For thirty years and over 1400 films [click here for list], the Capri Community Film Society has served the community of Montgomery and the State of Alabama by presenting movies otherwise not available. We were the first theatre in the state to show Spike Lee, the first to show Ang Lee and the first to show Mike Leigh (other than Topsy Turvy, has anyone else run a Mike Leigh film?). We have shown every Oscar winner for Best Foreign Language Film since 1983 [click here for the list], plus quite a few other Oscar noms and winners that missed the multiplexes. We have hosted fundraising events for dozens of charities. We have film festivals, children's shows, touring filmmakers and classic movies. We're also a lot of fun.
All of this with only one full time staff person, a few part timers, some dedicated volunteers and a boatload of loyal and generous supporters.
The Capri has overcome its share of obstacles. In the early years, just keeping the doors open was a challenge. The monthly electric bill was terrifying. In 1991, the ceiling collapsed and we didn't know if we'd be able to show a movie again. In 2010, the building was put up for sale and we had to scramble to buy it.
But we did it. We own the doors now and plan to keep them open. The Capri Theatre is too valuable an asset for the community to lose.
The Capri Theatre has been in continuous operation since July of 1941, when it opened as the Clover in the heart of Old Cloverdale.
Since taking over operation of the Capri Theatre in 1983, the Film Society has turned the Capri Theatre it into the premiere art theatre in the state of Alabama, a treasured fixture in Montgomery and a cultural asset with a nationwide reputation. We are the oldest operating movie theatre in the city, and (we think) the second oldest in the state.
Now that we own the building, we have big plans to rehabilitate and renovate the Capri Theatre into the monument to movies we think it should be.[pretty picture here]
That's the good news.
The bad news is, the Digital Cinema Initiative -- DCI.
The DCI is a collaboration of the major studios and theatre chains to eliminate motion picture film in favor of digital projection. The powers that be in Hollywood have mandated the "voluntary" conversion to digital projection. The major chains have all converted. The major studios are phasing out film. The smaller studios have fewer and fewer of their movies on film. And the small, independent theatres must now invest tens to hundreds of thousands of dollars to convert to digital or go out of business.
We're not going to let that happen.
Thanks to a generous grant from The Daniel Foundation of Birmingham, we have the first $25,000 we need to start on our digital journey. Still, we will need another $80,000 to complete the trip.
Here's What We Need the $80,000 for:
- A new DCI compliant 2k projector
- Media Server
- Sound upgrades
- Curtains and masking
- Infrastructure (Wiring, AC, internet (just for the projector, not the whole theatre))
The above does not include 3D capability. It also does not include the proprietary equipment needed to bring you special events like operas and concerts. If we go over our goal, we will dedicate the extra funds towards the special events equipment and then 3D.
Stretch Goals - added April 12
Stretch Goal #1: $3000 for Alternative Content equipment. This will be used to acquire the equipment needed to bring you the alternative content like operas, ballet, plays and concerts. The exact amount depends on the content provider we choose.
Stretch Goal #2: The Deferred Maintenance Fund. Everything over $83,000 will go towards fixing things that should have been fixed years ago, like our leaking marquee.
Can we really raise this much money on Kickstarter?
If the Crescent Theatre in Mobile can raise over $80,000 (congratulations, Max), Montgomery should be able to do likewise. The Crescent has been doing good work in Mobile for four years. We wish them well, but we'd rather not have to drive to Mobile to see the movies the Capri has been showing for 30 years.
What happens if we don't raise the funds?
Kickstarter requires us to meet our goal or we don't get any of the money. If we fail to meet the goal, we can't go DCI. More fundraising or a loan would be needed to make the transition, activities that would cost us more and divert our attention from restroring and rehabilitating the theatre. Ultimately, without DCI, we will be forced to give up as a movie theatre.
And what about our 35mm projectors?
We will keep our 35mm projectors installed and operable as long as there is still 35mm film to be had. There is just something about seeing real film properly projected and we want our audience to see it, even if it becomes a rare special screening.
Risks and challenges
Going digital comes with its own set of risks. Like any mass produced electronic device, we could get a lemon that needs tons of work to keep it going. Fortunately, we're keeping our 35mm projectors as backup.
With the rush to digital, there are sometimes logjams in the production chain. Although we hope to have everything up and running by Fall, you know how it goes with old buildings. Delays can always be expected, but the equipment will get here, be installed and working - as long as we can pay for it.
- (41 days)