Simon Rollin’s passion for cinema was first ignited as a ten-year-old following a sleepover at a friend’s house. Whilst that movie, Never Ending Story, still remains a favourite, [“the theme song still gets stuck in my head”] Rollin’s real love affair with film began whilst studying to be a chemical engineer.
It was the halcyon days of the 1990s, a time when VHS ruled and the movie industry was exploding.
“It was very easy to skip engineering lectures when there was a good VHS or two sitting in the common room at the university college I attended,” Rollin recalls. “During those uni days we must have consumed hundreds of movies – many multiple times, just to while away the days and practice our movie quoting,” he laughs.
Like most people, Rollin loves the guilty pleasure of a Hollywood blockbuster but these days his interest in films has grown to embrace all genres and he has a particular love for the short film format.
Simon Rollin’s passion for movies spawned Sunset Cinemas and Flix in the Stixs
After leaving university and moving to the regional NSW country town of Orange, Rollin found there were not many opportunities to indulge his passion. Rather than lament the lack of entertainment options, Rollin decided to do something about it and launched Flix in the Stix.
“Flix in the Stix was really my first genuine attempt at pursuing an idea and a desire to bring good quality entertainment to regional audiences,” Rollin tells Kochie’s Business Builders.
“I really wanted Flix to provide a relief valve and invigorate some regional audiences with something quite unlike they’d ever experienced.
What started out as a simple outdoor movie event evolved to become a travelling roadshow that included film, live music and comedy.
“They were great shows we put on and at one point it included a tour that took us to four states (QLD, VIC, NSW & ACT) and took in 12 shows. We showed some fantastic shorts from all around the world from filmmakers who were enormously gifted and generous in allowing us to screen them. We took the Whitlams, Eskimo Joe, Mark Seymour, Tripod, Axis of Awesome and others on the Flix Tour with us and the regions loved it.”
Sunset Cinema at twilight
When Starlight Cinema came up for grabs a few years ago, Rollin swooped in and picked up the slot – and Sunset Cinemas was born. For Rollin, the transition from chemical engineer to film festival producer has been an organic process.
“Sunset is built more around the experience than simply a movie title. Mind you – having good films obviously helps – but it’s more the icing on the cake for us. We can’t control what movies are coming out each season, but we can continue to strive to deliver a better experience each season no matter the movie.”
Since launching Sunset Cinemas in 2010, Rollin’s business venture has evolved considerably, growing from a single North Sydney location to now include outdoor cinemas seasons in Wollongong, Canberra, Melbourne and Brisbane.
“Outdoor Cinema continues to grow but so do customer’s expectations.”
For Rollin, what makes for a fantastic outdoor cinema experience hasn’t changed.
“You need your friends and family, foremost. A great venue that makes you feel good as soon as you enter. Good food and drink, a balmy evening and a great movie. It’s the best way to experience cinema, bar none!” he exclaims.
Asked what he hopes audiences take away from a night at Sunset Cinemas, Rollins response is simple.
“That feeling of ‘how good was that!’ for a whole variety of reasons…”
Sunset Cinemas summer season kicks off on January 18, 2018, in Sydney. Find out more about movies and session times