Local filmmakers, fans strive to make free weekly film series a reality in St. George

The historic Electric Theater may some day be the home an exciting, weekly film series. St. George, Utah Oct. 17, 2019 | Photo by David Louis, St. George News.

ST. GEORGE — Although it is in the preliminary stages of development, a group of several local film aficionados intends to bring a weekly film series to the historic Electric Theater beginning in January.

The vision to bring a free film series to St. George was the brainchild of members from the Film and Media Alliance of Southern Utah and Facebook-based This Movie Club. What began as a concept to bring film production and film education back to Southern Utah has morphed into a much larger concept.

“We all feel that it’s an important thing and something that was very prevalent in Southern Utah. At one point we were called ‘Little Hollywood,’ and that included the St. George area. Film making then migrated to Northern Utah and really hasn’t come back,” said Beau Stucki with This Movie Club. “For those of us who have been in and around the film business, or anyone who is an enthusiast of films, there are not as many options as we would like around here.”

With sufficient musical theaters, playhouses and Megaplex Theaters screening the latest films, Stucki and others have the vision of bringing a host of other types of films to St. George, including classic, foreign and independent.

“I’ve been looking for a place to offer repertory screenings,” Stucki said. “I am a big believer in the theatrical experience and in trying to inspire others.”

If the venture is eventually approved by the City Council, weekly screenings are tentatively set for Tuesday or Wednesday evenings. Prior to each movie, there will be a brief introduction to the film by a scholar who will provide context. Following the screening, there will be a group discussion of the film by audience members.  Each month will be wrapped around a common theme and grouped into a larger category. The screenings are planned to be held throughout the entire year.

“Admission will be free,” Stucki said. “We are trying to make it available to anyone who wants to come and participate. It’s about getting people to think of cinema as a fine art instead of just as a film, inside of its own category. We also want to inspire people to at least engage in movies and enjoy other types of films rather than what just comes out of Hollywood.”

This historic photo shows a still of the movie Billy the Kid, starring Robert Taylor in the title role, which was partly filmed at Kanab’s Movie Ranch in Angel Canyon, where Best Friends Animal Sanctuary is now, Kanab, Utah, 1941 | Photo courtesy of Utah State Historical Society, St. George News

The target audience is rather broad, Stucki said, but it should appeal to anyone and everyone.

“It’s two-fold for me,” he added. “First, attracting the retired community who have a familiarity with classic films, but there will also be an emphasis on young people who have not yet developed a passion for cinema. Although we are limited to what our licensing companies have access to, those libraries are quite robust. We will be showing anything that will strike up a conversation, as well as films that are perhaps not widely viewed.”

To cover costs, the group has plans to start up a crowdfunding website such as GoFundMe, Indiegogo or Kickstart.

Adam Mast, with the Film and Media Alliance of Southern Utah, said he is excited to bring a film series to St. George.

“Our goal is to keep film history alive by sharing older films with film enthusiasts and people who may not be familiar with the genre,” Mast said.

The goal, he added, is to appeal to a diverse range of people by showing a wide spectrum of films, from classics through the 1980s such as “E.T., the Extra-Terrestrial.”

“When I was a kid my parents told me they hated the stuff I watched, and now that has come full circle,” Mast said. “Now I hear the younger crowd say they are bored with older movies. We want to open up everyone’s eyes to how important those movies are. We’d like to bring a younger crowd in, but also the older generation, enthusiasts and historians to enjoy the screenings. We want to reach out to everyone and anyone.”

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2019, all rights reserved.

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