Friday, July 17, 2009

Friday Films: Guerilla Drive-In

I've been waiting to upload pictures of this, and now I'm ready to share my Guerilla Drive-In adventure.

Guerilla Drive-In, for the uninitiated, is a...I don't know if you'd call it a group, or an individual with a motorcycle, or even a movement, that projects 16mm films at secret locations throughout Southeastern Pennsylvania. Why are they secret? Because it makes it more fun. To get on the mailing list, you need to find The MacGuffin (this device is named after a concept used with great success by Hitchcock and Spielberg. It means, simply, the thing that the protagonist wants. It's the 39 Steps. It's the Ark of the Covenant. It's the Maltese Falcon. It exists to move the plot forward.) Guerilla Drive-In's MacGuffin is an AM transmitter that plays, when you find it, a secret message and (for now, at least) a cover of the theme song from "Brazil". I found it. And I'm sorry, I simply cannot tell you where it is. I think there might be some hints on their website. The guy who runs it projects the movies from the sidecar of his old BMW motorcycle:

He also runs a company called Nerd Merit Badges, so if you find the MacGuffin and go to a showing, you get this unpurchasable GDI Badge.

So: having found the MacGuffin and having received a member number (93), I got the e-mail that they were going to show "Back to the Future" on top of a parking deck, in sight of a clock tower. We drove down to West Chester for the showing, and I have to say, it was way beyond what I expected. I thought it would be fun, but they really went beyond just fun: there were temporary tattoos, and the Mid-Atlantic DeLorean Club had a little car show set up. It was a beautiful night, no rain and hovering around the mid 70s. Between reels, they would have a little intermission, where you could walk around and talk to other members. The son of the president of the DeLorean Club was handing out pins with a modified Guerilla Drive-In logo, with DeLoreans in the lenses.

When the movie ended, my friend Kirk and I talked about how all movies should be shown outside, with breaks between reels. I'm sure some people would say that destroys the illusion, that it takes you out of the world of the film, but I think with Guerilla Drive-In, the idea is that the world of the film is secondary to the environment you're viewing it in. You're not there to be wrapped up in the narrative; you're there to be wrapped up in being there.

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