Taft's struggling movie theater launched its own casting call Friday.
The Fox Theatre must raise $40,000 so it can modernize its projection system and continue to offer first-run flicks to local audiences.
Owner Kent Coke is pinning his hopes on a new funding platform called Kickstarter that relies on the Internet to lure donors in what amounts to an electronic telethon.
Coke has created a short film about his need to purchase digital projection equipment that is a necessity for today's movie houses. If he doesn't join the digital revolution he'll have to close the town's only theater – again.
The Fox has had an open-again, closed-again relationship with the community for longer than most supporters can recall.
Coke rolls out his Kickstarter pitch today.
It's an all-or-nothing deal and works like this:
People who like the project make a pledge with a credit card. If the project succeeds in reaching its funding goal by the deadline, all backers' credit cards are charged when the time expires. If the project falls short, no one is charged.
According to its website, Kickstarter claims to have funded – since its launch in April 2009 -- more than 35,000 projects by generating more than a half billion dollars from three million people.
Kickstarter is designed for creative projects in areas like theater, art, dance, design, fashion, film, food, games, music, photography, publishing, and technology.
"In most cases, the majority of funding initially comes from the fans and friends of each project," Kickstarter's website (www.kickstarter.com) says. "If they like it, they'll spread the word to their friends and so on. Press, blogs, Twitter, Facebook and Kickstarter itself are also big sources of traffic and pledges. Millions of people visit Kickstarter every week."
The Fox's Kickstarter webpage is at
There is also a Facebook page for the Save the Fox effort:
Coke is hopeful the innovative project will work.
"I'm cautiously optimistic," he said. "An example I have on the Kickstarter page is that our Facebook page has 1620 likes. If each one donated $25, we would reach our goal. Our goal is still the same, $40,000. If we raise more than that we would put more down on the equipment to reduce the monthly payments."
Coke is hoping technology will fuel his effort to keep the Fox open just as technology has created his dilemma.
Simply put, the motion picture industry, perhaps as early as the end of the year, will no longer ship reels of celluloid to local theater projection rooms.
The industry is going digital, forcing movie houses to swap their 35mm projectors for a more tech savvy way of screening movies.
Page 2 of 2 - "If we are not able to convert, the theater will close at the end of the year," said Coke.
A promotional video for the Fox was shown at Tuesday's Taft City Council meeting.
Mayor Paul Linder said its important to the community to keep the Fox open.
"It's a landmark. It gives people a place top go and we need the tax dollars."
Making the switch isn't cheap.
Upgrading each of the Fox's three screens will run about $65,000 a pop, he said.
He's already making arrangements to upgrade the projector in the main theater.
"We have a lease-to-own deal that would allow us to have the equipment installed for $40K and spread the remaining cost out over several years. At the end of the lease, we would own the equipment."
Coke said he's working hard to accomplish the upgrades necessary to keep the theater open.
"I plan on doing everything I can to keep the Fox open, but we need the community's help with this," he said.