The Art of Independent Film
The true art of cinema forces us to cultivate opinions, expand our minds and form real emotions towards the characters. While it’s worth a trip across town—even the state—to support such films, Bend is lucky enough to have one of the Northwest’s best kept secrets in the Tin Pan Theater. Tucked part way down Tin Pan Alley and nestled between a coffee shop and wine bar, the 28-seat theater screens the best in independent film.
Described as a “pocket theater” by co-owner Micah LaVoy, Tin Pan Theater opened its doors in 2012. Realizing the popularity of independent theaters in Portland, owners LaVoy and his wife Esme wanted to try the format in a smaller market. Having already sold two successful small businesses and being avid lovers of independent film, it was a natural transition for both of them to open a theater and experiment with their concept in Bend. LaVoy says the independent film community has been very supportive over the years, and not just in Central Oregon.
“The quality of independent film nowadays is extraordinary, which draws a bigger and more diverse audience,” says LaVoy. “We have people drive from all over the Northwest to come see a movie because we are the only theater showing it.”
The LaVoys know very well the arduous double duty of carefully selecting films with a wide range of subject matter and the importance of making enough money to stay in business. While consistent and interesting programming is key, concessions boost the bottom line.
Tin Pan Theater’s branding and atmosphere is subtle and unique. Their intimate space—complete with red velvet curtains hugging the small screen and animal prints straight out of a Wes Anderson film—reminds guests of a friend’s cozy little home. A sleek bar serves up local brews and kombucha along with a scoop of candy or salty popcorn.
“Now that we have been here for a while, we are enjoying the trust that our community has given us to pick the films that not just entertain them, but move them, and open them up to the world outside of Bend,” explains LaVoy. “It has been amazing to see the turnout for films that when we first opened, would have been a hard sell.”
In 2016, Tin Pan will once again be a major venue for the Bend Film Festival, screening films which may see themselves to a paying audience in the future. Along with the regularly scheduled programming like Spaghetti Western Wednesday and Armchair Storytelling, Tin Pan will feature more live music and children’s programming this year. Without a doubt, I will be the first in line.
Tin Pan Theater
869 NW Tin Pan Alley, Bend
Showtime Hotline: 541.241.2271