Sydney, Australia: Meet One of the Main Players Behind St George's Open Air Cinema

. There's no better venue in Sydney to show overseas guests than the St George open air cinema at Mrs Macquarie's chair in the Botanic gardens. As you enjoy a glass of wine and some food with friends , there is simply no better experience in Sydney. Open Air started way back in 1997 after Swiss Founder Peter HГјrlimann who staged the first event in Lake Zurich which attracted 50,000 people. Since 1998 Rob Bryant [MD] of St George Open Air Cinema has been running the event and key it its success is "keeping it fresh" Bryant says. After a trip to Australia HГјrlimann decided the obvious location was having the screen in the water and the seating in the Botanic Gardens. Despite being told it couldn't be done, Open Air is now a must every year for Sydneysiders. Leo Schofield was one of the key people instrumental in getting the Open Air in its current location today.

HГјrlimann background in hydraulics is evident from the incredible screen that rises up from the water for the film, but it's the hydraulics that helps dampen the effects of wind on the screen.

The it's not about going to see a film at Open Air said Rob Bryant , it's all about the event of being there with friends and the hours before hand enjoying an incredible backdrop with a wine and good company ,the film is the bonus.

Its been a hard slog since Bryant first season in 1998 when 38,000 people came to watch films, when the schedule included couple of Independent Art House films to today where the location is a must for any new film premiers.

The operation is extremely capital expensive with investment of $2.5 million each year including the screens being shipped from Zurich, the platform erected in the harbour and the grandstands being erected over the Park.

It was very tough in the first few years said Bryant and most of our sponsors have been with us since the beginning which is great and they have enjoyed the journey and exposure that has come with that. Bryant said 2004 was the tipping point for the business in terms of ticket sales and film companies getting on board with film premiers.

Keeping it fresh every year is the biggest challenge that Bryant enjoys and he is determined to keep the event not to becoming the same old same old. The audience is 25-45 year old professionals and the movies that do best aren't the old classics anymore its I want a new release and I want to say I was there

So what makes this place so special? Bryant says it really gives you aspect of Sydney meeting friends and looking over to many iconic views that make say I'm making the most of summer in Sydney. You need distance to get perspective, and sitting with 1800 other people gives it an atmosphere like no other cimena.

Things just happen at Open Air that make you feel grounded and proud to be an Aussie said Bryant. We were showing Master and Commander and we get a call that Peter Weir [Director]would like to come along and bring some cast and crew as a thank you to them. When I spotted Peter he was four deep at the bar waiting to buy a beer for his friends like anyone else, despite winning BAFTA the night before. Bryant said after some prompting from Gail Kelly, Peter Weir introduces the film the unsuspecting audience, which a memory they will remember forever.

Next step is the United States where Bryant has the rights and plans to bring the Open Air format to Denver and San Deigo and would love to have an Open Air in New York one day.

If ticket sales are a measure of success each year the tickets sell out faster, this year the event was sold out in 12 hours.



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