Film Society makes their stand on need for digital funding

For the Adirondack Film Society, it’s not just about staving off the extinction of local theaters.

The goal of generating grant monies and donations to help several local theaters convert to digital projectors and screens is not just about survival, but about the chance to allow these small, independent theater owners to remain just that — independent.

“This is a bold project to tackle an issue that is facing small, rural theaters in the North Country,” Film Society Chairman John Huttlinger said. “Our goal is to help people experience film and to make all forms more accessible to the greatest amount of people possible, but that cannot happen if these theaters cannot make the transition to digital technology.”

The Film Society, along with the help of consultant Naj Wikoff, has applied for a consolidated grant through the state to help local theaters, including the Hollywood in Au Sable Forks, the Palace in Lake Placid and the State Theater in Tupper Lake along with 10 others secure funding to make the transition from film projection to digital. Movie production companies have given theaters until the end of next year to make the change, when they will no longer send out movies on film.

“This is a forced conversion where film will no longer be the medium for film,” Nelson Page, Vice Chairman of the society, said. “You have to replace all of the existing equipment — electric, speakers, amplifiers, screens and projectors. This is a price that is prohibitive for any local business and will force many theaters to go out of business.”

“Many of these theaters are the anchors of the downtown and part of the social fabric of the community,” Huttlinger said. “A lot of them are also part of the history of the community, as they are housed in historic buildings. We need a lot of help from the public to help influence the decision for this grant and make sure that we receive funding.”

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