How to Survive a Pyjama Party at The Prince Charles Cinema

On Saturday night The Prince Charles Cinema in London held their third pyjama party movie marathon. This weekend had a Halloween theme and featured a run of six classic horror films. Having attended all of The Prince Charles’ pyjama parties so far we have taken it upon ourselves to write you an essential 13-point survival guide.

Arrive rested – You are trying to remove an entire night’s sleep without screwing over your body clock for work on Monday morning. Have a nap on Saturday afternoon so that you won’t want as much sleep when trying to watch a film. Better to miss Escape to the Country than the climactic showdown at the end of Carrie.

Arrive on time – Arriving when the cinema doors open allows you time to find your ideal seat and set up camp. There are always people arriving half an hour into film one struggling to find a seat in the dark. Don’t be that person. Everyone hates that person.

Get a good seat – We have our personal favourite seats at The Prince Charles but we won’t be giving that away here. Make sure you can see the screen and make an easy exit to the bathroom when your five coffees finally catch up with you. A seat that is easy to find again in the dark is a must.

Take the right company – Have good friends with you. Someone who will keep you buoyed from the earlier films right through to the painful final film at seven in the morning after no sleep. Someone who will laugh at your jokes long after you are able to form coherent sentences.

Respect your neighbours – Don’t annoy the people around you as you’ll be sitting with them for the next 12 hours. A passive aggressive feud does no one any good, especially when everyone involved is sleep deprived and a little smelly.

Wear PJs – I know it seems embarrassing at first to wear pyjamas in public but everyone is doing it. They are warm and comfortable and mean that you won’t be travelling home in the same pair of jeans you’ve been festering in for the past twelve hours. Maybe buy some pyjamas for the occasion, we don’t want you wearing precisely what you would at home especially if that is nothing more than that same old, baggy t-shirt with the stain on it that you got from that team-building exercise that you did for your work several years ago.

Allow yourself naps – If you find yourself dozing then you may have to give in and have a small sleep. Aim for a particular film you’re not keen on like Fright Night, Flashdance, or Fast Times at Ridgemont High. Any good film line-up will have its weak spots

Drink – Stay hydrated and stay caffeinated but be careful. While a Thermos of your preferred hot drink will help keep you conscious for as long as the flask lasts, having a couple of cans of energy drink will result in an eventual crash and will do bubbly things to your digestive system at four in the morning. I’d personally suggest avoiding alcohol as it will make you sleepy and shrink your bladder. I find fruit juice to be a welcome ally in the battle against sleep.

Eat – Enjoy quiet snacks throughout the night. The cinema will be selling sweets, popcorn, and ice-cream at ungodly hours and allow you to bring your own food with you so make the most of these. I like to bring a lot of fruit (and a packet of Jaffa Cakes) with me; sweet, juicy, and fresh can be a real boost and help create the illusion that your aren’t completely running your body into the ground with your enforced sleep deprivation.

Don’t stay silent – While this may not be the right time to make plans for the following weekend you are at a pyjama party so complete silence is not necessary. Snarky comments, quoting along with the dialogue, and singing along with any songs will help keep you awake and make everyone in the cinema think that you are a cool and sexually attractive person.

Be active – One of the worst things to do is to sit still in your seat and simply watch the films. Where do you think you are, the cinema? You can tell when people have fallen asleep as the entire screen will be empty of background noise. Whether it is eating, drinking, bitching about a character’s outfit, or (as a group near the back did on Saturday night) noting every time that a character said the name “Michael” in The Lost Boys, make sure you don’t stagnate. Focussing on incidental details will keep you focussed.

Never close your eyes – I have a habit of slipping into “radio mode” where I close my eyes and try to follow the plot. This is a foolish thing to do as the next thing you know your are jolting awake and the film will have moved on without you.

Clean your face – This may sound weird but you’d be amazed how fresh and alert you feel after splashing your face with water or giving it a good wash down with a face wipe. A fresh-faced movie marathoner is one that is less likely to pass out in a quiet scene.

Thanks to Melissa and Rach for keeping me awake and essentially writing this piece for me.

Die Hard and Attack the Block Double Bill or How to Survive Somerset House

On Saturday night we headed down to Somerset House for the first time to experience one of London’s most popular and unique film-viewing events: Film4’s Summer Screen with a double bill of Die Hard and Attack the Block on the cards.

We were reasonably early and so got a good spot in the beautifully roped off Guest area, allowing plenty of time for drinking cider, buying pick and mix, eating nuts and people-watching. Sitting on thin blankets was surprisingly comfortable, though the ankles suffered the most on the hard stone floor.

At half seven Alan Rickman was revealed and the relaxed crowd went wild. Gradually the cheering crowd got to their feet and applauded the great man. While I know his performance as Hans Gruber is incredibly popular, I’d like to think I wasn’t alone in giving Snape a personal standing ovation. After a few remarks on how young we all looked (what a charmer), how Die Hard was his first film and he had to do the fall without CGI, we were on to the first film.

Die Hard was as fantastic as ever and two of the fastest hours I’ve experienced. Sound and picture were perfect, something I was surprised at considering I was sitting in the courtyard of a neoclassical building. There were plenty of cheers and laughs throughout the film and a few heckles at appropriate moments. With everyone gradually moving from sitting to lying down it became one big outdoor sleepover, lovely. Unfortunately we hadn’t claimed a long enough plot, and were stuck in an awkward lying position, trying not to kick the people in front, or rest our heads in the laps of those behind.

After Die Hard there was a brief interval during which a small proportion of the audience bailed, before Joe Cornish came on to introduce his debut feature. As a veteran of the Summer Screen, Cornish seemed really excited to have his feature shown at Somerset House. One by one he was joined by a huge number of the cast who each got a quick go on the mike. Their messages to the audience varied greatly, from, “Anybody wanna play Fifa?” to “FUCK!” An adorable bunch.

With the people behind us having deserted the area we could enjoy Attack the Block exactly as was intended, flat on our backs, this time under our blankets, in a Grade I listed building. The film was just as brilliant as before, though I found I couldn’t really forgive the kids this time, despite them sitting mere metres away. Jodie Whittaker’s friends went mental for her during the closing credits, Summer Screen definitely provides a unique experience.

Stumbling home at 1:30am we were a happy bunch, though had learnt a few valuable lesson which we can implement when we return as a larger group for Princess Bride next Sunday:

1. Arrive Early: To get the best spot you want to arrive way before the film starts. Don’t complain about having to wait hours for the film to start, you’re with your friends in a beautiful setting and there’s a bar. Shut up and enjoy yourself.

2. Claim a Space as Long as Your Body: At some point during the film you will want to lie down and if you haven’t marked your territory properly this will be difficult and slightly uncomfortable. You have been warned.

3. Bring a Picnic: You can buy wraps, brownies and the traditional popcorn or pick and mix on site, but bringing an impressive spread will help wile away the hours before the film starts and stave of food envy when your better-prepared neighbours are spreading humus on brioche.

4. Pack Layers: It may be a glorious summer’s day but you are sitting still on cold stone flooring so will get gradually colder and colder. This goes double for anyone going to the triple bill on Saturday night. Nobody should die for the love of cinema.

5. Bring Lots of Cushions etc: A blanket to sit on and mark out territory is essential but so is a big, soft cushion. It will keep your ankles from agony when cross-legged and lift your head into the prime angle for film viewing when lying down.

Follow these five tips and you too can have a memorable and unique evening at the Film4 Summer Screen at Somerset House. You won’t get Joe Cornish and Alan Rickman though, sucks to be you.