Attending the latest Rebus Club meeting recently to take members on a trip down moviegoing memory lane was Geoff Lealand, co-producer of the short film Going to the Movies: The Reel People of New Zealand. The film was part of Documentary Edge New Zealand last year, and also appeared on the SKY Arts Channel, something Geoff – who was an associate professor in screen and media studies at Waikato University until his retirement last year – described as “a bit of a coup”.
The film was made by visiting Fulbright scholar Nick Homler, inspired by Geoff’s Cinemas of New Zealand website (www.cinemasofnz.info). Nick visited more than 30 independent cinemas throughout New Zealand from January to September 2015, with the final cut edited down to just 30 minutes.
The Rebus Club were shown the film, which included Cambridge’s Tivoli Cinema and the Regent in Te Awamutu, as well as a snapshot of the former Prince William Cinema in Cambridge, which long-time residents will recall was upstairs at the Town Hall behind the round windows. There’s not much left of it now, and Geoff doubts it will ever be resurrected. The names are similar up and down the country, with a plethora of Regents, Majestics and St James – all borrowed from UK cinema names along with the name Tivoli, Geoff said.
Interestingly, the film also showed a snapshot of the rigorous enterprise of becoming a licenced film projectionist, which took five years to achieve. In addition to operating the projector and managing the various reels of film, there was an electrical and safety element to the job which made it a specialised endeavour only for the truly dedicated.
Question and answer time after the screening gave club members the opportunity to ask questions and share their own moviegoing experiences from years gone by. Many recounted with fondness their early memories of going to the movies, and Geoff said the first movie he saw – The Court Jester, a 1956 musical-comedy starring Danny Kaye – had a big impact on him. He also said Westside Story and his first foreign film outing, Orpheus, cemented what had become a lifelong passion for movies which carried on into his career at the university.
The Rebus Club was formed in Cambridge last year, after an acrimonious split with former club umbrella group Probus South Pacific Limited (PSPL), which has been criticised for their management tactics. A New Zealand Probus body was formed to replace PSPL, however the decision was made to sever ties with them at the AGM last year – opting to go with Rebus (which is an acronym for Retired Business People) instead.
Rebus Club Cambridge president Ann Maclure said the change been a good fit, saying the Rebus board has impressed the club with their level of professionalism and prompt help. “They have honoured every promise and kept the capitalisation fees low,” she added.
There are two Rebus Clubs in Cambridge – the Rebus Club and the Men’s Rebus Club – the Rebus Club (which includes women), meets on the second Thursday of each month at the Cambridge Baptist Church on Queen St, from 9.45am until noon.