Cultural icon and cinematic relic The Crystal Palace fights to hold off the final curtain call.
The Crystal Palace stands on one of Auckland’s busiest suburban roads. Passed by hundreds of commuters everyday, the theatre represents a fading memory to some and a mystery to others. Please Open explores the spaces, the technology and the people that have kept The Crystal Palace alive since she opened in the 1920s, while pondering her future.
Karl Sheridan has been the Managing Director of his creative production company Monster Valley since 2012 as well as working on community arts projects and developing his career as a filmmaker. After several years in the film industry, Karl co-directed and co-produced the feature street art documentary Dregs in 2012.
Robin Gee has worked in film and media education for the past 25 years with a particular focus on audience, film history and new narratives. This documentary project has long been a passion of Robin’s and is one of many collaborations between himself and Karl.
Producer Monster Valley
Monster Valley has been the production company at the helm of this project and the home base for directors Karl Sheridan and Robin Gee, production manager Taylor MacGregor and editor Levi Beamish. Karl is the founder and Managing Director of Monster Valley and has seen producing ‘Please Open’ with the help of Loading Docs as an opportunity to balance their corporate video content production with a documentary film project that is both creatively engaging and important to a broad community in Auckland.
We would both drive past the The Crystal Palace frequently. The theatre looked tired and was always closed. I suppose she drew us both to her. We wondered what her future would be and even if she had a future. As we started to explore more we found out that the theatre had a great history and we came to really appreciate the beauty and uniqueness of the structure.
There is a romance that old theatres have and the Crystal Palace has it in abundance. With its beautiful plaster work and the pair of old carbon arc projectors that have provided the images for audiences over the decades, we fell under her spell.
There are many documentaries and stories about theatres closing down because of digitisation but our story was never going to be about that. Our story is about a rather unique building – one of Auckland’s oldest theatres – standing on one of Auckland’s busiest suburban roads, passed by hundreds everyday, and potentially just slowly fading away.
During the making of the documentary we hosted a fundraising event that saw around 500 people turn up to party in the theatre and to support our project and experience the Crystal Palace for themselves.