Using technology to delay technology
Believe it or not, there was a time in human history when people not only didn’t carry their phones around with them…they didn’t even have phones. Not only that, but the concept of talking to someone who wasn’t there in front of you hadn’t even been formulated.
Once upon a time the world existed without electricity, toilets, paper towels, and M&Ms. Funny how certain things come along that make our lives so much easier, so much better – that we quickly forget what it was like to live without them.
Seriously, can you imagine a world without toilet paper?
More innovation than ever
Due in large part to the advance of technology these days, more inventions are being created and more patents are being granted than ever before. Don’t take my word for it – try Googling “more inventions than ever” and see how many results you get! You’ll find news article after news article reporting on the hundreds of thousands of things people are hoping you can’t live without.
Most of these things, of course, we will never know about.
Others may enjoy a bit of time in the limelight and then be quickly relegated to the annals of U.S. Patent Office history.
But some inventions, like digital photography and the internet, make such a huge impact on the world, our lives become altered because of them. Yesterday, I witnessed how these two technologies can be part of the same digital coin.
“Convert or die”
Small theatre owners across the country are struggling to remain open, as Hollywood transitions to all digital production. These local, mostly independently-owned movie houses are being told they need to convert all their projection systems to digital, or no longer receive any movies. Even first-run theatres are potential victims, as conversion to a digital projection system for just one screen can cost $60,000 – and that’s the low-end.
According to this Wall Street Journal article, Classic Cinemas, a small chain that owns 100 screens, spent $6 million to upgrade to digital – and they already had much of the infrastructure (server, satellite dish, etc.) they needed. Smaller establishments are not so fortunate.
In this 2012 article from indie Wire, John Fithian, CEO and president of the National Association of Theatre Owners, said theatre owners must “convert or die.” If they can’t somehow come up with the massive amount of funds needed to convert two, three, four, or more screens – then die, they certainly shall.
Digital videography might be great, but I’m sure it doesn’t seem all that great to the thousands of small businesses who can’t afford to keep up with it.
Using technology to delay technology
I mention this because I recently had an opportunity to help one of these small theatres. One of the oldest drive-in theatres in the country, and the largest in the state of New Hampshire – the Weirs Drive-In Theatre – is facing a potential shutdown next year, unless the owners can raise $200-250,000 to convert their four screens.
When you consider they show double-features each night, we’re talking EIGHT movies every evening. That’s a good-sized drive-in, and it’s located right in the heart of NH’s Lakes Region, a prime tourist destination. But alas, a quarter-million is still a huge chunk of money they simply cannot afford.
So the owners produced a video to bring attention to their plight – and the plight of thousands of other small theatre owners like them. They had the video footage edited, they had a script…all they needed was a voice.
In a nutshell: I auditioned Sunday afternoon, received notice they wanted to hire me Sunday evening, was sent the script Monday morning, had it voiced shortly after 12pm, and it was edited and posted to their Facebook page by 4pm.
Talk about using technology to halt the advance of technology!
The campaign is on
The owners are quite pleased with the reaction they’ve gotten from Facebook followers and customers; in just a couple of hours after posting the video, they had received about 6,000 hits – more than they get in a normal week! As of 10pm last night, a mere 6 hours after posting the video, it had been shared over 100 times,
Keep in mind, this is no big corporate marketing push – this is small-town, Hometown, USA. Interesting that there is that much activity for a business that Hollywood is willing to say “so long” to, if they don’t upgrade.
But upgrade, they hope to do, if they can get the funding. They have already begun spreading the word. Starting August 9, they will attempt to gain enough support to be able to receive one of 5 digital projectors Honda will be awarding to drive-in theatres, via www.ProjectDriveIn.com. They will also be creating a Kickstarter campaign to raise funds, offering some cool prizes as pledge incentives.
There is probably a small, locally-owned movie theatre somewhere near you…and they may very well be trying to keep their silver screen from going dark, as well. As much as we love to embrace technology – sometimes it requires a light touch, rather than a bear hug.
And in the case of these thousands of theatre owners…that hug is turning into a suffocating squeeze.
UPDATE 8/11/13: Voting has begun! You can help either the Weirs Drive-in or your own favourite drive-in to go digital by logging on to http://projectdrivein.com/#vote_41 and voting!
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