Independent films find a new home downtown


This is your casting call, local filmmakers.

A new downtown theater in the Arts District aims to put Las Vegas on the map for quality filmmaking that can compete with the likes of Hollywood.

Theatre7 opened its doors this month at 1406 S. Third St., and plans to showcase locally produced films, plays and art exhibits.

The $7 movies are shown at 7 p.m. Ticket prices include a choice of popcorn, soda or candy. (For $10 you can get the ticket and all three choices.)

It's a modest theater that can seat from 60 to 75 people. There are padded fold-out chairs. Intermissions are built into the films, so people can stand and stretch their legs.

A portion of the movie ticket proceeds for every seat filled will go back to the filmmakers -- a symbol of encouragement to continue creating.

Owner Derek Stonebarger is seeking local writers, directors, producers and actors to get involved with the arthouse project to boost the community's credibility in the film industry.

"There are some really talented people in this town, and I think if we all work together and support each other this will be a great success," Stonebarger said. "Anybody who wants to get involved in the film community should be at this place. Theatre7 is where they should be at because I can get them in contact with the correct people.

"I want this to be a hub to help centralize all of the filmmaking community, so we can start competing with Hollywood and Toronto."

Stonebarger is an Emmy Award-winning TV commercial producer who directed "I.M. Caravaggio," a feature-length film -- shot in the Naked City -- about a controversial 17th-century Italian painter who killed someone, was pardoned by the pope and then ended up mysteriously dead. Caravaggio's story is told through the present-day character of Ian Milano.

The film has been featured in independent film festivals around the world since 2008 -- premiering in Argentina's Mar del Plata International Film Festival, a festival compared to the esteemed Cannes Film Festival in France. Stonebarger's film also won six awards at the 48 Hour Film Project, including best director, best film-audience vote and best film.

It's the first locally produced movie to be showcased by the theater, along with "Thor at the Bus Stop."

The film follows the mythical Norse God of Lightning as he makes his final journey through a suburban neighborhood on the day he is going to die fighting to save the world. The film was directed by local brothers Jerry and Mike Thompson and produced by David Schmoeller and May May Luong.

Schmoeller is impressed with Theatre7.

"This has different functions as both an art gallery and a movie theater," he said. "It's ingenious the way he's able to convert it, really clever. There just aren't many avenues to show your independent movie."

As for Las Vegas becoming the next Hollywood, Schmoeller said that won't happen unless the city offers tax incentives for films made here.

"Unless we do that, they won't come here," he said.

Stonebarger is currently working on "Snail Mail," a dark comedy centered "around the pseudo celebrity-saturated Las Vegas Post Office."

The filmmaker has high hopes for Theatre7.

"Nobody is really down there (in the Arts District) unless it's First Friday," Stonebarger said. "I want to expand and bring people into the Arts District. I'll target every day but First Friday to bring people together and to bring artists together."

The theater is about six months away from getting its gallery license to serve beer and wine during art events, he added.

"I hope the community supports us," Stonebarger said. "They'll get a good deal and see locally produced films. I hope they come down and see those because the filmmakers worked really hard on these projects."

For more information about Theatre7 or the films showing, call 568-9663, visit theatre7lv.com or e-mail derekstone barger@gmail.com.

Contact Downtown and North Las Vegas View reporter Kristi Jourdan at kjourdan@viewnews.com or 383-0492.

 

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