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Mahwah Documentary Maker Examines Movie Theaters' Future

Nick Homler has created an online fundraising portal to help fund the film, which features the recently shut-down Ramsey Cinema, and is set to debut in early 2014.

Ramsey Cinema went out of business last week. Credit: Jessica Mazzola.
Ramsey Cinema went out of business last week. Credit: Jessica Mazzola.

Last week, local residents were surprised to learn that the Ramsey Cinema, at least temporarily, has gone out of business. The staff of the theater partially blamed an industry-mandated digital conversion that needs to happen by the end of this year, for closing.

A couple of Mahwah High School grads are in the throws of making a documentary addressing just that – how the digital conversion is affecting small, locally owned and operated theaters, and what their future holds.

Nick Homler, a 2009 Mahwah High School grad who just graduated from Marist College this spring, says the movie is well underway. Homler recently released an updated trailer for “The Shared Experience,” which features scenes local moviegoers might recognize.

“The opening sequence of my trailer was shot in the colorful atmosphere of the Ramsey Cinema projection room,” Homler said. “It was pretty whimsical up there.”

Homler says his movie will look at the Ramsey Cinemas of the world to see how they are handling the conversion. Which will close, which will survive, and which will reinvent themselves?

“The film really asks, ‘what is the future for these theaters?’” Homler told Patch. “If they are able to survive this conversion, what’s next?”

According to Homler, there are a few different options. He said he’s seen a few trends breaking out, including theaters switching to “art houses,” which generally show only independent, classic, or other niche films. Other theaters are choosing to add experiential elements to their models, so some are embracing things like serving dinner during showings, or hosting trivia sessions, live music, and even video game tournaments at the movies.

In order to finish up filming, Homler is planning trips this fall to theaters throughout the tri-state are, Philadelphia, and Maine. To fund his trip and the rest of his edit process, Homler has started an Indiegogo online fundraising campaign.

So far, he has raised $3,110 of his $5.500 goal. He has until September 9 to raise the funds.

“It is nice to know that people believe in me, but more importantly believe in the quality and purpose of the film,” he said in reaction to receiving so many donations so far. “I think I can raise [the rest], and that should be enough to take me to the end of the project.”

Homler said he hopes to release the documentary and submit it to film festivals sometime in the first quarter of 2014.

JP August 28, 2013 at 11:54 AM
Ramsey Cinema just needs to change their venue to an independent dinner and movie theater. These small theaters are experiencing a revival in America and are very popular with the restaurant crowd. See for example... http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/05/24/nitehawk-cinema-dinner-movie_n_3328391.html It would be an upscale asset to the town and surrounding area.

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