Run Your Own Drive-In -- For Real

Discussion in 'After Hours Lounge (Off Topic)' started by Dave Hahn, Jun 17, 2009.

  1. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    Came across this article on MobMov.org, a website that tells how to set up and run your own little DRIVE-IN this morning online. It looks very cool and is completely legal. The online article can be found HERE.


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    Wednesday, June 17, 2009


    Drive-Ins Are Back, but It’s a Secret

    The drive-in-movie theater celebrated its 75th anniversary last year. As the story goes, Richard Hollingshead Jr. experimented with the format in 1933 by showing movies in his driveway in Riverton, N.J. He hung a bed sheet between two trees and placed a Kodak film projector on the roof of his car.

    After a rise in popularity through the 1950s, interest in the drive-in theater steadily waned (there aren’t any left in the New York metropolitan area). But over the past few years a new style of drive-in has cropped up, aided in part by the increased use (and the drop in price) of digital projectors, and it’s not too different from Hollingshead’s early experiments.
    They’re called “guerilla drive-ins,” or mobile movies, because there is no permanent theater. Organizers screen the movies on warehouse walls and in parking lots. And screenings don’t usually take place in the same location twice. Viewers sign up for a service that e-mails them with the time and location a few days ahead of each screening. The movies are generally free, and organizers accept donations to fund the few hundred dollars it takes to secure the location and projector.

    Bryan Kennedy, 28, an iPhone developer in San Francisco, runs MobMov.org a site that lists more than 240 guerilla drive-in chapters around the world.

    He started MobMov in 2005 while a student at University of California, Berkeley. Using a digital projector he had just bought for his home and an inexpensive FM transmitter to send the sound to a car’s stereo, he showed “The Graduate” with no ambitions of grandeur.

    “It was very organic,” he said. “There were three cars at the first show. Then some people said I should come up with a name and a Web site. And then random people started calling me about the next screening.”
    Eric Kurland was one of those random people. “He lived in L.A. and asked if I was set up to do chapters in different cities,” Mr. Kennedy said. All of a sudden, the Hollywood chapter of MobMov was born. Today, Mr. Kennedy’s site includes a tutorial on how enterprising people can start their own MobMov: how to set up an outdoor theater, what to look for in a digital projector, how to hook up a projector to a car, where to buy an FM transmitter, legal issues and more.

    The roots of the guerilla drive-in movement has been traced to Santa Cruz, Calif., where Wes Modes started a collective to screen outdoor movies around 2001.

    A Times story from 2004 described a very renegade process with primitive equipment and little regard for the law. In those early days, the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-In trespassed on property — looking out for police — and did not secure rights to show the movies.

    “It was definitely an inspiration,” Mr. Kennedy said. “It was the name — guerilla drive-in — that really inspired this.”
    Mr. Kennedy went to one of the Santa Cruz Guerilla Drive-Ins before starting MobMov. “It’s really cool. You know you sit on the grass and watch a movie outdoors,” he said. He also explained that what he wanted to create was a more authentic drive-in experience (i.e., watching movies from inside a car), though he had never been to one himself.

    “Drive-ins are interesting because it’s a customizable experience,” he explained. “You can bring your kid, who may spend the entire time crying in the back seat, but that’s fine — you roll up your window. Or you can roll down your windows and interact with the other people. It’s up to you.”

    Every MobMov screening has an intermission, during which audience members can interact, which Mr. Kennedy said, is his favorite part of MobMov.

    Last weekend, MobMov showed “The Sting,” the 1973 classic with Paul Newman and Robert Redford. It was projected against the wall of a hangar on a decommissioned military base on San Francisco’s Treasure Island to an audience of around 50 cars, Mr. Kennedy said.
    He expected to show a movie every other week — workload permitting — and has upgraded his equipment considerably since that first screening in 2005. But he still doesn’t charge a fee. He has tried to come up with a business plan to monetize the growth of the MobMov movement, but he hasn’t figured out a way to accommodate profits with the good-natured vibe of the experience. “Nothing seems to fit,” he said. At least it doesn’t cost much to put on.

    “My biggest expenses are the movie licensing fees,” he said. “And I rent a car to run the projector. I live in the city so I don’t have a car.”








    HERE is a link to MOBMOV.ORG It has a very good tutorial on how to set up you own little drive-in: equipment, legal issues, etc. It also has a list of MobMov chapters; there aren't any up here in New Hampshire yet, but there seem to be quite a few in major population centers.
     
  2. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    That's pretty neat. It sounds like the emergence of low-cost, mobile FM transmitters is the key to this movement.

    In the Albany area, we’re lucky to have four traditional drive-ins within easy driving distance: the Jericho Drive-In in Glenmont, the Malta Drive-In just south of Saratoga, the Hollywood Drive-In across the Hudson in Averill Park, and the aforementioned Hi-Way Drive-In down in Coxsackie.

    They’re not my first choice for special effects extravaganzas where presentation is paramount, but especially for comedies they’re an experience instead of merely entertaining.
     
  3. Dave Hahn

    Dave Hahn Second Unit

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    It looks like you can get a pretty hefty FM Transmitter for around $140.00, not to bad. The licensing fees, quoted in the tutorial at $100 to $300, look to be the larger expenditure.

    I wish the fee for showing an older film, ten, twenty years old or more, were around $50. I mean really, the studio could only benefit; people might be reminded how much they like the film showing that they go out and buy their own dvd.

    I really like this idea. For those of us who already have a projector, or even an older backup projector, this seems like a cool continuation of our hobby. This is a great way to share your love of classic films with a whole new audience and have some fun while you're at it.
     
  4. Dennis Nicholls

    Dennis Nicholls Lead Actor

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    Scooter is on the move. Maybe he'll do something like this wherever he goes.
     
  5. Jay H

    Jay H Producer

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    There's a Drive-In theater in Warwick, NY, not a long drive from NYC, perhaps a little over an hour's drive?

    Jay
     
  6. Bob McLaughlin

    Bob McLaughlin Screenwriter

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    I wonder why studios don't just charge a flat rate and then let you charge admission to recoup the fees? I guess they would have a hard time auditing how many people actually showed up but at least they'd get something.
     
  7. Scott_J

    Scott_J Cinematographer

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    Depending on your definition of "easy driving distance," you can make it five with the one here in Glens Falls.
     
  8. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer
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    Cool idea!

    We still have a double screen drive in 15 minutes away called the Admiral Twin...it opened in 1951 and it's still as busy as ever...showing it's age for sure but many still enjoy going.

    They filmed The Outsiders here and had some scenes at the Admiral.

    Then:

    [​IMG]
     
  9. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer
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    Now:

    [​IMG]
     
  10. Alf S

    Alf S Cinematographer
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    Sadly the Admiral Twin I posted above burned to the ground yesterday...

     

     
  11. Richard Travale

    Richard Travale Producer

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    That's a real shame Alf.
     
  12. Adam Lenhardt

    Adam Lenhardt Executive Producer

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    It looks like only the screens burned down, so hopefully they'll be able to rebuild for next year. The screen at the local drive-in near me had been slowly caving in for years, but they replaced it with a brand new one a few years back and have been going strong every since. It's the projection equipment and industrial kitchen appliances for the snack bars that are the most expensive for drive-ins.
     
  13. RobertR

    RobertR Lead Actor

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    There's an active drive in with 3 screens about a mile from my house.
     

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