Have a Voice in the Future of the Film Forum!

The Board of Directors of the Saratoga Film Forum invites Film Forum members, friends, patrons, volunteers and members of the community to an important, open town-hall meeting in the Dee Sarno Theater at the Saratoga Arts Center, 320 Broadway, on Tuesday, March 19, at 7 p.m. This moderated meeting will be a public forum on the future of the Film Forum in the age of pay-per-view and online movies—and Bow-Tie’s planned 19 screens. Unimaginable even a few years ago, these developments suggest the pressing need for a reconsideration of our relevance, our special value, and our future. How do you see us evolving? Is our mission now accomplished, or is there more for us to do? As a membership-supported, grassroots community organization, we welcome your visions and your thoughts and we deeply value your participation. See you on the 19th!

UPDATE (03/19): Due to snow, this meeting has been postponed to Wednesday, March 27th, same time, same location.

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10 Comments

10 Reply to “Have a Voice in the Future of the Film Forum!”

  1. I think we should specialize in the foreign and independent films–it remains to be seen if
    even 19 screens will have enough space devoted to the really excellent work available in this category…

    Thanks for seeking opinions.
    Pat McEvoy

  2. I agree with Pat, and would also suggest screening more older classic films. In Rochester, NY there is the Little Theatre that specializes in contemporary art/independent films, but there is also the Eastman House theater that screens a mix of old and new, foreign and domestic films. I imagine the Saratoga Film Forum filling a role similar to the Eastman House, where patrons receive a thoughtful introduction to the film ahead of time, perhaps a discussion afterward. Documentaries that are relevant to contemporary issues are also of interest: Bow-Tie cinemas ultimately has no interest in getting people to think, promoting civic discussion, and educating the public about the art of film. This is a role that the Film Forum currently fills to some extent, and is a role that the big theaters cannot fill.
    I would point out that the opening of a large cinema nearby could also be a positive thing for the film forum. Sometimes when “competitors” locate next to each other it can benefit both when the location becomes seen as a destination. In this case, downtown Saratoga may draw even more people seeking cultural venues. By providing a carefully selected variety of films that complement Bow-Tie’s selection, it will mean more choice for movie-goers.

  3. I’ve been a member of the Film Forum for decades and appreciate the many outstanding films I’ve been able to see in Saratoga Springs -thanks to the good work of the Forum.

    The approach of Bow-Tie’s theaters delivers a tangible threat to survival of the Film Forum, and I hope that the management and Board of the Forum will devise a sound financial and strategic plan to sustain the Forum over the years to come.

    While Bow Tie may suggest now that it will show indie films and quality movies that invite thought, ultimately Bow Tie, as with any business, is concerned with revenues and return on investment. Depending upon Bow Tie to sustain quality films for a limited audience in Saratoga Springs is folly.

    So the Film Forum must continue its mission. It needs to find the resources to sustain that mission and to improve the viewing conditions for the audience and patrons. (Film Forum seating is uncomfortable, the sound and video projection are marginal, and the absence of a sloped seating area leaves many in the audience unable to see parts of the screen.) Given all those new screens to be installed by Bow Tie, surely there is some basis for leasing one of those theaters and showing Film Forum selections three evenings a week.

    I suspect that these challenges can be solved by an agreement with Bow Tie, and by raising enough funds to create a financial resource sufficient to cover the costs that Bow Tie would require. In addition, it should be possible to help Bow Tie understand the historical contribution that the Film Forum has made to Saratoga Springs and to interest the company in partnering with the Forum to sustain the cultural value of good film in our community.

    Those of us who love good film will have to understand that the Forum cannot sustain its offerings in competition with Bow Tie (especially in the early months of Bow Tie operations when they may show some indie films) and at costs that have sufficed in the past. If we want to continue, over the long haul, to see creative, thoughtful, provocative film in Saratoga Springs, we’re all going to have adjust and to pay a little more.

    Bob DeSieno

  4. Dear Film Forum,

    I LOVE and support you! I don’t want you to go away. It’s not just the great selection of film. It’s the community feeling of sharing a movie with friends. I think the selection of films has been wonderful and although Bow-Tie may take some of the more popular films away, I still feel there are plenty of independent, foreign and documentary films that are worthy of our audience. I dare say…why can’t we go head to head with Bow-tie and show the same film…ha! I have no idea about the economics but I know our popcorn is cheaper! In any case, I see a future for the film forum. I will continue to support this organization. It would be my first choice over the Bow-Tie…I was saddened to see Saratoga choose to add this to our downtown. In my opinon, it’s too much, too big and unwanted by me. I like the feel of the “small town” film forum and look forward to being a member for many more years. Sorry I will not be in NY for the meeting. I will look for the ideas to be shared when the meeting is concluded.
    Sincerely,
    Ellen

  5. https://www.talkcinema.com

    I think Talk Cinema would be worthwhile to look at for Saratoga. It is a vibrant program that already exists in several cities. Think Saratoga would benefit from the movies,conversations and trips which are pre-arranged.
    There is a need for your organization here either to join forces with Bow Tie or remain independent to ensure quality movies.

  6. Amy, I’m unable to attend the March 19 meeting. I hope you will provide a summary of the proceedings -on the Film Forum web site -for all to read.

    Thanks for working so hard on this challenge.

    -Bob

  7. Hello:

    My husband and I joined the Film Forum in November as Actors, thanks to a generous 50th birthday gift to me from my two sisters. This is the first time since probably 1986 that I have been such a frequent visitor to a theatre to view films. I have missed only one film since our membership kicked in, and that was only because we were out of town for a full week. I can honestly state that prior to joining the Film Forum, the last time I went to see a film in a commercial theatre was 2007. I simply cannot afford $25 for two tickets, sodas and popcorn to see a film that I do not know whether or not I will like.

    So … obviously, I am a supporter of the Film Forum for the variety of films it offers, the community service it provides, and its true affordability. My sense as someone who has lived in Saratoga for three years now is that there are others like me out here who want to see good films, don’t have a whole lot of time to research the good, bad, and ugly of recent indie/documentary/foreign film releases, or financial resources to afford the Bow-Tie Theatre prices, and like indulging in a weekly box of $2 popcorn (and, yes, I would pay $3, if need be). Is there a way to generate more awareness of the membership options and the value that Film Forum offers? Particularly to Saratoga newcomers but also to others whom I suspect have my movie-watching habits? Case in point, I began shopping at the Saratoga Farmers Market six days after I moved here because I was a farmers market shopper before I relocated from the West Coast so a local farmers market was one of the first things I looked for. I might have joined the Film Forum much sooner if I knew a membership option that would allow me to see a once-weekly film plus lots of special extras existed. I only learned of this possibility from a colleague who is now a board member.

    Himanee

  8. Hi Amy (and others),

    Thank you for the response. I’ve actually been meaning to bring Friends of the Saratoga Market flyers to the performing arts center to encourage volunteers. I’m certainly happy to reciprocate by bringing Film Forum materials to the farmers market. I’m there almost every Saturday and during the summers drop in on Wednesdays, too.

    I also kind of think that the arrival of Northshire Books as well as Bow-Tie might be more of an asset for the Film Forum than a loss because both will create more reasons beyond food and bars to spend evenings and weekends downtown. I used to cover the retail industry for The Seattle Times eons ago, and I remember in 1990-91 when Starbucks was beginning its international expansion and opened two coffee shops on Robson Street in Vancouver, BC, right across the block from each other. Everyone thought the move was crazy, but both stores were among the highest grossing stores in the company.

    See you on the 27th.

    Himanee

  9. I have grown up in Saratoga Springs and see the Film Forum as a fixture of the city. As a teenager, I saw the center as a place to explore films that explored content different than what was shown at the bigger, more commercial theatres in and around the city. The Forum is priceless to me because the films that it offers are more fresh, more genuine, and better for developing a young person’s perspective than the mainstream movies. Amidst a new movie theatre coming to town, I’m a strong supporter of the Film Forum remaining, even if it must take a different shape. It’s a gem in our city, and we mustn’t let it go!

  10. One aspect that may influence where people choose to go … the price point difference between Bow Tie and the Film Forum. The FF serves a wide variety of budgets and is an accessible social outlet for locals and visitors for a lot of reasons, not the least of which is its inclusive pricing.

    One of the reasons often cited for the shift to watching movies at home is the ticket and concession prices at for-profit venues.

    The reasonable ticket prices for the Film Forum were a trade-off for the seating, etc. Raising prices closer to Bow Tie may have unintended consequences, people switching to the new venue anyway, or going with Netflix.

    There is more to the money story, though than ticket prices.

    Bow Tie is the indirect beneficiary of $956,653 in tax breaks given to the property’s developer. (Source: TU)

    That level of taxpayer largesse – for an upscale entertainment venue, sited at a luxury apartment facility – brings with it some level of responsibility.

    I hope the tax breaks – that everybody including Film Forum ticket holders contribute to – help inspire everybody (including Bow Tie) to create a win-win for Saratoga.

    It’s important to protect traditions that work, and the Film Forum is a treasure worth preserving: Quality films at an accessible price, a welcoming, volunteer-run place of ideas and community.

    Thanks to the volunteers for all you do!

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