Guthries was honored to be presented with an Economic Achievement Award from the city of Lewiston last night (Thursday, May 7, 2015), at the Lewiston-Auburn Economic Growth Council (LAEGC) annual dinner.
“Co-owners Heather and Randy Letourneau opened Guthries eight years ago with a vision to support their family, the community and the environment. Produce comes from local farms and takeout containers are biodegradable. Last year, they added Guthries Independent Theater, showing many local and independent films.”
[…] according to those interviewed, Guthries comes in as the No. 1 hipster hot spot in the Twin Cities.
“I would maybe guess it’s the music that’s playing, the atmosphere, the posters we have on the wall, the coffee shop vibe,” says Paige Bedard, a Guthries employee, in explaining hipsters’ affinity for the venue. “We offer some healthier options,” she added.
But Bedard doesn’t confirm the suggestion that Guthries represents a designated hipster hangout. “I don’t really know,” she says. “We might see some hipsters, maybe in terms of like Bates (College) kids.”
Bedard believes that most of the hipsters she sees at Guthries are college kids. Does she think the term has simply come to represent a new, mainstream demographic. “Maybe,” she says, without offering more.
Would she call herself a hipster? “People might look at me and consider that I could be a hipster. But I wouldn’t put myself in any specific group.”
Moody moved from Portland to Lewiston last May when his fiancee’s job brought them here.
Originally from Saco, Moody acted in his first play in sixth grade. He graduated from the University of Southern Maine in 2007 with a bachelor’s degree in theater, eventually spending six months in Los Angeles, long enough to make connections.
“I loved it,” he said. “I was able to do some small independent projects but really got a wonderful sense of that area. I got a call from some folks I met out there to come out and shoot in January.”
It’ll be his next film — a psychological thriller.
“I’m very grateful; I’ve been able to do a lot of random things,” Moody said.
The downside to such a long resume?
“I feel like I’ve constantly been running,” he said.
After teetering on the edge of burnout, Moody said he spent most of this year on the acting front, limiting his jobs to voice work. He’s trying to enjoy the here and now.
This past summer, he taught at the New England Film Academy. During the school year, he’s an ed tech III in Saco, working with third- to fifth-graders in a special education classroom. It’s a handy place to occasionally bust out in an accent.
“It’s trying to find some way to connect, to give them the invitation to trust you,” he said. “I feel you can do that through humor. If you nail the voice right, that’s when they’ll come up to you.”
About 10 years ago, Moody taught Readers Theatre in the area through L/A Arts in local classrooms. Students were cast in roles and read pieces aloud. Moody called it a “beautiful” experience.
“I look back to being a kid,” he said. “Sometimes you just really want to be heard.”
These days, Moody’s picking movie roles for the challenge, he said. “Dark,” directed by Ranin Brown, is a subtle, spooky short.
“This is one of the more challenging things I’ve had to work on, and I’d love for people to come check it out,” he said.
Damnationland 2014/Guthries Independent Theater grand opening
What: Damnationland is a shot-in-Maine-by-Mainers, horror-themed film series in its fifth year. This year, there are six short films.
Where: 22 Park St., Lewiston, the new home of Guthries Independent Theater.
When: Friday, Oct. 31. Doors open at 7 p.m., the movies start at 9 p.m.
Cost: Free, in honor of the theater’s grand opening night. There’s space for about 90 people.
Sometimes the best ideas come from something small.
Just ask Colin Kelley, co-founder (with Maine filmmaker Craig Saddlemire) of Maine Microcinema, the Lewiston film series dedicated to showcasing Maine films. Begun in 2010, Maine Microcinema has provided a bimonthly venue for Maine moviemakers to present their works to the appreciative crowd of She Doesn’t Like Guthries, the interestingly named Lewiston eatery run by Heather and Randy Letourneau.
For the past four years, screenings have been held in the restaurant proper. But now, thanks to a recent successful fundraising campaign (and a lot of hard work), Maine Microcinema has a new home – right next door.
“Craig originally set up the screenings at Guthries,” explains Kelly who, when not helping Maine filmmakers get seen is the manager of digital media for Bates College. “Randy and Heather were very supportive, so he had a sheet, stuck it up in a girder, and hauled his own projector from home. Initially, I had some work I wanted to show, as did Craig. It wasn’t long enough to have our own screening, and we couldn’t justify one, being really new filmmakers, so we needed more people to even out that one showing. So many people turned out, and the response was so good, that we’ve done one every other month since then.”
Maine Microcinema has shown dozens of films, all made by Mainers and always with the filmmakers on hand to connect with a Maine audience at Guthries. It’s the definition of the term “labor of love” for all involved, with free admission supplemented by a pass-the-hat collection which goes to the filmmakers (most of whom choose to split the take with organizers).
Kelley cites Guthries’ intimate nature, great food and drink, and generosity with fostering Maine Microcinema’s local success – even with the challenges inherent in showing movies in a working restaurant.
But that’s about to change, thanks to a recent fundraising campaign on the crowdsourcing site Kickstarter, which raised more than a thousand dollars more than its stated goal of $7,500 to rent out and renovate the space next door to Guthries. “Randy came to me after a great screening,” says Kelley, “and asked about the idea of expanding the space next door for us and for Guthries’ weekly storytelling series, which always draws a huge crowd. I love our current space, but it gets pretty crazy, with the phone ringing or someone making a smoothie – it can cut into the experience. I said I loved the idea, and the next time I talked to Randy, he’d talked to the landlord and knocked a hole in the wall!”
That new space, with an estimated capacity of 75, will debut in a big way on Halloween night with a screening of the 2014 edition of the Maine horror anthology series “Damnationland.” And after that, Maine Microcinema plans to expand its mission further commensurate to its new digs.
“Our opening film (and last showing in the old space) is Maine film ‘How To Make Movies At Home’ on Oct. 15,” says Kelley. “Then ‘Damnationland’ to open the new space. Then, while we’ll keep the same mission we’ve always had to connect Maine filmmakers and their audience, we’re looking to do longer runs, and then to start booking independent theatrical films.”
Despite the myriad details that go into bringing in films from distributors (“A crazy amount of things go into that,” explains Kelley), the new Guthries Independent Theater is planning to become a destination for Mainers looking for arthouse movie fare – alongside Guthries’ usual fare. “Lewiston has a lot to offer,” says Guthrie. “People don’t think so, but they’re surprised when they come. Now they can come downtown, then see a great movie – along with a Guthries burrito and a beer.”
Asked about what advice Maine Microcinema has for any Portlanders looking to get inspired by their example, Kelley says, “You’ve gotta have more than one person. We’ve got a really wide group of people coming in with ideas and pitching in. There’s more will than way when you start out. And read up on distribution – that is quite a challenge.”
Well, if there’s one thing the Maine film scene is good at, it’s finding opportunities in challenges, and Kelley’s excited about the support shown by the Lewiston contingent. “People are really excited about this idea. It’s great that people donated to the Kickstarter, and now they have to come out and buy tickets. But if anyone can make this work, it’s Randy and Heather.”
For Portland filmmakers looking for a place to show their movies, for audiences looking for a new place to see challenging films, and for motivated Portlanders looking to fill our city’s arthouse theater gap – look to Guthries and mainemicrocinema.com.
Maine Microcinema is a pop-up free movie theater that spotlights Maine-made and Maine related movies. Credit WCSH/207
Maine Microcinema is a pop-up art show. Colin and Craig, the founders of the program, have a homemade screen and a projector and host shows at She Doesn’t Like Guthrie’s in Lewiston. All the movies they host are free and have a Maine connection – if they aren’t made in Maine than someone prominent in the crew is from here.
Michael Sargent runs an open mic storytelling program called The Corner. Credit WCSH/207
The Corner is an adaptation of one of humanity’s first defining features: storytelling. Organizer Michael Sargent picks five people to tell a short story – about 5 minutes – based around some theme (i.e. thrill, broken). There are also slots for people who show up to speak.
Written by Daniel Hartill, Staff Writer, Sun Journal
LEWISTON — The owners of She Doesn’t Like Guthries plan to create their own theater.
Randy and Heather Letourneau, who opened their restaurant seven years ago, have knocked out a closet wall in the back of their 115 Middle St. eatery to access to the former Maple Room theater at 22 Park St.
They plan to curtain the windows, erect a screen on the small stage and create a seating and dining area. If all goes well, they plan to begin showing independent movies by early November.
They’re also asking for help.
The Letourneaus have begun a campaign on website Kickstarter to help them raise $7,500. With two weeks left, the site has 43 backers and pledges worth more than $3,200. To see the video pitch, go to guthriestheater.com.
“We’re going to open it one way or another,” Randy Letourneau said. If (Kickstarter) works, I can fast forward. Instead of waiting three years for everything to be really nice, maybe if the community is as excited as we are, we’ll get a needed boost.”
One boost will come from years of experience hosting events in the small restaurant, from movies to live music to storytelling.
“We do so much in this small space that it becomes almost overwhelming,” Randy Letourneau said.
Guthries screened movies for the former Lewiston Auburn Film Festival and continues to host monthly Maine Microcinema screenings. Last September, it also hosted “The Corner,” a series of monthly storytelling events with people giving short, first-person monologues.
Music will remain at the restaurant, Letourneau said. But the new theater will host movies and storytelling and even improvisational comedy.
Colin Kelley, one of Maine Microcinema’s producers, believes the venue could draw new people to the area. Though the community has lots of movie screens with Flagship Cinemas in Lewiston and Auburn, they rarely run the kind of independent movies featured at art-house theaters like Railroad Square in Waterville or Brunswick’s Eveningstar and Frontier cinemas. Currently, Portland has no full-time art-house theater.
“I think having something like Guthries cinema is going to draw people who may have been overlooking the city before,” Kelley said. “And I think they’re going to be surprised at what they find.”
Kelley believes Letourneau’s food offerings — the restaurant plans to offer a theater menu of entrees, appetizers and movie munchies at the theater — will also be a draw.
“Part if it will be eating a delicious burrito and enjoying one of those cold, frothy beverages in that space,” Kelley said.
The atmosphere ought to be familiar to anyone who has spent time at She Doesn’t Like Guthries, Randy Letourneau said.
He doesn’t imagine row upon row of chairs in the theater. Rather, Letourneau plans on a mix of tables and laid-back seating. Visitors to the theater will enter on Park Street — there will be no public connection to the Middle Street restaurant — and pass through a ticket lobby and into the intimate theater space.
Capacity will probably be fewer than 100 seats and tickets will be kept under $10, he said.
“The goal isn’t for ticket sales to generate the revenues,” he said. Proceeds will likely come from the food.
It will give them the flexibility to keep admission prices down and curate the films, he said.
It’s the kind of deal that’s worked in the restaurant, where filmmakers and bands do not get paid from the restaurant. Rather, they pass around the hat after a screening or concert for people wishing to donate. The restaurant also hangs original art on its walls and takes no cut of any sales.
“We’re booked almost a year in advance for music. We’re booked almost a year in advance for art on the wall,” Randy Letourneau said. “We hope it’s going to be like that in the theater.”