“Preserve Me a Seat” Premiere Documentary Radio Interview

posted by jim on July 24, 2006 at 4:34 am

Next week, the film documentary, “Preserve Me a Seat” — five years in the making and subject of a three-year lawsuit before a dismissal in the filmmaker’s favor — will have its premiere in 3 Nebraska cities: Wednesday, July 26th at the historic Grand Theatre in Grand Island, NE; Thursday, July 27th at the historic Dundee Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska, and Friday, July 28th at the Mary Riepma Ross Media Center on the UNL campus.

We don’t remember a lot about our distant past, but we do remember our favorite movie theater. “Preserve Me a Seat” is a documentary about these theatres and the ongoing fight to protect and preserve them for future generations.

Focusing on efforts to save The Indian Hills Cinerama Theatre in Omaha, Nebraska, The Villa Theatre in Salt Lake City, Utah, the DuPage Theatre in Lombard, Illinois, and through the donation of footage from the Journalism Department of Emerson College, the Gaiety Theatre in Boston, MA, “Preserve Me a Seat” takes viewers into the trenches in the battle to save America’s historic theater treasures.

In addition, the movie highlights the Missouri Theatre in St. Joseph, Missouri, and follows Cinema Treasure member Sean Doerr as he explores the remenants of the former Michigan Theatre in Detroit, MI, which is now a parking garage.

As the world premiere approaches next week, more media attention is being focused on the movie, and thus, on historic theaters and theater preservation as well. The following link is to a radio show/interview about the film that will be broadcast this weekend on Nebraska Public Radio:

Preserve Me A Seat Radio Interview

The film will also play at the upcoming Estes Park Film Festival in Colorado this coming September and at other festivals throughout the United States. In addition, beginning next week, the movie will also be available on dvd for only $12.99 at www.apartment101films.com We’re very excited to finally be able to show this documentary to the public and hope that it can be used as a tool to educate the public at large on the need to preserve our historic movie theatres and our cultural heritage. We are also interested in showing the film in historic/independent theaters across the country. For more information, please email us at:

Comments (18)

jim
jim on July 24, 2006 at 4:40 am

Actually, the premiere is THIS week – I sent the news item in on Friday. :)

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on July 24, 2006 at 5:40 am

will it show in texas?

jim
jim on July 24, 2006 at 5:51 am

I’ve submitted it to the upcoming Austin film festival, but haven’t heard yet whether it has been accepted as a selection. In the meantime, you can tell your local historic/independent theatre about it or see the movie on dvd. Thanks1
Jim

dfc
dfc on July 24, 2006 at 8:46 am

Why was this film tied up by a lawsuit??

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on July 24, 2006 at 11:41 am

Is the film available in 35mm prints?

jim
jim on July 24, 2006 at 12:17 pm

Peter,
The film was shot on digital video and would need a digital projector to be shown in a theatre using dvd. If you’re interested or have any more questions, feel free to email me at Thanks!
Jim

longislandmovies
longislandmovies on July 24, 2006 at 3:37 pm

dont take this the wrong way but………. i dont want to see a movie about saving theaters on DVD…………LOL….SORRY

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on July 24, 2006 at 4:35 pm

Jim:

You should consider getting a couple of 35mm prints made as there will be far more theatrical venues available to you that will only run film. It would be a nice addition during one of my special event weekends at the Lafayette Theatre.

jim
jim on July 24, 2006 at 4:44 pm

Hi Peter,
Unfortunatley the cost of transferring digital video to film is astronomical – over $500,000.00 and who can afford that? Not me.
Every major film festival now uses digital projectors – they have made showing independent movies like mine viable for large movie theatres/screens. A high quality projector can be rented fairly cheaply. Since my movie was shot on digital video anyway, many times people never know their watching it digitally projected and not on film. Either way, I’d love for you to see or show the movie.
Feel free to email me at if you’re interested.
Yours,
Jim

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on July 24, 2006 at 5:04 pm

Jim:

A DVD looks pretty bad blown up to anything over a 12 foot wide screen. Last year we got the distributor of a locally-made indie film to strike a couple of 35mm prints from their digital master so we could show it at one of our venues and they were able to get numerous other theatrical bookings for it because of that. I believe the total cost including the negative and prints was less than a tenth of your half-million quote. If you’d like I can find out who did the lab work and forward that information to you. Feel free to take this to e-mail and write me at

JodarMovieFan
JodarMovieFan on July 24, 2006 at 6:55 pm

Hey, bring it here to DC, I’d be glad to see it. Landmark Theatres would be great to see it, plus I’m sure they have digital projectors to show it.

jim
jim on July 24, 2006 at 6:59 pm

Peter,

I’m not certain, from your last comment, if there was some problem with that locally-made indie film that necessitated the transfer to 35mm prints(I have seen indie films that could use work, in any format, though ours has specifically received compliments on its color and detail of picture-even on a wide screen). As far as your comment on a DVD appearing poorly on a wide screen, I apologize for saying this, but that’s not just false when pertaining to our film, but also untrue when it comes to most of the digital indie films that have come to our local theaters-and AMC(especially since the AMC Select programming). As far as film having a wider distribution, I’ll bite-but what, exactly, is your figure when you say “less than a tenth” of a half-million? I mean, a tenth, itself, is still $5 grand-and we’re independent-and self-financed and distributed. Our film, alone, was not even $10 grand. Also, is the indie film you mentioned a full-length feature or a short? That would vary costs a bit(ours is a full feature). Its all out-of-pocket with us, though, Peter. Again, I still submit, renting a digital projector is around $200, for a good one, just to keep things grounded a bit, here. I admit, I tend to think within the independent box-since that’s exactly what I am. If I were a large studio or had a number of financiers, this conversation would probably hold a little more weight, just to be fair. However, if you feel compelled, look into it and let me know the true cost.
Yours,
Jim

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on July 25, 2006 at 4:36 am

The indie film was a full-length feature documentary and they wanted to get wider distribution in theatres. Since there are so few theatres that can show digital (and even fewer that would consider DVD quality acceptable), they needed to go to the theatrical standard of 35mm.

As for a film on DVD, it’s only enhanced standard-definition NTSC video, and not even HDTV quality. Again, my standards of the look may be different from yours, but I expect a film in a theatre to look like 35mm. DVD, consumer-level digital video, and even most HDTV are not up to the resolution of 35mm film – I saw “The Final Cut” in an AMC Select presentation (a low-cost “digital” presentation using their pre-show video projectors) and was appalled at the quality.

For a indie film, however, a digital release is the way to go for limited distribution. What might work would be for you to come up with a formula to rebate the exhibitor a portion of the cost of the digital projector rental from your box office take.

I’ll see if I can find out what it cost for the transfer and prints.

jim
jim on July 25, 2006 at 1:10 pm

Peter,

AMC and Landmark Theatres are digital-ready theaters. This is because this is where things are going, Peter. Digital video was really not too impressive when it was really starting to hit, some years ago. In fact, I was totally against it, then. But a lot has changed. The detail is, often, amazing(though cheaper films, with poor quality lighting, the lack of technology, and an inexperienced crew is a whole different story). I agree that film does have that classic look, though(however grainy it often appears).
The college media arts centers/theaters, who are commonly a major customer with us, are rarely not digital these days(indie film is larger on campus than in corporate theatres). There are a number of new non-profit media centers/art theaters popping up in the communities, also, all of them digital(we have several in Nebraska-and if we’re getting them in a place like Nebraska…well, you know). Most of the independent theaters we’ve played commonly have the equipment, as well(we’ve been thinking about touring with the film next spring, so we called ahead to look into the probability).
The film festival circuit, where we’ve won awards with past films, and have gotten a lot of notoriety(as well as DVD sales), are all digital, anymore(well, how couldn’t they be, with the indie budget of us filmmakers). However, to be fair, Peter, I admit that a number of the struggling one-screen theaters are not. Although, as you mentioned with “wider distribution”, these independent theaters could probably go further if they spent a minor amount of change and updated their theaters. I mean, what’s a few hundred dollars, when it comes to revitalizing a theater-especially one that may be struggling, in the first place, right? On the other hand, think about all of the indie filmmakers who haven’t got that $5 grand(most of the filmmakers that I’ve met, anyway). Your local one was, obviously, one of the rarities. Come to think of it, would you ask him to introduce me to his financiers? We’ve got presskits!

PeterApruzzese
PeterApruzzese on July 25, 2006 at 7:05 pm

Jim:

The biggest AMC complex in New Jersey – the Clifton Commons – does not have digital capability. They only have the low-end digital video for the commercials and this is what they also used for “The Final Cut”. Yes, a number of their other locations have a Digital Cinema installation.

A 2K digital cinema projector DLP installation – which is the only acceptable (barely) level of digital video for commercial theatres – is in the $100,000 range right now. In the next two years, it will be obsoleted by the 4K projectors. Why would we spend that money when the studios are the only ones who save significant money by doing away with film prints? There’s a reason why there are under 300 DLP installations in the USA – and the majority of those were paid for by Texas Instruments, Kodak, and/or Boeing to beta-test their gear.

Yes, for non-profit/college/festival use, an inexpensive video projector is fine; but not for commercial exhibition. The paying audience deserves the best quality image.

It cost under $10,000 for the lab to create a 35mm negative and answer print for the film I mentioned above. They ultimately had 4 or 5 additional prints struck. I don’t know how many more bookings they got, but by simply having 35mm prints, they increased their chances of commercial showings from near-zero to 30,000.

jim
jim on July 25, 2006 at 7:56 pm

Peter,
To begin, the direction I was going was actually based on bookings. As I mentioned previously, we have several(and have had in the past), with more emails asking for us every day. You may not call that a paying audience, but we receive residuals, so however you wish to look as those figures. These non-profits fill the house. Part of this, I believe, is due to the factor that they receive films that aren’t always available elsewhere(probably due to a lack of digital equipment). Apparently, again, it sounds as if your local filmmaker was having a few more problems than just being digital, if his early figures, with DVD, were “near-zero”. However, it sounds interesting that they actually made a figure like “30,000” after going to 35mm. What’s their website? I’d be interested in looking into this one further. Let me know more.
As far as figures go, Peter, as I’ve previously mentioned, our film, alone, was $10 grand. So, you’ve basically doubled our budget within a couple friendly conversations. What I really need to know is where is this $10 grand lying around? Also, when I was referring to the smaller, single-screened, independents, I never meant to imply that they should invest $100,000 in new equipment costs-that’s completely your own figure, there. An independent theater usually requires all the aid that they can gain, so I’m not sure where they would locate this kind of cash. All I meant was that independent theaters would be able to acquire more independent film if they invested-only a little-in a simple projection setup. Anything to help business, was my point. You see, Peter, we made our film because we have a concern when it comes to these vintage movie theaters. One after another, they’re being mowed over for parking lots and other things. We care, though, and wish to promote the importance of these theaters.
Your position, then, is one of equipment and technique. Mine, on the other hand, is simply consideration and preservation. I have a background in architecture and love these theaters. I feel that the newer theaters are just not as enjoyable. This, though, is just one man’s opinion. But some of these points is why we created the film. Our film is playing a 1937 vintage movie house this evening. We held a media screening there a couple of weeks ago, and the film looked great. At least, that’s what we all felt. Okay, here’s the punchline, Peter. Are you ready for this? They informed me that the projection system was one of the most inexpensive models-I think they said something about Walmart, in fact.
Now, I’m sure that in your case, you would want nothing to do with this type of thing. However, if you consider the possibilities of the numbers of theaters that hold your opinion, all I imagine is how so many patrons will, likely, never see this film. Although if you would say that I owe it to them, fine. Again, inform me where this $10 thousand dollar is located, please. On the other hand, perhaps these theaters should look into inexpensive digital equipment, for now, and present these films. Rather than discussing astronomical and unrealistic figures, as we’ve now done here. So, I wish you well in the future and may business do well for you. At least, I hope, as well as it is for us at this time.

RaeOsenbaugh
RaeOsenbaugh on July 26, 2006 at 7:26 pm

We just got back from the first showing in Grand Island, NE—great film! Seeing the footage of the Indian Hills Theater in Omaha was so sad. It is too bad people had such little regard for our theater heritage! We appreciated being able to see all the other wonderful old theaters around the country, too. -John & Rae Osenbaugh, Grand Island, NE

BrooklynJim
BrooklynJim on July 27, 2006 at 6:51 am

Jim ~

First off, I wish you nothing but the best on your documentary!

Secondly, I’d like to provide you with a pair of SoCal contacts for bookings and film festival info:

Chris Principio
Landmark Theaters Regional Manager
Hillcrest Cinemas
3965 Fifth Ave. Ste. 200
San Diego, CA 92103

Beth Accomando
Curator, Film School Confidential
Media Arts Center
921 25th St.
San Diego, CA 92102
(619) 230-1938

Feel free to mention that you were referred by me, “BrooklynJim” (Greg’s dad).

Again, I wish you much success!

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