ED LEWIS-PRATT - PRESS PLAY
The 26-year-old secret events entrepreneur, who launched his pop-up film events company in June 2013, saw an opportunity to host events in west London, away from the trendy East End. Press Play debuted with events on the rooftop of private members' club Broadway House. The company's tagline 'We Press Play anywhere' means it's all about the location, as Lewis-Pratt explains: "It could be a rooftop, hotel suite or an art gallery - unique spaces for people to enjoy modern classics."
The latest project in August, Under the Ground, highlighted consumers' craving for a secret event and venue. "The series took place in London Underground's Old Street station and no more than 40 people attended each screening, which included cult films The Italian Job and Trainspotting. The space was transformed into an intimate den, and apart from those attending, no one knew we were there," says Lewis-Pratt.
His approach is always location first, but the experience and theming are important too. He attributes the company's success to creating a pre-event experience. "We will have an eight-week build-up, with a two-week period dedicated to teasers and social media posts," he says.
Also important is working with small, emerging brands. "We are careful who we team up with, but our partners come to us with an energy that we love," Lewis-Pratt adds.
SUZ MOUNTFORT AND KERRY ADAMSONN - GINGERLINE
The pop-up dining duo came up with their specialist secret event concept in August 2010. Four years on, the pair couldn't have imagined their initial creative outlet would turn into a full-time business. The food fanatics live by the tag line 'only the brave will dine', and so do their events, as Mountfort explains: "It's not for everyone, but it does filter out fussy eaters or more reserved diners. It is for a specific customer who can bring a certain energy to the event and we hope we repay them for that with the Gingerline experience."
Gingerline has focused on one project each year. Guests need to be located near an Underground station on a specific London Tube line before 6pm, when they will receive a text about the location of their secret meal. The latest concept, The Hideout, was described as 'a tongue in cheek anthropological, gastronomical voyage to Planet Gingerline'.
Mountfort believes the anticipation of the event is what makes it so special: "The feedback we get from ticketholders about waiting for that all important text message, that build-up, is what appeals."
THE TEMPLETON FAMILY - SHUTTLECOCK INC
This Templeton family-run company has a foodie-focused concept, with their pop-up experiences living by the mantra 'would we want to come to this party?'. Shuttlecock Inc's portfolio has included Mile High, food experiences 'transporting' guests to international destinations in London venues; an imaginary gentleman's club called the Odds and Ends, est. 1842; and an Alaskan Gold Rush settlement in Pimlico Gardens.
The Shuttlecock Inc approach to secrecy comes in various forms. "We might reveal a postcode and seed clues in the build-up, but the venue always remains a mystery," says Ed Templeton. He adds that the events team, let alone the general public, don't see the finished product until the day before.
Everybody loves a nice surprise, and Templeton says it's all about playing with people's expectations. "Secret events are playful, irreverent and fun," he says. "So are normal events, but secret ones have that all-important edge that gets people talking and makes your friends jealous if they didn't snare a ticket."
The family's plans for the rest of 2014 include taking Mile High to New York, as well as an immersive Christmas experience called Mother's Ruin, which Templeton says will be their biggest and most surprising production yet.