Trading unfamiliar territories
When it comes to first time events, you always find yourself worrying about every minor detail, from the turnout to bringing a concept to life, and of course the hard lessons which every first event always comes with. We were trading on unfamiliar grounds in unfamiliar market, with a concept we didn’t quite know how people would respond to. Fortunately, a few friends believed in it and gave us all their non-monetary support. One of our greatest achievements was finding the venue that brought the concept to life. We wanted a venue which would fit quite well with the experience we wanted to share with the people in Mombasa; and Haller Park was just the perfect venue to host our first event. Explaining the concept was a bit of a challenge at first, but the few who had experienced “Watoto Keti Chini Movies” in the early days saw it as a replica and an opportunity to let their kids experience the same.
The turn out was incredible for a first time event; The amazing people in Mombasa turned up with their families and helped us create beautiful experiences and memories which gave birth to Once Upon A Time. We hope we made you happy just as you made us.
When we came up with our concept, we not only wanted it to be a movie watching experience, but an out of this world experience. We wanted people to leave our events with memories that would linger on in their minds. Hence why we decided for our second event, to do it a bit different; allow people to watch a movie out in the wild! The clubhouse at the KWS grounds for our 2nd event was absolutely perfect; being out in the wild with giraffes and baboons going about their way while we set up the event was one of the most memorable memories we had for our second event. Nairobians really know how to show up and show out!
They graced us in all their glam and colour, despite the cold weather, and stayed on for the better part of the night amidst the wild animals around us. Although planning an event at the park is no easy task; we had to use a generator to power the 60 panel screens as well as ferry guest to and from the venue. We are truly grateful for the patience showed. However the most memorable adventure we got from this particular venue, was a buffalo deciding to bid us farewell as we left the venue and had to wait for him to take his sweet time and casually stroll back to the park. Those were the kind of memories we wouldn’t forget in a long while!
Thank You Mombasa for the resilience
Due to public demand, we took the 3rd event back to Haller Park, where it all started. The lessons learned from the first event helped us plan the event effortlessly this time around. We had an idea of what Coastarians liked and figured out the whole process set-up, the logistics as well as the vendors who had now become familiar with the drill. By midday everything was set up as we kicked back waiting for guests to arrive.
But as one famous song goes:” You can prepare a picnic but you can’t predict the weather”, the rain decided it was time to grace our event, just a few minutes after the event started. As much as the thunderous pour wanted to control the whole event, it really did not stop the fun. We all took refuge in the little shade while the DJ played the music, as the kids continued playing indoor games. We thought the rain might have dampened the lively spirits of the guests that came, but as soon as the rain stopped, our patient guests laid out their mats, the band entertained us with some music and we ended the night with an all time classic movie: Breakfast at Tiffany’s. Thank you Mombasa for the resilience.
The purple glowing tree…
Whenever you read a good book and you realize it has been turned into a movie, there’s always that curiosity that makes you want to see the characters brought to life. However, imagine experiencing and watching an all time classic movie which was shot at the exact same location the movie is based upon? That was the highlight of our 4th event as we decided to showcase the movie Out of Africa at Karen Blixen. The venue, the ambiance, the museum really brought the movie to life! From the very first Once Upon A Time Event, we had listed all the great classic movies we wanted to showcase, but we never really imagined we would get the location on the date we had planned to showcase the movie.
The universe aligned itself, and not only were we able to secure the venue, we managed to give our audience the chance to explore the museum before the movie started. We were amazed to discover that for most of our audience, it was their first time watching the movie as well as visiting the museum. This made the movie quite special and personal for most of our guests.
Out of Africa had to be one of the special movies that stole our hearts, yet our lovely audience, never deterred by the mishaps that come with events, were always patient with us while we had to pause the movie, to give them a better view of the screen, thanks to the decor that was trying to block our view. Most of our guests helped us bring down the sheet of fabric as we cozied up for the night to continue watching the movie. Although the best highlight of the night, was the purple glowing tree, that somehow seemed to steal the whole show.
The rains again…
Butterfly pavilion in Mombasa had to be one of the most intimate venues we ever had. First and foremost, it helped us cut our costs by far as well as being one of the few venues in which we hardly used any tents.
Our vision when we started Once Upon A Time, was to allow our guests to enjoy the nature around them by allowing them to take in the beautiful surroundings, while trying as much as possible to minimize on decor. However, as fate would have it, it rained in Mombasa the whole of that week. Despite the turn out being a bit low, the rains decided to spare us on the Sunday we had the event, and we managed to enjoy watching Mrs. Doubtfire for the better part of the afternoon.
The greatest highlight of our events; The Drive-in
For all our events, we always strive to push ourselves to the limit. Make the impossible, possible, and that’s what led us to tread on unfamiliar grounds while trying to bring back the good old Drive-in days, which was popular with our parents and older siblings back in the day. Bringing back the drive in experience had been in the plans since we came up with the outdoor movies events, however we knew it wasn’t going to be easy to try to execute it.
Despite the challenges we faced, the only thing that kept us going was remembering why we started Once Upon A Time, the vision we had of allowing our guests to re-live a moment from their past and share it with their loved ones. Just like our first event however, we encountered a lot of doubts on how this would work. From the logistics of how we would make this work, to not getting the original venue which many had associated the Drive-In movies with. Since we needed a big parking lot space, we approached Two Rivers to use one of their parking lots. A lot of people had doubts we could make it work, but just like the first event we ever did, we knew nothing was beyond our reach. We managed to host our screens with a crane and got the sound system just right to enable people to tune in from the comfort of their cars.
By evening, everyone was all set up and ready to watch The Shawshank Redemption. As usual, our Nairobi audience did not disappoint. They came in droves, some with camping seats, some sat on top of their cars, and the kids had a special screening of their favourite movies, while the adults enjoyed re-living the good old days. There is a special feeling when you do something everyone else thought was impossible; for us, bringing back the Drive-In was the biggest highlight of our events.
Movie by the beach…
Being unique and different has always been the highlight of our events; in our efforts to make our venues adventurous and different we decided to take it to the beach. Our idea was to have the backdrop of the white sands, the vast blue ocean, the sound of the waves and the cool sea breeze as part of an outdoor movie experience. Since Mombasa had always been home to most of our events, we decided to do it a little bit different this time around and headed down to the home of white sandy beaches in Diani.
BidiBadu Resort was the perfect venue to give Diani Beach dwellers a taste of what Once Upon A Time is all about. The floating day beds, African spiced up pillows and mats made this venue the ultimate escape. The weather had been good in Diani for the last couple of days, we really thought we didn’t have anything to worry about, but again nature had its way of reminding us that it was in control.
Just before the movie started, it started pouring heavily, although that didn’t stop our audience in Diani. As soon as the rains subsided, we snuggled up by the beach to watch the movie: The Notebook.
To everyone that managed to make all our events memorable, we really can’t thank you enough for believing in us and helping us push ourselves to the limit.