An endoscopy technician at Northern Michigan Hospital by day, The Movie Guy by night, Stutzky resuscitated the Petoskey Film Theater in 2001, following in the footsteps of the original Petoskey Film Theater, which, in spite of a good effort, had stopped showing films back in 1999.
With his technical background in video production and photography, Stutzky figured hed be a shoo-in to be the projectionist, and ended up instead taking on the jack-of-all-trades role, also doing advertising, MC duties, and selling concessions for the movies nights, which in 2001 began showing movies twice a month.
His love for the film industry is another element of what makes him the right person for the job... er, jobs. I got involved just because I love movies, Stutzky explains, I especially like independent, foreign and documentary films, and after living in Ann Arbor for several years, I missed them when I moved up here.
What a difference six years makes. Now, Stutzky shows movies twice a week, to the delight of movie buffs across the region. He has the assistance of the Petoskey Public Library, which provides a finished basement and projection equipment - namely, a BenQ video projector, a Sony DVD player, and a Magnavox Surround Sound System - in order to show the films in as high quality as possible.
The 100-year-old Carnegie Building, known as the old Petoskey Library, has become the Petoskey Film Theaters base of operations. With gorgeous woodwork, floor-to-ceiling windows, and a 14-foot-wide movie screen, its a welcoming place to see a film, complete with air conditioning in the summer and a side lounge with a gas fireplace for cold winter movie nights.
And the price is right, too - the suggested donation for movie nights is $4, complete with complimentary bottled water. You can also purchase popcorn and boxed candies on-site or bring your own snacks.
But the movies are the best part of the deal. Stutzky puts a lot of effort into showcasing films that didnt make it to the mainstream Petoskey theater, which local movie aficionados appreciate.
I have several ways that I choose films, Stutzky says, I try to show recently released films -- mostly indie, international or documentary, that either didnt make it to Petoskey or had very short runs here. I keep track of which films are generating buzz by following the film festival and major award nominees and winners. I keep track of the films that are mentioned on NPRs Fresh Air program. And, in addition, for the past two years Ive attended the Traverse City Film Festival and have shown many of the films that appear at this small, but incredible film festival.
As one can see, Stutzkys approach is a far cry from throwing darts at an issue of Premiere magazine, and probably why this small-town film series is such a success. Some of the programs most popular film showings to date have included Iraq For Sale, The Pursuit of Happyness, A Prairie Home Companion, The Illusionist, Mrs. Palfrey at the Claremont, The U.S. vs. John Lennon, Bobby, and An Inconvenient Truth, with plenty more movies on the way this summer as the series expands to the park, as it does each year.
About four years ago, I started showing some movies in downtown Petoskeys Pennsylvania Park, on the side of the Watershed Council building, Stutzky explains, we showed four films the first year and we filled the park with a couple hundred people on blankets and lawn chairs each night. People just loved the idea of outdoor movies in the park. So I expanded to 10 movies the next year, and 16 the following summer. The outdoor movies are more traditional fare than the edgier indoor series; some of the most popular outdoor films have included Some Like It Hot, Casablanca, and the original Star Wars trilogy.
Whatever the movie, Craig Stutzky will be on the case. While the local Petoskey multiplex continues to bring in the big blockbuster hits, Stutzky balances out the areas film offerings with his careful selections and genuine love for film as an art form, and for what makes that art form truly great; good news for those who look forward to what the Petoskey Film Theater has to offer each week, and will offer, hopefully, for many years.
Catch a movie with the non-profit Petoskey Film Theater Wednesday and Friday nights at 7:30 pm at the Petoskey Public Librarys Carnegie Building. Suggested donation is $4, but all donations are appreciated. Call the PFT Movie Hotline at 231-758-3108 for current movie info.
The following tentative schedule is subject to change: call the PFT Movie Hotline for the latest info:
Wed. & Fri. 4/25 & 27: The Queen
Wed. 4/29: May is Mental Health Awareness Month Film: Out of the Shadow documentary (about a daughter/filmmaker and her mother who has schizophrenia) and a follow-up facilitated discussion with some local mental health professionals.
Wed. & Fri. 5/2 & 5: Dreamgirls