8mm Forum


Post New Topic  Post A Reply
my profile | my password | register | search | faq | register | forum home
  next oldest topic   next newest topic
» 8mm Forum   » General Yak   » The Drive-In Experience (Page 1)

 - UBBFriend: Email this page to someone!  
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Author Topic: The Drive-In Experience
Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 16, 2009 10:22 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The Drive-In Experience

I’ve had the urge to go to a Drive-In Movie for a couple of years now. The very first time I went to a movie it was a Drive-In while on vacation with my parents as a little kid. I was five then, but I still remember it. I have my own son now, and I wanted him to experience this while it’s still possible.

The problem is at least where we live; the Drive-In Theater is an extinct species. Forty and fifty years ago there were many of them on Long Island including one of the world’s largest. Yet part of life on an Island is understanding finiteness: sooner or later you will reach the shore and run out of land. Especially on the New York City end of the Island, this means land and the taxes based on it are expensive and businesses that don’t do well on a dollars per square foot basis are going to wind up under a shopping mall or a housing development sooner or later. This is deadly to a weather dependent business that has to go dormant even on nice days simply because the sun is up.

Long Island’s last drive in theater closed up in 1998, and is now a multiplex next door to a Home Depot (as if we didn’t have enough of those already…). When we moved to our home in Suffolk County there was still the ticket office and screen of what had been been our own local Drive-In, but soon it became a strip of retail stores. The conventional wisdom is a nearby indoor multiplex killed it off, but I doubt it would still be there regardless.

It’s kind of sad to see places like this go. So many people had happy memories of friends they’d had there growing up, of old romances long gone, of really cool first cars now replaced by family cars (with loan payments and rugs saturated with chocolate milk). The odds are not good that the same will be said of the supermarkets, stores and fast food places there today. (“Do you still remember the first time we went to Sears? Why, yes! We bought a dishwasher!”)

So when we go on vacation in other parts of the country, I try to find a drive in movie. It hasn’t been easy, the last few years we’ve found them but not close enough to make driving there worthwhile. This year we finally hit paydirt: we went camping up in the Lake Champlain region of Vermont. I found the Sunset Drive-In in Colchester, just North of Burlington.

http://www.sunsetdrivein.com/

The theater is in nice shape: everything was either well painted, nicely landscaped or recently scrubbed. They have recently added two new screens and even though it was a week night, attendance was pretty good. It seems like a going concern operated by people that care about it.

 -

There is a snack bar there with that traditional deadly kind of fast food these places are famous for: hot dogs, nachos, French fries: all with optional day-glo orange cheese and fried in grease that they’ve been cultivating since the 50s. It could give even a life-long vegetarian a coronary in one sitting! We held it to just popcorn and sodas: I’d like to see my grandchildren someday!

There were a lot of people there well before sunset and the place was both active and sociable. There is a playground under screen one, and miniature golf. They both bought us a couple of minutes occupying our kid! There was a scattering of restored classic cars, and a lot of people tossing Frisbees around and playing small games of soccer and softball.

The sound system is FM stereo, but there are still two speakers on poles at the back of each auditorium(?), whether for tradition or just in case an Amishman shows up who still doesn’t have FM in his wagon. I saw no cars next to them that night.

 -

There is also WiFi, I guess so you can go on the IMDB even while you are watching the film!

The show was “Ice Age 3” with a start time of 9:30 PM. We were there early, so we had a 20th century problem: how do you keep an active six year old quiet in a motionless car that last half hour before the sun goes down and they roll the film? The 21st Century provided an answer. Our car has a DVD system for the rear seat passengers, so he got a “movie” before the Movie.

This thing of watching a movie outdoors is a different kettle of fish than sitting in an air conditioned theater. It takes a sunset to make the movie possible, but sunsets often bring out mosquitoes too. The solution is to shut the windows, which means sooner or later they fog up and you can’t see the movie. Next time we will bring repellant and leave those windows down!

 -

It’s also a lot more interactive Cinema experience than normal. Remember: you are providing the last stage of the sound system. So just like at home with our projectors and audio systems I got to twiddle controls: bass, treble, balance, fade, reverb and some others I’d never even heard of before!. Over and over again I worked on dialing it in. I got it closer and closer to Audio Perfection, but had to stop because 15 minutes into the feature my Beloved made a motion like she was going to smack my hand if I reached for that dashboard again (I was so close!). It took my usual theatrical experience of obsessing on (other people’s) scratches and specks to a whole new level! What was the story on screen?…I’m not entirely sure!

It turns out that just because you are at the drive-in, it doesn’t mean you are confined to your car. The bunch on one side grabbed some lawn chairs and sat in front of their car with a boom box for audio. The minivan a few spots the other way parked nose away from the screen. They opened their tailgate and watched from the cargo bay. Some deployed sheets of plastic in case of rain, but structures exceeding the height of the vehicle are against the rules! We were first-timers so we just kept to the passenger compartment.

Another interesting note concerns leather seats: If you have a car with leather seats and a hyperactive kid, count on missing a lot of the dialog unless you can dress him in some sort of anti-acoustic pants!

Just about the time “Ice Age” came to a close, our kid climbed back into the third row seats, which we’d already set up with his sleeping bag and pillow, and was soon asleep. This is exactly what my parents did with me when I was little: kind of neat!

 -

So is the Drive-In a better way of seeing a movie? No, it’s not! In a regular auditorium the sound is better and you aren’t seeing the picture through a bug splattered windshield (Note to self: bring paper towels and Windex next time.) You are also isolated from the rest of the audience and the right crowd adds to the movie. It is nice if you are a family with small kids or if you are 19 and on a date (you know…heh-heh! ) because you have your own little space. It’s kind of a compromise between sitting in your living room and watching the tube and going out to a movie. It’s almost public privacy!

Overall it was worth doing simply because it’s a unique species of movie theater and an old tradition offering an experience beyond just seeing the movie (…which was OKish, I’m not asking Derann to print it up for me.).

I liked doing it; I’ll do it again too!

 -

[ June 16, 2010, 11:57 PM: Message edited by: Steve Klare ]

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Paul Adsett
Film God

Posts: 4844
From: USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 17, 2009 10:22 AM      Profile for Paul Adsett     Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for that great write up Steve. It brought back many happy memories of when I lived in Williamsport Pa. and my wife and I would frequent the local drive-ins on a weekly basis. Both drive-ins were a few miles out of town, and there was nothing better than watching a movie outdoors on a summers evening in that beautiful Pennsylvania scenery.

 -

--------------------
The best of all worlds- 8mm, super 8mm, 9.5mm, and HD Digital Projection,
Elmo GS1200 f1.0 2-blade
Eumig S938 Stereo f1.0 Ektar
Panasonic PT-AE4000U digital pj

 |  IP: Logged

Mike Peckham
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1461
From: West Sussex, UK.
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 17, 2009 11:03 AM      Profile for Mike Peckham   Email Mike Peckham   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, that was a great write up, have you thought about submitting it to FFTC magazine for publication there?

Thanks for sharing it with us.

Mike [Cool]

--------------------
Auntie Em must have stopped wondering where I am by now...

 |  IP: Logged

Jean-Marc Toussaint
Film God

Posts: 2387
From: France
Registered: Oct 2004


 - posted August 17, 2009 11:08 AM      Profile for Jean-Marc Toussaint   Author's Homepage   Email Jean-Marc Toussaint   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thank you Steven, great story.

I remember my first drive-in experience in Los Angeles back in the eighties. I saw "Shakedown" and "The Serpent and the Rainbow". The place still exists, by the I5, driving to Buena Park. They use it for swap meets now.

--------------------
The Grindcave Cinema Website

 |  IP: Logged

Michael O'Regan
Film God

Posts: 3083
From: Essex, UK
Registered: Oct 2007


 - posted August 17, 2009 12:52 PM      Profile for Michael O'Regan   Email Michael O'Regan   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Fantastic.
[Smile]

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 17, 2009 03:01 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks for your kind comments!

Mike, I sent the article to Derann. Let's see what they say.

In a regular cinema you get an occasional speck in the picture, with this one every so often a bird or a bat flew across the screen!

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

John W. Black
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 536
From: Deptford,N.J.
Registered: Mar 2008


 - posted August 18, 2009 12:17 AM      Profile for John W. Black   Author's Homepage   Email John W. Black   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
There is a great Drive In in Vineland,N.J. It's about 3 hours from LI.

--------------------
Beat em or burn em,they go up pretty quick

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 18, 2009 05:47 AM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Hi John,

We had our sites set on that one when we stayed at Cape May in '07. It never happened due to vacation overload!

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

David Kilderry
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 963
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted August 18, 2009 08:41 AM      Profile for David Kilderry   Author's Homepage   Email David Kilderry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, I think you refer to the great lost Valley Stream Drive-in on LI.

Another monster that I once went to was the giant Los Altos down near Long Beach, CA. That place was huge.

Our largest here were the massive Metro Twins (yes MGM built drive-in in Australia) they held around 1600 cars. The Brooklyn Drive-in also here in Melbourne held 1100.

Our drive-in Lunar Drive-in Theatre holds around 1000 cars and has three screens. It is busy all year round....unlike drive-ins in NY!

The Ford-Wyoming drive-in in Detroit is open all year round and uses in-car heaters. Being close to Chrysler and Ford plants and their shift workers helps keep this place running.

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 18, 2009 11:39 AM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David,

Have you been to the land of my birth?

The Drive-In Theater in Valley Stream was about 5 miles from where I grew up. My Mom recently told me that when my sister was little the three of them used to go there quite a bit. I have no memory of it because around the time I was born my Dad took a night job and we didn't go to movies for a long time. apparently it lasted there until the mid 1970s, but by the time my friends and I got licenses and cars in the early 1980s it was paved over and forgotten. I remember seeing "The Shining" at the multiplex that replaced it just before I graduated from High School in 1980.

The theater I was actually talking about was the All Weather Drive-In in Copiague. This was well beyond my range back at the time, but I've heard a lot about it. It had space for 2,500 cars, a separate indoor theater, a small amusement park, a sit down restaurant, a snack bar and a shuttle train so people could ride around the 28 acre site. Adjacent to it was a small zoo and across the street was a roller rink. It is all gone now.

Today it is the site of....a Home Depot!

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Mitchell Dvoskin
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 128
From: West Milford, NJ
Registered: Jun 2008


 - posted August 18, 2009 03:08 PM      Profile for Mitchell Dvoskin   Email Mitchell Dvoskin   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
The closest drive-in to New York City that I am aware of is in Warwick NY, just above the New Jersey border. They seem to do a good business.

Warwick Drive-In

 |  IP: Logged

David Kilderry
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 963
From: Melbourne, Victoria, Australia
Registered: Feb 2006


 - posted August 19, 2009 08:47 PM      Profile for David Kilderry   Author's Homepage   Email David Kilderry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, don't forget the Coram, Centereach, Massapequa, Nesconset, etc etc all gone now.

The nearest to NYC was of course the old White Stone actually in The Bronx, surrounded by high rise, who all got a view!

Yes Steve, I have been to the US a few times over the years for work and pleasure.

At least NY State has a few options if you want to go for a drive. Now Indiana and Ohio, they are still blessed with dozens of them.

Germany, France, Italy, Canada, South America, Africa, Asia and almost every other part part of the world had drive-ins too except the UK and NZ!

To people from these countries I always explain that a drive-in was not a novelty made up by Hollywood like in Grease; for us it was a way of life, how we saw movies all the time. The playground, the snack bar, the lawns under the screen for cricket and football.

Three left now here in Melbourne and the others in this state of Victoria that once had 60 are all gone.

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 19, 2009 09:45 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I did a count: there were actually at least 16 drive in theaters in our 100 mile plus Island, and now there are none.

There is going to be a one for one night only tomorrow night at a local beach. We are going, too! (I'm not too hopeful for reel film.)

The interesting thing is even though so many Drive-Ins are gone, sometimes that unique footprint is still left behind.

Google Earth fans try these coordinates:

41 05' 42.03"N 72 23' 14.42"W

This is the Skyway Drive-In in Greenport, Long Island, New York: dead since 1975. The screen stood for years afterwards until it burned down.

These will drop you right on the projection house.

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Michael De Angelis
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1257
From: USA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted August 19, 2009 11:46 PM      Profile for Michael De Angelis   Email Michael De Angelis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
David,

The Drive-In that was in Valley Stream, Long Island, N.Y. was named
the Sunrise Drive - In, because is was on Sunrise Highway in Valley Stream.
The screen edifice was towering and looming on an angle with its back facing Sunrise Hwy. It reminded me of a huge tail fin on those great classic cars from the 1950's. The sign was built onto the back of the screen with neon lights.
Sunrise Drive-In
It is now the location of a Multi-plex chain of theaters.

Also years ago on Long Island there was the 110 Drive-In, located on Route 110 in Farmingdale, L.I., N.Y.

If my memory serves me, the 110 Drive-In was huge. But then again, I was very young.
There was a very small children's amusement park on the facility, that was equipped with a small diesel train that had passenger cars that kids could ride in.

--------------------
Isn't it great that we can all communicate about this great
hobby that we love!

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 20, 2009 08:05 AM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Michael,

I've been finding out a lot about these local drive-ins since I started this whole thing. A friend who grew up in Suffolk told me about the 110 Drive-In. He said you could see it from the Expressway.

I started working on Rt. 110 in 1991, and the theater was long gone. Do have any idea where it was geographically or what is there in place of it now? (I know this one isn't a Home Depot. There had to be one that wasn't somewhere!)

This is the "Drive-In" for tonight:

http://www.americantowns.com/ny/huntington/news/e-t-the-extra-terrestrial-movie-204866

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 20, 2009 10:27 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
 -

Well, it was an inflatable screen maybe 8' by 15' and a humungous video projector on a flat beach parking lot, but it came pretty close.

The night started out overcast, but as the show went on the clouds moved out and the skies were spectacular! There was even a scattering of meteors.

In a small way, and just for one night, we had a drive-in again!

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Michael De Angelis
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1257
From: USA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted August 20, 2009 10:52 PM      Profile for Michael De Angelis   Email Michael De Angelis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve,

If it was off of the L.I.E. expressway, then it's where the Marriott hotel is situated.
But there is something about the Skydrive golf range in Mellville that reminds me of the huge space that the Drive-In occupied. I guess that there is someone in the town of Babylon that could verify this? I will also inquire with some friends.

The last flick that I believe that I saw at the 110, was The Boatniks.
I heard that one Drive-In, located in Copaigue, was colossal.

Thanks for sharing the picts.

--------------------
Isn't it great that we can all communicate about this great
hobby that we love!

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted August 21, 2009 01:03 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Confirmed!

http://cinematreasures.org/theater/977/

What a great spot for a theater! People could have come from 20 miles away in either direction and been there in a half an hour. (Without traffic, of course!)

I attended a lecture on transformer design at that hotel once. All things considered, I'd rather have gone to a movie!

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Terry Lagler
Jedi Master Film Handler

Posts: 525
From: Ontario, Canada
Registered: Apr 2008


 - posted August 21, 2009 01:24 PM      Profile for Terry Lagler   Author's Homepage   Email Terry Lagler   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Great topic Steve.
The Drive In was always a special memory for me as my parents took my two sisters an me often. Funny I have clear memeories of being in the back seat in our pajamas watching the Poseidon Adventure and I think that was about 74. Also remeber that downpour of rain during The Empire Strikes Back!!

There are still about 3 Drive-Ins in operation within a 45 min drive from my home - one's been going since the 40's!!

Just returned from a trip to New Brunswick (go yearly) and discovered the Neptune drive-in had closed, sad.
Love that original sign!

Glad I took these pictures through the years
 -
The old snack bar
 -

 |  IP: Logged

Michael De Angelis
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1257
From: USA
Registered: Jul 2003


 - posted August 21, 2009 01:33 PM      Profile for Michael De Angelis   Email Michael De Angelis   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve,

110 Drive-In
As a child,I would ride this train before the movie.
 -
David,
Enter Page 114 in the field box,
to link to Worlds biggest movie screen at the
Sunrise Drive-In,located in Valley Stream.
( probably the largest when it was built?)

Worlds biggest movie screen

Before and After picts of the
Westbury Drive-In,
in Westbury, Long Island, N.Y.

Pict 1

Pict 2

Pict 3

--------------------
Isn't it great that we can all communicate about this great
hobby that we love!

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted January 05, 2010 12:45 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
This Just In:

The UK has recently opened it's very first Drive-In Cinema on the grounds of Pinewood Studios!

http://www.pinewoodgroup.com/gen/DriveIn.aspx

Don't know if it's a permanent thing, but it sounds good to me!

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Gian Luca Mario Loncrini
Phenomenal Film Handler

Posts: 1948
From: Verona (Italy)
Registered: Jan 2009


 - posted January 05, 2010 12:53 PM      Profile for Gian Luca Mario Loncrini   Author's Homepage   Email Gian Luca Mario Loncrini   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Pictures from the Heaven [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!] [Eek!] ...

--------------------
I remember when I was (super) 8 years old...

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted June 06, 2012 05:43 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Today's Google Doodle

79th Anniversary of the First Drive-In Theater

Huzzahh!!!

(Why it couldn't wait until 80 I don't know!)

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged

Pasquale DAlessio
Film God

Posts: 3523
From: Bristol,RI, USA
Registered: May 2010


 - posted June 06, 2012 06:28 PM      Profile for Pasquale DAlessio   Email Pasquale DAlessio   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve

Great story! I so enjoyed reading it and looking at the terrific photos.

I remember back in the day before the "carload" price we use to sneak our friends in by hiding them in the trunk! Then we would divy up the ticket price between all.

Those were the days!

PatD [Wink]

 |  IP: Logged

Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6812
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted June 06, 2012 09:06 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Thanks Pat,

Inspired by the experience I have made it a goal to become the best car-less, indoor, Super-8, drive-in theater on the block!

(I think I have a real shot at it!) [Wink]

--------------------
All I ask is a wide screen and a projector to light her by...

 |  IP: Logged



All times are Central
This topic comprises 2 pages: 1  2 
 
Post New Topic  Post A Reply Close Topic    Move Topic    Delete Topic    next oldest topic   next newest topic
 - Printer-friendly view of this topic
Hop To:

Visit www.film-tech.com for free equipment manual downloads. Copyright 2003-2019 Film-Tech Cinema Systems LLC

Powered by Infopop Corporation
UBB.classicTM 6.3.1.2