Open Projector Night Promises Laughs, Experimentation

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The Athena Cinema’s Open Projector Night could be considered a film exhibition, audience critique and comedy show, all rolled into one hour-long event.

On the last Wednesday of each month, the theater invites students and community members to submit their film shorts, then allows the audience to select a winner.

For budding filmmakers, this open environment is the perfect start to gaining feedback on their work.

"We really just wanted to create an event that allowed local students and the community to show their work for free. So many people are creating shorts and they don’t ever get the chance to see it on the big screen," said Alexandra Kamody, managing director of the Athena Cinema.

Dr. Ruth Bradley, the Athena's director, had always been a big supporter of the idea, and the first Open Projector Night came to life during fall semester.

Up to 10 film submissions are accepted between 6-6:30 p.m. on the night of the event. At 7 p.m., the shorts are presented to the audience.

At the end of the night, a "clap-o-meter" allows the audience to pick the winner, who receives a $50 gift card.

One of the main purposes of the event is to allow participants to display their work for free and receive audience feedback in a casual and fun environment. So far, the two Open Projector Nights have built a steady following of both submissions and audience members.

First-year graduate student Erin Riordan has attended every Open Projector Night for numerous reasons: She’s studying media arts and studies, many of her friends submit shorts and she just couldn’t pass up a good time. One of her favorite production groups who have submitted shorts is "I Friends and My".

"It’s hard not to laugh at the crazy 'I Friends and My' shorts," said Riordan. "They are so bizarre and so hilarious."

Apart from viewing the film shorts, the audience also gets a good laugh from Joseph Lalonde and Patrick White of OU Improv. The two were asked by Ruth Bradley if they would be interested in hosting the event once it was organized. The duo immediately signed up.

"We talked it over with our cutthroat industry-savvy talent agents, and after some intense contract negotiations with the Athena, Patrick and I signed on…as long as the temperature of the theater is kept at a steady 72 degrees and our dressing rooms are stocked with an endless supply of chilled Fiji Water," joked Lalonde.

Lalonde and White get the crowd riled up for the night with jokes and a bit of improvising in-between the films. The two have come to build a unique relationship with the Athena staff, audience and filmmakers who attend the events.

"Open Projector Night is beneficial to the community because it's free art and free entertainment for the spectators. It also provides an outlet for independent filmmakers who may not otherwise get a chance to have their work seen on an actual silver screen," said Lalonde. "Also it’s free fun. What could be detrimental about free fun?"

There will be two more Open Projector Nights this semester: March 27 and April 24. The Athena is planning to continue this event next year by focusing on building its audience, diversifying submissions and possibly trying out different prizes and formats.

"I hope it will grow to the point that people look back and say, 'I started going to the Athena on Wednesday nights with my film to see what audiences thought…I got a great reaction, so I took project one step further,'" said Kamody.

For more information on Open Projector Night visit