Letter from Pisgah Film House:
Hello, you lovely cinephiles,
Today, I’m writing to you with some very sad news. Sunday night, the Pisgah Film House board and I had a (virtual) meeting and, after much deliberation, made the difficult decision to close Pisgah Film House permanently. If you read no further, please know that it’s been a joy and an honor to meet so many of you over the last two years. Thank you for contributing to the unique and warm community of film-lovers that has developed within the walls of the DFR Room, Searcy Hall, and 114 W. Main Street. It’s been a wild ride.
SO WHAT HAPPENED?
First, the obvious: with the exception of a few generous donations, we haven’t taken in any income in nearly two months. The same can be said for nearly every business and nonprofit in Brevard, but there are a few things that have happened since mid-March that have contributed to our current financial state:
Four weeks after applying for the federal government’s “Payroll Protection Program,” we finally learned that we had been approved…but for only 15% of what we needed.
We did not receive a crucial grant from Transylvania County that would have paid our rent while closed.
The online ticketing vendor we have used since 2018 has failed to send us payment for the final three weekends of screenings. That means if you came to see Parasite (Black and White), Les Miserables, or The Woman that Loves Giraffes, Brown Paper Tickets still has not sent us the funds from your ticket purchase. By the time we learned that these payments to us would be delayed, we had already paid the distributors of each of those films their respective licensing fee (around 40% of each ticket sale). Read more about the state of Brown Paper Tickets HERE.
We attempted to implement a virtual cinema model that enabled folks to see-first-run films at home. Many of you generously supported us by taking advantage of this model. Thank you so much to those that did! Unfortunately, that model was frustratingly complicated (no one should have to watch a film on their laptop!), and furthermore – perhaps because of the aforementioned shortcomings of that model – it didn’t generate much income for us.
During all of this, we have continued paying our employees, rent (discounted thanks to our wonderful landlord Drew Deane), taxes, insurance, and other expenses that didn’t stop just because we were closed. In short, without the needed aid and income we thought we would receive, we’ve simply run out of money.
WHY NOT JUST RAISE MORE MONEY?
The decision to close stems not just from our current financial state, but also from the grim reality of what film exhibition in general will look like for the foreseeable future. The next phase of re-opening for movie theaters, large and small, will be mandatory reduced capacity, probably starting at 50%. This model simply won’t work for a venue with 38 seats; we will lose money every weekend in that scenario. And once these capacity restrictions are lifted, two uncertainties remain: 1. To what extent will audiences be comfortable gathering in small spaces? and 2. When will there be movies to actually show? To summarize, our decision to close has as much to do with the future as it does the present.
We’ll be liquidating all of our assets (projector, screen, chairs, etc.) and using those funds to pay back the remaining startup cost debt we have (ironically, that loan was used to buy those same assets).
There are some of you that bought memberships when we re-opened that program in February. If/when we receive the outstanding payments from Brown Paper Tickets, our plan is to use those funds to issue refunds for those memberships. I’m so sorry to those of you that never got much of a chance to use your membership.
Once all of our equipment has been sold, we hope to be moved out of 114 W. Main Street by the end of this month.
For those of you that have made donations in 2020, we’ll be sending out charitable contribution acknowledgement letters in the next few weeks.
In mid-March, when we first announced that we would be temporarily closing, many of you sent notes of encouragement and several sent donations. I cannot express my gratitude for that show of support.
To those of you that donated, I wish I had a message of hope to repay you for your sign of good faith. Thank you so much.
To those that attended and participated in the Reel Transylvania events at Brevard College, thanks for showing up, for the sea of smiles, for your engagement in community events like these that make Brevard special.
To the businesses and organizations that partnered with us through sponsorship, advertising, and underwriting, thank you for thinking outside the box and supporting a new nonprofit. I wish all of you the best in this pandemic.
To our volunteers, thank you for your tireless contributions and for remaining flexible as our operation continually evolved. I can’t tell you how much I’ll miss our conversations before and after the films.
To our members, especially those that joined early on, thank you so so much for blindly believing in what we were doing. The best part of this endeavor was seeing the same faces weekend after weekend. I consider many of you friends and I hope you feel the same.
To my theater managers, Abbey and Janet: what a dream team! Thanks for being exactly the employees that PFH needed: dependable, professional, warm, and flexible.
To my board members Nick, Amy, MacKenzie, and Peter: thank you for listening and for always giving your honest input.
As I would often say in my introductory notes (which Abbey called the “curtain talk”), I still believe that seeing a movie in a communal space is the best way to experience it. I’ve seen it with my own eyes; I know that many of you believe that as well. I hope that the community that grew out of Pisgah Film House will continue in informal ways in the future.
All the best,