Jul 30, 2006

ESR Presents: The Indoor Drive-In

Well finally, after spending a long time thinking about, I've started what I hope to be the monthly "theatrical" equivalent to ESR. The last Thursday of the month, you can now see The Eclectic Screening Room unspooling offbeat and interesting films at Centre for the Arts. Located at 263 Adelaide St. W., Suite 513, just east of John St., and about two blocks west of University, it is a cool little space, where the big studio room is used for the screening, and I have use of the lobby area as well to merchandise and sell refreshments.

The first screening, as you can see above, was the "indoor drive-in" festival, in which I first showed a lovely documentary DRIVE IN MOVIE MEMORIES, made in 2001. It is an hour-long feature giving an entertaining history of the drive-in from the 30's to present day, with lots of great nostalgia clips, and trailers, capturing the essence of the drive-in experience in its day. It also features interviews with Leonard Maltin, Beverly Garland, Sam Arkoff (I believe, filmed not long before he died), Celeste Yarnall and Robert Fuller, among others. Then I followed up with DAUGHTER OF HORROR, a mini-favourite of mine-- a completely mind-warping flick from 1955. It was first released in 1953 with the (far more accurate) title DEMENTIA-- with no onscreen dialogue, just music and ambient sounds on the audio. Then it was re-released with the title DAUGHTER OF HORROR, featuring narration by some guy named Ed McMahon!!! Although I prefer the earlier version, I screened the latter since it was public domain.

Our audience attendance was about a dozen customers. Not great, but I am rather glad I had a small crowd for the first screening. Since I was still working out the technical bugs right up till the first customers arrived, and still getting into the groove of running the gear (the switcher and what not), it just seemed best to do so with a group that was intimate enough which practically encouraged a "one on one" feeling. In that regard, the night almost felt like a friendly gathering as opposed to a clinical screening. Half of the audience was comprised of a meetup group entitled "We Don't Do Mainstream Film"-- somehow someone received notice of my screening at the last minute and posted it on the list. For that I am grateful. My friend Mike Ritz showed up, as did Will Sloan (who had contributed to the STILL in progress Roger Corman issue). Plus I was happy to see Chris Mitchell and Maria show up for the second film. The response to the films was polite, and it was a beginning.

As with any first-time screening at a venue, it was a trial by fire. But I learned a whole lot, and already have ways of making the next one better and smoother. End of August is Educational Film Night, or if you like, "ESR's Back To School Special". Hope to see you there.

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