Happy New Year! It may be long past acceptable to say that for 2019, but we’re starting our 7th Year at IndieWorks next month, so … Happy New Year! And with a new year starting, it feels like the right time to hit refresh on our screening series. So here we are with an announcement; starting with our next lineup on Tuesday, June 25th, we'll be moving to a new venue! We haven’t committed to a permanent new home just yet, but we will be spending the first few months of our new year testing out options and eventually decide on the best fit for our series.
As much as we appreciate The Local & their staff for allowing us to call the space home for the last 3 years, we've decided it's time to part ways with the venue. After a problematic incident at our November screening, where a rowdy bar patron screamed misogynistic expletives throughout the night, we found ourselves heavily weighing the pros & cons of the venue and seriously longing for our original home at the People Lounge where the owner allowed us to use the entire space for our screenings and was very hands on in maintaining a safe space for everyone. After some careful thought & discussion as a team about changing venues, we decided to express our concerns to the venue and stick it out through the rest of our 6th year before making a decision. But after another rowdy night at our Best of Fest last month, we came to the conclusion that, despite the venue checking off a lot of our necessary boxes (being warm & comfortable, offering an open space that can accommodate our generally large crowds with projection of the films on a huge screen), we’ve found ourselves making sacrifices each month that were starting to take a toll on our sense of responsibility to the creators we showcase. Keeping the series free & open to the public is important to us, so we loved that The Local offered us a deal that allowed their guests to come over and discover local films & filmmakers, while our guests could give the venue bar business and brand awareness. However, more and more over the last year, there would be bar patrons that’d nearly ruin the night by being loud & disrespectful towards our event and guests. We understand why The Local has the restrictions it has in terms of requiring the space remain open and multi-purpose at all times; but as filmmakers ourselves, it pained us not having any control over the environment surrounding the screening area (not even being allowed to put up dividers or sound blankets to create some noise barriers). Over the last few months, we’ve found ourselves repeatedly apologizing for behaviors beyond our control while having no agency within the venue to course correct for future screenings. We don’t mean to disrespect the people who run The Local. We are so grateful to them and we love their space for so many reasons. (And we loved the bartenders & being able to bring them business on slow evenings.) It’s truly excellent for networking & mingling, events where noise isn’t a factor. But despite our best efforts, it’s just not really a screening space. As their business continued to grow and their bar became more busy on weeknights over the last year, we’ve been happy for them & their success but frustrated with feeling like we’re not honoring the fully inviting, respectful, and immersive experience we'd come to be known for in our first few years. The inability to create a consistent (positive) experience for our attendees every month was making us feel like failures. As a filmmaker, I (Christina) try to be super transparent about my poor experiences at festivals on this blog; and I recently started feeling like I’d write negatively about our series on the filmmaker side if my only experience with it was during one of our noisier nights. IndieWorks was originally created as a filmmaker focused & friendly alternative to a lot of the bad business I’d seen in the festival world. So, it’s extremely important to me and to us as a team that we deliver on our ideals and what we set out to do each month.
So we’ve decided to spend the first few months of our new season testing out different venues. We did this once before back in 2016, after the People Lounge shut down; we scouted & tested multiple bars & back rooms, and found that most venues (and screens) were too small to fit our audience size and/or had way too much bar noise to fit our vibe. And because we're committed to keeping screenings accessible for all, being able to rent a private space has always been a struggle (not to mention that most rentable screening spaces in the city are cold & impersonal theaters with rules against food & drinks, so wouldn’t fit our vibe anyway). Discovering The Local was a great find at the time, so part of me is sad to say goodbye. But it’s the right move to ensure the atmosphere we aspire to create every single month. Last time around, before settling on The Local, we tested Stone Creek Lounge (which is a solid space and our go-to backup, just a bit too small for our needs most months), Subject NYC (not bad but too loud), and Arlene’s Grocery (too small but a great venue for music). This time around, we’re going to start June out at Stone Creek Lounge as a buffer to explore other venues for future months. We’re really excited to test out Nuyorican Poets Cafe in July, with potential later opportunities in the works at The Creek & the Cave and Artefix NYC. We’ve reached out to others and we’ll see what comes along. If you have suggestions, please send them our way and we’ll reach out. (For criteria, here’s our blog post from our 2016 search).
Thanks for being part of our film family through the run of IndieWorks. We’re excited for this new chapter of working to make it better than ever!
And please join us to kick off our new year and celebrate Pride on June 25th!