Interview: Event Director Mathieu Ravier talks about the upcoming Jurassic Lounge Halloween event in Sydney

With Halloween just around the corner what better way to get into the spooky spirit then a night at Jurassic Lounge – Halloween special! Run amuck and discover your inner child as the Australian Museum opens it’s doors after hours once more. Event Director Mathieu Ravier gives us a sneak peek of what’s in store.

Our non-profit company runs two types of events, our own film events (such as the upcoming Local Heroes movie night in Erskineville), and partner collaborations, including large-scale parties featuring up-and-coming artists, which we throw at the Australian Museum (Jurassic Lounge), Sea Life Sydney Aquarium and Madame Tussauds (Hijinks), Elizabeth Bay House and the Justice & Police Museum (Mayhem).

We’ve also worked on the Sydney Film Festival Hub, the Musica Viva Festival, World Movies Secret Cinema, Youth Week, and many others. All of our events are fueled and informed by a very simple philosophy: to make culture fun and accessible.

My job has many facets, from business development (finding new partners and clients) to fundraising (finding sponsorship and grants), from programming to marketing. My job is creative, but it’s also largely informed by the need to raise thousands of dollars each month to keep doing what we love. It’s fun, but it’s also concerned with the responsibilities inherent in running a small business. It’s exciting, but it’s also hard work, sometimes late into the night, accompanied by high levels of stress.

Thankfully I surround myself with a great team. Since it’s a small company, everyone has a hand in most aspects of the work, and everybody contributes ideas. It’s like a family sometimes… in a good way.

You organise events in various venues – how did the idea for The Festivalists come about?

When I moved to Sydney from Europe 10 years ago, Sydney’s film scene lacked diversity, independent cinemas were closing left right and centre, and going out meant the pub or culture with a capital C with very little of interest in between. 10 years later, we have dozens of excellent new film festivals and a dozen more regular movie nights, and all kinds of venues are opening their doors after-hours and thinking outside the box about how they can contribute to the city’s cultural and night life. I’m proud of the very small role we’ve played in making that happen.

Projections of a face line the walls as people walk around.

The Festivalists has been running for ten years – what has been your favourite event to work on?

I’m so proud of Jurassic Lounge, and there have been some great, envelope-pushing editions. But one of my favourite events has to be Mayhem, where we recreate famous parties from Sydney’s history. This year for example, we re-imagined a party at Elizabeth Bay House circa 1935, when the colonial house served as a bohemian squat. This wild masked ball flashed back to the night before the artists were evicted. Everyone dressed up, waltzed, drank, flirted, played the ukulele and brewed beer in the secret cellars and surreptitiously learned something about our colourful history. This is exactly what we’re about.

You host some unusual and creative events – where do you get your ideas from?

We get our ideas from our travels, our imaginations, and by querying our inner child. Jurassic Lounge evolved from a childhood fantasy to get locked in inside a natural history museum after closing time. We look at our city, what we want to see and do that we can’t see and do currently, and enlist collaborators, funders, artists and volunteers to make it happen.

What can people expect from Jurassic Lounge Halloween?

It’s been 8 months between drinks, so expect a big one. After all, it is… HALLOWEEN!

The staples are back, including Silent Disco and the Giant Dance Lesson (Diesel Darling teaches the Monster Mash!).

You know how science can freak you out? We’ll have Live Taxidermy (gross but fascinating), big old bats (up close and personal) at the specimen table, live reptiles, and Creepy Crawlies micro-talks by Australian Museum scientists.

Curse your enemies (or your ex) at the Misfortune Cookie crafts table, learn to make gashes and wounds with The Makeup Wardrobe, cheer on improv comedians as they recreate cult horror films from memory, unlock our secret Trick or Treat room (be very careful what you wish for), avoid zombies in the Surviving Australia gallery and much more…

It’s also a chance to discover the newest additions to the Australian Museum without kids running around: the Crystal Hall main entrance and the Wild Planet gallery showcasing biodiversity and over 400 animals. Oh, and a perfect opportunity to road-test your Halloween costume ahead of Halloween proper (which is the next day).

Why do you think the Jurassic Lounge events are so popular?

It’s that feeling of being allowed to run free, drink in hand, in a fascinating building, with surprises around every corner. It’s being able to behave like a kid in a night that’s just for grown ups. It’s the fact that every Jurassic Lounge is different, from our programming to the Museum’s ever changing galleries and exhibitions. It’s being able to come out of the nerd closet and party with dinosaurs.

For Jurassic Lounge you are collaborating with the Australian Museum – how do collaborations typically evolve – do organisations contact you?

Sometimes organisations contact us, sometimes we contact them. In either case, we only take on events that are proper site-specific collaborations, projects where we are inspired to interpret the venue, the collections or the building in a new way. It’s a lot of work under time pressure, so it has to be something we’re passionate about and can have fun doing.

Jurassic Lounge will take place at the Australian Museum on Friday, October 30. For more information and to book head to: http://www.jurassiclounge.com/

Surrounded by dinosaur bones people sit and watch a band.

For more information on Local Heroes: http://www.thefestivalists.com/localheroes/

For more information on HIJINKS: http://www.hijinkssydney.com/

For more information on Mayhem: http://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/events/mayhem-chequers-club-1969 |http://sydneylivingmuseums.com.au/events/mayhem-masked-ball-elizabeth-ba…