Immersive audio-visual performance featuring Idris Elba celebrating the importance of film for the British Film Institute’s first Luminous Gala fund raising event in London

This is an immersive audio-visual performance piece that was written and directed by Christopher Thomas Allen, especially for the British Film Institute’s first-ever Luminous fundraising gala event in London, October in 2013. The piece animates and illustrates a monolog that imparts to the audience the cultural importance of film and the central role of the BFI’s in its preservation and its continued funding and support for new voices.

The studio worked closely with the BFI’s head curator Robin Baker to select a cross-section of the archive’s gems and gathered a long list of contemporary examples of British talent on screen, that took us from the beginning of filmmaking right up to the releases that graced the London Film Festival that year. The creative production involved several location shoots at the BFI archive in Berkhamsted, where we documented their restoration processes and the cavernous acetate vaults that hold thousands of feet of our history on film.

The resulting seven-minute piece was a truly special part of the night and was only ever performed once. This multi-screen, video-mapped audio-visual art work contained excerpts from over 140 different film titles and unfolded around the room across five separate projections. We were fortunate to have had the leading UK actor Idris Elba feature in it,. We filmed him performing the script written by Christopher Thomas Allen in a studio, then carefully edited this narrative along with all the films we collaged together into a single work as a finale to the event, with a specially composed live musical score by Jude Greenaway and the Urban Soul Orchestra.

This project is one we are particularly proud of, both in terms of its form and content, it is a pioneering immersive work that transported the audience through the sights and sound of cinema while contemplating its very form and social meaning philosophically.


Creative Director:Christopher Thomas Allen
Producer:Alice Ceresole
Technical Directors:Pete Wallace & Brenden Clark @ Insight Lighting
Architectural Mapping:Stuart Mcalister & Simon Risbridger
Editors: Christopher Thomas Allen, Dave Baum
& Jai Rafferty
Research Editor:Helen Omand
Animation:Pete Wallace, Dave Baum & Mark Bailey
Camera:Christopher Thomas Allen, Tim Cowie,
James Price & Jai Rafferty
Lighting:Felix Ollerearnshaw @ Insight Lighting
Camera Assistant:Jack Armitage
Makeup:Sandra Bermingham
Custom Software:Joe Catchpole
Music Composer:Jude Greenaway & Urban Soul Orchestra
Live Musicians:Urban Soul Orchestra
Writer:Christopher Thomas Allen
Actor: Idris Elba
Line Producer:Annie Kwan
Assistant Producer:Maddie Yuille
Locations:BFI National Archives Berkhamstead
& Apiary Studios
Live Performers:
Violins:Stephen Hussey & Ruth Elder
Viola: Una Palliser
Cello:Kwesi Edman
Harp:Patrizia Meier

Special thanks to Tina Temple Morris, Anna Dudina, Nathalie Morris & Scott Starck at the BFI National Archives.

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