Swamp Motel interview with creative director Clem Garritty
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The Swamp Motel Immersive Experience will take you down the rabbit hole of mysteries and occult

With the majority of the population of the UK still in national lockdown, the so-called non-essential workers of creative industries have suffered greatly as a result of restrictions. Some haven’t had a paid gig since March last year – twelve months and counting.

A lot have resorted to Instagram and TikTok ‘appearances’. Some more lucky ones have had some bookings for Zoom events – who even knew about Zoom one and a half years ago? The once-unknown conferencing software has indeed become one of the must-haves in 2020. Now, even the likes of BAFTA streaming their free webinars online.  

One might say it was just a matter of time until the software became a platform for something more creative. Meet immersive theatre experience by Swamp Motel. Founded by multi-award-winning theatre and experience makers, Swamp Motel creates immersive entertainment that blurs the boundaries between theatre, film and gaming.

Their trilogy investigation takes you on a journey full of mysteries and the occult. While you have to become a keyboard warrior, decipher codes and, yes, break into characters’ emails. The thrill from the comfort of your own home is guaranteed.

Founders and Creative Directors of Swamp Motel Ollie Jones and Clem Garritty have collaborated artistically for over 10 years. Both are Creative Associates at Punchdrunk and together they co-founded the multi-award winning and critically acclaimed comedy theatre company Kill the Beast.

Swamp Motel interview

The Kindling Hour. Photo courtesy of Swamp Motel
The Kindling Hour. Photo courtesy of Swamp Motel

Ikon London Magazine spoke to Clem Garritty about the challenges of creating such immersive experiences. With a background in theatrical productions and production of immersive experiences for corporate clients, Swamp Motel has amassed a ‘little black book’ of useful contacts that made this possible, admits Clem: “It was our third year in business. We had a vague plan in our mind that 2020 will be the year when we will start working on our own work, not brand affiliated. But with ‘Corona‘, we’ve had about ninety-five percent of our work in that year cancelled – within a week from the first lockdown.”

Swamp Motel was born from a desire to see imaginative, daring brands tell their stories through immersive experiences – thrilling their audiences in the same way that theatre does, without the limitations. The co-founder admits that with theatres closed, they were keen to find ways around it: “It’s no surprise we started developing something on Zoom. It’s because we were using it so much [to coordinate with the team]”. 

Clem continued: “By that point, we had a great list of collaborators that we worked with through thick and thin – horrible Edenborough Fringe Festivals, awful tunnels that we were sweeping up in London.” The Motel was in fact created as a platform for creatives to collaborate in that Motel, explained the co-founder. “The people around me helped to cultivate my creativity. Bouncing back at me. Alone, I wouldn’t be able to.”

Ability to adapt quickly helped Swamp Motel team to stay on course

Speaking about the difficulties of moving the collaborative flow online, Clem confirmed that their previous experience with corporate clients taught them to adapt quickly to new briefs, circumstances, budgets. “In our business, everything can change any minute: budgets slashed, fire alarms going off, unexpected change of weather… We are quite good at adapting quickly to clients’ needs. So, we pretty quickly found a way to collaborate online.

One year on, the Motel is a dynamic, independent entertainment company that is taking London by storm. With every part of the trilogy, the creators decided to push the envelope. While Part one is set up on Zoom, Part Two of the trilogy saw Swamp Motel build their own video conferencing software, with more automatization and more responsive. Part three, the kindling hour – the production level was improved dramatically, with some video content. The red tape was there, and COVID tests. It was scary but nowhere near as scary as it was exciting to be on set again. Part three is being released this Friday, 5th of March 2021.

The Kindling Hour

Beneath the placid surface of everyday life a storm is brewing. You and your team must use all your skill and guile to evade capture, infiltrate the dark heart of a powerful organisation, and bring it down from the inside.

But who is the anonymous source trying to recruit you? How can you identify the true enemy? Who can you trust?

With every click they could be drawing closer, so you’ll have to think fast and rely on each other to stay one step ahead. Hack the system. Crack the codes. Find their weakness, before they find you.

The clock is ticking, The Kindling Hour approaches… it’s time for you to reveal the truth…

You can get your tickets online on the Swamp Motel Website.

Editor in Chief | Website | + posts

Editor in Chief of Ikon London Magazine, journalist, film producer and founder of The DAFTA Film Awards (The DAFTAs).