Thursday, September 25, 2014

Bijou at the Byrd Leads to Bijou on Broad

Sept. 21, 2014: The crowd for the first Bijou at the Byrd event, a 50th
anniversary screening of Richard Lester's "A Hard Day's Night." 
Photo by Todd Schall-Vess..
Having read Terry's account of the Bijou's first big event (Thanks for the Memories) this past Sunday, you know that it was a huge success. Attendance was around 800 people, and any time the Byrd has to open up the balcony you know you've done something right. Thanks to those of you who were there.

While our event was more about raising awareness of the Bijou Film Center than raising money, I won't lie to you -- we needed to raise some money. Terry and I put this event over without two nickels to rub together. No lie. And the only way we were able to do that is because of friends and partners. The Byrd Theatre, led by Todd Schall-Vess, was the first to say yes -- this would not have gone any further if Todd and The Byrd Theatre hadn't wanted in on it. Janus Films, the distributor of A Hard Day's Night and countless other wonderful films (most of you may be familiar with their sister company, The Criterion Collection), was next to sign on. By offering us a great deal on the film because we were doing a fundraiser put us in a position to make some money for both the Bijou and the Byrd. For a run down of sponsors and champions, read Terry's piece linked above.

So, how did we do? Well, after expenses (film rental and publicity materials) we were left with $2,800, split 50-50. That means that you helped us raise $1,400 for The Byrd Theatre Foundation's "Journey to the Seats" campaign and $1,400 to help establish the Bijou Film Center. On top of that, the Plan 9 raffle raised $200 and we received more than $370 in additional donations. All of which leads me to the most exciting news ... as of October 1 there will once again be a Bijou on Broad! (For more on the original Bijou, check out Terry's Short Subject: Jake Wells' Bijou on Broad St.

Rea and Parrish at Anchor Studios.
Photo by Bill Lohmann for the RT-D.
We're using some of the proceeds from Sunday's event to establish the Bijou Film Center's first office at 1 East Broad Street, becoming a member of Anchor Studios, located across Foushee from Tarrant's. We've got a long way to go before we'll have the Bijou Theatre open, but we've achieved our first big goal: to establish the Bijou Film Center in the heart of Richmond's downtown arts and cultural district.

While we're not ready to announce any details yet, we are kicking around several ideas for one or two more film events this fall, working on the Bijou Film Center's logo, website and promotional materials, filing for 501(c)(3) nonprofit status, exploring a partnership with a local foundation to serve as our fiscal agent until we become a card carrying member of the nonprofit sector, and preparing to launch our first fundraising campaign, which will center around the purchase of a Super 8 film-to-digital transfer machine to help individuals and artists take care of their precious filmed memories. The heart and soul of the Bijou Film Center will be this important work.

We'll also be looking for a lot more people to help us build out the Bijou Film Center of our dreams, complete with a 100-seat art house cinema, a cafe and film center devoted to wide world of cinema, from home movies to Hollywood and everything in between. Look for more information on how to get involved soon.

Thank you Richmond for showing us on Sunday night that you want there to be a Bijou!

- James Parrish

P.S. Please stop by Anchor Studios during the next First Fridays on Friday, October 3 to say hi and to visit the Bijou's first home at 1 East Broad Street.

Monday, September 22, 2014

Thanks for the Memories

Photo by Sky Andersen for RVA Magazine
Ed. Note: The Bijou Film Center, such as it is, wants to say thank you to the great audience that showed up to see “A Hard Day’s Night” on The Byrd’s big screen last night. That so many people took the time to help us begin the process of building The Bijou, by watching a 50-year-old black and white movie, was very encouraging. In the photo above that's James and me, Terry, in front of The Byrd last week.

The warm reception “A Hard Day’s Night” received confirmed our thinking that today Richmonders will turn out to see good movies, old or new. 

At the top of the Thank-You list we have to cite The Byrd’s Todd Schall-Vess and the Byrd Theatre Foundation for providing that grand movie palace for the screening. Plus, the theater’s staff did a fine job of showing the films and handling the large crowd smoothly. And, naturally, we’re happy to have helped The Byrd’s non-profit foundation raise some money for its restoration campaign, Journey to the Seats.

Several websites picked up the story of the screening and live music show from articles that appeared in STYLE Weekly, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond Magazine, RVA Magazine, etc., and posted the essential information without any prompting from us. WRIR's Open Source devoted a segment to chatter about the project, thanks to Don Harrison.

It all helped. Plan 9 put news of the event on its website and donated Beatles-related prizes that we raffled off. Volunteers (Julia, Wayne, Brian, Lynn and Nathan) helped us with that raffle, selling and taking the tickets. Deep Groove also donated a just-released Beatles album to the cause. On top of the unsung help several other people provided in making the benefit show possible -- then successful -- eight sponsors contributed to the project in significant ways: They were: Anchor Studios, Bygones Vintage Clothing, Janus Films, New York Deli, Portrait House, Steady Sounds, Uptown Color, 97.3 FM WRIR Richmond Independent Radio.

After the movie ended the after-screening live music show unfolded in the New York Deli, two doors west of The Byrd. The Taters put on a splendid show that were well received by a packed house. The range of ages on the dance floor was impressive.

Mark Brown's photo of James singing "Act Naturally"
with The Taters at the Deli.

For James and me it was a lot of fun presenting such quality entertainment to an audience that obviously appreciated it. Soon we’ll have news to share about our next pop-up event. In addition to staging more fundraisers at various venues, our plan is to establish a film restoration/transfer business first; our studio space for this work will be in Anchor Studios at Foushee and Broad. All the while we will be striving to open a small cinema with an adjoining cafĂ© in that neighborhood -- the Arts District. The intention, as a film center, is to eventually become involved in preserving films, exhibiting films, distributing films, and the production of films.

After several conversations with members of last night’s audience, we now know the feedback we‘re going to get from lots of people, folks who want to be a part of this venture, is going to influence the direction of the Bijou Film Center‘s endeavors from here on.  

What happened at The Byrd and the New York Deli on the last night of 2014’s summer was a good start. With any luck, we'll always remember it. Thanks.