Barry Norman's office at Eveningstar Cinema sits perched above the concession stand at the entrance to the theater, hidden from the view of his moviegoer patrons. His desk sits behind the theater's two film projectors, nestled in between old bucket seats and empty film canisters. There, Norman has been busy planning what he hopes will be a film renaissance for Brunswick.
His schnoodle, Scooter, runs freely about the projection room and announces the arrival of off-hours visitors. A wooden ladder latched to the wall of the concession stand is the only way of getting to the office and one has to duck when climbing up to avoid hitting the room's low ceilings. Norman likes to say that he's lost two inches of height since he bought the cinema in August 2010, and he's probably not entirely joking.
Eveningstar Cinema is a small theater that boasts only one screen, and Norman is impatient to move to a more accommodating venue. The single screen limits the cinema in the amount of revenue it can generate, as distributors often mandate that a film run for months at a time—a virtual death sentence for such a small theater.
"For all practical purposes it doesn't work," said Norman.
With the help of architect Steve Normand (who Norman said he chose due to their similar surnames), Norman has drawn up blueprints for a revamped Eveningstar Cinema that would sit at Maine Street Station. He insists that the new building will have the iconic look of an art deco theater, complete with a neon marquee—a far cry from the white-washed colonial offices of the station's current occupants.
And if the zoning committee takes issue with his plan, said Norman, "I will find a way."
It wouldn't be the first time that bright lights have graced downtown Brunswick, after all. The Pastime Theater, the first American movie theater ever to be built specifically for motion pictures (eschewing vaudeville performances and other theatrical trends of the day), featured an illuminated marquee when it was built in 1905, said Norman.
Not everything about the Eveningstar will change—Norman told The Forecaster that the cinema's trademark front-row couches will make the pilgrimage across town along with his two film projectors. As for when the new structure will go up, "it's just a matter of financial support," he said. In the unlikely event that all of his planning efforts go perfectly, Norman said "it's possible that this thing could be up and running by the end of the year."
He envisions an international film festival in Brunswick, which would bring more revenue to the theater than ever before. A filmmaker himself and the founder of the Rome International Film Festival in Rome, Georgia, Norman is not exactly a self-effacing kind of guy—I interrupted him typing up his life story for his friend Peter Zale (the talent behind the comic strip "Helen, Sweetheart of the Internet"), who hopes to turn Norman's life into a graphic novel.
"I'm a little bit like Forrest Gump," said Norman. "I met Dali when I was 10. He's why I started doing film festivals."
The Rome festival is now entering its ninth season, and Norman thinks that with the new theater he could replicate that success on Maine Street. Though neither he nor his architect have experience building theaters, Norman isn't worried; "I tend to do things without really knowing the ins and outs," he said.
He's previously worked in professional wrestling and public radio, and has produced several films—the most recent of which, "Tears of Bankers," was produced in five days with no script. Norman says he has plans to produce another film in Brunswick, which would follow a fictional Barry Norman as he tries to sell a movie theater. The plan for a new Eveningstar, it seems, is just another chapter in his extensive career in independent film. When I told him I would only be writing a short piece on the theater, he replied, "nobody does a short story when they talk to me."