The men who introduced the Sub Rosa Guerrilla Drive-in concept to the Garrison City last Friday night have decided to seek out licenses to show outdoor movies and are asking those interested to donate to their cause.
"I received an e-mail today from a company that manages the nontheatrical exhibition licenses (i.e. what we're doing) and they strongly suggest that we play by the rules. Nobody made any threats, no one is shutting this down before it starts rolling, but with our suddenly elevated status and readily accessible details about the shows, we're operating out in the open," a posting on the group's website said Tuesday.
Bryan White and Larry Clow, two local Web developers with a passion for cinema, got the outdoor film program running as part of a nationwide movement to bring the drive-in theater back to prominence. They showed the 1990 film, "Pump up the Volume," Friday night, projecting it from the back of an SUV onto the wall of a shopping plaza. A strong turnout had them excited about continuing the project in the months ahead.
After Foster's published a story on the screening on Monday, however, a Somersworth business owner expressed concern about their activity. Dan Jacobitz, who runs Video Under the Stars, said the story upset him because it was "publicizing guys who are doing this illegally".
"These guys are renegades. The whole thing is illegal. Companies like mine are out here struggling in the rain. On top of that, to have to fight these guys... it's unfair," Jacobitz said.
Video Under the Stars is a company that rents equipment for outdoor film screenings. Jacobitz said he has to pay for licensing to show films and has to charge his customers because "I do it legitimately." It costs him an average of $650 to put on shows, which includes the cost of movie licensing and setting up equipment. That number changes depending on the number of people he screens for and the popularity of the film being shown. He said the average cost for a license is $1-$2 per attendee. Showing a movie to 500 people could cost between $500 and $1,000 for licensing alone, he said.
Jacobitz is in the business of screening films outside, but otherwise what he does bears small resemblance to the Sub Rosa Drive-in. Jacobitz offers a 16-foot-by-9-foot inflatable screen, digital projection system, graphics generator, on-site technicians and a 750-watt sound system to his customers. White and Clow used a projector, car battery and small-range FM tuner to project the film onto a white wall and send the audio to car radios tuned to the correct station. They also do not charge.
"I don't like it (licensing fees) any more than anyone else. But my suggestion if they want to run a business is to do what I did go about it legally," Jacobitz said.
Swank Motion Pictures is the company that distributes motion pictures for nontheatrical public performances for companies like Disney, Paramount, Warner Bros. and Universal. According to one of their pamphlets, "any exhibition of a movie outside the privacy of a home setting is considered a public performance," which requires a license even for informal, no-charge gatherings.
Robin Ames, the company's New Hampshire representative, said she had been in touch with White as long as a year ago. Plans to provide him licensing fell through then, but she said she has talked to him this year as recently as this week. She said they are now in the process of finalizing the licensing process.
"They were on my radar and vice-versa," Ames said. She said she knew of their plans and informed them they needed to start booking the films legally. She has heard "rumblings" about the guerrilla drive-in concept and while she said "policing these people isn't really my thing," she added it is something the industry keeps tabs on.
"It's like a copyright infringement," Ames said. "It's a form of piracy" investigated by the Motion Picture Association of America, which can lead to lawsuits and fines.
"I can see how Dan would feel slighted. It does happen all the time... and it's not 100 percent kosher," she said.
Unlike Jacobitz, Mike Spinelli of Spinelli Cinemas was unconcerned with the guerrilla screenings. He declined to comment extensively because he did not know much about it, but said he does not believe it takes away his business. Spinelli Cinemas can be found in Dover, Rochester, Barrington and Plymouth.
"The Sub Rosa Drive-In was never about money. ... Our goal was to create an impromptu community around a shared love of cult movies. In these dire economic times, it was important to us that we create an opportunity for escapism at no cost to anyone ... The show of support and excitement in the community stemming from Monday's article in the paper was unexpected and very encouraging. However, because of the objections from a couple people, there is now a huge price tag attached to our series and the future of The Sub Rosa Drive-In is uncertain. It's unfortunate that anyone would take exception to a group that's trying to provide a good time to the Seacoast for free," Clow and White wrote in a statement.
Their website indicates they plan to continue screening films, but are going to acquire the licenses for them. Ames anticipated hearing from them by the end of the week to finalize the details.
The duo previously said they could not afford licensing. Now, they are asking for donations from supporters to keep the movement alive locally.
"This has the potential to shut us down before we even get started... Please help us continue by donating what you can. We had a great time and we hope you have a great time. Make sure that we can continue providing the good times to the Seacoast," it says on their website.
An update posted on Wednesday said they received $250 in donations within a 12-hour period. They are still $800 short of their goal, which would allow them to complete their entire screening schedule for the year. Those seeking more information on how to donate should visit subrosadrivein.com
Source: "Dover men seek licensing and contributions to show movies legally" by Joey Cresta -Foster's Daily Democrat. Read full article at: http://www.fosters.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20090702/GJNEWS_01/707029831/-1/FOSBUSINESS