The New Beverly Cinema is now not only owned by Quentin Tarantino but now run by him and his team and by the looks of things this isn’t a good idea.
This is Julia Marchese and she’s a pretty awesome woman. I was introduced to her blog via my husband who came home one day and said “there’s a blog you need to see”. It was Julia’s blog and the post was about a female fight club and not only did it make me laugh if I had lived near her I would’ve signed up for that.
*Disclaimer* I’m not a violent person neither is Julia, we had just never given nor taken a punch and call us crazy but a part of us kinda wanted to experience it. You can read the blog here.
But wait, Julia is more than just a blogger, she along with a small crew and the Torgan family who originally owned the cinema, helped make the New Beverly Cinema in California what it is today.
To give you a brief history the New Beverly it is one of the oldest revival houses in L.A, it started life as a vaudeville theatre with acts like Jerry Lewis and Jackie Gleason gracing the stage. In the 50’s the theatre was turned into a cinema and went through a few changes, as The New Yorker Theater, The Europa (which specialised in foreign film) then as The Eros (showing porno flicks) and then finally The Beverly Cinema – a grindhouse with nude dancing and showing exploitation films.
The Cinema went through some more changes during the 70’s including adding a double feature to their schedule which continues to this day.
In 2007, Sherman Torgan, owner and operator of the theater since 1978 died unexpectedly and Quentin Tarantino stepped in to save the day. As everyone knows Tarantino loves grindhouse cinema and original 35mm film so he bought the building allowing the Torgan family to continue to run the cinema, with perhaps the occasional programming suggestion.
Tarantino was quoted as saying “As long as I’m alive, and as long as I’m rich, the New Beverly will be there, showing double features in 35mm”
So far so good. But what does this have to do with Julia? Well, Julia first visited the cinema after moving to L.A in 2001. She fell in love with the place after her first visit (a double bill of Gremlins and The Goonies) in fact she loved it so much she wrote a letter to the owner, Sherman Torgan to say how much she loved her first experience there.
After that she regularly visited the cinema, always asking for a job, she was desperate to be a part of it. In 2006 her wish was granted and she got a job at her favourite haunt.
Sadly the next year Sherman died unexpectedly and in a remarkably callous move, the landlord at the time sold the cinema that day to a couple who had extreme plans for the cinema and Julia couldn’t bear the thought of her beloved cinema becoming a cornerstone of “corporate consumerism”. She contacted the Historical Preservation society to see if it could be proclaimed a landmark to see if she could save it. Nobody asked her to do this, she did it out of sheer panic of losing not only a historic building but one she loved.
Enter Quentin Tarantino. He stepped in and saved the day by not only buying the building but also renovating it. You can read more about Julia’s endevours to save the cinema and Quentin’s involvement here.
Since then Julia has been the eyes and ears of the New Beverly. She ran the social media, she had ideas for screenings and Q&A’s, she asked visiting directors etc what they’d like to see shown at the cinema and made it happen. Edgar Wright being the first director asked to talk to an audience about the films he loves and since then Diablo Cody, Eli Roth and Joe Dante and more have been guest programmers, choosing the films they’d like to see shown and why.
Julia is the reason I know that the New Beverly exists, she is the reason it’s on my bucket list. I’ve been following Julia on Twitter since her ‘Fight Club’ post and I’ve seen firsthand just how much she not only loves the cinema but promotes it at every turn. She IS the New Beverly despite being only an employee and earning very little for her efforts. That’s what we do for the love of cinema.
So, I’m sure you can imagine my confusion when I saw some vague tweets last night alluding to her no longer being part of the cinema. Confusion turning to astonishment when I went to her blog and saw this.
Julia had been fired. Why? Good fucking question!
Lets backtrack a bit.
As she says in her blog, which I highly recommend you read, earlier this year Julia was summoned to a meeting at Tarantino’s house. At this meeting he told her that as of the 1st of October he would taking over ownership of the New Beverly and would be making Julia and her co-worker Brian co-managers of the cinema. Happy days right? Wrong.
Julia is a modern woman who is, a bit like myself, a social media fiend and couldn’t wait to tell everyone her exciting news, except she wasn’t allowed. She was banned for talking on Facebook,Twitter,Instagram or anywhere about what was happening with the New Beverly.
This censorship turned into a confidentiality agreement which she refused to sign.
“This social media muzzling eventually became a confidentiality agreement that I refused to sign which would forbid me to say anything at all, on any public forum, about my job, the New Beverly Cinema or Quentin Tarantino. Ever. Any violation of this agreement – and they would be constantly monitoring my social media outlets –was grounds for immediate dismissal. Why would you want to silence your employees from saying good things about your business?”
It makes no sense to try and censor your biggest supporter,the woman who lives and breathes that cinema. After the confidentiality agreements came the cameras. Julia arrived at work to find security cameras everywhere, monitoring everything from the projection booth, managers office and snack bar. OK, while I’m not keen on being monitored all the time I can understand this step of security but it does seem a little over the top.
After giving Julia the title of co-manager she was given no parameters, no help, no advice, no contact. Reading her story I got the impression that her refusal to sign the confidentiality agreement went against her in a big way. She was being punished.
She felt she was frozen out of conversations that were vital to her running the cinema, her immediate superior hadn’t replied to any of her emails since the 3rd of October. Things were going from bad to worse.
Julia had been co-manager for two weeks when Tarantino’s personal assistant Julie McLean who was now part of the management team informed her that she was “not management material” and was immediately demoted to work at the snack bar with no shifts guaranteed.
She writes in her blog “In layman’s terms: I won’t fire you, because then I would have to pay unemployment, but I simply won’t schedule you – which forces resignation.”
What a slap in the face.
I was gobsmacked. Not only was Julia the cinemas biggest champion but she had just finished making a documentary about the cinema which she had been working on since 2012. Out of Print is about the New Beverly and the mission to keep 35mm print alive. I’m planning on watching it later today but it will be a bittersweet viewing.
You can view it here and check out the website here.
I’m a big fan of Tarantino, he’s made some really fantastic films but his actions and that of his staff in this has been strange and sadly, neglectful. I’ve never met Julia but I’m heartbroken for her, I can only imagine how she must be feeling. This wasn’t just a job for her, this was a calling. This meant something and I hope that someone out there will hear about this and see the passion and potential she has and scoop her up!
To paraphrase a tweet I saw, Tarantino’s loss should be someone else’s gain.