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

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The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at Oddball Films

We are invited to a screening night at Oddball Films in the Mission, San Francisco.

The world’s smallest cinema’s search for events in San Francisco has been very exciting and fruitful. The most remarkable find was Oddball Films. A true hidden gem, Oddball Films is surprisingly tucked away on the third story of a building on a small street in the Mission. Oddball Films is the film component of Oddball Film+Video, a stock footage company providing offbeat and unusual film footage for feature films like Milk, documentaries like The Summer of Love, television programs like Mythbusters, clips for Boing Boing, and web projects around the world.

Their films are almost exclusively drawn from their collection of over 50,000 16mm prints of animation, commercials, educationals, feature films, movie trailers, medical, industrial military, news out-takes and every genre in between.

Oddball Films actively works to present rarely screened genres of cinema as well as avant-garde and ethno-cultural documentaries, which expand the boundaries of cinema. Every week, Stephen Parr and his programmer, Kat Shuchter, put together two offerings of offbeat cinema. On Thursday or Friday evening you can sit between stacks of film tins and watch some truly unique film.

That type of eclectic and unique film offering is definitely something the world’s smallest cinema is working to be part of. Fortunately for Cinema Piccolo, Stephen and Cat enjoy having us there as well. We discovered this after an adventurous first run on a Friday night. Street parking can be somewhat of a hassle in the Mission on a Friday night, but we decide to give it a try anyway. Needless to say, all the parking spots are taken. After a good wait, we manage to get a parking spot in front of the door. We cannot get the cinema up the stairs, so we decide boldly to put it on the pavement.

I start building up and Cat is fixing the electricity. Stephen throws the extension cord down from three stories and, unfortunately, Cat catches it with her head. Ouch! The show must go on, and I manage to get the cinema running. We start fifteen minutes late, but we screen continuously. The responses are overwhelmingly positive.

After watching ‘Nachtblind’ by Nena van Driel, Stephen Parr comments “A surprise birthday party gone wrong- a clever short for I Vitelloni viewers.”

Oddball Films is the largest film archive in Northern California and one of the most unusual private collections in the US. If you find yourself in Northern California, do not miss out on seeing this hidden gem.

Oddball Films

Kat Shuchter preparing film at Oddball Films

The world's smallest cinema and Oddball Films

Kat Shuchter, Oddball Films, in the world’s smallest cinema

Oddball Films, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

Maarten van der Weijden and Stephen Parr in front of the world’s smallest cinema

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The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema at the Francis Ford Coppola winery

We are invited at the Francis Ford Coppola winery and we are certainly excited

Splendid! We have received a great invitation for the day. We have to wake up early to drive all the way to Napa Valley. The Francis Ford Coppola Winery invites us for a tour and tasting on the premises. Obviously, we do not have to think twice.

The landscape itself is amazing on the way there. The Napa Valley region reminds me of Tuscany. Once we arrive we do not know where to look. There are movie props everywhere and the winery looks beautiful. I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo obviously blends in perfectly. We receive a warm welcome and are taken on a stroll.

Francis Ford Coppola has been producing wine for years. He does not only excel in producing films, as the wine venture has been growing enormously as well. First, we get a tour around the premises, which is pretty impressive. Coppola tried to involve as many references to film as possible. At the estates we were fortunate to see the car from Tucker: the man and his dream, the desk and fresco from the Godfather, the boats from Marie-Antoinette and many other items.

Afterwards, we get a tasting. It is only noon, so we have to take it easy on the wine. We get to taste many wines but one stands out. This is the 2011 Cinema from the Director’s cut label. The wine itself is exquisite, but the label and name are also interesting. Coppola has named his studio after one of the first ways to watch a moving image, the Zoetrope. We get to see an actual Zoetrope. You can place a kind of paper ribbon with drawings inside the Zoetrope. Once you spin it you can see the drawings transform into a moving image. The label of the wine carries the ribbon and refers to the Zoetrope.

On the way back to San Francisco we missed our exit, because cars would keep pulling up besides us to take pictures of the cinema. In a way that is funny, but not when it keeps on happening and we are seriously delayed.

Francis Ford Coppola, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the Coppola winery

Francis Ford Coppola winery, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo and the Godfather fresco at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Francis Ford Coppola, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo travelled to the Francis Ford Coppola winery

Dracula, Francis Ford Coppola, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo and Dracula items at the Francis Ford Coppola Winery

Coppola, The Godfather, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo, the world's smallest cinema

The world’s smallest cinema at the Coppola winery

Golden Gate Bridge, San Francisco, the world's smallest cinema, I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo

The world’s smallest cinema on the Golden Gate Bridge

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The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the San Francisco Chronicle building

We are invited by the Impact Hub for their Holiday Block Party at the San Francisco Chronicle building.

A day after our bad luck at the Another Hole In The Head Film Festival, we get a second chance. The Impact Hub Bay Area in San Francisco invites us for a Holiday Bloc Party in the old San Francisco Chronicle building. They host the sold-out event together with the San Francisco School of Digital Film Making, Indiegogo, Yahoo, Intersection, TechShop, 5M and many others. San Francisco is a world centre for technology and new ways of working, and this event is yet another example.

The San Francisco Chronicle building is located just around the corner of Union Square. We leave early to counter possible challenges caused by the heavy traffic. In the event, we do encounter a challenge but it’s not the traffic. The only door that enables us to drive the cinema inside does not open. Quite problematic given that we have already unstrapped the cinema with all but one cable on a busy road.

Luckily, there is an inner courtyard where Off the Grid is hosting a Food Truck market especially for the event. We wanted to get in touch with them before, because they are happening in San Francisco. They organise several events weekly and enable a lot of food trucks to cook on a daily basis. The options vary from Japanese hamburgers and Korean sandwiches to gourmet crème brûlée.

As it’s just around the corner, we decide to drive there with the cinema strapped with just one cable. The traffic is heavy and there are seven fire trucks around the corner, so we don’t want to waste time. With hindsight, this is not the safest bet. The cinema almost rolls off the pick-up truck, which would be pretty messy in a city like San Francisco with its steep roads. Luckily, we discover it just in time to hold it back. Once we set up the cinema it becomes clear that it’s a perfect match with Off the Grid.

The party starts to bustle and the line for the cinema is growing. Our film Nachtblind does not have any subtitles, but that does not matter to most people. They love it. Two women even make up their own English lines for the film, which is pretty hilarious as everyone can hear their laughter from the outside. Nachtblind by Nena van Driel is the most successful film of the night. Overall it’s a great night, and we are feeling confident about all the events that are yet to come.

the world's smallest cinema

The world’s smallest cinema at the Impact Hub Block party at the San Francisco Chronicle building.

the world's smallest cinema

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the Block Party at the San Francisco Chronicle building

the world's smallest cinema

I Vitelloni: cinema piccolo at the Block Party at the San Francisco Chronicle building

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The world’s smallest cinema at the San Francisco Chronicle Building

the world's smallest cinema

world’s smallest cinema at the San Francisco Chronicle building

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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.

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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

 

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The world's smallest cinema to Hollywood

The world’s smallest cinema is going to Hollywood!

The news is out. The last couple of months we have been working hard to make something special happen. From the start we knew that the world’s smallest cinema belongs in Hollywood. We encountered some challenges, but we are pleased to announce that the cinema is on its way by ship and will arrive in California soon. We will travel between San Francisco and Los Angeles to visit a number of people and places with a special connection to film. We are very excited and are looking forward to this adventure. We hope to discover great things about the past and future of film. Please spread the word and follow our Facebook Page, Instagram and Twitter for regular updates!

World smallest cinema in Hollywood

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