Small Taranaki theatres feature in national documentary

Opunake's Everybody's Theatre is one of many small independent theatres around New Zealand to feature in the new documentary.
David Bruce

Opunake's Everybody's Theatre is one of many small independent theatres around New Zealand to feature in the new documentary.

A new documentary that features two of Taranaki's independent movie theatres is being screened in the region.

Created by American Nick Holmer, The Reel People of New Zealand covered small and independent cinemas around the country  and looked at their future prospects.

Stratford's King Theatre, the first place to screen a talking picture in the southern hemisphere, and Opunake's Everybody's Theatre, which recently underwent earthquake strengthening, both play a part in the 30 minute film.

Everybody's Theatre Trust chairwoman Debbie Campbell features in the documentary.
CATHERINE GROENESTEIN

Everybody's Theatre Trust chairwoman Debbie Campbell features in the documentary.

Holmer created the documentary as part of the Fulbright scholarship he was awarded with Waikato University's Screen & Media programme, which he used to travel around the country and help out at various cinemas.

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"Filming this documentary was a highlight of my life," he said via email from his home in New York.

As a one-man production team, he said he had been able to get to know the people who ran the theatres and was still good friends with many of them.

"I know I'll always look back on my experience fondly and cannot wait for an eventual reunion trip," he said.

He had picked the King's Theatre and Everybody's Theatre because of the history and community work that kept them running.

Stratford's King Theatre, the first place in the southern hemisphere to show a talking picture, also features in the ...
Jonathan Cameron

Stratford's King Theatre, the first place in the southern hemisphere to show a talking picture, also features in the documentary.

"King's is the only theatre I have ever come across that has a community bookstore as part of its business model," he said.

Everybody's Theatre chairwoman Debbie Campbell said Holmer has contacted them and asked if there was anything he could help out with as part of his scholarship.

"He rocked up and asked what he could do for us and we gave him a few little jobs, and it happened to be at the same time when we were doing the renovations," she said.

Campbell and Maree Drought saw the film in Wellington as part of the 2017 Doc Edge International Documentary Film Festival, and Campbell said it was amazing.

"We laughed all the way through, it was quite funny," she said.

"The building was happening while he was filming and you forget the bad state it was in when you see it up on the big screen as to seeing it now, because it's quite beautiful now.

"We actually got an applause for our one and at the end we stood up and everyone recognised us and asked us lots of questions so it was a real buzz."

The movie is being screened in Opunake on Monday night and again in Stratford on Tuesday night, with entry via a gold coin donation.

 - Stuff

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