The Athena Cinema’s Open Projector Night could be considered a film exhibition, audience critique and comedic show all rolled into one hour long event every last Wednesday of the month. The Athena invites students and community members alike to submit their film shorts and then allows the audience to be their own critics as they select a winner. It’s all about experimentation and exploration; the open environment is the perfect start to gaining feedback on your short.
“We really just wanted to create an event that allowed local students and the community to show their work for free because so many people are creating shorts and they don’t ever get the chance to see it on the big screen,” said Alexandra Kamody, Managing Director of the Athena Cinema.
Dr. Ruth Bradly had always been a big supporter of the idea for an open film submission night, and last fall semester the first Open Projector Night came to life. Up to ten film submissions are accepted between 6-6:30 p.m. and at 7 p.m. the shorts are presented to the live audience. At the end of the night, a “clap-o-meter” allows the audience to pick the winner for a $50 gift card with the most noise made in support of the film.
One of the main purposes of this night was to allow participants to test out their work for free and receive audience feedback in a casual and fun environment. The two Open Projector Nights thus far have built a steady following of both submissions and audience members and continues to grow. They’ve had submissions from as far as Charleston, West Virginia when a couple attended.
First-year graduate student Erin Riordan has attended every Open Projector Night for numerous reasons; she’s studying media arts and studies, many of her friends submit shorts and she just couldn’t pass up a good time. One of her favorite production groups who have submitted shorts is I Friends and My.
“It’s hard not to laugh at the crazy I Friends and My shorts. They are so bizarre and so hilarious. Chris Croft’s work is also pretty awesome. He did a short on Detroit and it was a hilarious juxtaposition of uplifting old Detroit songs paired with current footage of the unfortunate city we all love to hate-on,” said Riordan.
Apart from viewing the film shorts, the audience also gets a good laugh throughout the night as Ohio University Improv’s Joseph Lalonde and Patrick White emcee the entire night. The two were asked by Ruth Bradley if they would be interested in hosting the event once it was organized since they were a part of Improv. The boys jumped on immediately.
“We then talked it over with our industry-savvy but cutthroat talent agents and after some intense contract negotiations with the Athena, Patrick and I signed on. (As long as the temperature of the theater is kept at a steady 72 degrees and our dressing rooms are stocked with an endless supply of chilled Fiji Water),” joked Lalonde.
Lalonde and White get the crowd riled up for the night with jokes and loosely improving in between the films. The two have come to build a unique relationship with the Athena staff, audience and filmmakers alike who attend the events.
“Open Projector is beneficial to the community because it is free art and free entertainment for the spectators and it provides an outlet for typically independent filmmakers who may not otherwise get a chance to have their work be seen on an actual silver screen. Also it’s free fun. What could be detrimental about free fun,” said Lalonde.
There will be two more Open Projector Night’s this semester, March 27th and April 24th. The Athena looks to continue this event into the following year with focusing on building their audience, diversifying submissions and possibly trying out different prizes and formats.
“I hope it will grow to the point that people look back and say, ‘I started going to the Athena on Wednesday nights with my film to see what audiences thought and I got a great reaction, so I took project one step further’” said Kamody.
For more information on Open Projector Night visit http://athenacinema.com/open-projector-night/
OU Improv has free comedy shows every Thursday at 9pm in Baker Center Theater (2nd floor of Baker Center) and also every Tuesday at 8pm at the Baker Lounge (the 1st floor of Baker Center).
-Ashleigh Mavros, Events Publicity Assistant