Socializing with the Celluloid Social Club

Paul Armstrong. photo: Wendy Dallian

Paul Armstrong is one of those entrepreneurs who creates something not just as a business venture, but to better his community as a whole.

It was both insightful and inspiring to hear what he had to say about the film industry in Vancouver and to learn about what he's doing to support it.

WD: Can you tell us a little about the Celluloid Social Club.

PA: The CSC is a monthly screening of independent short films. It started in November of 1997 and has been running every month since then. We also run contests: the Hot Shots Short Film contest, the Bloodshots contest, and the Vancouver Film Race. We also encourage people to make films and then we screen them.

For example, for the Hot Shots Short Film contest people write a script of up to ten pages , submit it and then we narrow it down to five finalists. They get read at the Cold Reading Series and the winner of the contest gets supplied with money and (in kind services) suppliers and gets their film made.

I started because there was such a high volume of short films being made in Vancouver. It's a very creative city. There are so many film school, so many people at work on films, and in their spare time they make their own films so it seemed like there was a need to find a way to screen them.

Since I started the CSC I've had no problem finding enough great films to screen every month.

WD: How do people respond to...

PA: I'm always amazed. I can get a hundred-something people out every month to watch short films. Who knew there'd be such a demand for people to see Canadian short films. This town is very film savvy.

It seems like the screenings we do for First Weekend Club as well get so many people that we have to turn people away. It's really encouraging to see that people do support the arts.

WD: Have you seen any of the films you've screened through Cold Reading Series go further than that?

PA: Often they go on to make feature films. A lot of them start with short films, use them as calling cards and go on to making feature films. I don't want to say that the purpose of short films is a calling card: it's also an artistic expression and an art form unto itself. It serves its own purposes, but then is useful for people to use that to pitch when they're making their features.

WD: How do you see the future of the CSC

PA: I've thought for a while that maybe it wouldn't survive because so many films now go online. I screen films sometimes that are already online. But people want the social experience, watching a film with an audience and the filmmaker there.

We bring in the filmmakers to do a Q and A afterwards. The filmmaker wants the feedback from the audience and vice versa. So it's very social. We encourage the “social” in the Celluloid Social Club so people can network and then from that, hopefully more great films will result.

WD: When is the next event.

PA: The next one is July 14 at the ANZA Club. Doors are at 7:30pm and the show is at 8pm. We have shows once a month.

 

To sign up for monthly info and find out about future screenings or how you can screen something you've created yourself, go to Celluloid Social Club.

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