A Lowell Film Collaborative Update from Suzz Cromwell
We’ve done our best to make it public knowledge that the Lowell Film Collaborative formed in 2008 with the mission of opening an independent cinema in Lowell. After screening films in our own home for a couple of years and developing movie-loving friendships in the city, we decided to take the next step and move our screenings out ‘to the streets.’ With building strong partnerships in mind, we began hosting film events in collaboration with local community groups, businesses, non-profits, and other entities, including two of our most devoted partners, Lowell National Historical Park and Jeanne D’Arc Credit Union. Almost 4 years later — this October marks our anniversary — we’re STILL bringing film to Lowell, and loving it, though it is increasingly becoming a challenge due to the demand for these screenings (a great thing, don’t get us wrong) plus the demands of our full-time jobs.
But, ultimately, something has to change with our model as it isn’t lucrative — we host our events out-of-pocket and can only sporadically collect donations due to venue restrictions. Seeking grants has helped along the way, as has the generosity of our audiences who donate to us online or make it a point to put money in our hands at our events. And of course, our loyal event sponsors and partners are always willing to help, which TRULY speaks volumes. While we never set out to generate revenue from what we do, we certainly need to be sure that each event at least pays for itself. As much as we rely on and value our ongoing ‘customer loyalty,’ it’s not a sustainable model for what we ultimately want to do:
Host local and regional filmmakers and showcase their work
Offer cinematic lectures & workshops
Host a juried, entry-based film festival
Develop a larger citywide audience beyond downtown
Expand our partnerships and help fundraise for local organizations
And ultimately, bring MORE independent and popular film events to Lowell.
To do this successfully, we absolutely need OUR OWN theater space.
Thanks to a recent feature story by Chris Scott in the Lowell Sun, our mission of opening a theater in Lowell has spread to the larger public!
Read the story via PDF: “Movie buffs eye downtown Lowell”
As you will read, the story identifies me as a partner in this endeavor, along with other team members: Michael Gallagher, Rich Cavanaugh, and Paul Schor, attorneys at Lowell’s Gallagher & Cavanaugh; Caroline Gallagher, filmmaker, editor, and a great personal friend and LFC supporter; and Jay Mason, a renowned Lowell-based architect who has also become my personal mentor by keeping me smiling and open-minded to ideas. I want to wholeheartedly express my thanks to all these great people who have chosen to join the LFC in making our dream a reality. We’ve been meeting regularly to develop the project’s goals and mission, identify prospective spaces in Lowell, and broaden team partners. More thanks goes to Dayne Lamb and Gardner Stratton, two of Lowell’s most devout citizens, who took on the task of trying to get our financial picture in place. Dayne and Gardner will be leaving Lowell soon, so unfortunately, had to step away from our group — believe me, I’ll truly miss them. Finally, my thanks goes out to Rob Newton, founder of Gloucester’s Cape Ann Community Cinema. If you are EVER in the Gloucester area, please stop in and visit this indie theater gem. Rob has been a constant inspiration with his advice and guidance, and most importantly, his TIME.
The purpose of writing all this is to thank all of YOU for the remarkable support we’ve gotten these past few years and to also draw attention to how much we’re going to need in the months ahead if our vision of Lowell’s own independent cinema is to become a reality. We hope you’ll keep in touch with us and look for more updates and news on this project, and PLEASE always feel free to leave your comments via our site or on any of the other local blogs that might have picked up the story, such as Left in Lowell.
We hope to see you all at a future film screening in Lowell — we’ll continue to post our events right here, so please keep visiting. And thank you ALL — without YOUR support, encouragement, and ideas, we could never have come this far. We are in your debt, and are so grateful.