For those who don't know, I am in the middle of a Kickstarter campaign where I am raising funds to travel the country and photograph as many drive in theaters as I can. Almost to the halfway point of the Kickstarter campaign and 15 days left to go but I am already starting to photograph theaters near me! Please click here if you are interested in donating!
Last Sunday I made the 45 minute trip from Portland to Newberg so I could enjoy a movie and go take some photographs at the drive-in. 99W Drive-In is the closest operational drive-in to me and we can all thank Honda's Project Drive-In for it still being there! Less than a year ago the theater was facing closure if they weren't able to come up with $80,000 to buy a new digital project since the film industries conversion to an all digital format. Not being able to show new blockbuster movies can often mean less cars in the lot. Luckily, 99W is one of 10 theaters that Honda's Project Drive-In has saved so far!
With it being Easter the lot was pretty sparse but owner Brian Francis told me that on Friday the place had been packed. As amazing as a full drive-in lot would have been for mingling and getting to talk to movie goers, it worked out well that it was a little on the slow side because that meant Brian actually had some free time. He was amazingly generous and gave me the grand tour, showing me all the old film projectors and the fancy new digital projector. While the movie he was showing was on digital, he still uses film for all the old fun intermission videos. Brian was a wealth of information about not just the history of 99W Drive-In but also drive-in theaters around the country. I obviously am approaching this project as an outsider. A movie goer not an owner so it was facinating to here about it from a different perspective.
Brian is the 3rd generation in his family to run this particular drive-in theater. His Grandfather opened it up in 1953. Brian told me stories of how he grew up in a house right next to the lot and he would watch the movies on the big screen from his bedroom window. How amazing would that be? I also go the chance to meet Al, who was running the ticket booth and was an attendee for the very first movie showing Brian's Grandfather had there. Talk about some amazing history!
I can't express how grateful I am to Brian for being so open with me and giving me first class treatment while I was there. It was really eye opening and an inspiring lesson for some of the adventures I will be heading into in just a few short months. If you live driving distance from Newberg, I recommend going and checking out a film. Brian is talking about possibly showing the original Godzilla there next week!