DIRECTOR: APRIL WRIGHT
Interview by: MARK MACINNIS
Making a documentary is not an easy task, most of the time it takes years to complete and it’s the passion for that specific subject that keeps you going. Where did the interest or passion for drive-in movie theaters come from?
“Going Attractions” was a 7 year project! I went to drive-ins growing up and wanted to know what happened to them. We still love cars and movies, and most people said real estate value was to blame, and yet there were abandoned drive-ins all over the country, so that couldn’t be the only factor. I also like unusual architecture – I would often drive out of my way to visit closed drive-ins, looking at the massive screen towers and broken neon marquees and think about how amazing they must have been in their heydey. Once I got into making the film, the passion shifted, as I think happens in every documentary, you develop an obligation to the subjects of your film. The real passion rests with the drive-in owners who keep this American icon going despite the obstacles, and the families who continue to regularly support their local drive-ins — so ultimately it was their passion that fueled my passion to tell this story so more people would understand and appreciate why the drive-in is such an important aspect of American culture – and maybe get people to think about decisions that are purely financial that might not be best for the community in the long run.
Cars and drive-ins go together, so Detroit is featured in the movie! I’m very excited to screen “Going Attractions” for audiences in Detroit! Some of the archival footage features a drive-in called The Oak. We also have photos of The Gratiot which was one of the most unique drive-ins ever built with a huge waterfall that cascaded down the back of the screen. The movie also features the late Ed Szurek, a long-time manager of the Ford-Wyoming who talks about the Ford and other Detroit-area drive-ins including the Algiers.We are excited to have you attending the festival and talk with the audience after your screening.
Do you have any special guest coming with you?
I look forward to talking with people about all the drive-ins that used to be open in the Detroit-metro area. There were so many great ones! There’s only one left, the Ford-Wyoming in Dearborn which is now called the Ford Drive-in. A Detroit-native, Karen Dybis wrote a book about the history of this drive-in and she will be joining me for Q&A after the film.If you were to take a road trip, what car or motorcycle would you take? Where would you go and who would you take (dead or alive)?
From the start, I set out to tell the definitive story of the drive-in, so I wanted to visit every state to see their open, abandoned and former sites of drive-ins. I ended up taking multiple cross-country trips, visiting every state except for Alaska. On one of the trips I took my new 2005 Mustang convertible. I had to get one when they first came out, because did such a good job capturing the original style and essence of that car. My grandmother and mother both drove Mustangs as I was growing up, so I had to get my own. And there was nothing better than driving all over the USA in that brand new retro car with the top down!
What are your thoughts about having a film festival about cars and motorcycles in Detroit?
Tell us about what’s next for you, anymore films?
I just directed a short horror film about a creepy doll called “My BFF” that we hope gets enough interest to make it into a feature-length film. And I’m working on another documentary about the indoor movie palaces that are also a dying breed. Hopefully that one won’t take me 7 years!