STORY BY ETHAN FICKAU
The event takes place every Friday night at Drake University. Students fill Sussman Theater to its maximum capacity to witness it and there is never a shortage of popcorn or candy.
Only Free Movie Friday can be described this way.
Since its origin two years ago, the event has become a popular social outing for all students.
In a private interview, Free Movie Friday co-chairs Nicole Russell and Krista Peterson talked about the history of the event, potential growth in the future and what goes on behind the scenes to make it such a success with Drake students.
In regards to Free Movie Friday’s beginning, Russell said it was never intended to be a recurring event.
Originally, it started out as a one-time event, but because it was such a big hit, the people in charge of it continued to show movies during the school year until they were doing it every week.
While Free Movie Friday has come a long way, Peterson expressed her desire to see it expand even more in the future.
“We have also thought about moving the location for one night possibly to the football stadium. We’d have to wait for a really popular movie to come out for that and also talk to the football team too. Hopefully, that’s something we can accomplish in the future.”
Russell added on to that list of possibilities with the notion of having a drive-in movie night where they would get a big projector and screen and have people come with blankets and chairs to the outdoor event, weather permitting of course.
While putting together a weekly film screening along with some snacks may seem easy to some people, Russell promises that there is a lot more to it.
“Most of the work for it is done before the school year starts. After that, it’s smooth sailing and you just have to come in on Fridays to pop popcorn,” Russell said.
“Before that, it’s all about trying to get in contact with everybody and Sodexo for the food. Planning is the worst part,” said Russell.
One thing that has never been a problem is attendance. Russell and Petersen said that they almost always have a big crowd.
Part of what helps this are the flyers they post around campus, their Facebook page called Free Movie Friday at Drake that displays the movie schedule, and simply students spreading the word about what is being shown during any given week.
Showing the movies that they do is very expensive. The co-chairs claim that it costs about $900 per movie, plus another $250 for concessions every Friday.
Russell said movies come from the websites of Swank Motion Pictures, Inc. and The Criterion Collection.
The movies that are chosen typically cost more because they have not been released on DVD yet, but the big crowd says it is worth it said Russell.
Zachary Britton, the student coordinator for finance, said that Free Movie Friday has a decent budget to work with which is convenient as their yearly budget is about $30,000, one of the biggest annual budgets given to a single Drake organization.
“They get most of their money from the student activity fees that all students pay each year, so that gives them a decent amount to work with.”
Some say that Free Movie Friday is a fun and easy way for students to do something together.
Rachel Collins is a senior at Drake and she says she loves going to Free Movie Friday and it is a great thing for students to do on Friday nights.
“I went a good amount of times when I lived on campus. Anytime I see a poster of the movies, I take a picture.”
Russell mentioned that it helps to get feedback from the students about the movies that they show.
“I think it’s good to have their input. Last year, we had them take a survey but they didn’t know what movies we were going to show for that semester. It’s a good balance for us.”
Russell and Petersen revealed that while it is challenging at times, keeping Free Movie Friday running is an exciting experience that they wouldn’t trade for anything.
As the semester progresses, this dynamic duo is working hard to make sure that Free Movie Friday continues to keep students coming back for more.