Projectionist Dispatch: The Indie Cinema Experience

Things are changing in the Indie Cinema world. This seems to be a constant lately, that the industry is changing, both in terms of the movies being made and how they are distributed and projected. I read a lot of articles about how this affects filmmakers, and even critics, but I don’t see much out there about what this means for cinemas and the people who work in them.

Commercial blockbusters hit the theaters, and people go see them. They are big, action-packed, in 3D, in IMAX. People line up to see the midnight first show, and it’s playing at every multiplex across the United States. But Independant movies are different. “Independant” is such a broad term these days. The movies that I’m talking about are smaller budget, smaller distribution, maybe starrring actors you haven’t heard of, foreign… basically the movies that we show at Images. Some are more popular, like Woody Allen’s yearly releases, or Wes Andersson’s latest, and others are smaller movies with less of a guaranteed audience. Lately, so many of these indies are released on demand or on Amazon, iTunes, etc. the same day as their theatrical release. What will make someone choose to see these movies in a theater rather than at home?

I’ve written before about this topic of seeing movies in the theater. And I feel the same way now as I did then. The cinema experience is important to me, that’s why I do this work. The only time I opt to see a new release at home on Amazon Instant is when it is not available in a theater nearby. At Images, we can’t get every movie that I want to see (as hard as we try!), and especially with only one screen there are limitations. When I lived in New York City I could see any and every movie I wanted. I often saw three movies a week, at different art house cinemas. Here in Williamstown, there is less available, with Images Cinema being the main place for independant and foreign film. I also attend The Spectrum in Albany and even the Triplex in Great Barrington, but both of those are quite a drive away. So I understand watching movies at home, when you can’t see them elsewhere.

But for me there is no substitute for that cinema experience, no matter how convinient the alternatives are. I know that theatrical releases can be very expensive for filmmakers, and with so many other films out every week, there’s often too much competition for the same audience (check out this article on Indiewire). But I still love it. And I will work hard to keep the experience at Images the best possible– both in how the movie itself looks and sounds, and the aesthetic and communal experience of being at your local movie house with your neighbors, discussing important documentaries like Fed Up or Dam Nation (which drew great crowds the past two Mondays, proving that our community values these movies, as well as seeing and talking about them together), and seeing films that make you feel great, like Chef, which inspired our audiences to clap at the end and dance up the aisle to the credits music.

Thank you for supporting Images Cinema. Thank you for being part of the movie theater experience with us. Keep on coming!

~ Anna

Ida is now playing at Images thru Thursday 7/3. Obvious Child starts Friday 7/4. For more info and showtimes, please visit


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