the screening on March 23, organisers transformed the open-air grounds of Car Park B, Redemption Camp, Lagos-Ibadan Expressway into a drive-through pop-up cinema arena accessed only by cars. The experience included over 17 different session of absorbing activities such as live games, karaoke sessions and of course, movie screenings.

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At its peak, the pop-up experience recorded over 71 vehicles, with occupants sitting comfortable in the safety of their cars from where they beheld the imposing LED screen. The cars were subjected to strict scrutiny at the entrance in compliance with safety guidelines for COVID19 as dictated by the authorities. While some days featured one session, others had two sessions. On average, the morning session lasted two hours, while the evening viewing session stretched to a little more than four hours. 

Now, the beauty of it: the truck’s HD screen throws out crisp pictures over a distance radius of 200 metres such that the movie was visible to those, who are parked far away. Meanwhile, the sound travels farther than that. The roaster of content encompassed different genres, including religious films, local films and foreign flicks, all censored to avoid obscenities.

According to Mr Ayoola Jolayemi, CEO of SwiftThink Limited, the experience was inspired by lockdown of activities by the authorities.  “People stayed in their houses from morning till night because of the lockdown. So we thought of what to do to help people ease boredom while ensuring people observed strict adherence to social distancing guidelines.”  

On whether it could compromise social distancing protocol, Jolayemi explained, “We made it known to people from the start that the only way to gain entry into the park is to arrive in a car––no car, no entry. So, people came in their cars.” 

Meanwhile, a few attendees shared their opinions about the experience. Victor, one of the guests, said, “I want the programme to continue as it helps to relax the mind and ease boredom; twice a week won’t be bad.”

Victor is particularly delighted with the strict enforcement and compliance with the social distancing protocol by the organisers and attendees respectively.

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“The coordinators were well organised and polite,” he noted.Tofunmi gives a more colourful assessment, saying, “It was an awesome initiative with an awesome experience, especially during this lockdown. It helped with a little sense of freedom and fun; it was well coordinated. It gives a sense of purpose day by day and the movies also impacted on me positively.”

On plans to consolidate on the experience, Ayoola disclosed, “It is something that we would explore after the lockdown, for-profit or partnership purposes. We will be reaching out to companies, religious organisations and development agencies to engage the services of the truck for their events and advocacy activities across cities. For instance, one of the major telecommunication companies used the trucks for something similar four years ago when they did Campus Activations across some selected cities in Nigeria. So, we are open to partnerships with established brands and SMEs that want to take advantage of this idea in taking their messages to target areas using the tool of outdoor cinematic entertainment.”

Established in 2009, SwiftThink has played leading roles in the advertising, live events, experiential and project development/management space, being of service to a slew of government and private agencies. The agency has worked on the development of game-changing ideas, project management, SME growth and brand development, especially indigenous African ideas and companies.

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