Tuesday, June 18, 2013

The Ruskin Family Drive-in Theater

Ruskin, Florida

Because of my week-long artist-in-residence stay with the Firehouse Cultural Center in Ruskin, I got to visit repeatedly at The Family drive-in. I also got to meet with the owners and had a long, highly informative interview with Ted, a vital, older gentleman who has been working in the movie theater business since childhood. I learned a lot I hadn't known about the underlying practice of running these businesses either as independents or as small chains. He's been involved both ways. I also got to spend time in the evening before showtime, where a relaxed, low-key sort of amusement park atmosphere prevails, which resulted in some nice pictures. On the main road trip I seldom was able to visit theaters in the evenings for logistical reasons. It was near the summer solstice, so the light was barely fading before eight and the show couldn't begin till trailers started to run around nine o'clock. Since I never miss an opportunity to photograph in early morning light, getting up at five just wasn't compatible with checking out evening activities on a regular basis. Anyway, if I dare say it, that's a whole different project to think about...

The Family's setting certainly says Florida to me. The light, the tropical trees, and—notice a meticulously kept grass field rather than the gravel favored in the mid-and-far West. Another point of interest is that The Family had already converted to digital projection last year, the result of a fund-raising drive initiated not by the theater owners themselves, but by local fans of the theater.

No comments: