Some people end up with their dream jobs and James Wallace is one of those. As the Creative Manager/Programmer of Alamo Drafthouse Dallas/Ft. Worth, James gets to bring something extra to the movie watching experience and have fun in the process. I recently grabbed him for a quick sec to chat and find out more about what he does.
photo source: Facebook
wayvs: So how long have you been with Alamo Drafthouse?
James Wallace: One year this month!
wayvs: What are some of the ways you are marketing Alamo Drafthouse DFW?
James Wallace: We do some traditional marketing (mainly weekly print ads for that week’s shows and some online ads), but it’s primarily grassroots social.
wayvs: What has been the best part about doing the marketing for them?
James Wallace: Honestly, just being able to connect with our audience and cultivate a core group of movie fans that enjoy our particular way of showing and celebrating cinema.
wayvs: You look like you are having fun on Instagram when you dress up for movie events. Is this something you just started doing on your own?
James Wallace: [laughs] Well, if you ask my mom she’d tell you it started as soon as I was old enough to watch a movie and go into my closet to find whatever clothing I thought resembled the character’s costume! I’m afraid I’d have to agree with her. I’ve loved dressing up as my cinematic heroes since I was a kid. I remember being around 6 and wearing a vest all the time that I thought looked like Marty McFly’s; in retrospect, it was the totally wrong color but it didn’t matter to me. It made me feel like my favorite time-traveling teen!
Throughout my life, I’ve treated every month as if it was Halloween! During college and then once I started hosting advance screenings in Dallas, I started taking it a lot more seriously. Now that I’m almost 30 and I get do it as a part of my job, I pay really close attention to detail because I think it adds to the whole experience for both myself and the audience. Luckily, cosplay (costume play) is huge now so I’m not alone in my nerdery.
wayvs: Is there anything unique that you are doing in Dallas that isn’t being done in other Drafthouse cities, mainly Austin?
James Wallace: For sure! The cool thing about being a programmer for Alamo is we’re all encouraged to make our location unique. Every city is different and with that comes different types of movie lovers. So about half of our programming each month is unique to our location. That said, we still have our monthly core programming so that everyone who is lucky enough to live near an Alamo gets the same experience other Alamos do. We’ve gotten to do some really amazing events here in Richardson that have been exclusive to us, most recently a showing of Dawn of the Dead with George Romero in attendance! We also kicked off our grand opening with a big Blood & Ice Cream Trilogy event with showings of The World’s End,, Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead with Edgar Wright, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost all in attendance.
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With Simon Pegg, Nick Frost and Edgar Wright for our "Blood and Ice Cream" Trilogy event last night, which cinematically christened @Drafthouse DFW. Three of the finest gentlemen I've ever had the pleasure of hosting an event with. Not to mention one of the greatest nights of my nerd life.
wayvs: How much thought is put into marketing Alamo Drafthouse DFW on social networks? And is this the best way to get information out to movie fans about upcoming events?
James Wallace: A lot! On a basic level, it just really allows us to directly connect to all of our fans. We see ourselves as a movie theater for movie lovers by movie lovers.
wayvs: I have been to a bunch of movies at the Drafthouse and have never seen anyone actually given the boot for being disruptive, have you seen it happen?
James Wallace: Oh yeah, it’s happened. Not a lot, but it does happen. And we take our policy very seriously – that, our film presentation, our food, and our beer are just about the only things we do take seriously in fact. That said it seems to happen less and less the longer and longer we are here since most people seem to be fairly familiar with our strict policy on no talking/no texting and is one of the main reasons that they keep coming back.
wayvs: I took a look at your LinkedIn profile and saw that you are also a writer for some pretty cool online publications, like Twitch and Central Track. How did you get started writing about film?
James Wallace: Well, I’ve loved movies my whole life. I remember being a kid and talking my parent’s friend’s ears off about the latest movie I had just seen and one of my dad’s friends told me, “Hey, you should be a movie reviewer one day!” I was 8 but I took that to heart and it stuck in my head. As I went off to college to pursue film, I found myself being a lot more drawn to the side of the art that explored the dissection of film. What was the director trying to say with this, what did this film represent in the time it was released, all that stuff. As a hobby, I started writing for a small indie movie blog that grew into Gordon and the Whale, which blew up and took us to Sundance and a bunch of other huge festivals I never thought I’d attend, interviewing my heroes I never thought I’d be within arms reach of. That was a spring board to go on and write for publications including Twitch, Central Track, The Observer, First Showing.net, The Dallas Morning News and a few more. I think it was one of those cases where I just wanted to do something so bad that I figured out a way to do it. We’re lucky to live in a time like that, whereas 10 years ago if I wanted to do something like this, I would have had to work my way up in a very different way (e.g., getting a lot of people coffee).
wayvs: You are also the owner of I Heart Cinema.net. What is the story of that and what is it about?
James Wallace: Well I was! I closed IHC down about a year ago when I started with Alamo. Basically, IHC was in the pre-Alamo days of DFW where we didn’t really have anything that tried to make movie events more of an immersive experience for movie fans. It was also a one-stop source where people could look to find out about what was going on in their city with movie stuff. I started it after Gordon and the Whale closed its digital doors as a new place for all the people that looked to GATW for fun advance screenings of movies. And that’s what that site was all about. Hosting screenings and big events around new movies, sometimes with talent in attendance.
wayvs: We are almost halfway through 2014, what is your favorite movie of the year so far?
James Wallace: Oh man, tough question! We’re just really getting into a time where the studios release their good movies (the first couple of months of the year is classically known as a dumping ground for the stuff that’s been sitting on the shelf), but The Lego Movie was so great on so many levels. The Grand Budapest Hotel was pretty fantastic as well.
wayvs: What is your most anticipated movie that hasn’t come out yet?
James Wallace: I’m super excited for Guardians of the Galaxy.
wayvs: If you could have one movie prop what would it be?
James Wallace: Back to the Future’s DeLorean no question.
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