For 10 years, the Martha’s Vineyard Film Society has been bringing the best independent films, movie classics, documentaries, and world cinema for diverse audiences of all ages to the shores of Martha’s Vineyard. Founded by Richard Paradise, film enthusiast extrodiniare, the MVFS is also the host of the Martha’s Vineyard International Film Festival, celebrating its 7th year, which draws over 2,500 people to the island during September. They have also helped over 30 other non-profits with their film needs.
Though a gypsy organization, the MVFS has had a major impact on the Vineyard community through film. By gypsy, I mean without a space to call their own. The MVFS has been fortunate enough to have been able to use venues on the Island owned by others such as the Tabernacle or the Katharine Cornell Theater. However, this set-up has hindered the organization’s ability to do what they would like to do, which is to provide even more year-round entertainment.
About 5 months ago, Sam Dunn, owner & developer of Tisbury Market Place, approached Richard Paradise , the executive director of the MVFS, about building a theater and a home for the MVFS in the Tisbury Market Place. As you can imagine, Richard was delighted at the prospect. He had always hoped for a home for the MVFS, and Sam could not have had better timing. Partner venues have even more limited availablity for the MVFS this year and the Vineyard Playhouse building is going to be closed for the Summer season because of renovations.
Where is the Tisbury Market Place you might ask? It will be located between Rocco’s and Dockside Dental. Sam and Richard have been working with the Martha’s Vineyard Commission over these last couple of months, and after suggested modifications, they got approval on February 9th to move forward with the theater, which will be aptly named the Martha’s Vineyard Film Center.
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center will not only be home to the Film Society, but it will also be a great new location for other non-profits and organizations to use for events, such as guest speakers, seminars, and more. Now that Sam has the green light, the fun can really begin. Construction is slated to begin in April, and they have an aggressive opening date, early Septembr for the International Film Festival.
Not a Black Box
The Martha’s Vineyard Film Center’s design is filled with Vineyard charm including a presidium framing the stage, but will have all the modern amenities that will make it state-of-the-art, including stadium seating (197) that rocks just enough, so they are extra comfy. Other technical bells and whistles include surround sound, and it will even have flexible space, including wheel chair accessibility. You won’t find the cheesy carpeted walls and linoleum flooring that you find in most theaters.
Sam is really working to create an ambiance that will mesh with Vineyard style. As for Richard, he loves the design, and the fact, that there’s something special about seeing a movie on the big screne, sharing and reacting with a group of people, and having the opportunity to celebrate a night out with a film.
The Film Center will be built as an addition to the Tisbury Market Place, and the MVFS, a non-profit organization, is responsible for outfitting the interior of the space. This includes surround sound, the seating, the fixtures, sound proofing, etc. With all these things, they need to raise $350,000 to make this project a reality. With $85,000 pledged (not bad for a project that just got the final OK earlier last month), the remaining money needs to be raised by July 15th, so everything can be installed for the September opening.
Though the last 5-10 years have been tough for a lot of movies and theaters because of competition and technology (Netflix, On Demand, etc.), the MVFS has continued to grow, and I can only imagine how much more we’ll be able to enjoy their movies, once they have a permanant space to use. The M.V. Film Center will be a great addition to the Island, and I think we’ll see a lot of fun things happening there.
To find out more about the MVFS, membership, donations, etc, please visit their website. If you’re really interested, you should meet with Richard. He is very passionate about what he does, and he’s a lot of fun to talk to.
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