Austin Chronicle:What do you like in particular about the Dobie?
Holden Payne: I love the themes to all the auditoriums; they're all fun. That's the kind of thing that gives the Dobie the character and identity that it has. I like the Dobie's reputation and presence and hope to keep it a place for people to see movies that they love. Landmark has a commitment to theatres like the Dobie, places that have a lot of character and personality as opposed to a generic, "box" multiplex. All our theatres across the country are unique theatres.
AC:How do you feel about filling Scott's shoes?
HP: I know there are some big shoes to fill, but Scott and I like each other, and I don't see things changing that much overall. It's certainly a little intimidating and I will admit to a certain amount of trepidation when I took on this job, but I don't foresee any major changes and I think I can do right by the Dobie's moviegoing fans.
AC:Let's talk about Landmark's "calendar house" concept for the one auditorium. I saw The Third Man was one of its program choices, which is great because not many people get a chance to see that film on the big screen.
HP: Yeah, it's a new print and a European cut, a little longer with some different footage. It'll be the first run for that version of the film. We're gonna open up with a Spike & Mike animation festival; we're planning a Truffaut festival for a week; different films every day, Bedrooms and Hallways, from the director of Go Fish; Acid House, [written by Irvine Welsh], who wrote Trainspotting, it's about the late-Eighties, early-Nineties acid house scene in Britain. We're also looking at a film called Defying Gravity, a gay-oriented film specifically about gay yuppies. I mean, the whole notion of the calendar house is to do short runs of films that don't have the capital to promote themselves much; we do the publicity ourselves for them. There'll be handbills and whatnot with the schedule for the upcoming month at the calendar house and commentary on each film.
AC:I know Seattle has an equivalent of the Austin Film Society; have you been able to touch base with the AFS folks much yet?
HP: Yeah, actually I have. AFS is going to sponsor some stuff in the calendar program. In Seattle, we had a place called Wiggly World, similar to AFS, but AFS seems to have a better grasp and mission and more direction than Wiggly World did. I'm real excited about hooking up with them. I especially like AFS' commitment to the local filmmaking community, which is a lot like Wiggly World, who had their own editing facilities.
AC:Your personal tastes run toward dark comedy?
HP: Yeah, we currently have Waiting for Guffman as a midnighter; I keep hearing the rumor that there's about eight more hours of ad-lib stuff on videotape! I really like Election; I think that's one of the more clever and intelligent dark comedies to come along in a while. It's actually pretty rare for a film like that to come down the pike. I like Rushmore; Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels; Freeway, those are all fun films ...
AC:So what do you see long-term for the Dobie? Have you been able to look that far down the road yet?
HP: Well, we've got a new popcorn popper on order.
HP: We're changing to real butter ...
AC:Hey, wait a minute, I thought the Dobie used real butter all along.
HP: No, it was Rico's Butter Flavor.
AC:Scandalous. Any other changes in store for the concession stand?
HP: Not really. Scott had cut down on the candy stock in the concession stand, and I think we'll probably not replenish it much.
AC:Well, those are kinda short-term ...
HP: I mean, really, we're looking at the same type of philosophy, taking on movies that the big companies don't want to take the chance on. We're planning on having a party for Hands on a Hard Body in a few weeks when it completes a year's run at the Dobie. We've got an exclusive on The Blair Witch Project for the first two weeks, which I think is going to do real well. That's such an inventive horror movie, made with no money, no special effects, and no explicit gore. We've got some plans in mind, but I'd like to reassure everyone that things aren't going to change radically at the Dobie. I think it's got some real strengths that we can preserve and capitalize on.