Norman advances his dream to add screens
BRUNSWICK — Eveningstar Cinema owner Barry Norman has started film festivals elsewhere in the past. He’d like to launch a similar film festival in Brunswick, but he needs a venue.
“This really is an arts and cultural town,” Norman said Wednesday from behind the counter at his one-screen theater in the Tontine Mall, where he does everything from making the popcorn to selling tickets and projecting three to four screenings a day.
The sense that Brunswick could support another fourscreen cinema and a desire to limit his current list of responsibilities have given Norman the confidence to begin planning for a four-screen art-house theater on property near Brunswick Station.
“A theater of this type that I’m trying to build would be a banner — ‘this is who Brunswick is,’” Norman said.
Norman said he hired consultants with B&B Theatres and Sonic Equipment Company this week to begin cost esti- mates for the equipment, and plans for the theater are already in the works with Topsham- based architect Steve Normand.
Norman hopes to complete a business plan by the end March. He plans to seek a combination of private investment and bank loans to get the project off the ground.
A four-screen theater would allow Norman greater freedom in acquiring and holding films from distributors, which sometimes poses a challenge with Eveningstar’s single screen, he said.
Norman recently had to decide to rotate out the film “The Descendants” after just two weeks to make way for “The Artist,” which he said would have gone to another theater if he didn’t pick it up first.
“Those are the types of decisions that drive me crazy with one screen,” Norman said.
On the personal side, Norman said three hernias and chronic back problems make the tight workspace from the theater’s projection room less than ideal.
“I physically can’t do it any more,” Norman said.
His sights are set on creating a film festival on the scale of two he founded in Georgia. One of those towns — Rome — is also the setting for a recent improvisational film that he shot with director Rick Schmidt over just five days during August 2010.
“If I have a four-screen theater, the Brunswick International Film Festival will happen right here,” Norman said.
Norman said the recent development of Brunswick Station and the expected arrival of the Amtrak Downeaster passenger rail service are key factors in his interest to build the new theater near the development.
“Being right there when the new train comes in is going to be a huge thing for everybody,” Norman said.
Norman admits that the project is ambitious and still has some hurdles to clear before it could become a reality, but he won’t apologize for aiming high.
“I’d rather fail at being great than succeed at being mediocre,” Norman said. “Why not go for the gold?”