It's not uncommon to see long lines of Franklin High School students queued up on Avenue 56 and North Figueroa Street, waiting to see the summer's biggest movies at the .
With $3 Tuesdays and $4 matinees, the theater is known among locals as a great setting for a cheap date and even cheaper thrills.
But on Thursday, July 26, at 7 p.m. the Highland Theatre will take a blockbuster break as NELAart will present its first ever film night, featuring short films from five independent filmmakers.
The film night is the brainchild in NELAart Director Cathi Milligan and member Janet Dodson.
According to Dodson, the film night is the latest event to expand NELAart's reach beyond Second Saturday Gallery Night, during which local artists, gallery owners and craftsmen open their work spaces to the community.
"We're always thinking of ways to expand NELAart, and its not much of a stretch to think of film, since we are in Los Angeles," Dodson said.
The project was set in motion when Dodson and Milligan were approached by Alessandro Gentile, an Eagle Rock resident who works in the film industry as a director of a photography, during one of NELAart's microgrant fundraisers.
"He came up to us with a big smile on his face and said, 'do you want to do film?'" Dodson said.
With Gentile on the team, NELAart was able to conduct a nationwide search for filmmakers to participate in the inaugural event.
"I was in search of films that had a good narrative structure, and were emotional and compelling to watch," Gentile said. "Films that would speak to different audience members."
Among the selections are two short documentaries Future Days and Homes for Homies, which look at the changes happening in Los Angeles and San Fransisco, respectively.
Out of Darkness, the 2011 Cannes Festival Selection Narrative Short, is a "compelling, beautifully-told story of fear and redemption." Gerald's Last Day, a winner of 21 film festival best of awards, is a stop-motion animation film about a shelter dog hoping to be adopted. Sweet Mary and Jane is a comedic short about three entrepreneurs hoping to make it big with marijuana cupcakes.
After the screenings, the filmmakers will be on hand to discuss the movies.
While the organizers know they'll likely draw a different crowd than the one that will this weekend line up to see Ted, Brave and Rock of Ages at the Highland Theatre, they're hoping the event will introduce some viewers to alternate approaches to filmmaking.
"I feel like there's a huge potential still to expose our community to more local art/film," Gentile said.
Added Dodson, "the films are all short, anyway, so if you'd don't like one, all you have to do is wait for the next one to start."
Tickets for NELAart Film Night are $10 and can be purchased at the Glass Studio at 5052 York Boulevard or on Paypal through
www.nelaart.org. Ticketholders are invited to a special Post-Screening Extended Happy Hour Party at.