“Ball so hard, this shit crazy”
It was a money-draining party and I had a blast.
Heart Of Douche-ness or “The Imperialism Of Young Assholes”
Take up the White Mans Burden, Hipsters. Conquer the middle class with your bougie contempt and self-loathing fashion. But don’t complain when you’re branded the enemy.
EULA, Life Size Maps & More at Shea Stadium
Five great bands at a Friday show in Shea Stadium.
Silent Barn Public Meeting Tomorrow
Panelists gather to discuss All Ages venues, with some necessary rocking out.
alt-J at Glasslands
Lead singer Joe Newman asked us to sweat with him and we did.
Cinema & Speakeasys: The Gabriel Rhoads Interview
The St. Patrick’s Youth Center is filled with a flurry of people raising a giant movie screen, the delicious smell of cooking dumplings wafting from a back kitchen. Over 400 beers, sodas and waters are on ice and young chinese kids practice their dragon dance moves in one corner of the massive, ’70s throwback auditorium. This is just the beginning of what will become an epic Dumpling Kung Fu Speakeasy, the dynamic force behind this event, Gabriel Rhoads explains. Rhoads seems to thrive at both being the center of and expertly directing the pre-event madness, taking time to show off to me some ornate buddhas he picked up at a movie prop house in Gowanus. His eyes lit with excitement, Rhoads describes his other awesome finds. This electric energy seems to be what BBQ Films, the company responsible for Dumpling Speakeasy, as well as many New York Based pop-up movie events seems to be all about. Tonight, they are screening the Bruce Lee’s classic, “Enter The Dragon,” but have hosted a magnificent and varied array of screenings that pair food, drink and performance with cinema. I spoke with Rhoads about BBQ Film’s origins, having fun while not losing money, sanatoriums and his biggest big screen dreams.
HOLY DIVER: How did the idea for BBQ Films come about? What inspired you?
Gabriel Rhoads: BBQ Films got it start in 2007 when a few friends got together on a rooftop in Spanish Harlem to screen the “Blues Brothers” for some neighbors. We threw some food on the grill, opened a few beers under the warm summer sky, and enjoyed a great film. This blossomed into a film series, and we started inviting directors to screen their documentary films, professors from local Universities to lead us in a discussion of Orson Welles “F for Fake,” and began creating meals and beers matched to the films. We went on to screen an eclectic mix of work from Alien to Louis Theroux’s “Weird Weekends” – and “Caddyshack” to “Man on Wire”.
By the time 2010 rolled around, we outgrew the roof, and started hosting our events popup cinema stye in spaces around NYC, and attracting sponsors like Newcastle, Google, and Bruce Cost Ginger Ale.
The inspiration for BBQ Films has always been the building a community of good folks that like good film, good food, and each other’s company. A great movie theater experience is hard to beat. But in the days where these are increasingly expensive, and less of a social experience, we are dedicated to bringing the film off the screen with our unique events so people can come together and really enjoy each other in the context of a good film. BBQ Films is essentially a cinema social club.
HD: What is your own background in film? How do movies capture your imagination?
GR: I actually have absolutely no background in film. I can’t talk much about filmmakers or film theory, though I respect folks who can. I can just talk about the love of amazing storytelling, and the love of great movies.
At the end of the day, I think BBQ Films, just like other film & food experiences, really appeal to us on a very deep level. Bear with me for a moment. Think about the last time you had an amazing night with your friends – it was probably swapping stories over a few beers or glasses of wine & a meal. And, what is a great movie other than a good story well told? What is more human than to share a meal, a drink, and a story with a group of people? At the most basic level, that is what we hope to bring to our movie nights.
HD: How do you keep them running? Whether that’s financially or just pure team spirit, what drives you to put in so much hard, amazing work?
GR: We have always felt that it is important for the arts to support themselves. BBQ Films is a business, and it supports itself. We license our films, produce legal events, pay our artists, and get support from guests and from sponsors. But, that’s not to say we’re seeing big profit – we support ourselves, but need to be volunteer driven. We operate on the principle of “have fun, don’t lose money.” Our volunteers keep on supporting our work because without them, BBQ Films is just a few crazy ideas — which through their work turn into reality. It’s a pretty unusual thing to be able to say “last weekend I installed a pop-up cinema in SoHo and fed 2,000 dumplings to a sold out crowd.”
But, if any cool NYC millionaires want us to throw them a special party that will finance another projector or a bass unit for the sound system, let us know!
HD: You had mentioned getting props for the Dumpling Speakeasy from an old movie prop house in Gowanus. Is that typical? What other adventures have you gone through to make a pop-up special?
GR: Definitely the craziest thing we did for a movie night was to hike a group of friends to the top of Overlook Mountain upstate, and toss up “An American Werewolf in London” against the side of an abandoned sanatorium in the woods under a full moon. We filmed it as a promotion for our Werewolf movie night. The film ended up being pretty cool, but the experience of being out there under the full moon, sleeping overnight, was out of this world.
We also do all sorts of other crazy things for movie nights – and can talk for hours about it. Touring breweries to see if we can install a theater, cold-calling owners of abandoned candy stores to see if we can use the space, working with a theatrical makeup artist to have a werewolf show up at intermission at Werewolf movie night, having homebrewer friends cook up custom beers to match movies, inviting subway musicians to movie nights to harmonize with themselves on screen, &c…
HD: What is your dream location for a BBQ Films pop up?
GR: Hands down, I want to show a movie at the top of the Chrysler tower. I want to put up the 1927 silent film “Metropolis” in an intimate screening, featuring live music to accompany the screening, and champagne and chocolates – a true movie night for the end of the world, to showcase Fritz Lang’s distopian masterpiece…
We’ve also been toying with the idea of screening “Down By Law” with Louisiana food in an old steamer trunk storage depot on the Hudson waterfront, and seeing if we can invite John Lurie to come out of seclusion to join us for a beer, and perhaps an impromptu musical performance…
All image credit to Matt Finlin. For more on BBQ Films.