The Paramount Building: A home base for the SJ film community?

A few nights ago, Uptown Saint John invited the public to UNBSJ's Grand Hall to share their ideas for the old Paramount Theatre building. The room was arranged with a couple dozen round tables. Each was full, with people standing at the back of the room. After presentations, the mic was passed around to anyone who wanted it. The atmosphere was calm and collected yet bouncing with enthusiasm. I can honestly say there wasn't a "bad" idea ... but maybe a wacky one or two :)

An arts and craft training centre.
An interpretative centre for cruise ship passengers and other tourists.
A mid sized performance theatre (smaller than Imperial, bigger than a bar).
And the list goes on ...

All great ideas. However, as I sat there listening to the honeymoon, I did have some concerns. How is this going to stay afloat? There was a little discussion about possible revenue generators and other financial matters, but more specifically I didn't hear much about the community (ie the people) that will keep this thing going. Also, some of these ideas sounded redundant. The Saint John Theatre Company has a home, as does the Saint John Arts Centre. Why would they divide their resources to support another space? The most logical and obvious choice was keeping it as a movie theatre; screening local, independent or classic films. The indie film community in Saint John could certainly use the space ... wait a minute. Is there a Saint John film community?

This city has plenty of film makers, wannabees, appreciators, critics, etc ... but unlike the arts groups mentioned above, we aren't organized. If we're going to make the argument that there is film community that could use the Paramount building, then we should probably have a strong film community to begin with. That's why anyone reading this should join the Saint John Film Society.

There are no membership fees, newsletters, meetings, nor events ... for now. Once there is a following, we can get more ambitious and look at organizing meetings, workshops and screenings. Those efforts won't be anything new. There are already some active people putting a significant amount of work into screening less commercial films and even some local ones. Film Pix is still kickin' strong. Cinema Politica is another. The UNBSJ Fall, Winter and Summer Film Series survived for years (organized by fellow CultureHub'er Arif Hussain). Remember the Continental Drift Film Festival? And then there are the film makers. The Hemmings' are a given, but they are just the tip of the iceberg.

The ingredients for a vibrant film community are here. So let's get organized! Join the Saint John Film Society today!