When you go to the movies, you buy your ticket, maybe some snacks, then enter the theater, only to leave once the lights come back on and the credits start to roll. You may talk about the movie on the car ride home, but this is likely where the movie stops for you. For the Explorers Club, this is how you kick start conversation.
“I want to make it more than shuffling into a theater and then shuffling out,” said Jonathon Olsen, director at the Zinema art house and founder of the Explorers Club.
Started in July 2012, The Explorers Club is a weekly meeting of like-minded film enthusiasts who gather to watch a once only showing of a lesser known or exposed films, mostly documentaries and foreign films, followed with group discussion.
Olsen said he started the club in order to get a wider variety of films shown at the theater.
“It’s my opportunity to get to play stuff that wouldn’t play commercially,” said Olsen. “Economics dictate what shows a lot and some things just aren’t feasible.”
The club started off slow, but has been gaining traction through its up and downs.
“It depends on what’s showing,” said Emily Sue, one of the hosts for the club. “Sometimes it’ll be me and two other people, other times we’ll have a full house.”
Sue has been with the Explorers Club since the beginning and was asked to be a host just one year ago. Her enthusiasm for film and the club keep bringing her back every week.
“I lived in New York for 5 years,” said Sue. “And there was nothing like this.”
Richard Hansen, the club’s other host, is a local filmmaker and the person in charge of the Duluth Superior Film Festival. As a result, the club also does quite a bit of collaboration with other film festivals as well.
“One week we showed an assortment of shorts from an Internet Cat Festival,” said Sue. “It completely sold out.”
There are other ways that the club separates itself from a normal movie-going experience. Olsen works hard to get directors and creators to come fly in for showings and contribute to the discussions. This helps the Explorers Club meetings feel more like events.
“One time we even did a Skype Q-and-A with a director,” said Sue.
The club is not free though. To offset the higher costs of showing smaller movies only once, the group receives a grant from the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council. But for as busy as Olsen is, he still thinks the time and effort is worthwhile.
“It’s no different than what I normally do,” said Olsen. “But it’s more fun.”
Meanwhile, the group slowly continues to come together, building a weekly audience and introducing them to new and different films.
“It’s the Explorers Club,” said Sue. “You go outside your comfort zone.”
The Explorers Club meets every Tuesday at 7 p.m. at Zinema 2.