When I was four, my mother took me to a theater while we waited for my father. In a hot, drab little desert town, the asphalt baked the same shade as dirt, we bought tickets to another world. Beyond the ticket counter, we fell into a dark, cool, bright musical world called the Sound of Music.
It was for me a revelation. Some buildings held within them secret worlds, worlds that were brighter and better and more wonderful. I've been in love with movies ever since.
As a child, I went to drive-ins. The trip to the snack bar, looking at other people enclosed in their little four wheeled fishbowls. In the swings at the base of the giant screen, waiting for the sun to go down, running back to the car when the cartoons started, in my pajamas in the back seat. Later still, kissing and sweating with lovely women on the bench seat of a station wagon, too shy to climb in the back.
I thought about running a theater, but cable was invading everyone's house with 24/7 programming, people were afraid to go out in the streets because there were other people out there, and the movies died a death called Stadium Seating. There was no living to be had, just hard work and a collapsing business model.
Perhaps it's better now, but I miss that ephemeral nature of an old movie theater. You can't pause the show. The screen is big. You fall into it. The world around is dark and quiet and watching with you. I wanted my daughters to have that experience.
But you can't take toddler twins to a theater and expect it to end well. And for two parents with cabin fever who couldn't spend over $100 for a night out at the movies, I began to look for alternatives.
The components of a theater are cheap or easy to build. A projector and a screen. A dark, quiet space to lay them out. Those are the fundaments.
My first theater night consisted of lugging my laptop computer into the backyard. The girls asleep, my wife and I sat in the dark and swatted mosquitoes and watched a movie. And I knew I was on to something.
This is the culmination of that dusty desert screening. This is a spectacular helicopter shot on the top of a Austria Alp, resurrected in a model theater, tiny and in my back yard. Why do I do this? I don't know.
Why doesn't everyone?