The story below was originally published on Theo’s Roundtable, for which I am contributing writer.
There are times where I feel a bit conflicted with regards to writing for the wonderful Theo Kalomirakis. I’m a fan, and respect what he does from an artistic standpoint immensely. And yet every time I break open my copy of Microsoft Word, I feel as if I’m stabbing him straight in the heart.
You see, Theo is a fan of theater, both cinema and stage, and it shows in his art—and, yes, theater design can be considered a form of art. It’s not that I dislike the theater but I grew up in a different era, when going to the movies wasn’t so much a magical thing but rather something that was simply done. I love movie theaters, and yet I abhor them for I often have difficulty enjoying myself amidst the throngs of people who have forgotten what it means to be otherwise engaged. Maybe movies aren’t as engaging anymore, or maybe it’s simply because we’ve worn the sheen clear off of it all. We’ve pulled back the curtain too many times to the point where the majesty has subsided, and in its wake we’ve substituted cynicism. I’m know I’m guilty. It should then come as no surprise that I would gravitate toward home theater and the like, why I push for better picture and sound but also accessibility, because I don’t just want the best experience, I want the same experience.I just want it in my home.
All that being said, I’m torn too because apart from being an A/V journalist, I’m also an independent filmmaker. As a filmmaker, you’d think I would want my films to play theatrically, and even though mine have (or at least one has), I’m not certain I’ll return. It’s not that I had a poor experience with theatrical exhibition—I didn’t. It’s just more and more I find myself wanting to reach people on a more personal level versus through the anonymity of a theater. Truth be told, my films aren’t the sort of grand epics Theo recently wrote about in his post about 70mm exhibition, nor are they the special-effects-laden type that seem to dominate the landscape at present. They’re quaint, often personal stories that, frankly, I feel are better enjoyed on a smaller screen—OK, not too small. This is why I believe I gravitate toward streaming and direct-to-home services, because they give filmmakers like myself the best chance to reach our core audience in a meaningful way. If we can motivate those who support us to go and stream, download, or otherwise buy our films, we have a better shot at being in the driver’s seat of our own filmmaking destiny. Part of that last statement has as much to do with art as it does commerce but you get my point.
What I find most exciting about home cinema, and why I’m so passionate about it, is that if I can educate my fans on how to better simulate the commercial-cinema experience in their home, then their personal experience of my films (as well as those of others) will be grander than merely hitting Play on an off-the-shelf DVD, Blu-ray, or streaming player. This is where designers like Theo come into play for filmmakers like myself. He may go out of his way to experience his favorite films in theaters of old, whereas filmmakers such as myself would be well served by turning to Theo and his clients as resources representing legitimate venues.