The Acton Cinema Volunteers

Turning the old Acton library (opened 1900, grade II listed) into the new Act One Cinema (opened 2021, in the middle of a pandemic) proved to be quite a job...

Five years of thinking, organising, planning and plotting in weekly meetings by the eight Acton Arts Project directors led to a deal with Ealing Council to lease us the building for 25 years - but with a break clause after two years where either party could walk away if the whole thing proved to be a commercial failure (or some other sort of unmitigated disaster).

When we picked up the keys to this damp, crumbling wreck of a building in April 2021 about 150 local volunteers answered our call for help. They came to organise and wash and scrape and paint and pull and hump. In all, the transformation project racked up about 100,000 hours of effort - and all of this time was given freely. One hundred thousand hours - that's about 11 and a half years working on your own.

We wanted to find a way to commemorate this huge community effort and so I decided to make portraits of all the volunteers and trades who made this dream of an independent local cinema in W3 a reality.

These are some of my favourite images from those sessions.

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