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July 27, 2005

Inflatable screens becoming popular

Outdoor film showings make a comeback


      TRAVERSE CITY - When the crowd starts gathering to watch outdoor movies on a gigantic inflatable movie screen at the Open Space on Thursday night, they'll join similar throngs across the country who have been doing the same thing.
      Bob Deutsch is the owner of Outdoor Movies, the Maryland company supplying the screen at the Open Space for the Traverse City Film Festival. His company was scheduled to start putting up a 40-by-20-foot screen at the Open Space Tuesday, in preparation for Thursday night's opening of the four-night free venue. But rain and winds delayed that plan until today.
      Deutsch said public showings of films outdoors on inflatable screens has been growing.
      "The outdoor genre has become significantly more popular," he said. "It's the modern-day replacement for the drive-in move theater."
      Traverse City Film Festival founder Michael Moore said he and wife Kathleen Glynn first saw films being shown on screens floating on the Hudson River in New York.
      City manager Richard Lewis said that he saw residents gathering in a park for weekly outdoor movie showings while visiting Charleston, S.C., in May.
      "They had a portable screen they brought in and set up, and it was open to anybody to come in and sit down and enjoy," Lewis said. "I thought at the time, it was pretty neat."
      A former satellite network salesman, Deutsch said he got out of that and into the screen business after he participated in an outdoor movie festival for the National Institute of Child Health in Washington, D.C. as a volunteer about nine years ago.
      "That show is in its ninth year and we get about 12,000 now."
      Deutsch investigated and found a company in Germany that manufactures the screens. He became an Airscreen distributor and sells them to commercial as well as private buyers. He also owns a supply and goes around the country setting them up on a rental basis like he's doing for the Traverse City Film Festival.
      "You have everything from intimate family, all the way up to 15,000 to 20,000 people in attendance."
      He just completed providing a 100-foot-wide, 4,500-square-foot screen for Warner Brothers' James Dean Festival in Indiana. The Venice Film Festival used an inflatable screen for the world premiere of "Shark Tales."
      Deutsch supplied a screen in a venue he described similar to Traverse City's Open Space in the Bahamas for a benefit for hurricane victims last year. He's also done a film festival in Fort Myers Beach, Fla., and other beach settings.
      The screen has two components: a frame made of high strength welded PVC; and the screen composed from the same material and color balance and gain qualities as on a regular movie theater's.
      To keep it in place, Deutsch said, the screen is ballasted with water.
      "Basically, we'll put a ton of water about 30 feet from the screen on each of the four corners, and this screen will be tethered to this to keep it from becoming a sailboat with no hull," he said. "These are like the same amount of sails on a sailboat. The trick is we just don't want them to go anywhere."
      Thursday night's opening film is "Jaws," which Deutsch said he just showed a few weeks ago on a beach. Other films include "The Princess Bride" on Friday, "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" on Saturday and "Casablanca" Sunday. There is no admission charge. All start at dusk.
See Related Stories:
      Interlochen reaps benefits of Traverse City Film Festival - July 27, 2005
      Odds and ends from the Film Festival - July 27, 2005
      Traverse Bay Freedom Filmfest: 'Mainstream' against 'extremist' - July 26, 2005
      Hope for TC's State Theatre renewed as festival nears - July 24, 2005
      Ticket sales, financial support keep growing for film festival - July 22, 2005
      AFR Freedom FilmFest opens next Friday - July 22, 2005
      Profile: Moore on Michael - July 22, 2005
      Panel sessions range from politics to producing - July 22, 2005
      Behind the scenes: the committee - July 22, 2005
      Small town, world films: Buffs looking forward to indie films - July 22, 2005
      Volunteers come from all parts of the state - July 22, 2005
      At Issue: Letters to the Editor about the Film Festival - July 22, 2005
      The films: descriptions & reviews (2-page PDF) - July 22, 2005
      Extra screenings added for film festival's sold-out shows - July 20, 2005
      No alcohol allowed at festival's Open Space films - July 20, 2005
      Hollywood to visit Traverse City for Film Festival - July 17, 2005
      Conservatives offer alternate film festival - July 7, 2005
      Moviegoers rush to buy film festival tickets - July 2, 2005
      Michael Moore announces TC Film Festival lineup - July 1, 2005
      Moore deilivers for first Traverse City film extravaganza - July 1, 2005
      Michael Moore hopes actors will visit Traverse City Film Fest - June 16, 2005
      TC Film Festival: Residents share noise, crowd concerns - June 8, 2005
      Coming soon: Classics; Michael Moore backs TC film festival - June 4, 2005

See Related Editorial:
      TC Film Festival plans a great fit for the area - June 12, 2005

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