Photographic road trip to capture Drive-in Movie Theaters before the cost of digital conversion darkens their screens forever. Read more
This project was successfully funded on April 26, 2012.
My apologies for such a long time between Updates. The last third of the trip became hectic and demanding. The fact is it takes an hour or more to gather the material and set up one of these Updates, and in the final two weeks of the trip I just didn't have an hour to spare.
After the cluster of theaters in Southern California, ending at Industry City, I spent two days "off the road" with friends at Topanga Canyon. Not exactly time off though. I published Update #31, finished writing up the postcards, and spent many hours online researching and attempting contact with the theaters on the rest of the west coast, plus Idaho, Utah, and Colorado. I found that theaters were suddenly few and far between in the rest of California and Oregon. I did shoot at several in Central California, but several others turned out to be closed or completely gone by the time I got there. I found a wonderful old theater, Red's, in essentially original condition, at Crescent City, in the extreme northwest corner of California. I added two more moving up the east coast of Oregon. Later in the week I'll put up another Update with theaters from the remaining four states and some wrap-up details about the trip itself.
Here's a thumbnails page of the theaters north of LA up to the Washington border.
This week was a bit frazzled but highly productive. From Barstow I headed south into the Imperial Valley, genuine desert, though they irrigate it and grow crops, with temperatures hitting 113° or 114° in the afternoon and passing 80° by seven in the morning. The Sky theater in Yucca Valley has become a swap meet, with no theater structures standing except the tall marquee out at the highway. The Motor Vu in Imperial is still working, with two screens standing surrounded by a large tank farm. From there it was on to the San Diego area, then up to greater Los Angeles, where there are still four operating drive-in theaters. There are only a few drive-ins left in the rest of the state. I'm taking a "not on the road" day today to catch up on all sorts of things like correspondence with contacts at theaters in the Pacific Northwest and into Idaho, working on the digital capture files, and writing up the postcards that will be mailed soon to sponsors as I move up the west coast.
Back east, some theaters double as "flea markets" to find another income stream. Out here the term is "swap meet" and the events seem quite different, with more of a carnival atmosphere than I've seen at the flea markets. One of the venues I visited, in Santa Fe Springs, has stopped functioning as a theater altogether and is used only as a full time swap-meet location, though the giant marquee structure and screen tower are still standing. Here's another thumbnail page of pictures from this week's theaters.