A typical trip to the movie theater can include buying a ticket, some snacks and drinks and enjoying the film in a dark room with surround sound speakers. After the movie, there could be some conversation among friends about what thoughts had been provoked or how it stood out from other films. Although the night may have been fun, it could also cost a pretty penny.
However, there are alternative options to enjoy movies in Flagstaff. Beyond Prochnow Auditorium events, SUN Entertainment dive-in movie events and Harkins Theatres, The College of Arts and Letters has been hosting a film series for NAU students and the general public. For the past 15 years, the Cline Library Lecture Hall transforms into a movie theater Tuesday nights at 7 p.m. where moviegoers can enjoy classic films.
Besides having students and the general public in attendance, there is a class that goes along with it. Sophomore Kade Larsen had no idea that there was a class coinciding with the film series, but having a love for movies, he made sure to take the class.
“I was coming out of a 21 [credit] semester my freshman year and I needed to slow down,” Larsen said. “Cinema is something I love so CMF 382 fit into my schedule and I just went with it, hoping it would be something fun.”
The way that the film series is designed is more of an interactive experience. Audience members are able to speak their thoughts on the film in an open environment and be able to agree or disagree with what the film stands for.
For most film classes, students read a chapter on a certain subject and try to figure out how that translates in the cinema world. With the combined elements of the film series and the CMF 382 class, students are able to put their studies to the test and be able to speak the language of cinematic enthusiasts. CMF 382 instructor Bob Reynolds said the idea of having his class coincide with the film series was a great idea.
“I have been coming to these classic film series for 15 years,” Reynolds said. “When they developed a class that would coincide with them, it made sense to split it up with the three-hour face-to-face.”
Reynolds said that he had taught this class before, but it was solely an online class before it transitioned to in-person. It wasn’t until the film series creator, NAU Arts and Letters professor Paul Donnelly, asked him if he wanted to do a class focused around the series. The class transformed from an online-only class into a blended learning class where the students go see the Tuesday films along with the online assignments set forth by Reynolds. By having the two go together, Reynolds said the match was a perfect fit.
In a time where technology is progressively changing, many people lose touch on how to experience the way films used be seen. Having the community aspect play in with the film series, there is a certain atmosphere that is created. Instead of people sitting behind their laptops or smartphones, they are actively learning from each other during the panel discussions before and after the films.
During a typical film series night, a speaker starts with a brief history of the film. The speaker is typically a professor in either the College of Arts and Letters or School of Communication department and are knowledgeable on the background of the film. By having a person present who is an expert on the topic of the film, attendees can have a better understanding of what the film they are seeing is really about.
“I do believe that certain films are meant to be seen with the community,” Reynolds said. “It is something that we are losing very fast with the little devices, smaller outlets and nice systems at home, so [people] just sit at home and watch stuff and don’t go out anymore.”
Reynolds is not the only one that believes that involving the community is a positive concept. Flagstaff resident Barry Koeb has been attending the film series for six years. The draw of the film series for Koeb were two things: seeing a film that he hasn’t seen in a long time and being in a social environment to watch them.
“It seems like when you’re home, in a personal environment, everybody becomes a critic,” Koeb said. “Everybody wants to comment on the movie or film at the time you are watching it. That is different then this environment where you have to absorb and perhaps gain a little bit more insight into the film if you just wait, watch and then talk about it afterward.”
After the movie concludes, the opening speaker and the director of the film series sit down to discuss what the film is about. If someone in the audience wants to share their ideas or have questions on the film, they are able to do so. Community involvement is a big factor for the film series and how movies can be enjoyed as compared to going to Harkins or staying at home.
According to junior film series intern Huntr McMillan, the films chosen are not by random selection. The film series follows a certain topic from each semester and the movies that coincide with the topic are chosen for viewing.
“The movies we pick here are meticulously picked, and they are picked for good reasons,” McMillan said. “That is because there are good films that mean a lot to people. Here, I know that every Tuesday it’s going to be good and never really let down.”
Whether someone enjoys watching classic movies like “Rebel Without a Cause” or rewatching the cult classic “Mean Girls,” students and community members are able to watch together and enjoy cinema in its natural form.