Palace Theater projectionist Benjamin Flynn and Hollywood Theater owner Cory Hanf talk with Palace Theater owners Barbara and Reg Clark at the “Go Digital or Go Dark” campaign kick off. Hanf started his career in movies as an employee of the Clark’s in Lake Placid.
Almost 200 people made their way into the main screening room at the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid April 26 to help launch a campaign to keep small town movie cinemas in the Adirondack region alive.
The “Go Digital or Go Dark” Campaign, a collaborative fundraiser between the Adirondack North Country Association and the Adirondack Film Society, started with a premiere of a “movie trailer” that will be shown in local theaters about their need to convert from film to digital technology since movie companies will stop sending out film reels within the next six months.
“This is something that is directly aligned and will impact local economies,” ANCA Executive Director Kate Fish said. “We want to raise enough money to help our small theaters transfer. We cannot imagine our small towns without these theaters, and we feel that this is something that these communities can get behind. We are going to make sure that every local theater can make this transition.”
Fish said that for the four-screen setup at the Palace Theatre in Lake Placid, it would take about $300,000 for a complete changeover of all screens.
“Reg’s (Clark) goal is to get one of the theaters changed over as soon as they can and then work on the rest,” said Naj Wikoff, who has worked with the film society on the issue. “However, then you have the theaters that have only one screen and this is life or death to them. We want this to succeed for all of them. If we fail, then every single theater in the Adirondacks could close.”
The 10 theaters that have come together to take part in the campaign include the Palace, the Hollywood in Au Sable Forks, Cinematheque in South Glens Falls, The Glen Drive In of Queensbury, the Indian Lake Theater, the Ogdensburg Cinema and the Adirondack State Theater in Tupper Lake, along with a trio of Strand Theaters located in Old Forge, Schroon Lake and Plattsburgh.
“A lot of people said that something has to be done,” said John Huttlinger, president of the Adirondack Film Society. “Sen. Betty Little called in the folks at ACNA to help coordinate this fundraising effort for these theaters.”
Between showings of the trailer, people were asked to talk about their experiences going to the movies at their local theater.
“I grew up on Main Street right across from the Hollywood,” said Jay Town Supervisor and Essex County Board Chairman Randy Douglas. “There are a lot of first dates and a lot of memories that come when you think about these local theaters. People also surround their evening going to the movies with dinner and other events that help out all of the local businesses that surround that theater.”
“(The people in) my cabin on Silver Lake won a trip to come to Lake Placid and see Star Wars,” said Aaron Woolf, who co-created the trailer for the campaign. “Going to the theater really is a community experience. Seeing a film is collective and we want the next generation in our North Country towns and villages to have that experience.”
The trailer will play in the 10 theaters that are part of the campaign, said ANCA Communications Director Melissa Hart, who added that there will be a number of ways people can donate to the cause.
“There will be pledge cards at the theaters, envelopes to mail in pledges and there will also be bar codes that can be scanned by smart phones to make donations through,” Hart said.
Fish added that people can either donate to a specific theater or to the overall campaign, which is also seeking corporate partners and donors along with help from state agencies.
“Empire State Development is looking to create some bridge loans for the theaters,” she said.
For more information on the Go Digital or Go Dark campaign, visit the website adirondack.org/GoDigital, where you can also see the trailer created for the local theaters.