In a time where smaller, independent films are being squeezed out of the marketplace by big budget studio flicks, filmmakers are turning to the internet in order to put eyes on their productions. And while this is proving successful in terms of visibility, Lucas Rayala still sees an issue.
"One of the key components of creating a film is getting it in front of a live crowd," he explains. "That experience of watching a movie in a group setting is so different than watching it online, and I think that's something that a lot of films don't get the chance to do."
Rayala is hoping to reverse that trend with Altsie, an organization he founded that gives local bars, restaurants, and other venues the opportunity to host screenings for some of the best independent films on the market.
He first had the idea for Altsie roughly two years ago, having recognized these film industry problems.
"I read an article about how it was becoming more and more difficult for independent filmmakers to gain exposure," he recalls. "With video stores starting to go out of business, that was a big blow to the industry. They weren't able to get wide-scale video distribution, which is what made a lot of these films profitable. I saw that this was an issue, and I decided that it was a problem I could help solve."
According to Rayala, the principles behind Altsie are beneficial both for local businesses as well as the filmmakers themselves.
"We bring a group-buy type of experience to local businesses. The goal is to bring in customers on nights that make sense for the business in order to boost profits on those nights."
The first Altsie event will take place this Sunday at The Nicollet with a screening of the film Ink, which according to the website, is "a high-concept visual thriller." The film will be shown again three more times in April, once again at The Nicollet and twice at The Crooked Pint. Rayala has been extremely hands-on in ramping up the organization locally, going so far as to helping build a new screen at The Nicollet for the big debut.
While Altsie is finding its footing in the Twin Cities, Rayala hopes this will be just the beginning for how far the group can reach.
"I was recently invited out to Las Vegas to meet with some people, so I'm hoping that will be the next city we start hosting events in," he says. "I've been surprised at how many businesses have already been jumping in and showing interest in this idea, and I'm really excited about how far this can go."
Early buzz around Altsie aside, Rayala says for now he'll be happy simply by drawing a crowd for these first showings, and creating a fun, unique environment for moviegoers.
"Going on a date to the movies to me has always seemed like death on a stick," he laughs. "By hosting these events in a different environment, people can come have a drink, have dinner, have a conversation, and enjoy a film. I think it will really be a fun event that people are going to enjoy."
IF YOU GO:
Ink, presented by Altsie 7 p.m. Sunday, April 1 The Nicollet 1931 Nicollet Ave, Minneapolis $5 admission Click here for details