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The Pivotonian Cinema

Geelong, Australia

“I recall seeing a Veezi ad with a person on the beach programming sessions on a tablet. I didn’t really think much about it at the time but ironically that is exactly how I feel using Veezi… liberated, even when I am not at the beach.”

Mark used to be a projectionist, but with the industry shift to digital, he found himself without a job. This gave Mark and Jessica (his wife and business partner) the opportunity to relocate from Melbourne to Geelong and start their own pop-up cinema. A chance meeting with a man in the street led them to a vacant 1960s Ukrainian hall, which became home to their pop-up. It was a pretty unconventional environment, which they turned into an indoor–outdoor themed cinema by introducing bright orange deckchairs and sun loungers. With the purchase of a digital projector, everything else had to happen later: “Every single ticket to every single session was manually entered into an online shopping cart, and we used those old school ‘ADMIT ONE’ stubs!” exclaims Mark.

“The pop-up was popular, so our next step was to crowdfund $30K and look for a permanent space. Our eye was on an old theatre that had closed down, but the previous tenant had placed a covenant on the building preventing it from being used as a cinema in perpetuity. It was the classic David and Goliath situation. The media got hold of the story, and this gave our crowdfunding a really good kick-start, as people had a lot of nostalgia for the old cinema.”

“Instead, we found a century-old red brick building with fabulous Oregon pine ceiling battens and mixed it with plush red carpet and copper finishes to create a warm industrial vibe for customers to love while watching a movie and enjoying a good wine. We wanted our cinema to have some cultural capital, so our name, The Pivotonian, was a nod to the heritage of Geelong’s gold-mining era [when the area was known as Pivot City].”

“We needed a ticketing system and have been using V-Tix and Veezi since mid-2017. It really took me aback when I realized how well-developed the software is and how popular it is with independent cinemas.” At the time Jessica and Mark were seriously looking at half a dozen alternative suppliers. They were concerned about Veezi being part of a large, global company but soon found they got very personal, local-feeling service: “Stew [Veezi’s Customer Success Manager for Australia and New Zealand] always remembers you. He even visited us after we integrated the system. That was a nice personal touch.”

“I have literally sat on the beach and logged in using my tablet. I love that everything happens in real time and you don’t have to wait to the end of the day for reports, it’s all there. Business has to be more fluid nowadays, and at the threat of being a workaholic I can manage my time more flexibly. Gone are the days of being locked into traditional parameters.”

Jessica runs their Ukrainian Film Festival. “We can see how Veezi cuts through what can be a ridiculous amount of information to digest. The programming and listing of the sessions with tickets is simplified to such a degree it is quick and really easy to use.”

The Pivotonian is now in its third year. Patronage doubled in the first two years and has doubled again in the third year. Jessica and Mark are planning a second screen and have purchased another projector for pop-ups while planning and construction gets underway. “Veezi makes these expansion plans and the growth of our business more achievable,” says Mark.

And what inspired the Ukrainian Film Festival? Jessica and Mark wanted to thank the Ukrainian community for the use of their hall and the cheap rent. They found there are a lot of contemporary renaissance films happening in the Ukraine and no one here was screening them. The festival is their special project.

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“I have literally sat on the beach and logged in using my tablet. I love that everything happens in real time and you don’t have to wait to the end of the day for reports, it’s all there. 

~ Mark & Jess Walker
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