Behind the Scenes of CAPA's Summer Movie Series

Staff Writer
Columbus Monthly

Some things never change: For the 45th year running, a bevy of films will unreel at the CAPA Summer Movie Series (June 5 through Aug. 9 at the Ohio Theatre). Most of the films featured will be projected in 35mm prints, and all screenings include festive organ music. To learn what goes into making the series Central Ohio's own summer blockbuster, we spoke with two key players.


Each December, CAPA vice president of programming Rich Corsi and consultant Lance Carwile start hatching plans for the following year's series. "We basically go over the dates that we have on hold," Corsi says, and the two brainstorm potential films. Some are selected to fill thematic gaps in the schedule. "We might notice we don't have any musicals or westerns or something of a certain genre," Corsi says. And a film is not repeated until some time has passed since its last showing. Says Corsi, "You need to have, like, a six-, seven-year gap in between." For example, Alfred Hitchcock's "Notorious"-this year's season opener-is making its first appearance since 2008.


A fixture of the Summer Movie Series, organist Clark Wilson of East Liverpool, Ohio, plays a medley of music throughout the evening (including 30 minutes ahead of the film). Wilson is kept in the loop about films under consideration, and not long after the schedule is set (around March), he springs into action. "I go through and I watch every one of the films that we're about to do in the coming season," Wilson says-including films previously shown-in order to choose appropriate tunes. "I try always to keep the music significant to the film, somehow or another." Sometimes the choices are less than obvious. "Frequently I will go with music that might be attached to performances of the star in that picture," he explains, and on occasion he will draw from music popular at the time a film was released.


Bucking the trend of digital projection, CAPA strives to secure 35mm prints from distributors. "We're one of the more respected film series in the country," Corsi says. "If they've got 35mms available, they'll send them to us." Prints usually arrive only a few days before a film is to be screened and sometimes are shipped straight from the movie house where it was last shown-necessitating a lot of double-checking. "We get the film in; we have the person go up to the booth; they have to run every reel," Corsi says. "They have to make sure the sound's on it, the film runs properly."


Projectionist Andrew Clausen creates intermissions for films that have none by evaluating the number of reels and deciding on a place to stop. If a film has six reels, Corsi says, the film would probably be halted after the first three: "You have your intermission, and then you just load up the fourth reel, pop that on and let it rip."