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700+ Films At The Cinema In 2023 — An Interview With Steve ‘Scarebear’ Care

7 min read
Steve Care at a packed-out festival screening

In 2023, Steve Care from Battersea saw 704 films at the — all while working full-time. FILMHOUNDS had the privilege of sitting down with the man himself at Glasgow Film Festival 2024 to learn more about his remarkable achievement.

It's 2024, and cinemas have been fully reopened since May 2021. Have cinemas quite recovered post-pandemic?

I think cinema audiences are not at the levels they were at pre-pandemic. It's mostly because of the amount of streaming services available and how they capitalised on us being locked down — I did feel sorry for independent cinemas; we've only just heard about the fate of the Electric in Birmingham last week, which will have to close down —  this isn't strictly thanks to attendance levels, but they certainly haven't helped.

Last year you also finished your tour of every independent cinema in London. What is your favourite indie cinema, and what's a great lesser-known one that people should visit?

Independent cinemas are the lifeline in London and in other parts of the country, these are the ones we really need to support —  hence why I'm hosting the Prince Charles event after supporting them so much this year. I will have to say the Prince Charles, because it's a proper community, and you get to met a lot of regular people there, t's the most friendly place plus they show the most diverse range of films and it's very accessible —  the staff are great too. The BFI is great but a bit more cliquey. Lesser-known? The Garden Cinema which just opened two years ago is a beautiful little cinema not far from Holborn station. Lots of arthouse films and a very comfortable environment that more people need to discover!

Prefer a packed house or being totally solo?

Again, depends on the type of film. The PCC has so many great events and audience participation can be a big part of the experience. One thing I'm not keen on is seeing a superhero film on opening weekend in a packed screen, because it can get over the top.

Best festival you've been to?

I'm here in Glasgow right now, and without a doubt it's Glasgow. If you've never been, you must. It's an audience-based festival and whereas LFF is very good, it is expensive if you want to do the whole lot, GFF has a lot of initiatives for people and the prices are half what you'd pay at LFF. GFF is number one, and I go every year. Great city, lovely people and I wouldn't miss it for the world.

Do you go every day?

Not really. I don't go every single day, though it looks like I do because I use Curzon Cult and Cineworld Unlimited.

Anything so bad you've had to walk out?

I could give you a list. Less than ten in the past two-to-three years. Magic Mike's Last Dance, which I only went to see because I heard the theatre they used for it was a local arts centre in Clapham. The most recent My Big Greek Fat Wedding [3] was dreadful.

Do you ever get burnt out?

Burnt out? Well, probably not. If something interests me, I'll go. Sometimes you get tired, like at all-nighters —  there's no way I could go do another film the following day.

Steve with fellow cinephile, Jacek

We're you disappointed when you learned that the record was unattainable [weeks from the end, on course to just surpass the record of 714, Guinness World Records announced that the record had now been beaten at 777, though the new holder had seen many of the same films over and over, so it was 777 screenings rather than separate films]?

I made it clear at the start I had no intention of doing the record —  it was just something that happened. When I'd realised how many I'd seen in recent months I just looked it up out of curiosity. Guinness wanted me to pay to apply to create a record — and if they didn't want to take it on I'd lose the money. I didn't feel bad about it. Didn't take the wind out of my sails as I was just as happy as before. I can't do it again this year, but March is looking to be a super-busy month with GFF and Flare, but it won't happen as BFI Southbank is shutting down two of their screens for several months for refurbishment.

Tell us more about your rep screening!

The Prince Charles event we've got on the 21st March, which I can't tell you what it's gonna be as it's a mystery film, that hasn't been shown in any cinema in over 20 years, it's one of my favourite films and for some reason it fell under the radar. Famous director, great ‘80s film. When Paul at the PCC said he could do it, I was very surprised. On my Letterboxd, I've got a list of my favourites of all-time but naturally some just don't get screened.

If you were offered a job at the BBFC as a censor, would you take it? I can mentally picture you like Arsinée Khanjian in The Adjuster, forced torturously to sit through smut and gore.

BBFC? Probably. I have seen enough films to do it and sometimes I think why has this film got this certification? Prime example; The Zone of Interest, which has a 12A cert., covers one of the most terrible subjects, and probably has this certificate as it's an educational film. Great filmmaking by Glazer, who opts not to show any atrocities on-screen. I saw Green Border not 2 days ago at Glasgow, which is highly controversial, as it covers the plight of migrants trapped between the border of Belarus and Poland, it did leave a nasty taste but education is important and it brings up questions of how we can help them. It's a serious subject. I'd give it an 18 as it's more graphic than The Zone of Interest. I love horror films, so smut and gore doesn't really affect me that much. One thing I can't stand is animal torture. One of the best films of GFF is a Moroccan film called Hounds which begins with a scene of dogfighting, but the film tries not to be gratuitous.

Funnily enough, I once met a developer at DICE who was approached by them as they saw he attended 200 events booked on the app within a year. You'd be the perfect cinema secret shopper. What makes for the worst venue/experience?

Going to a multiplex for a screening of a big film and the audience not being able to turn their phones off or keep their mouth shut for the duration of the film. It's not rocket science but some people think it's funny to muck about. Though it's not always possible, an usher should be in the screen at all times should someone go on their phone, and they should be chucked out. Common sense more than anything. No bad venue really.

The London scene is so social and you are always making new friends. Tell me about some of your friends' different viewing habits or tastes.

My screening will be interesting as I'm bringing some work friends who don't go to the cinema much, which is why I've chosen an accessible film. I'd have loved to pick a nasty horror film. One of my closest friends and I love to see B-movies together. People like Bartrash – Token Homo, Lost Reels, Badlands Collective have done a fantastic job with some screenings. Lost Reels is actually showing Michael Winterbottom's Wonderland on 35mm at the PCC right before my screening, so we're kinda taking over the place for that evening.

I LOVE the Badlands Collective and I think I actually first met you at Lost Reels's screening of Henry and June. As you've just done Glasgow, what films from that fest should we be sure to go see when they release?

The aforementioned Hounds —  the story of this father and son who need some money to look after their family but get involved with criminal gangs and to play a simple job that they are 90 minute film which a friend said is ripe for an American remake which will be awful. The good news is that it has been picked up by Curzon and it will get released sometime later this year. Other films that I've really enjoyed the Opening Gala which was Rose Glass's Love Lies Bleeding which is nothing like Saint Maud (her first film) it's an absolute thrill ride of a adventure. The best film I've seen so far is a documentary from Finland called The Home Game which is the story of this very small Icelandic football team. All they wanted to do was play a match on their pitch but the team wasn't great and circumstances conspired against them. It's a very short documentary, only about an hour and 20 minutes long but I could have literally sat and watched it for at least another hour —  it's a real heartwarming film and I hope it's picked up if a release. Last night we also had a Surprise Film which was Ethan Coen's Drive-Away Dolls —  an absolute hoot which is a must-see for any Coen Brothers fan.

Steve's ‘Mystery Movie' screened on Thursday 21st March at 8.50pm at the Prince Charles Cinema, London.