By Laura Koenig | Echo
Taylor students and community members enjoy cozy weekend movie nights with new releases. The Taylor Student Organization (TSO) created the Gaslight Film Series with movies ranging from blockbusters such as "Finding Dory" to acclaimed independent films such as "Midnight Special." The series will continue on select weekends during the fall semester and in the spring.
After the completion of the Cornwall Auditorium in the LaRita Boren Campus Center, Steve Austin, associate dean for student leadership and director of student programs, started dreaming about how to use the space to benefit Taylor students and the surrounding community. This brainstorming produced the Gaslight Film Series.
This summer, the first movie showed to Taylor's faculty, staff and community was "Zootopia." Around 420 people attended, giving Austin a starting place for the rest of the film series.
During the first half of the semester, Gaslight featured "Finding Dory," "Star Trek Beyond" and "Midnight Special." The second half of the semester will showcase "Southside with You" and "Kubo and the Two Strings."
"(We wanted to) incorporate blockbusters and independent films that we feel like need to see the light of day or (we) want to expose students to," Austin said. "We didn't want the film series to be just one or the other but both and."
TSO built Gaslight around Taylor's Integration of Faith and Culture (IFC)'s established film series. IFC will sponsor "The Fits," Nom Noms & Nom Noms, and other independent and award-nominated films.
Austin chose movies that were post-theater but pre-DVD or Netflix release.
Junior Lilly Burton sells tickets for the series on the day of the movie and picks up after the event. Though she hasn't watched the movies, she enjoys the idea of showing the movies before they are released on DVD.
"I hope that the Taylor community can be able to see a variety of movies that they wouldn't normally watch, and it is much cheaper than going to the movie theater," Burton said.
Each movie attracts a different number of people, from 13 to approximately 150 people.
Senior Katie Schantz saw "Finding Dory" with her boyfriend for a cheap date night.
"It was a movie I'd been wanting to see, and it was nice that we didn't have to go all the way to Marion or Muncie," Schantz said. "I hope they continue bringing in good movies because I enjoyed it a lot."
After the spring semester, Austin will perform an overall program evaluation to help planning for the next school year.
He hopes that students will see this as an exciting option for their weekend instead of watching Netflix in their apartment or residence hall room.
"A community watching experience is really valuable because of community discernment and having something to talk about afterward," Austin said. "Hopefully (the) Gaslight Film Series is encouraging community film-watching and even film-watching in general."
The next film in the series will be "Southside with You" on Friday, Nov. 4 and Saturday, Nov. 5 at 8 p.m. Tickets are $2.
Behind the Name: Gaslight Film Series
In the late 1800s, Upland, Matthews, Gas City and the surrounding areas were a part of a giant natural gas belt. Gas lamps illuminated the area in that era. The series also shines light on different conversations and ideas. The historical symbol of gas-burning lights adds depth to the film series' name.