Sean Smithson Talks Bringing Back the Finer Days of Movie-Going with Film School Confidential USA
Back in the day, going to the movies was an event, a special night out filled with very specific sights, sounds, and smells. Friends would gather and pay their money, buy popcorn and drinks, and settle in for a cartoon, some trailers, maybe a short film or two, and then one – sometimes two – features. Talk to anyone who remembers those days and you’ll see a wistful expression pass over their faces, a look of embodied nostalgia.
These days, going to the movies is a “turn-n-burn” proposition. Theater owners pack an audience in, show a trailer or three, and (god help us!) even throw in a few commercials before we finally get to see the film we paid way too much for. Once the movie is over, we are quickly ushered out so that the procedure can be repeated for the next showtime. All sense of spectacle has been removed, the pageantry neutered. For those who remember the “salad days” of movie-going, these are dark days indeed.
However ... Hope is rising on the horizon like a newly dawning sun. Starting in September of 2010 genre journalist extraordinaire, Sean “The Butcher” Smithson, is revving up a monthly program that aims to bring back those fantastic days of yore. His plan is to bring Chris Alexander’s Toronto-based Film School Confidential to the good ol’ US of A in order to provide a night out that both cinephiles and casual movie-goers can and will enjoy. It is a chance to see some classic films in their natural environment – the movie theater – and Smithson, much like William Castle before him, means to bring some of the spectacle back.
Dread Central: So, who is involved with Film School Confidential?
Sean Smithson: Well, I function as the head of programming and overall host, and my co-host, sidekick and co-mastermind Justin Giallo, will be rocking the trivia with me and running the lovely Christy 35mm projectors!
DC: Tell me a little about how you all became involved with the program. Is it an original concept?
SS: It started after I got to hang out with my editor-in-chief, Chris Alexander, at Fangoria magazine (where I write), and I was talking about starting to book my own film series here in the Upper Northwest. He suggested we join forces and I open it up as a chapter to his already ongoing Film School Confidential, which takes place at the Bloor Theater in Toronto, CA. Chris and I share a lot of the same aesthetics and tastes, and even more so share an outlook on what loving films and movies is all about conceptually. This is meant to be a GOOD TIME. I'm not into elitism, so you won't find Twihards being harassed here by Fulci fanatics. Our outlook is ‘let the work do the talking’ for the most part. Build it. They will come. I am a firm believer in people choosing the good stuff, they just need to know what choices there are. Cinema is absolutely subjective. And we want to subject YOU to some seriously F-ed up stuff! As well as stuff that's going to make you stand up and cheer, laugh your asses off, and scare you shitless. All in the name of having a blast!
DC: What can you tell me about the venue?
SS: The Grand Cinemas in Tacoma, WA is a four-screen theater, state of the art, and geared towards indie and arthouse stuff. It's a perfect venue for Film School Confidential USA, full of patrons that have a passion for cinema.
DC: Describe how the program will be conducted.
SS: FSC USA is going to be as much an event as we can make it. Eventually we hope to have a full on movie geek circus of insanity. Right now, we'll be showing some obscure trailers, the odd short film, doing prize give-aways thanks to our wonderful sponsors, and generally just freaking out and sharing our love for genre cinema.
DC: Is the program more for casual horror audiences or more hardcore cinephiles?
SS: Both. The more casual consumer can now actually see some of the 70's and 80's classics that set the modern standard, in the way they were meant to be seen... on a screen and with an audience! The horror veterans who grew up in areas like the inner city where these films played the first time around? They get to experience these wonderful films all over again.
DC: Will you have guests?
SS: We plan on bringing in guests sometime later in the year, yes. We have our eye on two filmmakers in particular who the fans are very familiar with, yet who don't do a lot of appearances at cons and events. We want their visit to be very special, and are already laying the groundwork to make it so. All we need at FSC USA is the support of the patrons. If the fans put their asses in our seats we promise to take it to the next level once we are up and rolling.
DC: Can you list some of the films you're planning on running?
SS: Our first feature in FSC USA is THE BEYOND in glorious 35mm, which Grindhouse Releasing has sent us. Upcoming films include CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST, PIECES, and then maybe some kung fu epics and obscure action cheese once our crowd is built and trusts us to show them a good time no matter WHAT we put up on the screen.
DC: How often will the program be offered?
SS: FSC USA will be running on a monthly basis. The first or second weekend of every month we will be screening Fridays, Saturdays, and a Sunday matinee for the hangover crowd. Who wouldn't want to catch some serious eyeball gouging on a lazy Sunday late afternoon while nursing themselves back to health from the weekend before?
DC: Long term, where do you see Film School Confidential going?
SS: We hope that FSC USA first and foremost helps galvanize the local horror/genre community and gives them a place where they KNOW that like clockwork once a month they will be able to go and let loose old school style, and hoot and holler at some of the best genre/exploitation cinema known to man. Where it's going? The sky’s the limit, really. My partner Justin Giallo and I have already set down that if this does well and we start turning a profit that the fans will SEE that profit on stage and onscreen. As I said before, we want this to be a psycho circus full of entertainment of all types. I even want to bring in a magician sometimes, and have somebody running around in a gorilla suit.
Stay tuned for more!
Got news? Click here to submit it!
Lament for the good old days in the Dread Central forums!