Open Letter to Regal Cinemas


This is my open letter to Regal Cinemas, who have a strong foothold in the NYC movie exhibition market with several multiplexes they operate in Manhattan, Brooklyn and Staten Island. Originally published on Renegade Cinema.

To: Regal Entertainment Group

7132 Regal Lane
Knoxville, Tennessee 37918

In light of all too many experiences at several of your Cinemas in New York City and the surrounding metropolitan area:  I am offering these words so that you may be informed – and can better manage your movie theaters and thus improve the movie going experience for New Yorkers. As you know NYC is a hotbed of filmmaking activity so it should go without saying that many of your patrons are filmmakers either studying film or associated with those behind many of the films you screen in your multiplexes. I am not sure how it is in regular America or other American cities, but here in  the Big Apple, many of us have become disenchanted by the problems that come with going out to the movies.

I have found it increasingly difficult to go to the movies and support my peers when film’s they’ve worked on are released to your theaters, specifically. From disruptive audiences to the admittance of crying babies into R rated films, it’s baffling that this is allowed to go on. Although the staff checks the auditoriums regularly, and have a sheet they sign to prove they’ve done so, not once have I witnessed anyone ever confronting an audience member who was breaking any of the rules concerning disruptive behavior in the theater. Incidents of cell phone use during these presentations are prevalent in the following locations: Union Square, Times Square, New Dorp, Battery Park & Court Street  Brooklyn. And why should your staffers confront these perpetrators when you’re not providing them training and a wage commensurate to deal with escalation? At some point I confronted the manager of the New Dorp branch, a blond woman who looked to be in her thirties and conveyed a “I’ve had it with life” sort of demeanor. She was passive, offering the “number to corporate”, as if it didn’t concern her that her staff is allowing babies into inappropriate movies. Not that I’m a stickler for ratings, but some of these cats were five years or younger. She told me it is against the law to deny anyone access to the movies, and that when it comes to crying and what not, she can’t keep them from going back in, after her staff does eventually get around to bringing them out into the main lobby. She offered me a free pass to a later show, which I declined. I had left this complaint on the back burner because tickets at that theater are a wonderful $6.00, which for NYC is a steal. A free ferry ride and a free transfer to the Staten Island railway – you can be in New Dorp within an hour from lower Manhattan for the cheapest movie tickets in New York City. At these other locations, however, it’s completely unacceptable as tickets are at peak prices – which are hardly reasonable.

Last week, I attempted to attend the new release of TUSK at the Regal in Union Square. I was taken aback by the loss prevention tactics employed by the staff there, which includes bag searches and pat downs of patrons with cargo pants, of which I was able to avoid thanks to an influx of teenagers who had distracted the woman engaged in the searches. When I approached the ticket taker, he refused to grant me admittance (this was 20 mins before the show). He told me I had to wait ten minutes. I informed him that I needed to use the rest room and then wanted to wait in line at the concession stand, which would take the allotted amount of time he wanted me to wait. This did not concern him and his attitude towards me was patronizing and somewhat “bureaucratic”. I immediately headed down to the ticket window to get a refund on my ticket and the ticket seller demanded to know why. I’ve never been required to give an explanation to refund a movie ticket before, not ever. After informing her that I was uncomfortable with the environment and the attitude of the ticket taker, she got an attitude and told me that I had to wait for a manger. I got the impression that she didn’t really care why I wanted a refund, but that she just wanted to get a rise out of me. I waited a good fifteen minutes before I was issued a refund and to add insult, they refused to give me a receipt. I guess I’ll have to monitor my account to check on the status of the credit, which she told me would take a good four to five business days.

With my complaints, dear Regal people, I come bearing solutions. Take ‘em or leave ‘em but your actions depend on whether or not you can keep you footing in the NYC market. As far as phone usage, a simple answer to this problem would be to convert every single auditorium into a Faraday cage, which would prohibit signals from entering and exiting the theater. All movie theaters should be like this. Society has done well with no cell phones in movie theaters since the beginning of film exhibition, and we all did rather well for ourselves didn’t we? As a life long movie goer with many friends who are like me, I take my movie viewing experience seriously. For me, I require a certain amount of time before the show to acclimate myself to the theater environment in order to better immerse myself into the story. This is common for many of us who see movies as much more than disposable entertainment and I urge Regal to take people like us into consideration when establishing a required timeline of when it is okay to arrive for a show. Lastly, the most off-putting and disconcerting part of all of this is the United Nations level security procedures you have implemented in your Manhattan locations. Pat downs and bag check at the movies: is overkill.

Heading out to the movies on a Friday night should not consist of taxing policies and procedures, patronizing employees ‘nor disruptive audiences who lack eti-what? Etiquette! …especially at fifteen dollars a head. It’s ridiculous. It’s offensive. Had been my film, I would have pulled it from your chain altogether. All you’re doing with this lackadaisical micro-managing bureaucratic approach is discouraging dedicated movie goers from attending your shows.

Eric Norcross


Note: in light of this publication I have stumbled across multiple open letters to Regal Cinemas, some better than others, but all with valid complaints. Here are links:

Brooklyn/NYC Moms: “while I should have left the theater uplifted by a very special movie, I left it annoyed by a system that is designed to suck every last penny out of its customers, virtually assuring that those who can watch movies in some other way will.  If profits don’t climb this year the way you want them to, if ticket sales are the same or less than last year, don’t blame the economy, don’t blame DVDs and downloads, and don’t blame the quality of the movies.  Blame your own greedy selves.”

Matt Cashion: “You know that movies end late, you know that the mall closes early, and you know that people will need to use the bathroom after drinking your gargantuan soft drinks.  Keep your bathrooms open, people.”

Snobbing: “In closing, I ask not only Regal and IMAX, but any theater chain or exhibitor to get your act together. If digital is the way to go, then be prepared for things to go wrong. Work together in the off-chance that your equipment goes belly up. I don’t know if the Regal Exchange or the IMAX theater lost any patrons permanently, but I know that I’m not likely to go back to that specific theater. There are others out there that are more passionate about their craft to let an issue like this get out of hand.”

OPED: Future of Film Exhibition


For: Renegade Cinema

It fucking baffles me everytime I encounter a filmmaker who expects any facet of the American film industry to give them any sort of due attention. Whether it’s a film festival, distributor or studio, by this point you’re nuts if you expect any one of them to give two shits about what you have to offer. You could be the greatest filmmaker to come along this century, but with the current state of the industry and considering the nature of those in power, none of what you have to offer matters unless you have the vision, energy and drive to make it matter on your own accord. This goes beyond having the ability to make a movie – but having the intellectual capacity to making a movie work as a sustainable business model is essential to the survival of film as a viable medium. What’s incredibly unsettling is the ease at which filmmakers are quick to change their careers when they stumble across these common obstructions and find that their careers aren’t panning out along the same lines as the storied filmmakers of the nineties. It goes without saying that filmmakers and cinephiles are pissed off at the current state of affairs but that’s no reason to walk off and get some lame backup degree. Committing yourself to a career you hate because it’s easier is for pussies. The future of film is going to rely almost entirely on the filmmaker being an inventive and innovative business person at every level and it’s important that you understand that it doesn’t stop with the completion of the film.

If you didn’t rest well this weekend, then you were probably unaware of the significance of the news that Quentin Tarantino has officially taken control of The New Beverly Cinema, an historic movie house located at 7165 Beverly Blvd in Los Angeles. Tarantino, who purchased the building in 2007, had previously relegated his duties to nothing more than that of an LA landlord and it would seem that, based on his most recent comments, this arrangement with the original owner of the business, the Torgan family, will remain in effect. Tarantino will, of course, make programming suggestions as his ownership of the house is clearly an extension of his power to keep film a relevant medium.

“As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm.” -Quentin Tarantino

Filmmakers familiar with the story seem to have a sense of relief with the results and I’m no exception – except that I seem to be among the few who feel that this development is the way it was always supposed to go. Filmmakers with some level of wealth need to start buying up movie houses – it’s become the only way to keep things balanced in our favor. Acquiring an appropriate theatrical run is no longer guaranteed and the only way to ensure audiences have a chance to see a film the way the filmmaker intends for it to be experienced is by taking upon the duties of film exhibition themselves. This is important, especially with those of us who wish to continue seeing our work screened in the appropriate theatrical environment, rather than becoming “content” for online service providers. Filmmakers deserve the absolute best treatment for their work.

Filmmakers taking charge of the exhibition of their own work is the way it’s going to be and in an idealistic world, it’s how things should have always been. Cutting out the middle men from the equation allows the medium to thrive, whereas under the control of penny pinching bean counting corporate douchebags, we’re almost certainly bowing to the whims of exuberant and unrealistic financial expectations. The model of film creation and distribution in Hollywood allows only a very few to thrive, leaving the majority of creators to fend for themselves or abandon the industry altogether.

Tarantino’s interest in dabbling with film exhibition isn’t the only example of a filmmaker taking control of this end of the industry. After Hollywood began turning their backs on Kevin Smith, the director of the critically acclaimed film Chasing Amy and one of my all time favorites: Dogma, Smith took his work on the road, four-walling his feature film Red State and after a successful industry screening at a festival that shall remain nameless, took it upon himself to handle the distribution.

In New York, filmmaker Mark Blackman, the award winning director of the musical comedy Welcome to Harlem, is going balls to the wall with the creation of the Harlem Independent Theater (HIT), soon to open in uptown Manhattan. Blackman, disenchanted by the current state of the movie business and the lack of acceptable distribution opportunities, created the HIT in an effort to secure the future of film in the city that he loves.

Blackman’s idea for the future of film exhibition is that of a screening environment that is more social and filmmaker controlled. “It’s important that with our screen, we’re creating an opportunity for indie filmmakers to present their work to the community where they live and create” Blackman says of the project. The business model is simple in how it benefits the filmmaking community: with the ability to screen in theaters in the neighborhoods where filmmakers live and create, they are more likely to thrive and build their core fanbase. By rewriting the industry model and localising success, making a living out of filmmaking is within reach more now than it ever has been before. It’s just a matter of breaking away from the fairy tale expectations.

“Ten years ago you could make a movie” Blackman says, “get a deal, get a theatrical run, home video release and maybe find success as a filmmaker. Now we’re in a place where gear is so accessible and the internet is ten times pronounced that there is a flood of what the industry is now labeling “content” and it seems no one wants to be the one to deal with how to handle this.” And content in and of itself is a dirty word to many filmmakers. It’s not just being able to handle the enormous output of work, but finding an audience for the work that respects it enough to see it in a theatrical environment. The task begins at home, where the artist is creating and outlets to showcase these works are few and far between.

It’s hard to say where film exhibition will be ten years from now, but I’m in agreement with Blackman that film exhibition will be more localised and theaters willing to showcase this original work will be independently run. I don’t see AMC, Regal or any of the top five studios getting together to fix this cluster fuck of a problem they created with their tentpole business model and I don’t see fanboy audiences closing their wallets in protest of the films that are making it to theaters. Eventually we’re going to need to bring back quality stories from storytellers with original and important ideas.

“I think with the increase of everything being online, we’re going to see an increase of people looking for social gathering” says HIP’s Director of Community Outreach, Eleanor Luken, “it’s hard to view watching movies on the internet as the future.” Blackman and Luken see HIT as serving a big need for the community and are working hard to ensure that access to the venue for both filmmakers and film buffs are affordable and that the business model is innovative and allows for a diverse program.

The reality is that the finance stooges that run Hollywood failed miserably to usher the film industry into the 21st century and if we’re going to continue to exhibit our work where and how we intend, we’re going to have to take the reigns ourselves. I know it sucks, but putting something good into the world and ensuring its presented appropriately isn’t always the most enjoyable thing as any seasoned indie filmmaker can attest to. Welcome to independent cinema, where we have to do everything ourselves. We’re indie filmmakers, we should be used to taking on the whole load: write the script, find the funding, take care of all management and human resources issues – our crews hate us, our cast puts up with us up until they can get those lousy Law & Order callbacks and yes: we even have to take care of distribution and exhibition… all by our lonely selves. Take a queue from some of these cats: fuck the industry and release your work to the public on your terms and get the work seen the way you originally intended to have it seen.

When the New Beverly Cinema re-opens in October and when the HIT eventually opens in uptown Manhattan and when the next four-wall tour comes rolling into your town, rest assured you’ll be witnessing the execution of the securing of the future of the new American Film Industry and yes, old Hollywood will be left behind and just maybe, we’ll see a lot more filmmakers succeeding. You are the film industry.

This OPED was written for Renegade Cinema on September 7, 2014.

Screening Schedule for Phnom Pehn International Film Festival


PPIFF has announced the screening schedule for this years film festival and I’m ecstatic to announce that Caroline of Virginia will be receiving two screenings – that’s right TWO screenings at the event this year! The screening will take place at the Flicks on Sunday the 14th in the 4PM slot and again on Thursday the 18th in the 6:30 slot.

These are two excellent time slots and I’m excited to be a part of this film festival. If you’re in Phnom Pehn this month, please stop by the Flicks and check it out.


PPIFF Schedule

Ten Years A New Yorker

SS Title Page

This Labor Day weekend marks the completion of my first ten years living and working in New York City. When I originally conceived the idea of moving to New York it was to immerse myself into the indie film community and gain experiences I wouldn’t have otherwise had while living in my home state of Maine. At the time I left, I was miserable and although I had some level of support for what I wanted to do, I had gotten a taste of life in a world class city and wanted more. My year living in Vancouver was enough for me to know that operating out of a large city was where I wanted and needed to be.

Dubbed “The Project”, I began putting together an elaborate plan of money saving, back and forth trips to the city and networking, all of which would make my transition as smooth as possible. Ultimately my goal was to spend a decade acquiring knowledge and experiences that would improve my writing and storytelling abilities. Obviously I was putting a romantic twist on the whole thing (and have since realized how naive I was for thinking it would be anything but smooth). The fact of the matter is that the transition from Maine to New York was incredibly painful and chock full of back stabbery of all sorts but that’s okay, because it was all part of the gamut of experiences I had been seeking. Experiences to seed my work. Many of the naysayers didn’t understand this and most still don’t. The support sector was always smaller than the group with apathy and seems to shrink as I grow older. But that’s okay too. I made it and am continuing forward with the next phase of my plan.

In 2011 I began working on a project with the intention of debuting it just in time for my ten year anniversary and that project, which was picture locked this past spring, is finally finished with a score from the talented David Obaniyi. It’s called Steinway Street and it’s the autobiographical telling of my first year as a New Yorker, including the moments leading up to my move. The film is largely told with still photographs and the central character is simply known as “The Photographer”. In the film, life isn’t easy for the Photographer and the central character is put through many trials to test his resolve. Will he stay in the great world city or go back to his safe hometown with his tail between his legs? Of course we know what happened here – I lasted as long as I vowed to and have no plans of moving off anytime soon. In fact, I’ve got many projects lined up that will keep me operating in the Big Apple for many more years to come.

I have no plans yet for Steinway Street, but in the meantime you can check out this trailer. It’s an art house film through and through. Hope you dig and WOO HOO!!! to ten years! May the naysayers bugger off. :)

Eric M. Norcross / Writer/Filmmaker – “The Photographer”

It Happened One Night at A World of Film


A new article I wrote for A World of Film, this time I tackle the Frank Capra classic “It Happened One Night” – among the earliest of “road trip” movies.

[reblogged from A World of Film]

… The atmosphere on set was tense as Gable and Colbert disapproved of the material, citing the script aslow quality. It is purported that when Gable first arrived to set, he told Capra, “Let’s get this over with”, making it clear how unhappy he was to have been loaned out for this “inferior” project. Gable and Colbert took a liking to one another through their common dissatisfaction with the script and only lightened after Capra suggested that Gable play occasional pranks on her.

Although she got along well with Gable, Colbert continued to demonstrate her displeasure while on set. She is said to have had many tantrums, largely motivated by her deep seeded hatred towards Capra. She balked at the idea of hiking up her skirt to entice passing drivers to give her a ride, citing that it was “beneath her”. Capra responded by introducing Colbert to her double, a chorus girl. Upon seeing her legs, a disgruntled Colbert changed her mind and agreed to do the scene without a double. Knowing that Colbert was perfect for the part, Capra took it all in stride, believing that the headache would pay off in the long run…. (read more at A World of Film)

[reblogged from A World of Film]



No Budget Filmmaking

Indie Filmmaking

[Originally Published on Renegade Cinema & re-edited for Film Anthropology]

No/Low budget independent filmmaking is a necessity for most filmmakers who want to produce work that will help break them and their friends into the film business, or at least, get recognized by what’s left of the film business. Robert Rodriguez, the king of no budget cinema and the master professor on how to avoid spending money on your indie project even goes as far as to feature a “Ten Minute Film School” on the DVD release of his breakthrough film El Mariachi. The audio commentary in and of itself is one example after another on how to cut costs down to zilch. Although I am a film school graduate, the Rodriguez approach has always been far more helpful and yielded far more positive results than the ins and outs I had been taught at VFS. I’m not alone.

There has always been a basic system in place, a journey so to speak, that every filmmaker attempts to traverse: a filmmaker gets a bunch of people together, all with different talents and interests and all of them go out and make a movie. This is one of the hardest activities in the world to engage in because a lot of these kinds of projects are achieved through trial and error and generally go against the grain of society’s normal functions. Those with the knowledge and experience to make life a little easier for these cats only work for financial compensation. More on that later. So let’s say that the movie does find its way to completion. That movie enters the festival circuit and wins a few awards or at the very least gets an honorable mention, which in this day and age is considered an award in and of itself. This recognition is not lost upon distributors and soon the film gets picked up and everyone wins. Sure it’s an outdated, bullshit system that doesn’t really work as much as it used to, but the route is still possible and still attempted by many independent filmmakers.

It would seem that the production culture of some of these smaller films have driven the “professional” and “working” freelance community to the point where there is now an unofficial and unannounced war against these no/low budget filmmakers.  It would seem that, at least in the big cities, anywhere a filmmaker can go to find help with his or her project is being taken over by freelancers who are crying fowl, engaging in vicious attacks against the filmmakers. An example of this is the decreasingly popular website Craigslist,  where both no budget and low budget filmmakers can list their projects and production needs for any and all to respond to. CL even offers the option to list an ad as “Pay” or “No Pay”. It would seem that some of these pay only freelancers are sick and tired of sifting through the hundreds of no-budget calls for crew and the CL website has unofficially developed into a sort of anti-no-budget zone.

New Jersey filmmaker Chris Notarile said, “I believe that while it is improper to abuse or take advantage of free labor, a filmmaker should not be penalized for being resourceful and making a no budget film with willing participants.” Notarile went on to say, “If we just blindly crack down on all no budget productions, the only people we hurt are ourselves and our own community.” Notarile is correct. Without an outlet for filmmakers to inform the community that they are making a project and that they have a need for various talents, the very existence of independent filmmaking is threatened. Of course there are some that would welcome this depletion of projects from the pipeline. Another crewing website,, no longer allows for the listing of No Pay productions at all, unless it’s a short or student film.

Beanie Barnes for, pretentiously wrote an article, labeling independent film as America’s “next Wal-Mart”, arguing that there needs to be less independent film made for the entire film industry to survive. “Anyone who says we need more of this, without offering any solution to make it better, is part of the problem.” Barnes wrote. “Many in the industry still refuse to acknowledge that film is subject to the economic laws of supply and demand.” For Filmmaker Magazine, John Yost tackled the subject of low/no budget indie filmmaking by taking on the no pay aspect, in his article The Microbudget Conversation, Unpaid Crew vs Underpaid Crew. Yost wrote, “It’s amazing how much of a difference even $50/day will make to some of us. Just knowing we’re not working for free goes a long way in making us more likely to give our best effort to some poor, inexperienced, yet passionate filmmaker. ” While there is a sort of wisdom and logic behind this thinking, and a great deal of collective examples of this, across many industries, this is only a fraction of the truth. In my experience and in the experience of others I’ve collaborated with, the animosity from crew members who weren’t my friends previous to the project, were nearly identical in both no pay and low pay productions. The common mentality with these specific crew members who were getting paid x amount a day was that they felt they were getting stiffed, regardless of the amount. They’ll always think you can afford to give them a little more and that’s problematic when there are so many other expenses on these projects than payroll. Going back to some of Robert Rodriguez’s comments on the El Mariachi commentary, “once you start spending money you’ll never stop” and this is absolutely true.

The other side of this is a much more serious problem. So many filmmakers are not capable of raising what the freelance collective would consider “proper financing” for their projects and some of these worker bees, while incredibly talented, are a bit sociopathic about this reality, insisting that if you can’t pay everyone to help you make the film then you shouldn’t make it at all. This line of thinking is incredibly dangerous, both to film and the art world as a whole. Many filmmakers take their projects very personally and some that I have talked to have no interest in having people on board their projects who’s dedication to the film is only commensurate with the capacity of a paycheck, or exists only when a paycheck exists. No money = no passion is not something that sits right. “You can pay a person to do anything” says one independent filmmaker who asked to remain anonymous, “anything goes, if the price is right. There’s something different about films made by people who are engaged in the project for reasons other than what they can get from it or whether or not it gets picked up.”

While I’ve dedicated my life to the pursuit of understanding and demystifying film through making films and writing about film, I have no intention of surrounding myself with people who’s hearts aren’t in the right place. With that said, I agree with both sides of the aisle because I am both an indie filmmaker and a freelance editor. How do you establish a peaceful balance with both sides when freelance film and video makers and pseudo journalists are rising up against the very existence of no and low budget filmmakers, even going as far as to relabel these cats as “bum filmmaker wannabees”, who also often become the victims of cyber bullying in the very forums where they post ads seeking out collaborators. How do you establish an acceptable balance when the hatred for one-another continues to grow. How do you establish a mutual understanding when these same freelancers are publishing media content like the spiteful and mean spirited video that has been gaining views on YouTube. It’s clear that a peaceful discussion among filmmakers and would be collaborators and service providers is desperately needed. Money is tight but we shouldn’t let that threaten the output of independent cinema. From a personal perspective, if I had waited until I had sufficient funds in place for all of my projects, I’d have no projects at all to speak about and I can safely claim that my truth is the truth for most filmmakers.

Bibliography: Salon | Filmmaker Magazine | Filmmaker Magazine |

[Reblogged in its entirety from Renegade Cinema]

FA Filmmaker Profile: Matthew Harrison

Courtesy October Films

Matthew Harrison and Kevin Corrigan.

Recently Film Anthropology flew out to Los Angeles to interview filmmaker, artist and television director Matthew Harrison, about his life and career. From his roots in the New York underground art scene to his achievements at some of the world’s most influential film festivals, Matt Harrison tells all. He talks about starting out shooting super 8 as a child and winning his first award at the New York Downtown Film Festival, which encouraged him to bring up his game and how he went on to win the jury prize at the Sundance Film Festival.

Matthew elaborates on working with Super 8, 16mm, his first union experience and how he came to work with Martin Scorsese on his feature studio picture Kicked In The Head.

Matthew’s film My Little Hollywood, which he shot in the mid-1990’s was recently completed and has spent the past year in the 2012 and 2013 festival circuit.


Direct Link URL:

Matthew’s Official Website:

About Filmmaker Profiles: This video is the first in a brand new incarnation of the Filmmaker Profiles series, a collection of interviews that Eric originally started at the Anthology Film Archives when he volunteered with the NewFilmmakers series.