"Movie theaters should be offering a night out, not just a bigger screen," says Cinefamily co-founder and executive creative director Hadrian Belove. "It's funny, you do all this work for something you only show once," he says with a chuckle, like a proud parent on his kid's graduation day.
In the case of the iconic indie theatre's rejuvenated musical programming, two series called "Band and a Movie" and "VideoSonics" are are labors of love for Belove and his team, which includes social media coordinator Michelle Halac and a new partner, Graeme Flegenheimer, formerly of Church on York, who — along with Sean Carlson and Phil Hoelting from FYF, Tiffany and Allison Anders from DKTR, and others — will help book bands for Cinefamily's music events moving forward.
“He’s a passionate advocate for music programming around Los Angeles," says Belove about his latest collaborator, Flegenheimer. "I think his motivations, himself, are that he’s very excited to help out."
While Band and a Movie, which Belove calls "a different kind of double-feature," actually started last year, they happened sporadically, and the team plans to make it a more consistent part of the Cinefamily calendar in 2016. In 2015, the theater brought in such artists as Angel Olsen, Busdriver and Cass McCombs to perform in conjunction with a film of the artist's choosing, often offering up unexpected surprises for guests.
"Cass McCombs decided to do all unreleased music when he played Band and a Movie," says Halac. "I’ve seen Busdriver dozens of times at places like Low End Theory where I was sweating and dancing. Seeing him while sitting in a couch seat at the theatre gave me the chance to really focus in on his words."
This year, Band and a Movie will be a monthly, ongoing event. Belove also plans to make VideoSonics, which he describes as "a new playground for forward-thinking audio-visual remixes and fresh takes on the live score phenomenon," more present on the theater's calendar, as well.
The VideoSonics program gives artists the opportunity to create their own soundtracks to the films they love, and share their perceptions about the movies that inspire them with an intimate audience. Imagine a film "remixed" by the artist (with help from the in-house editing team and Cut Chemist's VJ, Tom Fitzgerald) and transformed into a new piece of art. "We love, appreciate and worship these films. And just like any art form, it’s natural to be inspired," says Belove. "There are infinite options to create a piece."
So far, there have been two VideoSonics events. Last July, experimental noise-pop band Xiu Xiu remixed Masahiro Shinoda's 1975 fantasy horror film Under the Blossoming Cherry Trees with a live performance of their own soundtrack inspired by the movie. Last night, Alex Hungtai's performed for the first time in Los Angeles as experimental rockabilly project Last Lizard (formerly known as Dirty Beaches) and joined forces with Cinefamily to present an original score to Chantal Akerman's 1977 documentary, News From Home.
Because VideoSonics is a much more labor-intensive event, both for the theater and the artist, than Band and a Movie, it may be a while before it becomes a monthly event, too. Cost is also a obstacle. "We only charge 20 to 25 bucks for the band and the movie, whereas normally, I suppose, you’d pay that just to see the band, or $15 just to see the movie," says Belove. "I have to pay for the band and the movie, but we don’t want to double the ticket price. We still want it to be affordable to regular people."
"Within these shows you see artists pairing their own art with other art they love in a different genre, and it's a full cultural experience," says Halac. "There's something about the Cinefamily audience also — they walk into the theater always so positive and excited. The people that come through here really care about what they’re about to see."
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And, it seems, they should. Reminiscing about the theater's evening with Cass McCombs, Belove recalls the feeling in the room at the end of the night: "“You felt like you were getting a really full meal that evening. It was a cultural feast."
[Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly described Michelle Halac's role at Cinefamily as programmer. Her primary role is social media coordinator. It also neglected to mention that Flegenheimer is just one of many bookers assisting with both VideoSonics and Band and a Movie. We regret the errors.]