Joy Ennis is undergoing some serious on-the-job training.
The Operations and Programming Supervisor for The Cary Theater, this Sanford native and UNC-CH graduate – who majored in journalism and worked for a publishing company for years – is learning the ins and outs of film programming.
“Film is a different programming model from presenting bands or touring shows,” she says, referring to a background that also includes working with the Cary Children’s Concert Choir and the town’s Cultural Resources Department, as well as booking live acts for the Theater. “I’m on a steep learning curve; it’s fun to see how film is different in terms of programming and the audiences.”
In the two years she’s been doing it, Ennis has put together an interesting mash-up of classic films, contemporary hits, family-oriented movies, you name it. And she’s got serious ambitions: “I want to put out a repertory calendar that can explain the films, do a newsletter that talks about them,” she says. “I would also like to start a film club. We also want to start an open film night, where local filmmakers can bring works in progress, and get feedback.”
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Q: Describe your series.
A: We are trying to present films that are classics or repertory films, bring films to the community that might not be seen otherwise. We are trying to be an art house theater; we are doing some experimental films. Also we want to be a resource and a place for local filmmakers, and reach out to that local community.
Q: What’s your audience?
A: It’s a mixed bag. Our filmgoers are skewing a little bit older. We are looking for ways to dip into that younger market, but I’m finding people interested in these films skew a little older – over 40.
Q: What are some of the favorite films you’ve programmed?
A: “White Christmas,” and we turned it into a singalong. We did it two years in a row, sold out both shows. That was older people bringing their kids, and we made it an event, which is something we are trying to do. And “Touch of Evil,” the Orson Welles film. We did a cinema study series with it (Frame by Frame Cinema Studies Series), in conjunction with the Modern School of Film, based in New York, and the instructor came down from there and would stop the film and talk about the editing and lighting. It was really fun. We did it as a test.
Q: What are the ones you wish you hadn’t?
A: We had a few documentaries that nobody came to. I don’t know if it was the subject matter or if we were new, and didn’t get the word out enough. “I’m Still Here,” the Joaquin Phoenix film, was not my best choice. That was early in my programming career.
Q: What are your desert island films?
A: “White Christmas” is my favorite film of all time. It just makes me happy. I love musicals. “Singing In the Rain” for the same reason. The original “Star Wars” trilogy, because there’s nothing better than Luke Skywalker and Yoda. I like them all – it’s the nostalgia of my youth.
The Cary Theater
The Frame by Frame Cinema Studies Series continues at The Cary through April. “The Searchers” (1956) shows on March 29; “Park Row” (1952) shows on April 12; and “Mean Streets” (1973) on April 26. The films begin at 7 p.m. and tickets are $10.
Learn more at thecarytheater.com.