I’m launching a Patreon page! As an After the Final Curtain Patreon you’ll get early access to image galleries, video walkthroughs, and write-ups before they are released, print giveaways, discounts on workshops, and some exclusive workshop locations (one some of you have been asking me about for years).
I don’t talk about this very often, but for a long time I wanted to be a Director, and make movies. When I first started exploring abandoned buildings I had a video camera in hand the whole time. Those tapes have been packed away in a box for years, but I recently transferred the footage to my computer. This is a short walkthrough of the Norwich State Hospital Theater from 2004. The building (along with many others on the campus) has since been demolished.
I’m going to be in a movie! I was interviewed in the lobby of the Loew’s Jersey Theatre in Jersey City, NJ in 2016 for a documentary on the history of the American Movie Palace. I spoke with the director, April Wright, for at least an hour, and some of my ramblings made it into the finished film (and the trailer below.)
I was able to view a rough cut of the film at the Million Dollar Theatre in Los Angeles during the Theatre Historical Society Conclave in 2017, and really enjoyed it (I’m probably a bit biased.) If you’d like to see the film here’s some upcoming screening dates and locations:
I’ll be appearing at the Somerville, Lake Placid Film Festival, and the Centre Film Festival to promote the film. Some of my work will be exhibited, and depending on the location there will be a short talk/ Q&A.
Here’s the synopsis for the film:
“Other countries built palaces for royalty, in the United States we built them to watch movies.
The 100 year history of how the American movie experience evolved so quickly from nickelodeons to the studio system and huge movie palaces of the teens and twenties and their eventual decline through present day including current preservation efforts.
What started as individual entertainment in penny arcades moved to a shared experience in nickelodeons. Next, when movies evolved from a lower class entertainment to mainstream, large movie palaces were built and the studio system grew in the teens and twenties. All of the grand movie palaces were built in a very compressed period of time between approximately 1915 with many converting from Vaudeville, through the early 30s. The addition of sound spawned the golden age of cinema in the 30’s in these architecturally gorgeous theaters in metropolitan areas which thrived as an escape from the great depression.
After World War II, television became popular and single screen theaters followed on main streets everywhere as a result of suburban sprawl and the baby boom. This led to a sharp decline in the downtowns of American cities. The classic theatres were too large and expensive to maintain. By the 70’s they tried to survive with exploitation films and alternative programming. Often these palaces were split or multiplexed. But more often, they closed, and were allowed to decay. In a country that is synonymous with the film industry, we have allowed our history to be lost as we’ve demolished many of our country’s palaces.
But many individuals have worked tirelessly to preserve, restore and maintain this piece of history so it can be enjoyed by future generations. However, many still stand in the balance, waiting for the funds to bring these landmarks back to life. “
The Robins Theatre in Warren, Ohio is currently being restored and is scheduled to reopen in 2020. I’ve been documenting the progress and put together a short video tour. Look for an in depth post on the Robins soon!
I’ve been practicing with my newly acquired drone, and thought that a theater walkthrough might make for an interesting video. So a few days ago I revisited the Everett Square Theatre in Boston, MA to do just that. I think that I’ll be making many more of these videos going forward.
I’ve been posting Facebook Live videos of the theaters I’ve visited as I’ve been traveling around the country. I’ve decided to branch out to YouTube, and started my own channel. The theater featured in the video above is the Fox Theatre in Fullerton, CA. I was lucky enough to visit it twice, once in 2014, and again in 2017 after the ceiling was restored. This video is only available in SD, but future ones will be High Definition.
I’ll be posting more videos from theaters across the country soon.
While I was researching the Loew’s Kings Theatre , I came across a documentary called “Memoirs of A Movie Palace.” Directed by Christian Blackwood , the film was released in 1979 and detailed the history of the Kings. The following is a clip featuring designer Harold W. Rambusch discussing the interior of the theater.