The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

Visiting Frank with the world’s smallest cinema

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo went to Arizona to pay Frank, from ‘Life’s too short not to be Frank’, a visit

After the Oscars we returned to Amsterdam, just in time for the Go Short International Film Festival and the Geheime Liefde festival. We have saved you some stories about our American adventure, but now feels like a good moment to tell a special one.

One of the first shorts we screened is Life’s too short not to be Frank, a documentary about a Vietnam War veteran now living in Arizona. Filmmaker Tom Huntingford stayed with Frank for several months and caught their best moments on camera.

In Hollywood we received the news that Frank had never seen his own documentary. Without hesitating we contacted Frank and told him that we were bringing the world’s smallest cinema to Arizona to show him the documentary. Being the first short film screened in our cinema this adventure obviously meant a great deal to us, as well as to Tom!

Frank deserves a short introduction. When he was seventeen years old he was sent to Vietnam. After his active service he secured a job working on oilrigs for Shell. At the time that Tom was staying with Frank he had over a hundred guns to protect himself, against any intruders unfortunate enough to walk through his door. Twice he had a price on his head (perhaps his fears were justified?). He used to live in California, but when he was not allowed to carry concealed guns around anymore and to drive his Harley Davidson without a helmet, he had had it and moved to Arizona. He has been divorced three times, but he has three pit bulls to keep him company.

Cinema Piccolo drove to Arizona and hit it off with Frank from the start. We ended up staying for a while. Seeing his own story moved Frank. Also, we managed to have a Skype session with Tom Huntingford, who was filming a feature length film in Kenya at that moment. We were also fortunate to go shooting with Frank as Tom has also done so in his documentary. It was quite an experience shooting automatic rifles, a .50 rifle, pistols and his gun named ‘The Judge’, particularly coming from Amsterdam where guns are still illegal.

Truth must be told. This, together with our appearance during the Oscars weekend, has been the most special and meaningful part of our trip to Hollywood. To us, all of it started with screening Life’s To Short Not To Be Frank and to be able to screen the film to Frank was just amazing.

We have decided that Frank will visit England and Amsterdam as soon as he can. Hopefully, we can arrange a screening with Tom Huntingford and Frank as guests of honour.

Frank and Maarten with the cinema

Frank and Maarten with the cinema

Eating breakfast and listening to Frank's view on life and politics

Eating breakfast and listening to Frank’s view on life and politics

Driving out of town to shoot

Driving out of town to shoot

Going shooting with Frank

Going shooting with Frank

Some of Frank's guns

Some of Frank’s guns

Frank pretending to be Dirty Harry.

Frank pretending to be Dirty Harry.

The Judge

The Judge

The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at Hollywood’s tallest actor

We are invited to the home of actor Carel Struycken in Los Angeles, Hollywood’s tallest actor. 

Since founding the world’s smallest cinema a few things are on my to-do list. Obviously, bringing my cinema to Hollywood ranks at the top of the list. However, not far behind is the desire to fit Hollywood’s tallest actor into the world’s smallest cinema. Although initially the desire does not make any sense, I believe the reason cannot be clearer. My cinema contests the traditional view on cinemas and space. It does not live up to the Hollywood standard of big screening rooms. In this sense, Hollywood’s tallest actor does not conform to Hollywood’s standards either—he is not our average Hollywood actor.

Carel Struycken was discovered in the seventies when he was strolling around Hollywood Boulevard and Vine Street. He remembers a car pulling up and a woman getting out explaining, “We need you for a movie.” Shortly after, Carel was casted for the film ‘Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hears Club Band (1978).’ From that moment onwards his career took off—playing roles in films and series including ‘The Witches of Eastwick,’ ‘The Adams Family,’ ‘Men in Black and Twin Peaks.’ Coincidentally, the actor is Dutch.

Carel was kind enough to invite us over to his house in Los Angeles. Once again, we pushed the cinema on to the back of the pick-up truck to undertake yet another adventure. Carel kept a prime space for Cinema Piccolo’s arrival. As we setup, the anticipation is quite exciting, as we don’t know whether or not the actor will actually fit in the cinema. So far the record stands at five people in the cinema, but they all fit in with the average Dutch height. Carel is Dutch, but he certainly has not got the average Dutch height. Surprisingly enough, Carel fits in the cinema perfectly! Success.

The actor chose three films from our selection: ‘Exorcistor’ by Tom Titulaer, ‘Nachtblind’ by Nena van Driel and ‘De Gemene Deler’ by Tess Löwenhartdt. He enjoys the cinematography of ‘Nachtblind’ and the story of ‘Exorcistor’ most.

Besides discussing the films, we also have time to talk about his movie career and his new photography projects. In his acting career, playing roles without speech always had his preference over roles with speech. He always had a great interest in the Sci Fi genre. His photography projects entail the making of spherical panorama’s, 360 degree photographs. His latest project involves capturing the Universal Studios using this technology. Hopefully for us, all the other Hollywood Studios will follow as well because the 360 degree photographs are mind-boggling.

Carel Struycken, world's smallest cinema, hollywood's tallest actor, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

Hollywood’s tallest actor fits in the world’s smallest cinema

Carel Struycken, Hollywood's tallest actor, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni, cinema piccolo

Hollywood’s tallest actor steps out the world’s smallest cinema

Carel Struycken, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni, cinema piccolo, Hollywood's tallest actor

Carel Struycken next to the world’s smallest cinema

Carel Struycken, I Vitelloni, cinema piccolo, the world's smallest cinema, Hollywood's tallest actor

Carel Struycken stands next to I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema in San Francisco

Another Hole In The Head film festival. Our first festival.

Very exciting. It’s December, it’s the Another Hole In The Head film festival, and it’s the world premiere of Face, Taka Arai and Norith Soth’s found footage film about a Halloween frat party gone horribly, horribly wrong. This footage is leaked police evidence you are not supposed to watch. It reveals a chain reaction of the most appalling acts ever committed by college kids in American history.

So what caused the gruesome aftermath at the Delta Chi Kappa Sorority house on the night of October 31, 2012? The world’s smallest cinema definitely wants to find out.

That’s why it’s even more exciting that the SF Indiefest has invited us to have our first showcase right there in the theater. SF Indiefest is a year-round, non-profit organization that has been operating since 1998 in the San Francisco area. They present three annual festivals: the SF Independent Film Festival, the SF Documentary Festival and Another Hole In The Head, which is now in its 10th year. Obviously we are very happy to be part of such an authentic film festival, with three full weeks of independent horror, sci-fi and fantasy films – 54 feature films and 27 short films in total.

It’s the perfect way to launch the world’s smallest cinema in the United States. All we have to do is get the cinema to the New People’s theater in time for the premiere. What could possibly go wrong?

A lot, as it turns out.

First showcases and preparations always take more time than you expect and there are always plenty of surprises. This is no exception. First of all, getting the cinema onto the newly-rented pick-up is more difficult than we anticipate. I manage to strain my back pushing the yellow car onto the truck.

My back is aching but we are finally in the truck and on the move – and then we hit the San Francisco traffic. We are stuck. For a very long time.

We finally arrive at the theater 30 minutes before the premiere, physically incapacitated and with too little time to set up shop. We have to cancel the event.

What a disappointment. Luckily, George and Hiromi are very understanding, but having to cancel is just not our cup of tea.

world's smallest cinema

First set up of the world’s smallest cinema

the world's smallest cinema

First screening in the USA of the world’s smallest cinema. It is running!

Another Hole In The Head Film Festival

The world’s smallest cinema at Another Hole In The Head film festival in San Francisco.

The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema arrives in California

To get it from Amsterdam to Hollywood. Step 1.

Would that not be awesome? To drive the world’s smallest cinema all the way to Hollywood without customs, without transport agencies, without difficult paperwork and with just a lot of fun? Unfortunately, we all know that that is not possible. The last couple of weeks have been as exciting as they have been stressful. The idea of bringing the world’s smallest cinema to Hollywood seems like pure logic to us, so the decision was made. No external funding, no plan, no anything, just a big YES.

However, how do we get it there with the limited funds that we have or rather the funds that we have not? The first challenge is that Piaggio Ape cars are not being exported to the USA and that they are not approved for the road. For this reason it is quite difficult to export the world’s smallest cinema, as it is a vehicle but not an approved vehicle. A bit of brainstorming in our local pub provided us with a solution: we will take the engine out so that it will no longer be ‘a vehicle’. Solved. Now we just need to ship it as an object. Luckily, this is easier as we found someone to share a container with. The only question is whether US customs will consider it to be a vehicle.

Tring, tring, we receive a phone call: ‘your container is being held back and tomorrow they will send it to another location for thorough inspection. The costs of this transport and the inspection are yours. We will be in touch tomorrow’. Okay, our venture is over and we can pack our stuff and fly back to Amsterdam. At least that is what we think… The following day we receive another phone call: ‘they have decided to clear the container anyway, we can deliver it in three days’. What a relief. We have taken the engine out, so we have to find new means for transportation in the US. We choose the most American solution that we could find: driving it around by pick-up truck. Everyone seems to have one here.

On the day of arrival the truck driver is hours late, but once he gets here our frowns turn upside down. What a pleasure to open a container and see that the cinema is there, in one piece. Two patrons of I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo joined me to help to unload the car from the container and on to the pick-up truck. Our enthusiasm prevented us from doing the proper research on the pick-up, as the cinema sticks out 3 feet from the back of the truck. We do not care. Our first destination: San Francisco. From this city we will move our way up to Hollywood. We have been in talks with several wonderful and interesting events, so we cannot wait for our first screening!

The cinema is being delivered

The cinema is being delivered

cinema piccolo

The world’s smallest cinema arrives

Cinema Piccolo Hollywood 4Cinema Piccolo Hollywood 10

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo is ready for the road

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo is ready for the road

the world's smallest cinema arrives in California

Cinema Piccolo on the road


I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo in Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema arrives in Hollywood


I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo on the road in California

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo on the road in California


The world's smallest cinema at the coast

The world’s smallest cinema at the coast