Photos: Ann-Eliza M Taylor (by Buni Photography) and Michael Martz (by Amy Martz)
By Hannah Farrow, AliveTampaBay Correspondent
You can go to the movie theater, sit through a long stream of advertisements — surrounded by perfect strangers — leave when the lights are turned up and then maybe have only your viewing partner to discuss your big screen experience.
Or, you can go to Second Screen Cult Cinema every second Wednesday of the month at The Vault, enjoy a cocktail hour with movie-themed drinks, watch a movie you’ve probably never seen, and then stick around to discuss it with about a hundred other people.
At least that’s what Michael Martz and Ann-Eliza M Taylor, co-founders of Second Screen Cult Cinema, wanted. And since their first showing in Februry 2015, that’s exactly what’s happened.
In September, Spike Lee’s Do the Right Thing played on the big screen. As Radio Raheem’s muscular body went limp under the nightstick, the audience went quiet, their eyes glued to the screen. The socially relevant movie came down to its title: Who did the right thing?
There are three other people on the Second Screen Cult Cinema board besides Martz and Taylor — Tyler Martinolich, Amy Martz and Wyatt Weymouth. Their knowledge ranges from strong film buffs to actual film professors, which helps for when a conversation like the one after Do the Right Thing “got a little uncomfortable,” Martz said.
“What the audience says is sometimes something we haven’t even thought of,” Martz told AliveTampaBay.
Second Screen Cult Cinema, which aims for a community experience, wants to give the residents of Tampa something cool to do on a Wednesday night.
“We wanted to go to an event that didn’t exist,” Martz said. So Second Screen Cult Cinema created it.
The structure of their program is like a DJ set, as Martz described it, which is a fitting simile to his in-depth interest in music. A mix of familiar films with the unfamiliar keeps the audience coming back. The concept is unconventional movies — weirder, fringier, artier movies that haven’t been shown or seen that often.
“We’re where people now trust our programming, which is really cool,” Martz said. “If people haven’t heard of the movie, they’ll still show up.”
A cross-section of the community attends the monthly shows.
“It’s completely different every month, and that’s one of my favorite things about it,” Martz said. “We just want to help invigorate the revitalization of downtown Tampa.”
The Vault, located at 611 North Franklin Street, donates its beautiful venue to help the art scene in Tampa. A $5 donation is requested at the entrance, and food vendors rotate every month.
“You have our converts like us, but we want you to be in the cult,” Martz said. “We like it and we want you to like it, too.”