Jul 30, 2023

One Last Chapter: Monarch Documentary

It has been one year and seven months to the day - 577 days to be exact - since I made an announcement about the Monarch Theatre, a signed production agreement, and the new feature-length documentary I had going into production at the start of 2022. 

Deciding to uncover the story about a potentially significant old cinema is one thing, but you can't really appreciate just how long 112 years actually is until you find yourself face to face with what a single newspaper archive spanning that timeframe looks like up close - and worse, just how sparse the clues in those archives are when the subject you've chosen to focus on is a seldom written about single screen movie house in the middle of the Canadian prairies. 

What can I say though? I do love movies and the places that show them.

It's honestly been a dream to explore, document, interview, contextualize, and uncover artifacts in connection to a cinematic landmark that (let's be honest) the vast majority of Canadians have understandably never heard of before. There's something exciting about knowing you've found your hook though, a point that only became reinforced when just a month into production the announcement about my little movie was picked up and spread nationally by the Toronto Star.

Monarch Theatre Documentary Medicine Hat

As the months rolled on I was continually amazed at what I was finding, who was coming forward to share their stories, and what had seemingly been hiding in plain sight after so many decades. The story got bigger, the timeline extended, and I genuinely started to wonder when I was ever going to be finished. It was overwhelming and exhilarating. Exhausting and completely engrossing. 

And, oh yeah, was the Monarch ever going to reopen again? This news hung over the production for over a year while plans shifted, promises changed, and I continued to pretend that I knew what the conclusion to my movie would eventually be. As the Calgary Herald so fittingly put it in their feature about the documentary, "true stories rarely have tidy endings".   

So, here we are. After all of the teasers, updates, sneak peeks, rumours, changes, and behind the scenes snapshots, I guess it's finally time that I break the long-awaited news (and yes, I thought I'd make a meal out of this update too) the documentary is actually done. Scored, previewed, revised, rendered, cut, locked, and now awaiting release.  

Your Cinema Needs You is finally, officially complete. 

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