Beginning September 20th, Logboat Brewing Co. and Ragtag Cinema teamed up to create Ragboat. The collaboration allows friends and family to enjoy a socially distanced film on the lawn of Logboat Brewing Company with food and drinks.
Chelsea Bessey, event coordinator at Logboat, says the collaboration has been extremely successful and that their first show sold out.
“We have had great support from the community,” she says. “The individuals that come to these films are very good at maintaining social distancing requirements so we can stay within the city guidelines.”
Bessey says the pandemic definitely sparked the collaboration because indoor cinema is not doing too well these days. Not everyone is comfortable with the social distancing requirements, which has made it difficult for an organization like Ragtag to fill their theater seats.
“Because of our relationship, as well as the relationship with the community and our location in Columbia, [Ragtag] just felt like the yard that we were able to offer was a perfect fit for what they had in mind,” Bessey says.
Never been done before
Arin Liberman, co-executive director at Ragtag, says this collaboration is just going through October, but that they are open to more opportunities with Logboat.
“We’ve never done a screening series with them, and we’re looking for ways to engage our audience in spaces where they might feel more comfortable than coming inside the cinema,” Liberman says.
Bessey previously worked as a volunteer and was the assistant event coordinator at True/False Film Fest. She has had a connection to Ragtag since 2010 and wanted to continue it after moving over to Logboat.
“It’s definitely been a fantastic relationship that we’ve had for many years, and I’m just really enjoying continuing that,” she says.
The ideal idea
Liberman says the idea for the collaboration was a confluence of options Ragtag was exploring at the time.
“We had a drive-in for our 20th birthday party in August, and we were encouraged that people were interested in coming to outdoor screenings,” she says. “We [also] had someone we work with in town looking to use our screen for a special event at Logboat.”
All Ragtag needed for the collaboration was a projector that could be used outside and that was capable of playing Digital Cinema Packages, which are what new releases are made of. Once they found the technology, they started building the team.
Liberman says they also used this collaboration to figure out what next year’s True/False Film Fest would look like.
“All we could really do is plan for an event that we felt like could be thrown now and not rely on things being a whole lot better come springtime,” Liberman says.
Time to feast
At the showings, people are able to choose from the regular menu and receive bar service, which encouraged the collaboration.
“We’ve got some small concessions that were offering at our bar. And then of course, our full bar menu which is Logboat’s beer, a variety of different cocktails and non-alcoholic, “ Bessey says.
With cooler weather coming in, Logboat is now offering beverages including hot coffees, hot chocolate and other drinks.
Ted Rogers is Ragtag’s programmer and has chosen a majority of the films being shown.
“Ted has been staying on top of what’s coming out and when because the whole distribution time frame has shifted with the pandemic,” Liberman says.
Liberman explains how smaller films plan their release dates around bigger films due to scheduling and to appeal to audiences. Bigger films are being pushed back due to the pandemic which is also affecting smaller films. This is then affecting how quickly the films are going to streaming platforms, like Netflix.
“We felt like there was going to be an appetite for coming out to a special event, whether or not it was a brand new film,” she says. “I think people have been looking for ways to be social that feel safe because we haven’t been able to do much of what we're used to doing socially.”
The films shown at Ragboat have mostly been new releases with some of them playing concurrently at the cinema.