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Author Topic: The Drive-In Experience
Tim Robinson-Ayer
Junior
Posts: 19
From: Wisconsin
Registered: Mar 2011


 - posted June 07, 2012 08:16 PM      Profile for Tim Robinson-Ayer   Email Tim Robinson-Ayer   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
As a kid I had a blast seeing Star Wars at the drive in, but my real coup was seeing a double feature in Wausau, Wisconsin. The double bill was Sharkey's Machine and Bladerunner. I was about 16 and just had to see anything new with Harrison Ford and that was the only way to see it there. Suffered through the Burt Reynolds movie, then, as soon as Bladerunner started it also began to rain. It rained for most of the movie, me, stuck in the car with the crappy speaker sticking my head out of the window every now and again to try to see better what was happening. It didn't rain hard enough for them to shut down the show but just enough to make it hard to see a lot of what was happening.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6874
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted June 08, 2012 09:54 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
So the Quest continues:

Last Summer I got my family (and a couple of friends) to camp up in the Sebago Lakes region of Maine. This was the perfect storm of vacations for me:

1) It is the former home of the defunct Bridgton and Saco River narrow gauge railroad, so I'd have a couple of days to putter around and find relics (it's been gone since 1941, not a lot of relics remain...)

2) The campground was on a lake, so I'd get to haul my canoe down to the water at will.

3) The Bridgton Twin Drive-In was just up the road.

Playing that week was this double feature:

First up was Harry Potter and the something or other. You see I've never been into young Harry and all I knew about him at that point was he wears glasses and is somehow tied into the occult!

Second on the bill was "Cowboys and Aliens". This one really interested me because I wanted to see how they pulled off mixing a Western and a SciFi.

Our friends came to the rescue on "Harry". The days before we rented several DVDs and watched a bunch. I'm still not into it, but at least I felt more prepared (Since when has watching movies become so much work?)

-And so we went one night:

The Bridgton Twin is quite nice: they've recently added a second screen and the FM sound was clearer than the Sunset in Vermont two years before. I tuned in the stereo in the van and it sounded good without any twiddling at all.

Five of us went in that same minivan. This time we brought chairs, cranked up the stereo, opened the sliding doors and sat out under the stars.

What follows is a story of how theory collides with reality, and theory (as usual) loses.

The theory was we would sit through "Harry" and I would get to see "Cowboys and Aliens" under the stars basking in that rare Drive-In Movieness.

The reality is in August it's getting towards Fall in Maine and it gets pretty chilly at night. (Someone once said "Maine has but two seasons: Winter and August.")

Not very long after things started to get kinda interestin' in "Cowboys and Aliens" my wife made this announcement:

"Steve, I'm cold!"

-and not too long after that:

"Steve, I'm FREEZING!"

I couldn't really offer much of a defense, because frankly so was I!

-and ever so reluctantly I cranked over all six cylinders (Got the big block: 4.2L!!) and headed back to camp.

Maybe out of guilt, she bought me the DVD for Christmas. I didn't get to see how them fellers did against them bad compadres from another planet until January! (This is a record for me: five months to finish a feature!)

I thought the area was as pretty country as I've ever seen, so I think I will encounter the Bridgton Twin again.

-maybe next time with a thermos of coffee, a blanket and a sweatshirt!

The Bridgton Twin on Facebook

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[ June 08, 2012, 10:59 PM: Message edited by: Steve Klare ]

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

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David Kilderry
Jedi Master Film Handler

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


 - posted June 09, 2012 01:39 AM      Profile for David Kilderry   Author's Homepage   Email David Kilderry   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Steve, here everyone just starts the car and idles it for a while. The heater warms the car then you are OK for 30 mins or so. We are in winter here now (OK not as cold as the NE US) and cars just start up to keep warm.

The same thing happens in Summer, cars idle to use their air conditioning. Many may think that's crazy from your part of the world, but here hot nights can still be over 100 at 10 PM.

Check out what we are running tonight: www.lunardrive-in.com.au

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Tommy Woods
Expert Film Handler

Posts: 146
From: Scouser
Registered: Feb 2011


 - posted June 09, 2012 04:08 AM      Profile for Tommy Woods   Email Tommy Woods   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
why don't we have these over here?

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Let there be light,so god created the projector

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6874
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted June 30, 2014 09:52 AM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
I've had a new Drive-In Experience

-but in an entirely different way than usual.

A couple of weeks ago on Paul Foster's site I saw this:

"PATHE PICTORIAL - AUTO CINE 1X200 £12.99. A look at a drive in cinema in Italy with clips from My Fair Lady"

-one of my favorite film genres: "films about film". This means my enjoyment of films gets multiplied by watching a film about it. For me finding a film about films about films would be nirvana! (May need to make this one myself, though...)

I had to have this film, and as of a few days ago I do.

From what I've been able to find out this one was built near Rome in the mid 1960s. It is long closed but still in place.

Here are the map coordinates:

41.755912, 12.364648

Google Earth shows the field intact, but the projection house demolished and the screen roughly half dismantled.

Here's the film that started it all:

Pathe Pictorial - Auto Cine

(Note that first generation Mustang: even these days a drive-in Theater just doesn't look right without some vintage Detroit Iron! If you can find one that's open, you will often find a few restored cars as well.)

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

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6874
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted July 13, 2014 02:05 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Back to the Bridgton Twin

I am just back from a week long vacation in Maine’s Sebago Lakes. We rented a house on Little Sebago Lake. Even though it is over ten miles long, this one gets called “little” because it is in an area of many lakes, and many larger ones too. We did most of the things I love to do when I’m there: relax by a campfire many nights and go grab some lobsters and fresh corn to eat out on the porch. As often as I wanted I pushed off in my solo canoe and coasted around the bay our house overlooked. There were two loons with a chick going about their business in the very vocal way these birds are famous for and I saw them a lot. One afternoon they lost and then found their baby and I’m sure people knew about it a mile down the lake.

Another thing I love to do when I’m in the neighborhood is take in a drive-in movie. Maine has a pretty decent crop of operating drive-ins. Based on what was showing and who I was with, we chose to return once again to the Bridgton Twin.

This was kind of a bittersweet return. When we were there in 2011, the Twin was showing 35mm. A year or so later they went digital, simply as a matter of survival in these changing times.

Along with the conversion, they completely tore down their snack bar and built a new building containing the projection house for screen #1 plus a new snack bar and very nice comfort facilities.

Opposite the snack bar there was this pleasant surprise:

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This was a 35mm machine from screen #1, along with what I think are the power supplies for the lamp house. It’s interesting to see it set up for reels top and bottom: I’d imagined all modern 35mm projection was done with a platter.

My very sharp-eyed son saw some film inside it and declared it the penguin dance sequence from Mary Poppins (-the one that Pamela Travers allegedly hated so much according to Saving Mr Banks)

It is still equipped with its anamorphic lens:

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It’s nice to see that even after the conversion, the management of the theater has enough reverence for the history this machine represents that they found it a place of honor. Being that it’s a family business I bet there are some personal memories as well.

It’s interesting that watching a Drive-In movie doesn’t involve the car nearly as much as you might suspect. We, along with most of the audience found it much more comfortable sitting on lawn chairs behind the car, with the front bumper facing away from the screen, the rear hatch open and the stereo turned up. (A decent portable radio with fresh batteries might be nice next time…)

The poles for the hard-wired car speakers are still there at screen #1, but the speakers themselves are long gone. Screen #2 has been FM sound from the start, so there were never any poles there.

We learned the lessons of 2011 well: as much a July day as it started out to be it got pretty chilly after sunset. A sweatshirt and a fleece blanket each made everything right to enjoy that 75 foot wide screen under a starry Maine sky just fine and finish the movie too.

As far as the digital conversion goes, the reality of our time is that this change is coming: like it or not, ready or not. The family that owns this place doesn’t have the luxury to stay 35mm and still be an operating cinema. As much as I love film, I can’t be so much of a purist that I’d boycott them for doing what they have to do to stay in business and put food on their table.

Besides, as much as I enjoyed the fresh local corn, I’d rather see it be a drive-in theater of any kind than just another cornfield.

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

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Brad Miller
Administrator

Posts: 504
From: Dallas, TX, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted July 13, 2014 07:48 PM      Profile for Brad Miller   Author's Homepage   Email Brad Miller       Edit/Delete Post 
Actually digital offers a boost in quality to drive-ins (assuming they do it right). Here is an un-doctored photograph taken while running a test show of Back to the Future at a drive-in I installed last year. Note the drive-in screen's backdrop is the downtown skyscrapers, yet the digital was easily able to overcome the ambient light. That screen is over 80 feet wide.

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Steve Klare
Film Guy

Posts: 6874
From: Long Island, NY, USA
Registered: Jun 2003


 - posted July 13, 2014 08:05 PM      Profile for Steve Klare   Email Steve Klare   Send New Private Message       Edit/Delete Post 
Yes, the picture was very good. My regrets run purely towards the sentimental side.

About the biggest gripe I had with it was nothing to do with the projector. Their screen surface is a mosaic of white panels a couple of feet on each side and quite often the gaps showed in the brighter sections of the picture.

I thought a couple of guys, a couple of ladders, a couple of tubes of white caulking and a couple of putty knives might make a world of difference here.

-at one point there was a bat flying back and forth scross the screen, probably catching bugs attracted by the beam, but that was kind of interesting!

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

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John Hourigan
Master Film Handler

Posts: 301
From: Colorado U.S.A.
Registered: Sep 2003


 - posted July 13, 2014 08:23 PM      Profile for John Hourigan   Email John Hourigan       Edit/Delete Post 
Wow! -- That's an impressive picture, Brad. And the quality of the image on the screen looks outstanding!

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