Why I WANTED To Own And Operate A Small Seaside Cinema

03/08/2015 § 1 Comment

A few months ago, Cape Ann Cinema & Stage, was up for grabs. All you had to do was cram down into 250 words all your wishes and desires and dreams and hopes of owning your very own cinema and performance space. Anyone who knows me understands how hard that would have been and it was. I think the first draft was over 500 words and that was cutting out a ton, or maybe two tons, of verbiage. One of the stipulations was to “be creative.” Yah, cut that meat to the bone. Bone isn’t going to be real creative unless you find a way to scrimshaw on it. Precise incisions ensued and I excised more, as much as I could while still making some sense. With more rewriting and then some.


Opportunity was a knockin’ at my door, loudly. Taunting me. By this spring, I had been sending out resumes for a few months with nary a nibble, much less a bonafide call back. I picked up a few freelance gigs, which amazingly enough, were paying the bills. But then there’s those bills; health care, health care, health care, and the bills that health care didn’t cover.

Then this appeared in my Facebook stream:

Through June 30, the Cape Ann Cinema & Stage will host an essay contest. Write us 250 words on “Why I Want To Own And Operate A Small Seaside Cinema,” and if you can convince us that your passion for film and community is greater than all others’, I will gift you not only a totally debt-free majority ownership of the CAC&S, but will give you $20,000 with which to get started, plus a variety of support for the first year. It doesn’t matter where in the world you are from, and if you’d rather take the cash award and start your own cinema in your own community, you can do that.

On June 19th, after incorporating a few insightful suggestions regarding my wayward prose, proofreading, a few gulps and headache inducing rereading sessions, along with my 99 dineros, I sent them this:

“Next time, sit where the explosions aren’t going to burn your face?”

That was my Dad. He was picking me up from Battle Of The Bulge and I can picture him sitting with the nine-year old me in the front row where the sound and the fury reigned supreme. Dad, the town photographer, documented the world as it was, but I needed illusions; fictions cast bigger than my hometown streets. I worked my way into college for film production and all that luscious film history. I dreamt of being the next George Lucas, inviting my friends over to preview my latest “sleeper” hit.

I was in the “biz” until the “biz” in ‘90s New York withered. Ever since, I have been marketing, designing, writing, and using my wiles to help musicians build communities and sell albums.

Winning this cinema could finally make some sense out of the wide swerves of my career, rolling my many competencies into one job, focused on building a bigger community for the Cape Ann Cinema & Stage while enthusing and enriching the music and film-lovers around Cape Ann. With the sofas, and the wine, this would be the screening room I fantasized in my Lucas-envy dreams; selling the comfort in which film lovers can discover the cool movies I wish I had made; the under-rated gems, the best award-winners, foreign puzzlers, the documentaries reminding me of my Dad, even the big explosive spectaculars that once made a kid want to get into the ”biz” in the first place.

Battle of Bulge-miniatures3

If you’re counting words, you got me. Yeah, it’s slightly over the 250 word mark as I added in Cape Ann Cinema and Stage up there for clarity. I tricked it up and saved 4 precious words by inserting CAC&S—their own abbreviation mind you—into the original essay.

I didn’t win.

Sad to say, the contest didn’t achieve the viral success they were expecting — even with a hit on local television with WCVB’s The Chronicle show and two hits in The Globe—so they sent back everyone’s entry fees. Although if you look on the Cape Ann Cinema & Stage site they are still soliciting fees in order to keep in business, or so they say. They seemed in dire straits this spring when they were trying to churn up the entries. It’s a great place to check out movies. There’s a smattering of sofas to kick back and lounge in, just like home. You can bring in your own food, just like home. (Though not drinks, or popcorn. Hey, they do have to make some additional money, you know.) And, out of necessity, they play the cool first run movies no one else will play, but, if you are a fan of great filmmaking, you need to see them. There’s a need to keep the CAC&S alive, which I did want—so desperately I spent a few good hours of my life writing and rewriting that essay—and I still do, but…


I have a whole set of ideas of the kind that I usually generate when I obsess manically over a job that I want, but nowadays, seem out of reach. A ton, or two, of ideas since those weren’t limited to a strict 250 words, but instead to the ever-expanding excesses of my imagination.

Double damn.

I just got a few more ideas while writing down these last few ‘graphs.


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§ One Response to Why I WANTED To Own And Operate A Small Seaside Cinema

  • We started the Cape Ann Cinema & Stage in 2008 with a dream and less than $10,000. It is my duty to help any community create a resource similar to ours. Let me know if I can help, and thanks for your interest!

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