Minutes of the Laramie Film Society's First Organizational/Board Meeting

The first organizational meeting of the proposed Laramie Film Society was held Thursday Sept. 7 at 7:30 p.m. at the historic Wyo Theater 309 S. Fifth St. Laramie, WY.

Brett Glass moderated the discussion. Interested persons gathered to discuss ways to maintain the Wyo as a cinema venue for the people of Laramie by creating a non-profit group to lease, and/or eventually purchase the theater and the improvements therein and to show a variety of films for all ages and interests. The auditorium might also be made available for cooperative use with other groups and schools. A board of directors and bylaws will need to be established in order to apply for non-profit status with the state.

Prior to the meeting, background information, a proposed business plan and discussion has been available online at film.laramie.wy.us/ created and hosted by Brett Glass and also www.lariat.org/AtTheMovies with Robert Roten, former film critic for the Laramie Boomerang.

The owner the the Wyo is Marshall Smith who now resides in Idaho and has shown much support for the idea of keeping the Wyo as a movie theater. Because of restrictions in place, no new first run films may be shown at the Wyo. The owner of the recently upgraded renovations, seats, projector and sound system, is the Trans-Lux Corp who maintains the right to take back these improvements. Brian Mercer is the contact person for Trans-Lux. The Society would hope to purchase these improvements. Comment was made that even if they do remove these, with so many theaters going out of business, cheap replacements can be had. Appreciation was expressed for the look and quality of the theater as it is now.

There was some discussion in regard to several large theater corporations who are bankrupt or nearly, and single screen theaters that are unable to make a profit. In a rough business plan, a well-funded group effort with volunteers and a member base should be able to keep the theater open and operational. There was discussion of the excellent support and attendance of past film series at the Wyo and enthusiasm expressed for the popular Trout Cinema, once in downtown Laramie.

Lynn Simpson, who was very involved with the 7 yr. renovation of the Wyo Theater in Sheridan WY, shared some of her experiences. Their multi-purpose plan (for theatrical and music productions) appealed to philanthropists and they had financial support from the city of Sheridan while raising one million dollars for the project. She cautioned that a broad based appeal might make fund raising easier than just catering to a narrow foreign/classic film audience. Like Sheridan, the society would be involved in saving a classic historical building. Unlike Sheridan, there are already several stages available for theater and music; the Horsebarn Theater at the Territorial Park, the Civic Center Theater and at the University. There is, however, no setting for movies or 35mm projectors at UW.

The meeting was opened up for comments: -- Working with Trans-Lux can be a win-win situation and negotiations need to be established as soon as possible.

--Funding grants were discussed, Wyoming Council for the Humanities was suggested along with Wyoming Arts Council who may grant small but immediate monies.

--501 non profits need to earn 1/2 of their money from donations and membership, not just events sales.

--Film rentals may be discounted for non-profits, sometimes just shipping and insurance for archival films.

--A citywide newsletter was suggested and other promotional ideas.

--The website is available for information and discussion

--A request was made not to exclude those who arenít on the web

--There is a folder at the front desk of the library with print outs of the web info

--Making money on concessions was suggested

--It was noted that people spend more on concessions if it is for a non-profit

--It was requested not to charge too much for concessions or tickets

--Paid staff was discussed. A professional projectionist will be needed, also building management and maintenance.

--Cost of the building was asked. An appraiser would have to answer this. Duane Toro real estate is listing the building for sale now.

--Showing student films was suggested

--Having someone knowledgeable introduce the films was suggested

--Some types of film series suggested were: Spanish films, Westerns, Sci Fi, Star Wars series, Irish films, Top 100 films of the century, top 100 comedies of the century, documentaries, Japanese animation (anime)

--Some organizations already have series of films on specific topics available

--Group may need to purchase DVD equipment to show certain films.

--A copy of tonightís meeting was requested.

--It was advised not to let our enthusiasm overshadow the need for someone to crunch the numbers, establish a firm business plan. Small Business Center, LCCC, and other film societies were suggested for support

--Gratitude was expressed to Brett Glass and Robert Roten for getting the ball rolling and organizing this first meeting.

--Splitting into interest groups was suggested with each group deciding on a Vice President board member.

Robert Roten was nominated and accepted as President.

5 groups formed and the following persons selected as board members:

A. Adult Programming Dustin Richards

B. Childrenís Programming Casey Wood

C. Fund Raising Celeste Havener

D. Public Relations Ali Grossman - officer David Davis - director

E. Operations Brandon Oneil

Secretary Diana Kopulos

No treasurer was named.

The new board members met briefly, and with the understanding that they may be changed or amended, adopted and signed the Bylaws. A board meeting was set for Monday Sept. 11 at noon at 404 S. Fifth St. The meeting ended at approx. 9:45 p.m.