Douglass completes fundraising for digital projection system

Gina Ward, director of the Douglass Theatre, could barely contain her excitement Thursday after enough money was raised to buy a new digital projection system.

“It’s a wrap!” she exclaimed, punctuating the statement with a couple of enthusiastic woo-hoos!

With “The Douglass Goes Digital” campaign that began in November, officials raised $130,000 to purchase the new system, which will allow the theater to show a wider range of movies that now are available only in a digital format.

Ward said fewer movies are being distributed through traditional 35mm film, and the theater was showing many of its films on Blu-Ray discs, which also limited what could be shown.

“The big thing is that we can continue to provide services,” Ward said. “They are not making movies the way they used to. If we were not going to be able to play films in the (digital) format, it was going to be difficult.”

All the money raised for the project came from donations made by corporations, organizations and individuals, Ward said.

“We had the community come to support this effort,” she said.

The Douglass was able to raise $50,000 to match a grant awarded by the Peyton Anderson Foundation, then raised another $30,000 for audio upgrades.

Ward said the backup plan to raise the money was to use a crowdsourcing website, such as Kickstarter or Indiegogo, but that idea proved to be unnecessary.

The theater is working on the final details of purchasing the new equipment, which Ward hopes will be installed by July, just in time for the Macon Film Festival, for which the Douglass has been a venue for the past several years. Ward said she also hopes to have a big event to celebrate the new system before the film festival begins.

Camp Bacon, president of the Macon Film Guild, said his organization is thrilled with the news, since it offers up a wider variety of film choices for its membership and the public.

“You have to give all the credit to Gina,” he said. “She ran this campaign.”

The guild shows one film a month at the theater, but Bacon said it has a more limited selection because of the current equipment.

“Now we can get any movie that’s done in limited release,” he said. “This will bring the Douglass up with the best (movie) houses. We’re really excited about it.”

The new equipment will include a digital projector, a digital screen and an improved audio system.

Ward said the new system also will make it easier to show other presentations, such as the Met Opera Live and the National Theatre Live productions it screens throughout the year. The new equipment also will allow the Douglass to expand its programming offerings throughout the year.

“It’s not going to be as time-consuming,” she said. “It’s cost-effective. We (won’t be) shipping film boxes back and forth anymore.”

To contact writer Phillip Ramati, call 744-4334.