One of the things that makes the Electric Palace such a great place to visit is our fabulous, dedicated volunteer team. 

So, who are the people who welcome you when you head up the stairs to the cinema? Find out in our Meet the Volunteers series...

Name: Alan Whitty

What prompted you to volunteer at the cinema?

I sort of fell into the role really! I was told that the cinema was looking for volunteers and, having met with Rebecca, I was taken on as a door person for what I thought would be a couple of nights a month. Little did I know what that would turn out to be!

How long have you been volunteering at the cinema?

I volunteered for 2 years from 2012 and then, after the departure of the previous manager, took over that role and have remained in that position for the past 6 years. My goodness that’s gone quickly!

What’s your favourite thing about the cinema?

I would have to say it’s the eclectic mix of patrons we see at our screenings, the intimacy of the space and the rich programme of films.

What special perk do you love as a volunteer at the Electric Palace?

Being able to use the cinema, when it’s free, to pass a few hours with a good film.

Tell us about an experience at the cinema.

During the showing of Hail Satan! the projector bulb blew. The remainder of the film was watched by some of the audience and myself on a laptop placed on the bar.

What film would you like to watch at the cinema?

I would like to have an all-nighter of Terminator or The Mummy trilogy.

Have you ever gone to see a movie and wanted to watch it again immediately?

Shoplifters - a 2018 Japanese film directed, written and edited by Hirokazu Kore-eda..
What a great film! A gritty look at the reality of poverty and the lack of education, but with the overriding sense of family and the need to look after each other.

Volunteers at the Electric Palace sometimes see movies they may not have planned to watch, occasionally outside of their comfort zone or usual taste. Tell us about a film you saw at the Electric Palace that took you by surprise.

Not a programmed film but one shown during a private party: La Vita è Bella (Life is Beautiful). It’s billed as a comedy-drama and indeed it does start as very funny. However, it soon starts to darken as a Jewish father and his young son are taken to an interment camp. The father finds very inventive ways to turn the daily horrors inflicted upon them, into a game to shield the little boy from the reality.

I needed to keep the light off for quite a while so as to compose myself. As it happened I needn’t have worried as the whole audience were in no fit state to have noticed. 

If you could go on a date night at the cinema with anyone living, dead or fictional who would it be and what would you watch?

Over the last few years I have become very interested and involved in Buddhist culture and so would relish an evening with the current (14th) Dalai Lama. The film I would like to watch with him is Little Buddha. The film is essentially about the ritual behind the choosing of the Buddhist leader. I would be so interested in how he was found and the belief system of reincarnation which made him the choice for spiritual leadership.

Tell us a good film to watch that makes you laugh out loud or blub your eye out.

Laugh out loud – Without exception it has to be I’m So Excited. The cabin crew’s routine to the Pointer Sisters I’m So Excited is completely hilarious. I watched this film at the cinema before I started to volunteer and during this scene, laughed almost uncontrollably, I thought I was going to get thrown out. 

Blub your eyes out – There are so many as it doesn’t take very much at all for me to shed a tear. The one that does stand out though is Departures. Another Japanese film. The premise of the film surrounds the ritual of preparing the dead for their final journey. There is one particular scene which shows the beautiful delicacy and respect with which this ritual is carried out. Along with a very moving soundtrack makes this a standout blub film for me.

What’s a great soundtrack to listen to?

When it comes to cinema soundtracks it has to be the late maestro, Ennio Morricone. His talent was limitless and so varied. My particular favourite is the score to Cinema Paradiso.

What is your favourite snack or drink at the cinema?

Lemon & Mint San Pellegrino.

Do you have a memory to share about a great film night at the cinema?

Not a film night but the auction afternoon we held to generate funds for our new seats has to be one of the greatest events the cinema has held. What a fun afternoon!  Glenys, I will never forget your enthusiasm and sheer brilliance at leading the auction. Without exception the whole audience was in complete hysterics at your antics.

At the Electric Palace as well as our programme of new films we also have other stuff; special film showings like Cinema Plus, B Movie nights and events such as comedy, music, theatre, quiz nights etc. Tell us about one you like or liked.

I particularly like doing Glenn Veness’ regular film and live music events 'Friday Night is Music Night!' They are always busy and are a great showcase for the musical talent we have in Hastings.

What’s your favourite seat?

Right hand side, second from the back. You get an uninterrupted view of the screen.

Finally, tell us something unusual about yourself.

I used to live in the Netherlands and I picked/packaged flowers to be sent all around the world. I did follow this with a real job!