While it’s more fun to watch a movie with other people than by yourself, heavier cinematic fare doesn’t always work so well in a group where most of the viewers are more blockbuster-minded. What’s a serious film buff to do?
This dilemma prompted Alex Palmer to create the OKC Film Club, which holds its second meeting Tuesday night.
“I like to watch a lot of movies, but with foreign, artsy and black-and-white movies, I tend to watch them alone,” Palmer said. “I thought, ‘I can’t be the only person out there with this predicament!’”
Nick Poss, who helped found the club with Palmer, said he enjoys having the chance to discuss different types of films with people who are equally passionate about the medium.
“It’s so excellent to have a bunch of cinephiles in the same room sharing thoughts on films you wouldn’t show on an average movie night,” Poss said. “It’s a safe place to appreciate those kinds of films together.”
The club holds its meetings at The Parish, a Plaza District community center known for its fellowship, live music and coffee shop. A law student at Oklahoma City University, Palmer attends church services at The Parish, while Poss serves as its worship and arts director.
“Alex had the idea of having the club meet here,” Poss said. “We both thought it was a great opportunity to provide something free to the community, especially since we have the facility available to us.”
Palmer said the facility’s screens and audio equipment make it ideal to hold the club’s monthly meetings.
“It’s a great multipurpose venue,” he said. “It’s really a perfect location.”
While the OKC Film Club had its inaugural meeting last month, it already has established a format for the meetings to follow. Palmer solicits ideas for titles from the club’s Facebook page. (Online, the club has adopted the above iconic shot from Georges Méliès 1902 short, A Trip to the Moon, as its avatar.) The film selection is kept a surprise until the screening; attendees discuss it together afterward.
Palmer said making each screening a surprise is a great way for people to be exposed to movies they might not have seen otherwise.
“Plus, they come in without any preconceived notions about the film they’re about to see,” he said.
For the first meeting, the group watched David Lynch’s 2001 mystery, Mulholland Dr. Poss said that while the Oscar-nominated film is “dense” and difficult to wade through, it is a totally different experience to watch with a group than alone.
Meetings are free and open to film aficionados, as well as newcomers looking to learn more about cinema.
“Our goal is to give people the opportunity to understand revolutionary films from the past, and to give people the foundation to appreciate new films,” Poss said.
Once a core of returning members is established, Palmer has plans for expansion, such as beginning the screenings with a guest speaker who can add another dimension to the viewing experience. For example, he said, “If we showed something like Primer, we could bring in one of our engineering friends to walk through the technicalities of the film.”
Because films have become readily available on personal devices such as laptops, game consoles and smartphones, he said there’s an even greater need for community interaction.
“There’s so much more access to film now, what with streaming and on-demand,” Palmer said. “The issue is that you’re watching it at home, and you want to talk about it with other people. This club fulfills that need.”