June 9, 2009

Guerilla Drive-ins Gaining Popularity Across the US

For about four years, 38-year-old Web developer John Young has been projecting film from a 1970s school projector mounted on his 1977 BMW motorcycle.

With the West Chester Guerilla Drive-In, Young has resurrected the decades-old drive-in movie experience.

He has traveled to more than a dozen locations to project films. In many cases, the location chosen will coincide with the movie being shown.

For instance, Young brought a presentation of "Caddyshack" to a golf course, a showing of the camp comedy "Meatballs" to a canoe rental center, and he recently presented "Ghostbusters" at Fort Mifflin, a location with a haunted reputation.

Audience members have to do more than pull up to the drive-in with cash in hand. They first have to locate a hidden AM receiver in West Chester, which is set to transmit a code that will allow them to receive the movie's location via e-mail.

"Nowadays, you push a button and a movie appears," Young told the Associated Press. "There's fun in the inconvenience of having to get off the couch and go somewhere you might not be familiar with, maybe getting rained on, maybe being cold. It makes it an adventure."

So-called "MobMovs", or mobile movies, are gaining in popularity across the US. However, many of them opt to use more modern technology, including DVDs and LCD projectors, rather than Young's throwback 16mm film approach.

Many guerilla filmgoers choose to carry a simple lawn chair to the events, while others stay inside their car where they can listen to the audio through a designated FM radio station.

"I miss the old drive-ins," 41-year-old independent filmmaker Eric Kurland told the AP.

"It's like nothing else, and people are really hungry for that kind of experience," he said. Kurland founded HollyMobMov, which presents a weekly movie in Los Angeles.

In spite of the renegade feel of the presentations, screeners make an effort to keep it legal by paying property owners and film distributors $150 to $300 for each showing.

The MobMov groups typically raise funding through audience donations, in an effort to keep the experience free for the general public.


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