For years, Steve Weiss felt like there was something missing in Downtown Phoenix’s art scene.
When he heard about FilmBar, a new independent movie theater and bar opening in Evans Churchill, the Executive Director of No Festival Required Independent Cinema hoped he would be able to get involved.
“[Film] was always sort of in between the other kinds of entertainment, or maybe in an art space or a gallery space that could throw a sheet up on the wall,” Weiss said. “So, I was always hoping that there’d be a space, and then I found out about FilmBar.”
Weiss, who became involved in programming eight years ago, approached FilmBar owner and founder Kelly Aubey about programming for the theater. Although Aubey had originally planned on doing the programming himself, he gave the position to Weiss.
“As this project progressed, I realized that I wouldn’t have the time to program effectively,” Aubey confessed. “Steve’s got a lot of experience and was a natural fit, so it was a pretty easy decision to bring him on.”
FilmBar plans to showcase independent, classic, art house, cult, foreign and experimental films, according to Weiss. He wants to bring in films that “educate, entertain and enlighten” to keep the audience thinking, but he hopes they will enjoy themselves, too.
Both Weiss and Aubey believe the audience should expect films that are different from others they’ve seen before.
“Too often, movies and music are just a rehashing, or even a straight copy, of someone else’s work and it always excites me when I see someone taking a chance to explore new territory,” Weiss said. “They are artists — and it’s the artists I want to work with.”
Aubey added that although films from all over the world will be shown at FilmBar, he is passionate about giving local filmmakers a place to screen their work as well.
For members of the public who would like to suggest films to be shown, Weiss said there is contact information on the FilmBar website. He added that some of the films he has championed over the years have come to him through suggestions.
The films won’t be played on loop behind a bar all day long, but rather shown in a 60- to 80-seat digital cinema in a separate room. There will be multiple screenings of a certain film from Thursday to Sunday each week, and the film may carry over to a second weekend if it is successful. To give the audience a chance to utilize the bar, the films will be staggered to allow extra time in between screenings, and some of the longer movies may have intermissions.
The duo has decided on the debut film that will show at FilmBar’s grand opening in December, but is not releasing it to the public just yet. Weiss says there will probably be a soft opening in November to present the space, which he believes will exceed people’s expectations along with the programming, to ramp up to the debut film.
Aubey is simply excited to be a part of the Roosevelt Row area. He was inspired to create FilmBar by the efforts of others in Downtown Phoenix that have brought interesting bars, restaurants and galleries to the area.
“What I want to achieve is to add a mix of other great independent businesses Downtown so that Phoenix can continue to mature into a cultural destination like all great cities,” Aubey said.
FilmBar is located at 815 N. 2nd St. (light rail at Roosevelt Station) Stay tuned to DPJ for information on its grand opening later this year.