Kamloops Film Society facing up to Paramount challenges

Tom Friedman’s 10th year with the Kamloops Film Society will be an interesting one.

At the society’s annual general meeting held Monday, he spoke to about a dozen fellow cinephiles in attendance.

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“When we all met last year, no one could have predicted that we’d be sitting in our own theatre here tonight,” he said.

Friedman was speaking from home turf — the Paramount Theatre, purchased by the Kelson Group in April, who named the film society its operator.

The society set a goal to secure a reliable venue in 2016 and now that it has acquired one, it’s facing up against a new reality.

“It’s not going to be easy. It’s full of challenges,” Friedman said.

Part of those challenges include adjusting to a new operating schedule. Before, the society welcomed patrons for its Thursday film series and for its festival typically held for about 10 days in March each year.

Now, it has quickly scaled up from two days a week to five days a week, and eyes are on even further expansion — when the time is right.

KFS executive director and theatre manager Dusan Magdolen said the society’s situation before and its situation now is like comparing apples to camels. Now, the society has more to concern itself with: rentals, concession, utilities, salaries and ongoing building maintenance.

While the Paramount has provided a home for KFS, it has also created some financial vulnerabilities. The theatre was built in 1955 and an additional theatre was added in 1977. Combined, the two seat an audience of about 770.

“We’re dealing with a boiler from the 1950s and the reality is, the life of that boiler is limited,” he said.

The boiler would be one major expense. Projection equipment would be another — and about $14,000 was already spent on maintaining that equipment.

Complicating the maintenance issue is that the society’s financials are now completely up in the air, with a host of new line items hitting the budget this year and newfound revenue and expenses.

“This was frustrating for us in general, taking over midway through a fiscal year. There’s no way we can judge. That’s been a real challenge,” Friedman said.

One change that may help ease the society’s access to funds is its bid for charitable status. Friedman said the application was made in October and he’s confident it will succeed.

“If we have charitable status, we can give donors a tax write-off, and that’s a really big plus. We have very generous people in the community, but the tax write-off means a lot,” he said.

In terms of day-to-day operations, Magdolen said not much will change as far as the audience is concerned, except maybe a new ticketing kiosk in the lobby and the addition of one or two new staff in the new year, if finances allow.

Magdolen said changes to the annual film festival are also in the works, but at this point with the committee just beginning to meet, there are not plans to change much. He said those changes might include more events held in advance and more use of the theatre space, now that it is fully available.

© Kamloops This Week


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