Vintage Vignette - April 2016
Let's All Go To The Movies!
Cleaver columnist and antiques expert, Martha Whitney Butler, rediscovered a love of the cinema at the new Waveland theatre - the Beacon! You'll want to check it out too, after reading this fun piece!
I had been meaning to get there, probably just like some of you. I had forgotten it was even an option to fill my only free time on my coveted day off. I happened upon a post on Facebook that MS West Coast (Hancock County's Tourism Bureau) had shared about the Beacon showing Quentin Tarantino's “Hateful Eight” and I promptly purchased my tickets online. Tarantino + Western + theater right down the road = awesome date night.
I started researching the movie and fell in love with the fact that it was shot on 70mm film -- definitely not the standard these days. So I switched back to see how it was being screened at the Beacon only to find that they didn't even have a digital projector.
Now, anyone who has ever taken a film class will always have a special place in their heart for real film. I equate it to vinyl records. There are a lot of us out there who prefer the analog sound quality of LPs over digital formats like mp3s and whatever else these days.
35mm film has been used as the industry standard for over 120 years, and we’re seeing less and less shot on real film every year. In fact, it's on the brink of extinction. By the end of this year, it just won't be used anymore. Only 6 percent of movie theaters in this country are employing 35mm projectors, and the Beacon Theater in our very own Waveland is one of them!
The Beacon is owned and operated by master projectionist Charles Watzke. He has some deep ties to these parts, having worked in and around the theaters here on the coast. Watzke grew up in the film business and followed in the footsteps of his grandfather, who was a hand-crank projectionist in 1913 from the age of 12 and founded New Orleans’ first projectionists’ union — Local 293 International Alliance of Theater Stage Employees — in 1918. Charles’s playpen was literally in the projection room, and by age 8 he was standing on a milk crate running a projector. By age 12 he was running it legally.
He knows all there is to know about the business. He also knows that to stay in business, he's got to change with the times.
“We're being forced to go digital,” he explained. “I'd like to see the 35mm continue. I always say, ‘If it ain't broke, don't fix it.’”
I'm with him on that. I'd love to see it continue as well. He explained to me the high costs of the new digital projectors and the outrageous expenses of maintaining them. We all know the old stuff always sustains itself better through the ages.
Watzke has done a wonderful job of restoring this theater and revamping its reputation. Everything from the hand-crafted woodwork to the cool copper penny countertops rings of hard work. He's put a lot of heart into this place, and it shows.
Watching patrons leaving happy, seeing more and more cars in the parking lot when we arrive for a movie, and the fact the owner took the time to share so much about his extremely interesting career instills in me an inextinguishable faith that this business will thrive here. So, what are you waiting for? Get your tickets!
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Things to look for and forward to at the Beacon:
Fun facts about Charles Watzke:
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