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Friday, July 12, 2024
A movie about movies: premier of local filmmaker’s work set for July
NOTL filmmaker Matt Finlin in the backyard of the Brockamour Manor, the location of first local screening of his new documentary, "The Movie Man." RICHARD WRIGHT

For the first time in Niagara, Niagara-on-the-Lake filmmaker Matt Finlin’s documentary “The Movie Man” will be shown to the public at a special viewing in town at Brockamour Manor on July 8.

The film follows Keith Stata, a movie buff from Kinmount, Ont., who built one of the most unique movie theatres in a highly unlikely place.

Highlands Cinemas is a 550-seat complex with five theatres in a town of barely 300 people. 

The complex also features a full-on cinematic museum.

What makes the place so special is that it is located in Stata’s home, which is nestled into the wooded landscape of the sleepy little town in the heart of cottage country 200 kilometres northeast of Toronto.

For the filmmaker, Stata’s incredible story holds personal value and was an easy choice for him to make it into a full-length film.

Finlin, 44, had his first experience with Stata and his theatre as an 11-year-old while camping with his family.

He remembers being in awe of going to a movie in “a guy’s house” while on holiday — back when cottages and campsites barely had running water.

“You kind of don’t know what this place is then you enter it and it’s just sort of magic when you open it up and it’s this massive five-cinema multiplex with a museum that would put the academies to shame. And you’re just kind of like, ‘Wow!'”

He credits the incredible experience at such a young age for putting him on a path to become a filmmaker. 

“I was always one of those kids that made movies with the family camcorder, a long time before iPhones. It (filmmaking) just seemed kind of out of reach,” he added, alluding to the fact that his hometown of Cambridge seemed so far from the big-screen cities.

“But, I was never a kid to let growing up in a small town stop me. I went to university — finished. I went to teacher’s college and I just thought I am going to try it because if I don’t, I will regret it.”

Today, Finlin has a production company in Toronto called Door Knocker Media that produces TV shows and commercials.

But it is this latest project that many believe is his crown jewel.

One might ask a pair of Canadian rock and pop icons their opinion of Finlin’s work. 

Ed Robertson of Barenaked Ladies fame heard about the movie and, reflecting on his own unique experiences at the Highlands Cinemas, approached Finlin about the project — the two agreed to have Robertson come on as one of the film’s executive producers.

The soundtrack is done by Kevin Drew, a founding member of the Canadian indie pop band Broken Social Scene.

“It has been really helpful and lucky to have them come on board,” said Finlin, who was accompanied by Drew to the film’s biggest screening of all earlier this year.

“The Movie Man” premiered in February at the Santa Barbara Film Festival, one of the most prestigious film festivals in the United States.

Being there and watching his work on one of the biggest stages in the world was an incredible experience for Finlin.

His film, he said, is a combination of his own wonderful memories, and a gift to others who want to experience Highlands Cinemas and the man who built it.

“It takes you somewhere that you couldn’t possibly dream of going or maybe it opens your eyes to a place or someone’s life that is fantastical. That’s what draws me into it,” he said, speaking about not just this film but the whole process of storytelling.

“This movie … is about the experience of going to the movies but it is also about this man and what he has done with his life and what he has given to others.”

Outdoor Movie Night at Brockamour Manor featuring “The Movie Man” is scheduled for the evening of Monday, July 8 in the backyard of the historic bed and breakfast in Niagara-on-the-Lake.

Proceeds from the film are being donated to the Rotaract, the youth arm of the NOTL Rotary Club.

wright@niagaranow.com

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