Anne Evasick, the face of Island Entertainment (and owner) saw her first movie ever on a visit to Martha's Vineyard when she was fifteen. It was “Monkey Business''at the Second Story Cinema in Edgartown, one of the Marx Brothers' finest. This appealed to her teen-age sensibilities and put her burgeoning sense of humor into overdrive. She went back the next night to see 'Horsefeathers.'
Returning to the Island for good seven years later, she spent her first summer driving cab, the obligatory first job when you move here. The following year she got her first job as a projectionist, which continues to this day. With her baby Peter in a backpack she took the reels out of the cans, inspected them and threaded the projector. Synching sound with the visual, requires focus and diligence, as well as changing the reels without show interruption. Knowledge of the equipment is imperative as well as managing the lights at the right time. Nitrate film was used then which is highly flammable, burning twenty-five times faster than wood; hence the projectionist was also the fire marshal requiring a license. Nitrate film burns underwater and auto-ignites, it's caused a lot of fires and loss.
Every time the same film played she would see something different. It was a great job until Peter reached his little arms over her head and grabbed the film. Exit the projectionist.
By this time movies were in her blood. She moved on to another movie job, managing several Island theaters, the Capawock in Vineyard Haven, Island Theater in Oak Bluffs, Strand in O.B. and her first theater, the Second Story in Edgartown. Now they weren't just in her blood, they were her life. That job lasted fourteen years.
When Bob Dutton, who worked for Anne at the theaters, started Island Entertainment in downtown Vineyard Haven, Anne, still working at the theaters, went to work there part-time. A job that entailed no movies she was not interested in. Anne's life isn't defined by scrapbooks, pictures or journals. It's a movie timeline in her head. What movie was playing when and where.
Richard Paradise brought his insatiable passion for film to the Island in 1999, creating the Martha's Vineyard Film Society and the uber-popular M.V. Int'l. Film Festival. After showing his films for years in grange halls and churches, the support and endeavor of the community culminated last year when the film society opened their M.V. Film Center in the Tisbury Marketplace. Anne was an ardent supporter and volunteer. She filled in as projectionist when Richard was off-Island; was on the Board of Directors for five years and when the Int'l Film Festival was set up screened shorts for the Short Film Competition.
In 2001 when Thomas Bena started The Martha's Vineyard Film Festival – there's that word “film” - so of course Anne is involved. She is the Festival Advisor, screens films, and again, projectionist.
Last summer The MVFF brought 'Beasts of the Southern Wild' to Martha's Vineyard. It caused quite a stir in this little community. It just blew everybody away watching this little wild-haired precocious eight-year old living in a Louisiana bayou called 'The Bathtub,' cut off from the rest of the world by a levee. This whirling dervish of a child tore a fire through everyone's imagination. Five year-old Quvenzhane` Wallis was picked out of 4,000 youngsters. The film is up for best picture, best actress, best director, and best adapted screenplay. This was an out of the ballpark phenomenon, a complete surprise for everyone. After her standing ovation at Sundance, Quvenzhane is enjoying her fame with a new pair of sparkly shoes and a purse shaped like a puppy. At nine years old. Quvenzhane Wallis is the youngest nominated 'Best Performance by an Actress in a Leading Role.' Ever.
The film festivals like to bring a director or writer for a Q & A after the film. Writer Lucy Alibar came along (the film was adapted from her story 'Juicy and Delicious'); she and friend Benh Zeitlin co-wrote Beasts. No offense, but it's not an exaggeration to say she looked twelve years old. Blonde, petite, smart, but twenty-six, really?
The first Academy Awards were held in 1929 at the Hollywood Roosevelt Hotel in the Blossom Ballroom hosting 259 guests. Now it's at the Kodak, renamed Dolby. It hosts 3,332 guests. There's a rumor they're moving to the Nokia – there's an extra 6,000 seats. And they aren't the Academy Awards anymore either, as of this year, it's 'The Oscars.'.. or to people in the biz, 'Oscars.'
This is a big year for Anne Evasick. Aside from the fact that last month Island Entertainment moved up the road with their 28,000 titles; a sweet, comfortable, intimate space, cerebral and social, where neighbors meet neighbors ... the Island population dwindles down to the core group of 12,000 year-rounders from the 125,000 summer crowd.
Then in 2005, Anne got her Award. She took over Island Entertainment from David Sears, an off-Islander who had bought it from Bob Dutton. While all the other video stores on the Island have closed, Island Entertainment remains open and flourishing. Not everyone here has a television, never mind cable.
This year Anne got her forever-annual birthday wish before the candles are blown out. She went to the Sundance Film Festival.
EN: So you went to Sundance. How was it?
Anne: “It was Phenomenal!! It was a dream come true. I always wanted to go. I couldn't believe it!”
[Ms. Evasick is not a frivolous person, nor does she gush]
EN: How many movies did you see?
Anne: “Twenty-seven in five days.”
EN: What was your favorite?
EN: What else did you like?
Anne: “I loved Moonrise Kingdom” - it should have been nominated in more categories, then there was 'Safety Not Guaranteed'; 'Premium Rush' (Gordon Levitt’s directorial debut); 'Argo' and 'Silver Linings Playbook'; Beasts of the Southern Wild'; 'Life of Pi'...
EN : It must have been beyond awesome to get off the Island and eat out, what did you have?
Anne: (laughing). “Peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. We would make them in the morning and take a bag with us, that's what we ate for the week.”
EN: Who's your favorite director?
Anne: “ Wes Anderson, 'Moonrise Kingdom, The Royal Tenenbaums, Fantastic Mr. Fox ...everything.”
Anne’s alter-ego, not in the doppelganger sense, but one who makes the Festivals, Sundance and dogwalking possible, is Island born and bred, Jamie Alley, her trusted right hand for the past twenty years. They have an integral and intimate knowledge of the movie world. What one doesn't know the other does, or one knows half and the other finishes it. Anne does the '71 -1991 and Jamie's forte is the classics; film noir, and yes, those 60's “go-go” romps. They are both current and up to date on films. If one hasn't seen it the other has.
Trim with boyish good looks and an everlasting twinkle in his eye, his looks belie his age. “Let's just say I don't get cast in the ingenue roles anymore,” he laughs
He can articulate any aspect of the film; wide aspect ratio, composition, anything about the directors he knows and loves; Otto Preminger Vincent Minnelli, and his favorite, John Huston. He has been active in theater since a child, particularly community theater. When the Vineyard Playhouse was running strong he worked for the producers for ten years.
These days Mr. Alley satisfies his artistic talents by immersing himself in the Footlight Club in Jamaica Plain, the oldest community theater in America. Last year he directed 'The Bad Seed' from the novel by William March.
Lamenting the lack of community theater “the 18-35 demographic is gone. They can't afford to live here.” The cost of living is much higher here than the national average. So it's quite an accomplishment to (a) have a job; and (b) an independent video store. Googling “video store” (relentlessly) brings up corporate kiosks.
When asked what they thought the direction of movies was, 'a road to violence.' Who do you both unilaterally not like? “Quentin Tarantino” they answered simultaneously. “I don't like carnage” said Anne. 'Django Unchained' is nominated in five categories. Five. And Tarantino is upset DiCaprio isn't up for Best Actor.
“Movies are beginning to look like video games” said Jamie. “We used to have the walls covered with posters, now we have this one empty wall because we can't find any posters without a gun in it.”
A month ago the store moved from it's old location on State road to a few doors up and across the street. Radio Shack is still it's neighbor, it still has parking and is still open twelve hours a day.
You'll find a wide array of foreign films, documentaries and children's films – the boys like 'Scooby-Doo' and the girls 'Barbie.' The TV section is very popular, along with drama and comedy. New releases come in every Tuesday morning. Rentals are $4 for three days. Discounted VHS tapes are available as well as used DVDs.
This is one of the vanishing businesses that still allows dogs. Anne's dogs, Moonie and Bodie have their beds, toys and treats in the back room among the stacks.
So Anne Evasick and Jamie Alley, this award goes to you for the years of pleasure via movies you have given us, with many more to come.
Many thanks and much appreciation!
426 State Road