Tag Archives: film

Be a Part of the Preservation of the Alger Theatre

Alger Theatre

By Jeffrey Buck

Detroit is one of the greatest cities in the world. Many may not believe that statement because of the hardships it has endured these past decades but those same people often have never visited Detroit. It’s not a major tourist destination; we don’t draw out-of-towners like Los Angeles, New York or even Orlando. The city however has strong roots and although the population has plummeted the residents of the tri-county area and all over the state continue to support and preserve the rich history of a city that has changed the world more than once.

Support and generosity is not hard to find when it comes to funding and preserving the institutions, buildings and activities we all here in the Detroit area love. Time and time again we have come together to help support the Detroit Zoo, The Detroit Institute of Arts, The Michigan Science Center, just to name a few. We love our heritage; especially the vast amount of architectural gems not only in Detroit but spread across the region. Saving these historic structures has become more of a priority and the mentality of the past to wipe away these beautiful buildings is often bulked at by the majority of the community.

We are still losing some of these masterpieces to the wrecking ball but groups like Preservation Detroit are leading the charge to slow that number down. Another group of dedicated crusaders have been on a mission to help save and preserve a gorgeous theatre built in 1935. The Friends of the Alger Theatre purchased the building in 1986 and have made it their mission to restore the theatre to its former glory. The group is currently in the process of raising $5,000 to help put on a new roof and keep out the elements of mother nature. They are asking the community for their help and generosity to save a Detroit jewel and to be a part of the rebirth of the Alger Theatre. The theatre along with the Redford Theatre are the last remaining intact neighborhood theaters in Detroit.

Through the website indiegogo.com they are not only saying thanks but offering perks for certain donation levels. These perks range from a collector Alger Theatre ticket to a poster of the first film shown at the theater to an original Alger Theatre chair. Be a part of the history and future of the Alger Theatre by clicking here to donate.

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A conversation with the guys behind Corktown Cinema

corktown_cinema_logo

By Patrick Smith

It has been a hard, frustrating few years since The Burton Theatre in Detroit was forced to close its doors due to a dispute with its landlord. Since then we here at the Spine have been following the ups and downs of their quest to find a permanent home with the same anticipation and attachment as the rest of Detroit. Now it looks like our days of waiting may soon be over. But first you have to go vote for Corktown Cinema in the Hatch Detroit contest. Like right now, go vote on Facebook and at Hatch.com, then wait 24 hours and one minute and do it again. Repeat until August 29.

And you need to do this everyday because Corktown Cinema is proof that all the nice stuff you want to believe about Detroit is true.

During its too-brief run, The Burton was the sort of place people are talking about when they talk about the possibilities of Detroit. Too often all that bluster about the freedom and space to make what you want of the world just ends with Dutch people buying shitty houses, but the people behind the Burton actually took an old school and turned it into a really special place to watch movies. And then they showed incredible and unique films there. The Burton wasn’t just about having a movie theatre in Detroit that was like theatres in other cities, it was about having one that was better. Which is the idea after all, right?

Any confusion or frustration felt by fans of the former Burton, now Corktown is understandable. For a long time it looked like they had a spot in an exciting new complex in Corktown (hence the new name) but that development has hit some snags. It is understandable that people set themselves up for failure, or brace for expected disappointment. But the Corktown guys haven’t stopped working. Since the Burton closed, Brandon Walley joined Jeff Else as a part owner. Walley was the director of the Detroit Film Center and is a filmmaker himself, so he brings valuable knowledge and perspective to the operation.

This week both Else and Walley answered some questions for the Spine. Their edited answers are below.

Woodward Spine: The Hatch contest winner gets $50,000. What are you going to do with the money?

Brandon Walley: Corktown Cinema will become a reality. It has become a singular mission for Jeff and I. Winning Hatch Detroit will put us on the fast track to purchasing the building that will be a perfect fit for us in Corktown. Having our own space as oppose to renting, as was the case with Burton Theatre, will allow us to do everything Burton did but on steroids. So much more opportunity to have unique programming and events that aren’t offered in Detroit currently.
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Jeff Else: We will be using the $50,000 in conjunction with some private investment we have committed towards the purchasing of a building to house the cinema, and the expenses involved in adapting the space.
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WS: Why should people vote for you?
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BW: We are offering something that is singularly unique to Detroit right now. Anyone that lives in the city knows that going to see a movie usually means driving to the suburbs. But mainly, we will offer programming that isn’t even offered anywhere in Michigan. Major cities in the US have options for unique cinema, we’ll bring it to Detroit but also do it better than most. Basically, we’re all friends working towards the same goal… cinema not otherwise offered in Detroit. The mantra remains.
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JE: We think watching movies in a social setting (with a beer maybe) is an essential part of any vibrant community.  As anyone who lives in the city can tell you, far too often seeing a movie involves going to the suburbs.  There are only 4 functioning movie theatres in the city, most of them on the outskirts.  We think that’s tragic.  Also, we’ve proved that this idea works.  We were open for almost two years as the Burton Theatre, and developed a loyal following when we were forced to close due to a dispute with our landlord.  We have card-carrying members.. Detroit wants this.
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WS: What else you guys working on beyond this contest?
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JE: Well we’ve been working hard towards finding a suitable building for the cinema, which is a bit more challenging than just finding your average storefront, that’s really been our focus this year.  We kept up a fairly consistent pop-up schedule after the Burton closed, but we’re really trying hard to find a permanent home now.
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BW: Beyond my role as Program Director for Corktown, I’m lucky that I get the opportunity to program (when asked) for other organizations. I’m curating the next Mothlight Cinema here in Detroit, which is a really great outlet for avant garde cinema (bridging the gap until CC opens.) Programming at Nightingale Microcinema in Chicago this fall and continuing to be the regional programmer for Media City in Canada.
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Then, well I’m a filmmaker. Keep working. Hopefully my first feature, loosely based on the Detroit music scene, will be done by the end of the year.
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WS: It has been a while since you closed, what has been going on since then? Why the hold up?
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JE: Oh boy, so many things.  We had been working with some developers from New York for about a year and a half to be part of a big complex of independent retail, food etc.. they are doing in Corktown, but their development hit some snags and is sort of in limbo.  Earlier this year we were in a prolonged bidding war for a building that we ultimately lost.  So, you know, just mundane stuff, but we’ve been working hard all the while to make it happen, and there’s no stopping us.
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Hudson Editorial Locating in Downtown Detroit’s Technology Corridor

DETROIT – May 1, 2013 – Hudson Editorial, a new sister company of 25-year-old Avalon Films,  specializing in creative editorial, graphics, visual effects and audio finishing, announced it will open a 6,400-square foot post-production studio on the fifth and sixth floors of downtown Detroit’s historic Wright Kay Building, located at 1500 Woodward Avenue between John R and Witherell.

Hudson Editorial has worked with advertising agencies Campbell-Ewald, Team Detroit, Leo Burnett and others. Hudson’s downtown facility is expected to be a valuable high-end post production resource to the growing number of companies doing business in the heart of Detroit’s urban core.

The company is scheduled to open their Detroit office in early June with 16 full-time employees, doubling their current staff.

“We couldn’t be more excited to be bringing a new creative resource to the thriving brain-economy and entrepreneurial businesses that are opening up shop and growing quickly in downtown Detroit,” said Hudson Executive Producer Kristin Redman. “As one of the first full-service post-production companies located in Detroit, we look forward to working with advertising agencies and corporate clients, while playing a role in the rejuvenation of the city.”

Hudson’s sister company, Avalon Films, is a leading commercial and content production company that provides services to numerous Fortune 500 companies. Based in Royal Oak, Avalon Films will also open an additional office in the Wright Kay Building. While the two companies plan to operate as separate entities, they will collaborate by packaging production at Avalon with post-production at Hudson to deliver exceptional services for their clients.

“We look forward to taking Hudson and Avalon Films creativity to a new level, feeding off of the energy that our companies will undoubtedly tap into being located in an exciting urban environment,” said Avalon Partner and Director Larry August.

Rock Ventures, an umbrella entity managing a diverse portfolio of companies, investments and real estate, purchased the Wright Kay Building in December 2011.

The lease was brokered by Bedrock Real Estate Services, Rock Ventures’ full service real estate firm, after major renovations to the 24,000 square foot structure.

“Hudson Editorial is the latest new economy, creative business to join the action along the high-tech Woodward corridor in downtown Detroit. Each day seems to attract a great business to the opportunity that is Detroit,” said Jim Ketai, managing partner, Bedrock Real Estate Services.

Neumann/Smith Architecture last month announced its new Detroit design studio will occupy the entire third floor of the Wright Kay Building.

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Hudson Edit - Logo

About Hudson Editorial

Hudson Editorial is a creative editorial, graphics, visual effects and audio finishing company. The idea behind Hudson is to take a small group of uniquely talented individuals, bring them together in a dynamic urban setting, and create an environment of total collaboration to deliver the highest level of creative execution and client service.

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Avalon Films - Logo

About Avalon Films

Avalon Films is a boutique, full-service production company based in Royal Oak, Michigan, with affiliate offices in Los Angeles, New York City, and Toronto. Avalon’s creative philosophy is that great work starts with a great idea. Thanks to great clients, and the talent and dedication of their close-knit staff, Avalon has built a reputation as one of the very few regional companies that consistently deliver national caliber work.

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Detroit Zoo Ushers in Ice Age with New 4-D Film

Ice Age - Detroit Zoo

ROYAL OAK, Mich. – Detroit Zoo visitors can experience an adventure of mammoth proportions with “Ice Age 3: Dawn of the Dinosaurs”, now showing at the 4-D Theater in the Wild Adventure Zone.

The sub-zero heroes from the worldwide blockbuster venture into a mysterious underground world after Sid the sloth stumbles across three abandoned eggs and decides to raise them as his own. Once the eggs hatch, the adventure begins in the lost world of the dinosaurs. The 14-minute film is voiced by an all-star cast, including Ray Romano, John Leguizamo, Denis Leary and Queen Latifah.

Back for a return engagement and alternating with “Ice Age 3” at the 4-D Theater is “Great Escapes: Life in 4-D”, which takes a look at the ingenious tactics animals have developed to survive and thrive in a danger-filled world.

Also returning this season is “Happy Feet: Mumble’s Wild Ride” at the Simulator Ride in the Wild Adventure Zone. Mumble and his penguin friends race down the frozen cliffs of Antarctica at chilling speeds, and their icy journey turns into a suspenseful chase as they come face to face with the notorious Leopard Seal. The action-packed wild ride has a happy ending and is a cool, immersive experience for the entire family.

All three films are produced by SimEx-Iwerks, an entertainment company specializing in 4-D cinematic experiences. Click on “Attractions” at www.detroitzoo.org for the most up-to-date information and movie times.

The 126-seat 4-D Theater delivers a high-definition viewing experience in 3-D with 7.1 digital audio surround sound. The experience features a variety of sensory surprises that are built into the seats and theater environment, bringing on-screen images to life with 4-D effects such as mist, scents, back pokers, leg ticklers and seat vibrations. Some 4-D effects may be too intense for children 5 and under; parental discretion is advised. Tickets are $5 with Zoo admission for visitors ages 2 and older and are available at the main gate, the Wild Adventure Zone ticket booth or online.

The 30-seat Simulator Ride is an educational, action-packed thrill ride which offers a “you-are-there” experience from the comfort of a specially equipped, motion-simulated cabin. Passengers must be at least 36 inches (3 feet) tall, and it is recommended that they be at least 5 years of age or older. Tickets are $5 with Zoo admission and are available at the main gate, the Wild Adventure Zone ticket booth or online.

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Interview with Director Paul Feig: Part II

Kick Me Book Cover | © Paul Feig

Kick Me Book Cover | © Paul Feig

By Jeffrey Buck

This is Part II of the interview with Michigan native Paul Feig. Be sure to read Part I if you have not already.

Jeffrey Buck: Did you watch a lot of movies as a kid?

Paul Feig: I definitely watched movies but I wasn’t a Quentin Tarantino where I saw every movie that was ever made, that kind of thing. I liked the movies that I liked. I was way into science fiction. My best friend, the one who drove out to California with me, Mike, he and I were way into SciFi so we would see every single science fiction movie that came out. And comedies, I would go see those. Woody Allen, [too.] I loved ‘What’s up Doc?’ When old black and white comedies would come on TV or be in the movie theaters I would always go and see those. But I didn’t like drama. I would try and do everything I could to not see any dramatic films until I got to college. At Wayne State, the first kind of dramatic film I saw and really fell in love with was this Francis Ford Coppola film called ‘The Conversation.’ And that’s the moment I was like maybe I do like dramas and [it] put me on the road to liking to do stuff that was both comedic and dramatic. Because it’s really the most honest way of storytelling. Anything that’s so dramatic with no laughs in it is almost as dishonest as a comedy where everything is funny and there’s no kind of heart to it because life is very much your laughing one minute, you’re crying the next, and something terrible happens and somebody tries to make a joke to try to pretend it’s not happening and cheer themselves up. And that’s the tone I like. The whole creative [thing] I do now is to try and create what’s the most honest, hopefully the most funniest thing but also what’s the most kind of emotionally honest thing, the kind of thing where you don’t go as an audience member , ‘Well that’s stupid’ or ‘That wouldn’t happen.’ Because that to me is when you fail as a filmmaker, [and] the audience doesn’t believe something; I think you’re kind of dead in the water. Continue reading

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Interview with Director Paul Feig: Part I

Paul Feig |  © Paul Feig

Paul Feig | © Paul Feig

By Jeffrey Buck

Thirty years ago Paul Feig took off west in his Mustang with one goal: to make it as an actor in Hollywood. Thirty years later, the successful actor, writer and director, continues to make people laugh while remembering his humble roots back in the Midwest.

The Woodward Spine had the chance to speak with the highly successful director of 2011’s critically acclaimed hit ‘Bridesmaids’ and the upcoming film ‘The Heat’ (opening in theaters June 28th) about his life in Michigan and his journey to break into show business.

Jeffrey Buck: How often did you and your family visit Detroit?

Paul Feig: The only time we really went to downtown Detroit was to go to Greektown like everybody else in the world.  We didn’t spend too much time downtown. My dad, while I was growing up…actually not when I was growing up, before they had me, even before he met my mom owned his first store, a pawn shop. It was down in Cass Corridor.  He was in like the roughest part of Detroit. When he got out of there and moved his business to the East Side he was always kind of hesitant to go back down to Detroit. So consequently, we never went down there that much except to go to Greektown. But the irony was when I went back to Michigan, on a book tour a number of years ago, I was suddenly like gosh I never used to hang out in downtown Detroit, this time I just want to hang out down there this whole time. And I did and it was a lot of fun discovering Detroit and finding the fun places, cool restaurants and just kind of seeing it again. I used to go down to the Fisher Theatre too and we had a cottage in Canada. Right outside of Windsor. So we drove through Detroit a lot.  So we were only going through it and by it. But yeah never really spent too much time downtown, which was unfortunate. Continue reading

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Joel Landy tells his side of the Corktown Cinema fight

This is a response, from Joel Landy owner of the former Burton International School, to Patrick Smith’s Explaining the Corktown Cinema Internet Fight published August 14, 2012. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Woodward Spine. 

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I, Joel Landy, the Big Bad Landlord, created the idea of hosting a theater in the Burton School. I named it, designed the theater and its operation, borrowed and spent more than $80,000 and many hours renovating all of its features including the pool table in the boys’ room. The Corktown guys rented the Burton Theatre , bought a popcorn machine, installed some used projectors, started renting movies and organized and operated their creative project. There was no “dispute with the landlord” as they have stated. They moved out at 2 a.m. under their own free will with no notice to avoid paying three-month-overdue separately-metered electric bills and the payment, or arrangements thereof for a security deposit that had never been paid. The rent never changed, it only went down as I subsidized the operation.

After 20 comments in one week from people thinking the Burton Theatre was closed—and having asked the Corktown Cinema guys to discontinue using the theater’s name—I contacted Facebook. After a short investigation, Facebook determined the former tenant was still using the theater’s name on their page and turned the page over to us. After a couple quick postings to let people know the Burton Theatre was still open, I unpublished the page and shut it down. I look forward to the day when the Burton Theatre, the Corktown Cinema, and the DFT will be working together and cross-promoting various activities.

Thank You,

Joel Landy

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