It’s like Cinematically Insane and #OldMovieWeirdo Will McKinley said, “TCM is a corporation and a for-profit corporation, but as for-profit corporations go, they’re pretty good people.” This is something that, as a TCM watcher, I have always felt to be true. I mean, they are on a regular cable network, but have always run their films uncut and commercial free, choosing to not only exhibit the films in the best possible formats, but also to have various TV spots about film format, film exhibition, film history, you name it. TCM was, for me and for many of my peers, a true film school. There is a lot more to all of that than profiteering, and to be sure they lose a lot of revenue by not having ads. All that said, if I had any doubts about the sincerity of TCM’s mission to share and celebrate the entire spectrum of film history, those doubts were dispelled a few days ago when the good people at that fine network informed us that they would support our efforts to renovate our local independent cinema. Not only with permission to screen their network on the big screen for 24 hours, but with social media outreach and, to our incredulous joy and generosity, with the offer to match any funds we were able to raise, up to $5,000!
Ok, I’m getting a little ahead of myself here, but there is no understating my elation, and the fundraising has just begun. Many of you may not live in San Diego, so let me talk for a second about our Media Arts Center and their Digital Gym Cinema. I know, those names are bit esoteric (particularly the one for the cinema), so let me lay down what they do a bit. For the last 22 years, the Media Arts Center has been an integral part of a high-needs community in San Diego, offering affordable film classes, media summer camps, a Teen Producers Club, and other fantastic film, video, and other media-based community outreach programs to our city. They also are the non-profit organization behind our San Diego Latino Film Festival, which has grown significantly over the last two decades and celebrates one of the largest ethnic communities in San Diego.
The Digital Gym Cinema was created by Media Arts Center San Diego in order to answer the complete dearth of independent cinema venues in San Diego. I can’t stress this enough. The closest cinemas we had before were The Ken, The Hillcrest, and the La Jolla Cinemas, but all are owned by Landmark. I don’t want to badmouth Landmark at all because I think they are fantastic, but they have their own programming and leave little time for repertory and special programming. They also show films on the especially high end of what can truly be called “independent.” Digital Gym Cinema gave us that venue–gave us a place where we can show very independent films with thoughtful curation and discussion. Gave us a place where we can program classic film or themed series or book signings or so many other great and enlightening events. It’s a desperately needed location, but it is very expensive to maintain and, worst of all, it doesn’t look at all like a cinema so most people in the city have no idea it exists! A marquee would go a long way toward giving it the cinema look and feel so people in the neighborhood can know it is even there.
The marquee is just one piece, but it is a huge one, and it is expensive. My film programming partner Beth and I are extremely passionate about film and film exhibition, and we very much need this theater to stay open. For that reason, we have decided to fundraise for the marquee. The current “Summer of Darkness’ programming on TCM seemed like a great thing to fundraise in conjunction with, partly because we love films noir, but also because of how TCM has structured the festival. Every Friday they run 24 hours of films noir, veritable marathons. Hey, people run marathons all the time for pledge money–maybe we can have a marathon of films for pledge money! That’s what we decided, and we just needed TCM’s approval. As you’ve already read, they gave that approval in spades.
So what do you need to know? Well, fundraising has begun on IndieGoGo! Every dollar anyone gives will be matched by TCM up to $5000! That means a potential 10K for the theater AND that every one of your dollars will be worth 2! The actual marathon will be during July 3rd’s “Summer of Darkness” event on TCM. We are locking ourselves in the theater starting at 3:30am PST on that date. We won’t finish until around the following 3:30am, losing sleep and possibly sanity in the best possible way. All in the name of helping our theater. We WILL be livetweeting the whole thing using the hashtags #TCMParty and #NoirSummer. We WILL be livestreaming the whole thing, so you can watch us as we slowly lose our minds. If you live in San Diego, feel free to join us when the building is in normal operating hours, but we are specifically inviting people for the 11:30am screening of 1949’s “The Bribe” and the 9:45pm screening of 1949’s “The Window.” Admission will be free and we will be loopy. Our sustenance will be sponsored by Pizzeria Luigi, Bread and Cie, Trails Eatery, and Lightning Brewery. We still need a coffee sponsor!
Please blog about this, podcast about this, tweet about this, and most of all–JOIN US on July 3rd! Turn on TCM and enjoy some of the greatest American films ever made! Help us get that goal! Follow me on Twitter @HIFFSD and follow Beth Accomando on Twitter at @cinebeth! Watching noir for a cause, see!