Wednesday, 19 March 2014
60 SECOND INTERVIEW: Alan Escott
ALAN Escott has been general manager at Dorchester’s Odeon cinema since October 2012. The Brewery Square cinema is one of the chain’s smallest and has had to overcome a long-standing loyalty to the Plaza to win an audience. But after a slow start numbers are rising and many now see a trip to the Odeon as part of an evening out at Brewery Square.
HOW did you get to take up the position at Dorchester?
I’d been working in a cinema in Andover, having started work in security in Bristol and prior to that being brought up in Weston-Super-Mare. I trained as an electrician when I left school and had also worked as a fitter.
SO what drew you to work in cinema?
I have always had a passion for films and used to go to the pictures a lot when I was a kid. My grandfather worked in a cinema in St George, Bristol – although the building is now a pub. It was very old school, carrying reels up and down the stairs, but of course it’s all digital now… the projectors are more like a computer with a complex control system which stops anyone showing films before they are allowed to. The films come in on a type of hard disc and we have to have the correct ‘electronic key’ to even get them to work. My grandfather wouldn’t have recognised them.
SO how did you get this job?
It was an internal application. I had been working in Andover, commuting from Bristol and we were looking for somewhere to settle down. Dorchester seemed ideal.
IN terms of other Odeon cinemas this one’s quite small, isn’t it?
Yes – we’ve got three screens. The largest can seat 173, the second screen 153 and the third screen 98. It is one of Odeon’s smallest. The one in Bristol has one screen with 400 seats and a couple of around 200.
AND how have you found Dorchester since moving here?
We love it. We have a young family and wanted to settle down. It’s a lovely place and the people are friendly. I think it’s fair to say it matched up to our expectations. Before I came I knew it was the county town and people had told me it was a bit like Bath – which turned out to be a bit misleading.
I HEAR you’ve been doing up your house?
It’s been quite slow at time but I’m quite practical and have managed to do a lot of it myself. To date the only professional help I have had to pay for is a plasterer.
HOW important is it to choose the right staff?
Very. I was offered the job in June which gave me four months to oversee the final stages of the building work and to get involved in recruiting. We tend to have a young staff profile, a total of 15 full and part time and we are very keen on apprenticeships and training them up to NVQ Level 3 which many have achieved. It’s great to be involved in bringing people on in their careers and to look back at the progression they have made.
WHAT are your early memories of cinema?
Seeing The Jewel of the Nile in the ABC at Bath was one of my early memories. It was such a treat to see a film on a big screen and I seem to remember it was a very long and narrow theatre.
DO think the cinema and the Brewery Square development has made a difference to Dorchester?
Without any doubt. People tell me there wasn’t much happening in Dorchester in the evenings before but Brewery Square is now busy every night, not just at weekends.