Dwight Grimm and Leigh Van Swall are re-opening the Greenville Drive-In to the public in the Northern Catskills of New York State. Originally built by Peter Carelas in 1959, the Greenville Drive-In has been a social fixture for the local rural community and its many seasonal visitors.
For the past several years, this institution has been closed primarily for lack of a digital projection system necessary to play modern studio formats. We have recently undertaken this major purchase for the Greenville Drive-In, but we need your help to cross the finish line for the remaining equipment and services required to make the venue safe and operational for the public. Our long list of remaining necessities includes an updated radio transmission system, a functional popcorn machine, insurance, gravel access roads and repairs to the highway marquee.
It is a little known fact that the Northern Catskills is the birthplace of outdoor cinema in the United States. While Camden, NJ can lay claim to hosting the first drive-in movie theatre in 1933, the very first outdoor motion picture event occurred sixteen years earlier in our neighboring town of Schoharie on June 7, 1917. From that date until World War II, the local community would flock to Main Street every summer Thursday for free movies projected on the court house, followed by dancing and ice cream. As a result, outdoor movies have been an integral part of the social fabric of the area for just shy of a century.
We are keen to be the next set of stewards carrying on this tradition in the Northern Catskills. Dwight Grimm is an eighth-generation descendant of one of the founding families of Schoharie and has spent the past twenty years working in film & video production, predominantly in New York City. He has been fortunate enough to work for such entertainment houses as Children’s Television Workshop (now Sesame Workshop), Jim Henson Productions, Scholastic, HBO and Worldwide Pants. Dwight is looking forward to combining his personal experience in entertainment with his familial connection to the Northern Catskills.
Our vision for the Greenville Drive-In surpasses simply reviving a movie theatre. The drive-in sits in the middle of a region being recognized by the food-to-table movement. We are looking to use our concession facilities and our screen as a showcase for our agricultural neighbors whose efforts are now starting to receive long-overdue notice. We will be featuring traditional American drive-in movie fare, but sourced from their farms. We plan to use the new projection system to promote local businesses with feature-ettes during the pre-show and intermissions. We also are looking forward to opening the facilities for daytime events so that the community can utilize this incredible local resource for other purposes.
We appreciate your willingness to contribute to this project and in gratitude we made our rewards fun for local and long-distance supporters alike. A huge part of our vision here is that not only are you an audience member, you can be part of the programming as well. That is what makes the digital projector so liberating. Be it your own video, an ad, a message or running your own program, you can do it here at the Greenville Drive-In. Almost all of our rewards come with on-screen credit during 2015 screenings. The greater the reward, the more access you have. Do you want to be a Guest Projectionist? Would you like to screen your own film? You can do it here with these Kickstarter rewards. After you’ve picked your reward, we’d appreciate it if spread the word by post, tweet or word alike. Pass it along around the globe. We have friends everywhere and we want them to visit us here in the Great Northern Catskills.
The community has expressed that the Greenville Drive-In is well worth saving. We hope that this Kickstarter will help support a successful re-launch so future generations can fall in love with outdoor movies all over again.
Heritage photographs of the Greenville Drive-In in the video are courtesy of Baldomero Fernandez
Risks and challenges
Since opening in 1959, the Greenville Drive-In has had a number of owners and ideas around programming. There were limitations based on 35mm projectors that are mitigated with the introduction of the digital projector.
We do have a number of challenges to create a thriving business in Greenville. Costs associated with installing and setting up the projector are substantial. We are one of the few all-grass drive-ins in existence so the fifteen acres requires extensive mowing and gravel access roads to keep patrons from becoming mired.
A challenge will be creating programming that will be successful and enjoyed by both the local community as well as visitors coming to the Northern Catskills. We will need to cast a wide net with our marketing and programming to attract and appeal to a range of viewers.
The key projects that we are undertaking for 2015 include:
- Purchase and install Christie 2k projector
- Update FM receiver to provide high quality sound
- Install integrated electrical system
- Update the concession stand
- Add gravel to access roads
- Improve the marquee
- Make strategic connections to the community to provide opportunities for local groups
Your contributions to this campaign will help us create a space that can be enjoyed by both locals and visitors.Learn about accountability on Kickstarter
- (30 days)