Self-isolating movie fans are turning to Streaming and Twitter to watch movies together, every Saturday night around the country.
When Townsville resident and Twitter user Ray Martin (no, not that one) first asked his followers to watch a movie together last month and tweet their reactions with the hashtag #flicksnochills, he had no idea his idea would take off.
Ray and his followers agreed to watch The Blues Brothers through Netflix, synchronising the film at 8pm on a Saturday, but such was the enthusiasm that the hashtag began trending in Australia.
The following week there were even more joining in for Life of Brian. Last week’s community screening of Ferris Bueller’s Day Off grew bigger still.
“Last week within 10 minutes we were trending at number one,” he tells TV Tonight.
“People were joking about Ferris breaking isolation and having a laugh about the content. With The Blues Brothers people were getting up and videoing a dance.”
Martin says the hashtag #flicksnochills is a play on ‘Netflix & Chill’ but nods to not wanting to get chills or the virus. It has been an unexpected hit in bringing together people in lockdown.
“Let’s watch a movie together at home, as opposed to going to a movie theatre,” he explains, “where we’re not allowed to have our phones, not allowed to talk.
“All those rules are gone. Make as much noise as you want, throw Jaffas down the aisle, bring some popcorn, sing, dance, laugh -be merry together!”
A Queensland father has created a twitter hashtag to keep Australians connected while social distancing.'Flicks-No-Chills' encourages people to tune into the same movie from their own home. Every Saturday night at 7pm, the movie with the most votes will be played. www.7NEWS.com.au#coronavirus #7NEWS
Posted by 7NEWS Sunshine Coast on Wednesday, March 25, 2020
People have posted all kinds of participation photos and GIFs, often prompted by Martin’s “ticket of admission” – a thematic image tweet linked to the movie.
“For Ferris Bueller I said the cost of admission is to put up a photo of you in your school days.”
While Netflix lends itself well to the concept, Martin isn’t tied to the platform. Free to Air involves different ad duration around the country which impacts the synchronising the group requires. But this week The Castle is the chosen film, which screens on Stan (a free 30 day trial is available) or viewers can even screen a DVD if they own it. Working Dog’s Twitter account is already giving it the thumbs up.
“The ‘ticket of admission’ for The Castle is to submit a photo of your old castle where you grew up,” he advises.
“We’re not monetising it. It’s a pity in one sense that our entertainers have been thrown out on their arse through all this. They’ve lost all their gigs and everything. So you’ve got people who are crying out to support them and it’s a pity in one sense we couldn’t do that.”
Martin, a former Army Officer who now runs a Suicide Prevention campaign for Veterans, is buoyed by the sense of community the idea has brought during a time of crisis. Even if it’s just for two hours.
“For the last three weeks on a Saturday night for two hours, we haven’t been talking about the Coronavirus. Last week we were trending at number one on Twitter, and Coronavirus was number two. There are a lot of people by themselves at home. You’ve got lots of single women, single blokes or small families.
“Some of them said, ‘This is the best thing I’ve done all week! This has been the highlight of the week!'”
The Castle can be screened at 8pm AEST Saturday night through Stan and tweeted with #flicksnochills