The Off Beat: Hyperreal Film Club Announces Plans to Open Screening Space

Nomadic indie cinephiles put down roots later this summer

(l-r) Tanner Hadfield, David McMichael, Jenni Kaye (courtesy of Hyperreal Film Club)

After eight years of nomadic Austin screenings, Hyperreal Film Club is at work on a clubhouse of their own. The home base, located at 301 Chicon, is expected to open around September.

Tanner Hadfield, Jenni Kaye, and David McMichael launched Hyperreal, a volunteer-run screening program specializing in cult, genre, arthouse, and independent films, in 2016. The club currently shows one to two movies a week at venues across town, including Hotel Vegas, which hosts the Monday night Hyperreal Hotel series. According to McMichael, the trio always envisioned opening their own space, but thought it’d be impossible. “But we’re very optimistic and kind of stupid sometimes about what we can do or not,” he quips.

Bolstered by a 2019-launched reviews website and sizable Discord and Instagram followings, the trio pushes their limits with the brick-and-mortar, planting a flag for their ever-growing community to assemble.

“Us being Hyperreal Film Club, we always wanted to lean into providing space for people to hang out before and after the screening,” Kaye says. “We’ve had so many folks say that they’ve met friends or filmmaking partners through Hyperreal, and we just want to keep fostering that club mentality.” In addition to showing movies, the building’s upstairs loft will host filmmaker meetups and other events.

Once open, the co-founders plan to increase their screening schedule to show films from Tuesday to Friday, with Friday as their marquee night of programming. To keep their repertoire “radically accessible,” McMichael says the group will charge $8 to $15 for tickets on a sliding-scale, pay-what-you-can basis – up from the current $5 to $10 rate.

Even as it levels up, the club maintains a scrappy, crowdfunded ethos. Before wrapping their Hotel Vegas residency in June (and moving only a few blocks away), the cinephiles will host a May 30 going-away party at the venue that also launches a Kickstarter campaign for building costs. Kaye promises a hoedown theme for the event – “really country and slutty” – and teases, “I’m really working on a mechanical bull, but no promises. They’re way more expensive than you would think.”

Zooming out to recognize volunteer efforts, the co-founders shout out the Hype Council, a group of 11 unpaid helpers who consistently assist with events, short films, and the online film journal. One volunteer scored chairs for the new building from a closing movie theatre in Lockhart, while friends are helping the organization set up electrical wirings. Because of their efforts, Kaye says, “We want it to feel like people have ownership over the space.”

“[The community] is one of the very real reasons that this is possible,” McMichael adds. “We’re all a team together that is building this thing.”

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