Showing posts with label Documentary. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Documentary. Show all posts

Mar 31, 2024

Official Selections & A Best Director Nomination

Today happens to be my birthday, and while this would be reason enough to celebrate on any other year, this birthday already feels different because some incredibly positive news about my documentary on the Monarch Theatre has started rolling in over the last few weeks. 

Luke Fandrich Filmmaker

With the spring film festival season only just beginning, notifications of the very first official selections for "Your Cinema Needs You" started showing up in my inbox a couple weeks ago. Previews of the documentary this month brought the story about Canada's oldest surviving cinema to Lisbon, Los Angeles, Dresden, Stockholm, Chicago, and Berlin. If that wasn't enough, I just found out this week that, "Your Cinema Needs You" was shortlisted for two Best Documentary awards, and received a festival nomination for Best Director in the feature documentary category. My chances of winning are slim, but still, a pleasure to be nominated and all that jazz.

On my birthday last year (and for much of 2023) I was deep in post-production and I posted frequently about if this movie was ever going to be finished, if I was going to get the ending I'd been holding out for, if the premiere would actually happen, and if the Monarch Theatre would finally reopen. Honestly, it would've saved me so much stress if I could've predicted that any of this would've worked out quite so well. 

I have a feeling that this is the beginning of a lot more exciting stories to share this year, so let me just say thank you again! Thank you to everyone who was involved in making this, who supported this multi-year project, who contributed to it, who attended the screenings, etc. etc. It's so awesome to see this through so many fresh eyes and to even have to opportunity to share this experience with you. 

What a great day to have cake in the house lol.

Mar 21, 2024

Monarch Documentary: Spring Film Festival Run

A month has passed since "Your Cinema Needs You", my feature-length documentary about Canada's oldest surviving movie theatre, ended its 11-screening sold-out premiere run at Medicine Hat's historic Monarch Theatre. 

Since then, I've been relatively quiet about what's been happening behind the scenes, but with submissions stretching back to January, I'm happy to report that the spring film festival run officially kicked off this week with the first international previews of the documentary taking place in Portugal and Sweden. It seems the feedback was accurate. You don't have to know anything about the Monarch Theatre to recognize countless other cinemas in it, even if they happen to be on the other side of an ocean. 

Monarch Theatre Documentary Film Festival

As an added knock-on effect I've already received several requests from other independent cinemas & film societies across Canada interested in screening the film. It's all promising. Word is spreading and much of it outside of my involvement. 

Because this has been popping up in my inbox a lot too, once we actually get some lasting spring weather in Medicine Hat I think we'll look at potentially running a few more shows at the Monarch Theatre again (if it works within the film festival schedules / rules). That just seems like the place to celebrate this and further support the cinema. Long story short, this is going pretty well so far.

Feb 20, 2024

Your Cinema Needs You: End of the Premiere Run

On February 17, 2024, the 11th screening of "Your Cinema Needs You" took place at the Monarch Theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Amazingly, all 11 of the premiere screenings of this feature-length documentary were sold-out shows, meaning the entire premiere run of "Your Cinema Needs You" became a sold-out event that welcomed just shy of 4400 people back through the doors of the cinema at the centre of this story. 

The big question now is what's next? I have still been receiving messages asking if the documentary will return to the Monarch Theatre at some point, and the short answer is, yes, we will likely try to have this run in the Monarch Theatre again later this year. It's difficult to make any firm predictions right now as the next step of this release is a spring film festival run. The submission process has been an ongoing effort since the beginning of the month, and hopefully there will be some updates to share in the weeks ahead.

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Documentary

As for the promised wide-release or the potential for a streaming option, this has been further delayed by the festival run. The strategy for where something plays, the rules of eligibility, etc. vary dramatically between film festivals, but the main criteria is that (generally speaking) a film can not have been released publicly elsewhere before certain dates or in certain regions to be eligible for official selection. 

Is the film festival run necessary? Not exactly, it is a bit of a "prestige tour", however it does provide additional press and further promotional opportunities to showcase the work. Because this production lasted several years there is a concerted effort now to feel like the film is given its due. The success and record attendance of the premiere run at the Monarch Theatre has also suggested this is an avenue worth exploring.

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Documentary

So much time and energy went into finally making the premiere screenings happen that these next steps are really just the beginning of a new chapter. It's the reason why I'm not immediately stepping into another project or treating the end of the premiere run as the conclusion of this experience. There's still several stages of the release ahead, and not only does that take time, but with this project in particular, it feels like there are more opportunities to consider. 

Monarch Theatre Documentary Medicine Hat

Naturally, there will continue to be a lot of questions about what's next for the Monarch Theatre, how the documentary could play into that, and where else the documentary ends up now that the main goal of having it reopen the Monarch Theatre has actually been realized. I don't have easy answers for any of this yet, but I am excited to see this play out and want to savour this experience now that it feels the public response has been so overwhelmingly positive.

In short, thank you to everyone who has already been a part of this and who made the premiere run of "Your Cinema Needs You" such an incredible success. There is still more of this story ahead, still lots of unknows, but I can't wait to share what happens next.

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Documentary

Feb 12, 2024

Monarch Theatre and the "Cinderella Bag"

In making the Monarch Theatre documentary, Your Cinema Needs You, there were obviously a lot of random things that I found that didn't make the final cut. There were also some entertaining cross promotions that unsurprisingly went out of fashion relatively quickly.

One such promotion that I found particularly funny was this one from 1957.

A local dry-cleaner was advertising the re-release of Disney's Cinderella and asked children to wear their "costume bags" to the cinema - essentially encouraging children to put dry-cleaner's bags over their heads to dress-up for the show. Shockingly, I couldn't find any examples of this "costume bag" promo ever running again, but just imagine how funny it would've been to see that theatre full of saran-wrapped children.

Jan 28, 2024

Documentary's Success Pushing Need For More Shows

The February screenings of Your Cinema Needs You at the Monarch Theatre next month will officially mark the end of the debut run of this feature-length documentary in Medicine Hat.

What was originally envisioned as a single premiere night grew into 11 screenings, the last 4 of which will take place at 7 PM on February 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th. Any way you slice it, the success of this debut has created a new chapter in the history books for the Monarch Theatre, and has setup the introduction of Canada's oldest, surviving, purpose-built movie theatre for a national audience as the details for the wide release are organized for later this year.

I just wanted to once again express my thanks and heartfelt gratitude for all of the support you've shown me, my crew, this film, and the Monarch Theatre over the last few weeks. This feels like an ending and a new beginning all at once, and I'm excited to see what happens next.

Please join us for these final shows (in what I'm referring to as "the encore of the encore screenings") in the very building where it all unfolded. Full details and tickets here.

My thanks to the Medicine Hat News for the front page coverage of the the premiere of Your Cinema Needs You at the Monarch Theatre in yesterday's paper. Full story here.

Jan 26, 2024

Finding Vintage Pictures of the Monarch Theatre

Following the sold out premiere screenings of "Your Cinema Needs You", my new feature-length documentary about the Monarch Theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta, new vintage images of the cinema at this centre of this story have been found. Deb Yates, the daughter of former mid-century Monarch manager Fred Tickell, attended one of the premiere screenings and uncovered some previously unseen images from her family album.

Monarch Theatre Vintage Pictures Documentary

I returned to the Monarch Theatre to directly compare some of these shots showcasing the candy counter full of Canadian-made Neilson chocolate bars, an Orange Crush display in the lobby, the mid-century seats inside the theatre, Fred Tickell walking down the street, and people dressed in their Stampede best waiting for the parade out front of the cinema.

Monarch Theatre Vintage Pictures Documentary

Monarch Theatre Vintage Pictures Documentary

Seeing material like this emerge after so many decades has been one of the joys of creating this documentary. More than half of the material that appears in the film was discovered through individuals just like this. So, when I have emphasized over the course of production that this is what elevated the story, this is exactly what I mean. You're getting glimpses into so many details that had never been released to the public before.

Monarch Theatre Vintage Pictures Documentary

Monarch Theatre Vintage Pictures Documentary

If you have the opportunity, you should come and experience this story from within the cinema where it all takes place. New screenings have been added at 7 PM on February 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th. Movie tickets for the Monarch documentary available here.

Monarch Theatre Vintage Pictures Documentary

Vintage Monarch Theatre Pictures Medicine Hat Alberta

Jan 20, 2024

Your Cinema (Continues) to Need You

New screenings of the Monarch documentary, "Your Cinema Needs You" are returning to the Monarch Theatre at 7 PM on February 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th! Click here to purchase movie tickets to one of these newly added screenings.

In addition to an enjoyable night out and an opportunity to learn about a largely undocumented chapter of Medicine Hat's cinematic history (experienced from within the very building that it happened in) I also wanted to also point out some of the knock-on effects that your support of "Your Cinema Needs You" are having.

1. Over the course of production more than 50 headlines about this documentary (and the Monarch's story) have been generated and shared across Canada. This awareness about the new significance of the Monarch Theatre is a big step forward in this next chapter and is bringing national attention to a landmark that most people have never even heard of before.

2. The extensive research that went into this documentary is already showing potential to aid in future grants, designations, and direct supports to further the plans for the Monarch Theatre's revitalization. The popularity of the documentary has helped to reveal new clues and contacts just from people talking about the movie and spreading the word (and this is before we've even finalized plans for the Canada-wide streaming release). This is a huge bonus in the roll that this documentary can play in the future, that honestly, we hadn't even really thought much about until the premieres happened.

3. Contrary to popular belief, this documentary was not "actually" a local production. A professional, feature-length budget had to be greenlit from out of province to even be able to dedicate this much time and energy to a film that involved a cast and crew of more than 50 individuals. None of the funding to produce this was local.

The reason I want to point this out, is because deciding to tell a Medicine Hat story that we believed would resonate with a wider audience (at this scale) was seen as a risk. The success of this project, the sold out premieres, etc. are all part of a proof of concept that show that taking these risks are worth it, viable, and something that needs to happen more often. Not just because these stories are culturally significant, but because they can be just as entertaining too! You've already helped to prove this!

In short, your support of Your Cinema Needs You is having a lot of impact outside of just Medicine Hat. There is a lot more happening behind the scenes then people realize, and it's opening a lot of doors that were previously closed.

That's a lot of good coming from people just showing up - and a really good sign for the future of the Monarch Theatre stemming from the success of a single movie. I can't say it enough - thank you for being there and thank you for making this happen!

Jan 19, 2024

February Screenings of the Monarch Documentary

CLICK HERE to purchase movie tickets for the screenings of "Your Cinema Needs You" at the Monarch Theatre at 7 PM on February 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th.

After more than 2 years in production, this feature-length documentary about one of Canada's most underrated cinematic landmarks is back by popular demand to screen within the very cinema at the heart of this story, the Monarch Theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Following the 7 sold out premiere shows in Medicine Hat, these new February screenings of the documentary are an exclusive opportunity to return to the Monarch Theatre since it closed its doors, experience the largely untold history of one of Canada's last surviving cinemas of the silent era from within its auditorium, and be among the very first to see "Your Cinema Needs You" before its Canada-wide release later in 2024.

Directed by Luke Fandrich, the 2 hour and 15 minute documentary traces the origins of the Monarch Theatre, the rise and fall of its direct competitors, and the cinema's evolution over 112 years since it first opened its doors on December 21, 1911. "Your Cinema Needs You" features newly uncovered images, artifacts, and exclusive interviews from individuals spanning the Monarch's history, including former usherettes, managers, projectionists, moviegoers, and more!

Book your tickets now to experience the start of the Monarch Theatre's next chapter.

Jan 18, 2024

Your Cinema Needs You: Headlines Poster

I switched out the posters at the Monarch Theatre this week in anticipation of the new February screenings of my feature-length documentary. The left side of the theatre's entrance features the new Your Cinema Needs You poster, and the right side features the new "Headlines Poster". This special edition poster is comprised of some of the headlines generated about Your Cinema Needs You across Canada over the course of the production. It seemed a fitting statement to finally display this on the front of the Monarch Theatre. 

Your Cinema Needs You Headlines


Jan 16, 2024

New Screenings Announced For February

Following the 7th sold out premiere screening of Your Cinema Needs You, I thought I should probably grab a quick picture as the Monarch Theatre emptied one last time. Two and a half years of bringing this documentary across the finish line had finally been realized in this moment and it hit me as it all wrapped just how crazy this had actually been.

The success of the premiere solidified two things in my mind. 1. The ambitiousness of the documentary had paid off; the film worked (and) 2. Being able to see the documentary about the Monarch Theatre in the Monarch Theatre had only elevated the entire experience.

I honestly didn't think we'd find the opportunity to do this again given how many moving pieces there are regarding the wide release, but while this is still in the works, I'm excited to finally share that we've secured new screening dates at the Monarch next month!

7PM on February 14th, 15th, 16th, and 17th (Wednesday to Saturday). Make it a date night or just an excuse to get out and see the Monarch again. Whatever the reasoning, you're sure to come away with an appreciation for what's been hiding in our own backyard this entire time.

Tickets for these new screenings of Your Cinema Needs You at the historic Monarch Theatre will become available starting at 8AM this Friday.

Jan 12, 2024

The Last Remnant of the Roxy Theatre

A few more clues have emerged following the premiere screenings of my documentary "Your Cinema Needs You" at the Monarch Theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

The owners of the building that once housed the Roxy Theatre in downtown Medicine Hat were in attendance at one of the debut screenings and sent me a message about something they'd found in the basement of their building. Keeping in mind that the Roxy closed in 1960 and was immediately renovated, it seemed incredibly unlikely that anything from its history had remained after so many decades and businesses that followed.

But sure enough, tucked away in the very back corner of the basement was one last remnant. A single lamp house from one of the Roxy's projectors has been hiding out here for over 60 years since the cinema was dismantled. To add to this, I found a picture of the Roxy's projection room featuring who we believe to be Bev Botter's father, Tony Botter. Bev appeared in my documentary and shared her memories of her father when he was a projectionist.

So, within the span of a week an image of this projector when it was newly installed at the Roxy Theatre in 1941 emerged and I was able to see that a piece of it had still been hiding in the same building all of these decades later.

This is essentially how the documentary research progressed over 2 years throughout the entire production. Little clues would eventually link up and paint a larger picture of what had happened. And if you're now thinking I'd really like to see "Your Cinema Needs You" at the Monarch for myself - good news! I'll be formally announcing new February screening dates next week.

Jan 6, 2024

Monarch Documentary: Movie Premiere A Success!

6 days, 7 screenings sold to capacity, and just over 2800 people through the doors. As much as we might sometimes like to think we can orchestrate these things, the long-awaited premiere of my documentary, "Your Cinema Needs You" at the Monarch Theatre became a prime example of a community engaging, showing up, and turning something as casual as a few nights at the movies into a real moment in time for this cinema.

Who could've predicted this response? Because I certainly didn't. The local premiere of my documentary was originally just meant to be a ceremonial stepping stone to our national release. I needed it to happen for the sake of the narrative, but I didn't expect the premiere to become a major plot point in the conclusion of what was already an elaborate story.

You've all helped to welcome back the Monarch Theatre in a way we only dreamed would've been possible. And perhaps one of the greatest compliments of all, is that so many of you came out just because you heard there was a good movie playing. At the end of the day, that's all we were really trying to do. To tell a good story, not merely a good "local" story, but a story that would resonate with anyone who has positive memories surrounding going to the movies or felt a kinship with their own hometown cinema anywhere across Canada.

To everyone who shared their stories and messages following the screenings, thank you. To everyone who rallied to help make these premiere screenings at the Monarch Theatre possible, thank you. To everyone who played a roll in making the production of Your Cinema Needs You over the last two and half years happen, thank you.

I'm seeing your messages asking about more screenings, and if the community is still interested we're considering doing another limited run of the documentary at the Monarch Theatre in February. The national streaming release is still months away, so we're thinking before that happens, there may still be a few of you who would like to experience this story in the cinema where it all takes place.

In closing, thank you again. You've made this experience an absolute privilege and pleasure. A century from now when the next filmmaker makes their documentary about the Monarch Theatre they're going to have to include this moment when the community turned out by the thousands to welcome the cinema back.

We're all a part of this story now.

Luke Fandrich Filmmaker

Jan 4, 2024

Monarch Documentary Continues Successful Run

Following the first run of screenings last week, the Monarch documentary has continued its run of successful screenings with more dates added. My thanks to the Medicine Hat News for all of their continued coverage following the premiere screenings of Your Cinema Needs You at the Monarch Theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta. The response has been incredible, and these stories have been a fun addition to the experience. Full story here.


Jan 2, 2024

Monarch Documentary: Encore Screenings

The encore screenings of "Your Cinema Needs You" at the Monarch Theatre are ready to kick off this week on the 4th, 5th, and 6th in Medicine Hat, Alberta.

Monarch Theatre Encore

With all of the evening shows now 100% sold out, we've just added a 3PM MATINEE on Saturday, January 6th. These matinee tickets are the last tickets available for this debut run of the feature-length documentary in Medicine Hat before plans for the Canada-wide streaming release move forward. This is one last opportunity (if you don't have your tickets yet) to see the film about the Monarch Theatre in the Monarch Theatre!

Book your matinee tickets here.

Thank you for the incredible response you've already shown this film. We can't wait to see you back at the Monarch this week for the encore shows!

Dec 31, 2023

Premiere Screenings of Your Cinema Needs You

What an incredible way to close out 2023! The premiere screenings of "Your Cinema Needs You" at the Monarch Theatre have been a resounding success with just over 1200 people passing through the cinema's doors for 3 nights of sold out shows.

It's been 3 days of laughs, cheers, tears, and a lot of nostalgia as the Monarch Theatre received the long-awaited reintroduction that she deserved, and the feature-length documentary finally got the climactic conclusion that we always dreamed would be possible after first learning of the theatre's closure back in 2021.

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Theatre

If I'm completely honest, I was never concerned that people wouldn't "like" the documentary. We'd done enough previews and test screenings along the way to know that even the casual movie-lover was likely to find something to sink their teeth into. What I hadn't prepared for though, was for quite this many people to actually LOVE it. And I mean, paragraphs long messages, tears in their eyes, personally recommending it to all of their friends, love it. That's something you really can't know until you're in the moment and you're seeing it unfold directly in front of you each night.

This was all a bit of lightning in a bottle. The timing of the production lining up with the closure of the Monarch was one thing, but then getting the opportunity to reintroduce Canada's oldest, surviving, purpose-built movie theatre by hosting the premiere screenings as part of the official reopening was all incredibly serendipitous. As I said in my premiere speeches each night, "I couldn't have scripted a better conclusion than this."

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Theatre

"Your Cinema Needs You" has the privilege of being the last screening at the Monarch in 2023, and will now also be the first screening of 2024 with the launch of the encore shows beginning on January 4th. I simply can't say it enough, but thank you to everyone who has made this possible. This has absolutely been a dream come true. Happy New Year!

Dec 30, 2023

History Was On Hand: Monarch Documentary

Thank you to the Medicine Hat News for being in attendance and sharing this story following the opening night of the Premiere Screenings of Your Cinema Needs You at the Monarch Theatre in Medicine Hat, Alberta. Read the full news story here

Dec 29, 2023

Opening Night of Your Cinema Needs You

Night 1 of the premiere screenings of "Your Cinema Needs You" took place in a sold out Monarch Theatre last night, and I'm still struggling to find the words to say something more profound than thank you. But, thank you all the same.

I didn't take a single picture (although the photographer I hired should have some great shots) so instead I was left to assemble a collage from some of the images that were shared on my socials last night when the screening ended. The kind words, excitement, and shared stories are so incredibly wholesome it's making my teeth hurt lol.

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Theatre

I can't really summarize this experience yet as there are still 5 more screenings to come, but one moment that sticks with me from last night was after the movie ended and the lights came up. This sweet little old lady approached me through a crowd of well wishers and grabbed my hand just to tell me, "It's made me fall in love with my childhood movie theatre all over again." It was so earnest, she uno-reversed me with the emotional feedback lol.

Thank you to everyone who was there. Thank you to everyone who made it possible. I'll never forget this. It was worth the wait to debut this in the Monarch first.

Your Cinema Needs You Monarch Theatre