If you've had the chance to go to an independent movie theater, you know it's a completely different experience than going to one of the chain theaters. Many of these theaters only have a few screens, and they tend to specialize in older films or those on the fringes of the filmmaking world. The theaters may not always be in perfect shape, but most of them care about the movies first -- and it shows. With everything going digital, these smaller theaters are starting to disappear unless they make serious monetary investments, and that's exactly the situation that Cinefamily in Los Angeles is going through right now. Click through to check out their Kickstarter launch video:
Here's a little bit about who they are and what's going on:
We need to make our location, the historic Silent Movie Theater, into a state-of-the-art, fully-functional, sound, stable home. A foundation for growth, for our next 5 years and beyond.
When we moved into the Silent Movie Theater, we were moving into a theater literally built by hand by two avid film lovers, John and Dorothy Hampton, in 1942. They lived upstairs from the projection booth and auditorium all their lives, in the same room we now use for the occasional blacklight art show and sleeping on the couch during all-nighters.
We did the bare minimum in order to get the doors open, and from that time on focused on creating the most awesome programming we could, without a break. Every single penny we made or raised went back into that programming -- leaving our physical plant increasingly held together with spit and chewing gum.
Here's what they need:
So, here's the plan. In order of priority, we want to make the following very necessary investments in our theater:
Digital Projector $60,000
Theater Sound Upgrade $15,000
Live Music Sound Upgrade $8,000
Building Security Upgrade $7,000
Cameras and Livestream $34,000
New Sign $10,000
Fix Roof $10,000
Also in order of priority, here's what we'll do if donations exceed our goal:
New couches and SEAT UPGRADE $65,000
Updated Computers $5,000
Website redesign with more functionality $15,000
Professional Edit Bay $10,000
Recarpeting and Refinishing Concrete Floor $15,000
Bring the Print Calendar Back $80,000
Contingency Fund - Anything else raised will go here!
So while you may not be able to directly benefit from the actual theater experience if you don't live in the Los Angeles area, they do have plenty of events and they livestream some of their Q&As (though for the time being they've been borrowing cameras every time they do it). The theater has an 8-year-old 2K digital projector that will soon be out-of-date because the bulbs are no longer made, so they will need to upgrade that. Cinefamily is certainly a dying breed as they will continue showing film prints as long as they exist, so they are an outlet for plenty of older films that may never make the transition to digital and would otherwise disappear.
I think it's important to keep independent theaters alive and kicking, because it's really the last place for people to go who have a shared passion for films. The more that big chain theaters become sterile money-making environments, the more we'll need smaller movie theaters who actually care about films and film history.
If you want to help, head on over to the Cinefamily Kickstarter to donate.