Arts & Culture

Discover All Things Regional in Central PA’s art and culture scene. Join hosts Cary Burkett and Joe Ulrich as they make artistic discoveries throughout the midstate. From music and visual arts to theatre, museums, literature and more! Listen every Wednesday and Friday on witf 89.5 and 93.3 for features highlighting the best and brightest cultural happenings in the region.

Carlisle Theatre Provides Location for Student Film

Written by Cary Burkett, Arts & Culture Desk and WITF Host | Apr 18, 2013 9:17 AM


The Carlisle Theatre on High Street in Carlisle was built in 1939. Most of the art deco movie theatres of that period have given way to the multiplex cinemas, and in fact the Carlisle declined in the 1970’s and was eventually closed in 1986. But a group of Carlisle citizens wanted to preserve the theatre and formed the Carlisle Regional Performing Arts Center, Inc. in 1990 for that purpose. After a large fundraising effort and thousands of hours donated by volunteers, the theatre was restored and reopened in 1993.


For Rolando Vega, a senior at Messiah College majoring in film, the history of the Carlisle Theatre made it an ideal location for a Senior Honors Project film which traced some of the technological trends in the film industry.  With Rolando directing and a crew of other Messiah Film and Media majors including associate producer Caroline Philips, art director Justine Robillard,  cinematographer Mitch McClure and writer Sarah Stevenson,  the Carlisle Theatre was transformed into a movie set.

The film tells the story of a fictional theatre called The Palace across the decades. Vega says that it was inspired by the history of the Carlisle Theatre.  

The entire student crew approached the project with great seriousness, raising a budget of $7,300 through an online fundraising site. They brought in a special digital camera called “the red camera”, which shoots at a resolution 4 times the standard quality of high definition.  They rented period cars, brought in piles of period clothes and hired SAG film union actors for lead roles. They found public domain Hollywood films they could incorporate as background for their story of the movie theatre.

Throughout, The Carlisle Theatre provided access, aid and cooperation in a variety of ways. They allowed Rolando and his crew use of the marquee to put up custom letters.  Fred Wonders, projectionist at the Carlisle Theatre, brought his longtime knowledge about his field to help provide realistic details about the various periods the film covers. He also appears in the film as a construction worker.

The premiere of the film will be at the Carlisle Theatre on May 5 at 7:30. Admission is free, but a donation will collected.  Half of the donations will benefit the Carlisle Theatre’s Save the Carlisle Campaign and the other half will benefit the Messiah College Film and Media Arts Department.


Below you can hear our feature about the filming of the movie.


And here’s the trailer for the film.

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