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Turning the Lens on Local Filmmakers

Theatrikos is expanding its local cinema presence through Downtown Films.

In a timely addition to Flagstaff’s summer schedule this year, Theatricos Theatre Company has launched an expansion of its existing film series, “Downtown Films,” which has been running successfully since last summer in partnership with the Sedona International Film Festival.

This regional edition of Downtown Films will focus on Flagstaff's vibrant local film community, specifically filmmakers. “Theatrikos has always strived to support the local Flagstaff community,” said Chris Berrill, executive director of Theatrikos. “Primarily through live theater, but also through other initiatives, such as supporting local filmmakers and fans of local film.”

The series kicked off June 24 with “Changing Gears: Flagstaff and Mountain Biking,” a humorous historical documentary about the origins of mountain biking in the region.

This mountain biking film highlights the connection between local filmmakers and Flagstaff's active lifestyle. It premiered 10 years ago to a sold-out audience that took viewers on a journey through history while supporting local artists.

Chris Gunn, a local filmmaker and chair of Theatricos' Downtown Film Committee, directed the film. “It was so much fun to hear the audience laughing during the screening and asking questions after,” Gunn said of the film's premiere 10 years ago. “I'm proud to have documented Flagstaff's role in starting what is now a global movement that involves people of all ages and skill levels. It's a fun, good story, if I do say so myself.”

The screening of “Changing Gears” featured a question-and-answer panel discussion with the film's director and local legends featured in the movie, a format that will be repeated at the monthly Downtown Films screenings scheduled to continue through December.

The Theatricos Downtown Film Festival encourages locals and tourists alike to come downtown to enjoy dinner and a movie,” Gunn said. “We screen a variety of films, from those shown at the Sedona International Film Festival to films made by local filmmakers with local themes. As one committee member put it, “We contribute to the positive vibe of Flag's downtown nightlife during the week.”
All films will be shown in the historic Doris Harper White Playhouse, built in 1923 and originally started as the Elks Club and Flagstaff's first library, and long a social center of downtown West Cherry Avenue.

The theater has long been known as an intimate black box venue, seating 118 audience members no more than five rows away from the stage area.

Doris Harper White Playhouse recently installed a state-of-the-art sound system and cutting-edge projector to enhance the theatre and film experience.

According to a June press release from Theatricos, this investment in top-notch technology will ensure every screening delivers a high-quality, immersive experience.

Verrill said opening the cinema on weekday evenings when theaters are normally closed allows Theatricos to better serve the Flagstaff community and has been a good business move.

“Financially, movies are also smart business,” he says. “They bring in new audiences and help cross-promote the main stage shows. Plus, they diversify your revenue streams. And that's always smart business. We've only been in this business for a year and we're already breaking even, so we're on the right path. It's great to see good art and good business go hand in hand.”

Partnering with SIFF has also been a rewarding collaboration. “The Sedona International Film Festival is a great partner in every sense of the word,” he adds. “They have a 30-year track record of successfully bringing films to Northern Arizona. SIFF curates not only the local films but all the other films as well. Being able to rely on their expertise is what makes Downtown Films successful.”

Meanwhile, Theatricos is working on a show called “Route 66 to the Grand Canyon,” which is scheduled to premiere in 2026, the 100th anniversary of Route 66. FBN

Betsy Brunner, FBN

For the 2024 movie schedule, web.

Photo credit: The film Kinky Boots entertained audiences at the May 2023 Downtown Film Series, presented by Theatricos in partnership with the Sedona International Film Festival.

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