Installation May – June 2016
Electric Pedals is about communication. It’s about connecting people together, whether through outdoor entertainment or classroom education, the focus is on community. Electric Pedals’ on-going collaboration with organisations such as the Free Film Festival (www.freefilmfestivals.org) has enabled people to join together to watch, enjoy and power their cinema experience by becoming the batteries that generate the electricity to run their entertainment – bicycle-powered cinema.
Electric Pedals (www.electricpedals.com) was founded by Colin Tonks over seven years ago as a way of harnessing human power to generate energy from cycling. Since then, the possibilities of where bicycle power can lead us have radically grown and Electric Pedals has become the forefront of bicycle power innovation.
As Jacqui Shimidzu, Community Volunteer and Founder of NXDFFF explains, ‘we could have just had a generator powering this outdoor performance, but Electric Pedals brings added value. People don’t quite believe that cinema can be completely powered by themselves; it’s a spectacle.’ Dynamic and communal, active participation transforms cinema into an curious and unpredictable performance where escapism becomes a team-effort – a shared experience – rather than the solitariness of a dark auditorium.
Relying solely on constant, real-time pedal power throughout the screening means that when the human batteries stop pedalling, the films stop reeling. But all it takes is the audience’s encouragement and some cheers of appreciation for the cyclists, to bring the screen and sound back into action.
This series of photographs by Tonks, documents the spirit of Electric Pedals and the energy of the people it has gathered. A world away from their home in South East London, Electric Pedals has travelled to Africa, South America and all over Europe using bicycle-powered cinema to bring communities together in just the same way.
Film brings every community together to have fun and be inspired. Whether here in the UK or in the depths of rural Africa, where technology is minimal, Electric Pedals is pedalling the dynamic future of community cinema and beyond.
Some other screenings by Electric Pedals:
Partner: Nunhead and Peckham Free Film Festival
Screening Date: 7th September 2013
Film: Edward Scissorhands (1990)
Horniman Museum and Gardens
Partner: Mash Cinema
Screening Date: 21st August 2014
Film: The Journeys of George Méliès (1902)
Partner: Efecto Cine
Screening Date: 6th December 2014
Film: Aftershock (2012)
Partner: Newcross and Deptford Free Film Festival
Screening Date: 2nd May 2015
Film: Wizard of Oz (1939)
Kabami Primary School, Kisoro, Uganda
Partner: Great Ape Film Initiative (GAFI)
Screening Date: 8th December 2010
Film: BBC Cousins, Apes (2000)
Back in 2009, in association with The Great Apes Film Initiative (www.gafi4apes.org), Tonks engineered a basic pedal-powered cinema for a hilltop village on the edge of Mgahinga National Park, Uganda. Consisting of just two mountain bikes that wheeled into bicycle generators and powered a projector and guitar amp sound system. This conservation project needed to bring greater awareness to the local communities of the endangered mountain gorillas that lived alongside them. Through Electric Pedals’ sustainable, lightweight and eco-friendly innovation, even the most remote villages could be educated and entertained through film. Isolated from mainstream communication, the bikes brought knowledge to them and for most, bicycle-powered cinema was their first experience of film.
Partners: Purple Field Productions / TEMWA
Screening Date: 6th June 2013
Film: Trees and Stoves, Farming Our Wealth (2012)
Electric Pedals developed a pedal-powered cinema backpack kit trialled in Malawi. Malawi is 80% rural, and so while film is recognised as a powerful social tool, it is only applicable if it can reach (be carried to) the inaccessible communities. Being able to cross rivers and walk long distances through dense undergrowth, Electric Pedals provided a portable answer with their 20kg backpack cinema. Simple, the effect cannot be understated. The backpack kit brought the outside world to some of the most far-removed places, installing aspirations, stirring debates and igniting ideas through the luxury of film.