360 Screenings’ founders talk love, relationships and their upcoming Valentine’s Day event
Ned Loach and Robert Gontier are the creators of 360 Screenings, a series of immersive and interactive theatrical and cinematic events that take place in repurposed Toronto heritage buildings. The audience does not know the location until twenty-four hours beforehand and the screening is a mystery until clues are presented during the live portion of the event.
Their first event took place in May 2012 and their seventh one, following the theme of Valentine’s Day, takes place this weekend.
If 360 Screenings weren’t unique enough, Artistic Producer Ned Loach and Artistic Director Robert Gontier are also happily married (to each other) and madly in love. I spoke with them about their passion, project and maintaining the work-love balance.
The couple first met in the production office of a company that commissioned Gontier to write a show. Loach was interning in the open-concept office and it was love at first sight for Gontier. As he was leaving, Gontier thought, ‘I’m going to turn around and if he’s looking at me, it is meant to be.’ Loach was looking.
They began as Facebook friends and nine months after they met, they moved to London, England, where Gontier was pursuing his Masters in Voice and Drama. It was in London when the pair first experienced the innovative union of theatre and film through such companies as Secret Cinema and Punchdrunk. Loach and Gontier were so inspired that they decided to work together to bring the experience back to Toronto.
Loach’s passion for film and producing coupled with Gontier’s passion for theatre is what makes their work relationship successful. They share similar interests and both come from strong and stable families, which makes their romantic relationship successful. They believe in commitment, in being there for the one you love and revel in the pleasure they take in working together. Who better to work with but your best friend and the person you trust the most?
On achieving the delicate work-love balance, Gontier says it’s important to set up firm boundaries and to acknowledge the dynamic of the business. Gontier manages the artistic side including the actors, the script and blocking. Ned takes care of the production elements, managing the technical details and securing sponsors. They establish a place and time to collaborate and once that time has expired, say 5pm, they try to leave the work details at the office.
They concede that they have different opinions and different skills but they’re both easy-going and they don’t let things get personal. If there is a difference of opinion, the pair discuss it. Finding the balance is important otherwise the production will suffer if they don’t see eye to eye.
Their advice to other couples who work together is very simple: listen and be receptive.
When I asked for details about the event this weekend, both were predictably elliptical.
It is going to be a large party; think St. Valentine’s biggest party. It is not an event exclusive to couples, either; friends are encouraged to come in groups and there is plenty of opportunity for singles to meet and interact with other people in the immersive and adventuresome environment.
I haven’t yet secured my plus-one to 360 Screenings: LOVE but I am super excited and optimistic for the experience this Friday. Let the sleuthing begin!
- Show times for 360 Screenings: LOVE are Friday, February 7 at 7:00pm, Saturday, February 8 at 2:00pm and 7:00pm
- Location is a unique building in the downtown Toronto area. Specifics will be kept secret until 24 hours prior to the event
- Tickets are $60 (general admission) or $40 (Culture Seekers/Arts Workers/Under 30) and can be purchased online
Image of 360 Screenings provided by 360 Screenings