how two film fans used Twitter to crowdsource a crowd

Two blokes had an idea in a pub. 'Wouldn't it be great,' one said, 'if we could watch 'Withnail & I' in the cinema with some mates.' They nodded. They posted the idea to Twitter. The idea grew. It spread. Now, it's a fully blown weekend of cultural activity. All organised through social media. 

by Matt Bowsher and Hugh Evans

I think of my smartphone as a giant digital octopus. It can take the most random of thoughts and reach a virtual tentacle out to connect with someone similarly afflicted.

All soc med (but for me Twitter in particular) provides immediacy; the sense of the now. The connections that we make create a sense of the active stakeholder as opposed to the passive consumer. Going to a cinema to watch a film is an act of passive consumerism. Creating the demand to tell the cinema what to screen isn't. 


On the 21st June I will proudly stand in front of 106 people and shout "Scrubbers!" I am very confident they will reply in kind. I will then buy a total stranger a large gin and ask a roomful of other strangers to wish him a happy 40th birthday. This is not, as you will have gathered, going to be a typical cinematic experience.

What has now become #WithnailWeekend started last Wednesday as a conversation with my mate Hugh Evans (@HuBoyd)over a pint in the Glebe in Stoke. We decided to try and fill the Electric Cinema (@ElectricBham) with Withnail fans. The last three days has had our virtual octopus in overdrive. We have connected with some ace people.

A blog about #WithnailWeekend http://mattbowsher.wordpress.com/2014/02/16/withnailed-from-pub-to-festival-in-24-hours/ has been accessed in 16 countries as far away as Vietnam and over 270 folk are following @WithnailBrum. We've sold more than 70 of the 106 tickets.

There is a real generosity about the West Mids and we have had great support and a load of creative ideas. For me it isn't happening in Brum because of logistics,  the fabulous Deco cinema, brilliant pubs and natural enthusiasm of the place seals it hands down.

At the end of #WithnailWeekend I hope for nothing more than a big laugh and some new mates. Both Hugh and I are getting a massive buzz out of making this happen. So there you have it, a mini Withnail blog with not one quotation, I blame the octopus; the f#!ker must have died!

Matt Bowsher and Hugh Evans are co-organising the Withnail Weekend in Birmingham. Follow it @withnailbrum.