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UPDATE: Movie Gallery Bringing Hollywood To Small Towns

1 Feb, 2002 By: Joan Villa

Movie Gallery is bringing Hollywood into the small towns where its 1,420 stores are located through a partnership with Auburn University to sponsor an international student film competition.

The five-year endowment will support the newly created Movie Gallery Student Video Competition for high school and college students. As part of the university's Jay Sander's Film Festival, the entries will be judged April 18 and the winner awarded $1,000.

The alliance between the video chain and a film festival designed to foster and identify creative talent on an international level is "a natural for us," explained Movie Gallery president, chairman and CEO Joe Malugen. The Dothan, Ala.-based video rental specialist recently acquired more than 300 Video Update stores in the United States and Canada and is based just two hours from Auburn University.

"For every movie that we carry in our 1,420 stores, there is a director that started out making home movies with a gleam in his or her eye," Malugen noted.

The festival will be promoted with posters in the stores, where consumers can pick up entry forms to submit their short films in five categories: animation, documentary, abstract/experimental, short narrative or political/social satire. Each film submitted requires a $20 entry fee.

Posters will also be distributed to local high schools and information will be posted on Movie Gallery's Web site, noted senior marketing VP Ted Innes.

"We've had a lot of customers who've expressed interest and asked, ‘how do I get a movie made?'" he explained. "Now they have a conduit to get it seen by a theater audience and get it judged by someone other than their high school or college."

The competition also brings excitement to the store level and connects customers to the filmmaking experience, he added. If the event produces notable projects, the chain may make the winning films available to rent in Movie Gallery stores, although "that's still undecided," Innes said.

As a chain of small neighborhood stores, "We're trying to give that connection between the community and Hollywood," he added. "That's one of the strengths we have."

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