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Saturday, October 12, 2019

The Final Sign That Theatre Etiquette is Truly Dead. RIP.

Well.  I should be working on reviews, but I simply have to get this off of my chest.

As many folks know, I'm covering Screamfest for Horror Freak News - for the sixth consecutive year.  It's a tradition, and I'm thrilled to be part of the Screamfest family.

It's become an epidemic of sorts, for bad behavior by movie-goers.  Talking, texting, looking at their phones, etc.  My other half (it's now become its own tradition at Screamfest and other festivals we usually attend) calls out folks who bring out their phones to check messages, etc., thus lighting up the darkened theatre - IN THE MIDDLE OF THE FILM.

Generally, folks will quickly hide their phones, give a quick passive-aggressive look in our direction (we always sit in the back - another tradition) and we all go on our merry ways for the remainder of the screening.

But tonight - after 5 years of attending film festivals - I experienced something brand new, as far as bad theatre etiquette.

We sat down for one of the feature films this evening.  Not a packed theatre, but an okay house.  We were again in our usual seats (phones off) and ready to fall into the world of the film.  This particular piece was one I had on my schedule as "I will review this one."

I think it was a total of three times we had to tell a group of people (we now know was cast/crew for the film being screened) to turn off their phones.  One person was admonished twice by my other half, and then a third time by myself (and my other half chiming in).  The usual backwards glances of anger (or whatever).

Look.  I get it.  This is your film.  You're celebrating your showing at Screamfest.  And I congratulate you.  Screamfest is a big deal and you made it.

But here are a few things I think should be kept in mind.

Isn't the old saying/belief that once you make your film, complete it and release it -- that it's no longer yours?  Isn't that true of all art destined for an audience?

The last straw for both my other half and I (yes, we left the film with probably 20 minutes remaining on the run-time) was when we called out a DIFFERENT person in the SAME group, for taking photos/video of the film.  This particular person got out of his seat, came up to us and explained that he was the film's DP (Director of Photography).  My other half quickly replied that we were press, there to review his film.  This person then quickly returned to his seat, and we left shortly thereafter - the experience ruined via our complete removal from the film and its story (by that point, how could we not be?)

The thing is, the cinematography of the film was actually quite good (no doubt it would have been praised had I watched the entire piece and then penned a review).  Having a screening experience of lovely vistas and riversides upset by the creator of said loveliness (because he had to take pictures of his -- what I'm assuming is -- completed film).  That's irony, right?  Hammered home in a big way.

And I can sort of understand (certainly not forgive) the general public for less-than perfect behavior in the cinema these days.  But the filmmakers themselves - who should certainly know better, or strive for better etiquette?  Frankly, this whole experience is mind-boggling.

I won't call out the film we walked out on, nor the film's cinematographer by name.  That's just not nice.  But c'mon - wouldn't you want press to have the best and ultimate experience, thus allowing them to get lost in your film and then write a glowing review to hopefully further your film's success?

And if that sounds like I'm touting the power of the press as being TOO powerful, then how about this?  Even if I'm just a regular viewer, who came in off the street to check out a film festival screening, perhaps on a whim, or for my first time.  What about that?  Good old-fashioned word of mouth (and subsequent social media praise from the people) - that's not bad, right?

I've been going to the theatres less and less, because of entitled behavior from other patrons.  But getting this kind of nonsense from a filmmaker at an elite festival screening?

Well, the chances of me returning to the cinema more frequently - have fallen yet again.

And of course: DISCLAIMER.  I in no way blame Screamfest or its amazing organizers and staff for any of this.  They're salt of the earth and awesome.  And before EVERY block, they do remind folks to turn off - AND KEEP OFF - their cell phones during the screenings.

1 comment:

Guild Master Gaming said...

I am sorry to hear this is spreading like this. I am seeing this also. At FilmqQuest Film Festival a person had to be asked to shut down their laptop, not only the light but the regular tapping of typing. Thankfully they complied and didn't bring it back. --Dan Yocom

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