The Loft Cinema

The Loft Cinema


(slow piano music) – [Jeff] The one thing
that across the board, in Tucson, that people, even if they don’t know
anything about the Loft, even if they think
they’d never been here, when you mention that
we’re the theater that shows Rocky
Horror Picture Show, everyone remembers that. ♪ I’m just a sweet
transvestite ♪ – The Rocky Horror Picture Show ♪ Let’s do the time-warp again ♪ (high pitch sound) (upbeat music) – [Peggy] In 1972,
The Loft transitioned from basically, a porn
theater to an arts cinema. The man who owned it
gifted it to his daughter, who really wanted to
rent an art theater. (upbeat music) – [Peggy] It used to
be at Fremont and 6th in a very funky space. Everybody who ever was
there will use that word. And, then it moved here in ’91. And, then in 2000, there
was a for-sale sign up. I saw the sign go up, and my heart stopped, because I didn’t
think I wanted to live in Tucson anymore
without The Loft. It was too central to my life. – [Peggy] My husband and I
seriously considered moving. Took us two years
to negotiate it, but we purchased the
theater in November of 2002 and turned it into a nonprofit. – [Peggy] We closed
and got the keys, and were the owners, and had to start running
it, like that day. Not, there wasn’t like a month of getting used to it and
it was sort of interesting. I was working at
AZPM at the time. – [Reporter, Peggy] They
say it’s a 20 year plan that could well take
that long to implement- – [Peggy] And, I had
been a journalist my whole life, and knew little or nothing about running a business. So, it was sort of
baptism by fire. – [Peggy] The first
year I calculated, I think seven, nights
that I stayed up all night because, there was
just so much to do and there were so
few of us doing it. – [Female Interviewer] And when
did you start feeling like- – 2006. (laughs) Is that what you mean,
when we turn the corner and everything was fine? Yeah. I started sleeping, yes. 2006. – [Peggy] We had a
perfect storm of events. Catalina had closed, which
was a big competition. We hired Jeff as
Program Director, and we got Brokeback
Mountain which was, until last year, our
biggest box office hit. – [Male Movie Character] I
wish I knew how to quit you. (fist punch sound) (fireworks popping) – We never have
really looked back. (laughs) (crowd chatter) (background talking of crowd) – [Jeff] A lot of
the good stories that are the most
gratifying to me actually come from
our Kids Fest, which is an annual
event every summer. (staff and crowd talking) – [Jeff] 10 days, free movies. – I’m Jeff Yanc, I’m
the Program Director here at The Loft Cinema. – [Farmer Jeff] Howdy, kids! – [Crowd Of Children] Howdy! – [Farmer Jeff] Howdy, howdy. – [Farmer Jeff] My
name is Farmer Jeff. – [Jeff] I often say that I’m the cruise director
of the theater. – What do you grow
in your garden? – Flowers. – Flowers, come on! – [Farmer Jeff] Come on
flower girl, come on. Please go join Shawna. – [Jeff] A couple years
ago, I had a parent who had a couple of kids, the
dad was just so thankful, he said, “I can’t
afford to take my kids to see movies, and they
always feel left out because all their
friends go to see movies and they don’t get to.” “The only time they get
to is at your Kids Fest.” And, he started crying. And, it was, it was
just really touching, because it really lets you know that what you’re doing is
having an impact on people. Cause, that’s what
it’s about, it’s like, are you connecting with people? (slow piano music) – [Peggy] When we first opened, the Arizona Daily
Star did a story. And, they had a sidebar
called, “What is an art film?” In the 70s, most
every foreign film would have been
considered an art film. But, now so much anymore. It’s a hard term to define. For me, the definition is, you know, if its… If we show it. – [Jeff] When you’re
looking for films for the theater, you’re
looking for films that speak to a wide audience. But, then you’re also
looking for films that speak to
specific communities. Also, quality is great, if
you can find great films. I do say that not every film that we show, I don’t love. But, I think that’s
the trick is, you’re not programming
for your own taste, and your taste is
not everyone’s taste. There have been films
that I’ve been surprised that people did not like. One example was about
from three years ago, it was a film
called The Lobster, – [Male Movie Character]
Would you like to dance? – [Male Movie Character]
Mind if I join you? – [Jeff] And, it was
a fairly big film, it got a lot of
buzz, lot of hype, it was at all the
film festivals, I really liked it, a lot. And, we showed it here
and I don’t think I’ve ever had such divisive
comments from our audience (playful music) – [Female Movie Character] A
lobster’s an excellent choice. (violin music) – [Jeff] Like people, a
lot of people hated it. Like really, really hated it. (popcorn popping) (crowd chatter) – My name is
Ariana, and this is- – I’m Jessica. – And we’re here
to see The Farewell right over next door, in their little garage. – [Female Interviewer]
How often do you guys come to The Loft? – [Ariana] I’d say like
a couple times a week. – Yeah, at least once
a week, and we’re part of The Loft Members so,
we come quite often, yeah. – [Jessica] I think
it adds to Tucson, and like the film
community are just people that just like to
come out and like, watch unique things. – Yeah. It’s definitely unique,
just like I think the city of Tucson is
unique within itself. So, this just kind
of adds to the flair of what Tucson is. (female movie character
speaking foreign language) – [Jeff] I think The
Loft is important because it really is a
venue for alternative voices and alternative visions,
in terms of film making. (female movie character
speaking foreign language) – [Jeff] And, most
of these films that we show would not
show on a movie screen in Tucson if we
didn’t bring them. (female movie character
speaking foreign language) – [Jeff] I think films
really offer a window into cultures that
you may never have any contact with
or experience with. So, that’s part of our mission, like to find those kind of films to give people that window
into a broader perspective. (playful music) – [Peggy] The other
thing I love about The Loft is, it doesn’t
look like a chain. You come into The Loft, and you know you’re not at
a corporate chain theater, and you know you’re
not in Texas, and you know you’re
not in California, it’s pretty Tucson. You know, and I
think that that local kind of funkiness of our theater is very specific to Tucson. – In 2017, we finally got around to renovating screen one. We were able to
take that 500 seat, it was 20 rows of 25 seats. There were good things about it, but there were more bad things
about it than good things. And, the fact that the
seats were so uncomfortable, most of them, like
sitting on coat hangers. And, so we were able to
do this major renovations from ceiling down. I mean we… everything
is new in there except for the gold drapes. (sound of sweeping up popcorn) It’s kind of going from
coach to upgraded coach, not business class all
the way, but, you know. We’ll never do that. – [Peggy] Our model
is more to focus on making the experience of seeing and hearing the film as good
as it could possibly be. (heavy duty truck engine) – [Jeff] Actually,
this is a signal of our success I think. Is that, we do not
have enough screens to show all the films
that we could be showing and to accommodate
all the audiences we could be accommodating. So, that’s a real dream. Is to add another
screen, or two. (sounds of crowd
interacting with staff) – [Peggy] Things are
so different today than they were in 2002. So many people are staying home and watching things
on their iPad or their phones,
or their big TVs, or whatever. There’s nothing wrong with that, but people that leave
their home and come here, and the lights go down, big screen lights
up with the film, then that group of people
is a community, you know, and they’re sharing
an experience. – [Crowd] Five, four,
three, two, one! (cheers from crowd) – [Jeff] So, I think it’s
more that a movie theater. It’s a real kind
of, community space, which is really what
we strive to be. (triumphant music) – [Peggy] It’s just the
best place in town, for me. (laughs) (triumphant music)

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