I can’t even tell you how much fun I had this weekend. But I’m going to try:
The Guerilla Drive-In showed Back to the Future on top of the Bicentennial Garage in West Chester, and the show was an absolute blast for me. A crew of volunteers showed up in the morning to build our first actual, by-God movie screen, and by two PM, we had a beautiful plywood screen eight feet tall by eleven feet wide, braced on a portable sawhorse frame, with two coats of silver paint underneath a coat of flat white latex (Chris Smith’s secret formula for outdoor-screen success, and it looked great.)
From three to six, I noodled around with a team from the CBS Evening News with Katie Couric. First, we filmed the MacGuffin at its Secret Location. (While I was leaving, a car full of young people pulled in, faces intent as they listened to the radio. I asked them if they were looking for the MacGuffin: “yes!” they said, their faces brightening, and I told them to go get a hint from the, you know, NATIONAL NEWS MEDIA right over there by the SUV with the tripods. I hope that was an awesome payoff for those kids!) Next, I drove up and down High street while Paul, the camera operator, braced himself in the back of Randy’s pickup truck. Every time I drove by the frat houses across from the Burger King, the shirtless jocks out on the lawn would holler louder and louder, until I was rolling past brandishing my fist in the air like a brutal conquering dictator. Well, a brutal dictator whose subjects go “WOOOOO! YEAH! WOOOOOOO!”
When I made it back to the Bicentennial Garage with Kate at about seven, several DeLoreans had already arrived. We had no less than EIGHT DELOREANS come out from the DeLorean Mid-Atlantic club, and when I came around the last corner to the top of the garage, the little cars were arrayed in a bright silver chevron on either side of the topmost ramp, noses facing in, gull-wing doors open, as if the AWESOMEST CAVALRY IN THE HISTORY OF AWESOMENESS had arrived from the blue sky above.
The DeLorean owners were cordial and friendly. The battery-powered, bottlecap-mounted ninja streetlight put-outers that Mike Lamprinos hacked together in the previous 24 hours worked flawlessly in both daylight tests and nighttime action, keeping the bright streetlights off by shining light directly into their daylight sensors. Eric Lewis handled the projector beautifully. Matt and Kristen carried a white leather couch up to the roof and sat in it, dressed to the nines. The screen did not blow over, the flux capacitor tattoos that Chris Thompson made and Jonathan Ross sprayed were wonderful, the colors were bright, crisp, and vivid on the screen…
…I was absolutely thrilled, delighted, and amazed by all the cheerful, enthusiastic ingenuity that people in West Chester came up with, and I’m more convinced than ever that this is a very, very special town. We had a lot of people come out (150? 200?), and during the first couple of intermissions between reels, the CBS team prowled around with their cameras and interviewed folks. Jack, the producer, promised to let me know when the story will air (it’s about guerilla drive-ins in general, not just this one), and of course I’ll post that information here.
The thing that made me the happiest was seeing folks introduce themselves to each other, making it clear to me that this was an actual community event, not just a regular movie in a different venue. This was a great time. I may have kicked this event off, but it’s now clear that the lion’s share of the awesomeness is coming from all the other people engaged in the project: Jim Haigney, Ellen Peters, and Michael Estrada, Eric Lewis, Mike Lamprinos, Chris Thompson, Scott McMullen, Randy Schmidt, Toren Peterson, Andy Rodriguez, and Jonathan Ross — thanks to all of you for (literally) putting together such a fun event!
You can see lots more photos:
- On Ellen Peters’ Flickr stream,
- On Andy Rodriguez’ Flickr stream,
- On the Honest Hypocrite blog, and
- On Eric Lewis’s unhub stream (before it gets pushed below the fold)
On July 18th, the Guerilla Drive-In will be taking a break from all the secrecy and going to see the Rocky Horror Picture Show at the Colonial Theater. As with all Guerilla Drive-In events, you are very cordially invited; watch the Guerilla Drive-In schedule page for announcements.
UPDATE: I just got this email from the three MacGuffin finders, and it makes me really happy! Especially the part about this being something that siblings across a difficult age gap can enjoy together:
“Maggie, Kevin and CJ… We are 2 brothers and a sister who are bffs and had a seriously awesome day together yesterday. We went on an adventure to find the MacGuffin, saw Texas Longhorns, and drove down a precariously wooded road. Once we found it, we hung out with the cbs guys, then had a spectacular day in west chester, eating bar-b-q and ice cream and buying comic books. Ending our night with our first guerilla drive in was great. Even though we didn’t have chairs; the delorians, the bell tower, and the flux capacitor “tramp stamps” made up for that. Even though we love hanging out, but a noticable age gap (21-16) makes it difficult for us to find things to do together. This is the perfect solution and aready a highlight of our summer’s. Thank you!!”
2 responses to “Guerilla Drive-In’s Back to the Future: DeLoreans GaLorean!”
Just amazing. I think you have now surpassed Project Starlight International, RIP, for Most Creative Use of Nighttime Outdoors, Featuring Improbable Machinery. Let’s hope CBS does justice.
I had an absolutely AWESOME time. All my friends that showed up were amazed and thought the whole deal was pretty much the coolest thing ever. It was great to see so many strangers come together and have a great time and chat and just enjoy the evening. Nicely done John…
P.S. VIP section rocked, and thank Kate again for the blanket. My VIP guest was freezing.