Burnout Society Film Club's 8 Ball Movie Night and Introvert Movie Night offer group viewings of cult flicks
One day in 2017, Samir Asfahani was surfing Facebook during his lunch break. The guitarist in Ann Arbor stoner-metal band Wizard Union, Asfahani belonged to a music enthusiasts’ group and a member started a thread about peoples’ favorite cult movies.
“I was immediately interested because I've always been fond of those types of films, so I started name dropping all of the movies I liked,” he said.
A fellow member of the Facebook group suggested they start another group for cult movies, from old psychotronic stuff to modern horror films.
“Right away, I said ‘I’m on that!’ and within 10 minutes I came up with the name," Asfahani said of the Burnout Society Film Club (BSFC). "The joke is that it would read as BS Film Club without actually calling ourselves the Bullshit Film Club.”
What began as a place for chatting about movies blossomed into a Facebook page in addition to the group, a blog with movie reviews, Instagram live chats and streaming, and shared movie experiences including 8 Ball Movie Night and the Introvert Movie Night.
The 8 Ball Movie Night, which is run by Colum Slevin, a co-admin of the BSFC FB group, was held at the bar below The Blind Pig, but with COVID-19 canceling inside events in March and beyond, the Introvert Movie Night stepped up. It began as a monthly event last year when Asfahani got the idea from an online movie group he belonged to that was watching movies together over Facebook.
“Once COVID happened,” he says, “Introvert Movie Night became a weekly event that happened every Saturday night at 10 pm ... [and] we're definitely not planning on stopping anytime soon. I feel like we've found our rhythm for when to start picking movies out and planning for the next month. Usually it involves looking to see what's available on Amazon Prime currently and hoping that it will be there long enough to show for the next month.” Lynzie and Adam VonDoom work with Asfahani to pick out the films and run the Introvert Movie Night.
Meanwhile, Slevin was able to adapt the in-person movie night at 8 Ball to be socially distanced once the weather turned nice.
“It is times like this that the joy and escapism of watching movies becomes an almost critical release valve from all the pressure," Slevin says, "but we [movie night regulars and BSFC members] had to find a safe way to do it. The Blind Pig/8 Ball Saloon was able to reopen for a time, but the back hallway we normally took over for the movie night was just too close quarters to allow responsible social distancing—so that was still not an option. Then inspiration struck and I placed the projector on the roof of the 8 Ball Saloon and used the adjacent building's wall as a screen to great success. Finally, we had a way to don our masks, space out physically, and still be able to be together enjoying these movies as a group.”
After many successful weeks of movies, The Blind Pig/8 Ball Saloon recently shut down its rooftop due to the colder weather, but BSFC will soon start watching movies together on Slevin's Twitch. The films are announced with FB Events on 8 Ball Movie Night’s Facebook page.
With in-person movie nights dormant for the winter, Slevin offered some of his favorite memories of 8 Ball nights past.
“One time we did a ‘Pure Michigan’-themed double feature of The Carrier and Mosquito, both of which were shot in Michigan," he says. "Word must have gotten out because not only did we have a couple of members of the Crazy Cosplay Adventures group show up in costume, but we also had one of the producers of each film and one of the stars of The Carrier turn up to watch it with us! They hadn't seen these movies in decades and it was so much fun getting to experience it with them and ask them questions afterward. A real treat!
“Last year around Halloween we did a ‘Silent Screams’ event in the Blind Pig where we set up the screen in front of the stage," Slevin continues. "Three bands had selected silent films that they wrote their own scores for and played them live on stage behind the screen as the movies played for the audience. It was really a fantastic experience.”
While Asfahani and Slevin welcome everyone to join them for 8 Ball Movie Night and the Introvert Movie Night, there are numerous ways now for friends to screen films together online.
“I certainly would encourage people who can't go out to arrange times to video conference or group chat while everyone is watching the same movie, playing a board game, or video game," Slevin says. "Zoom has obviously gotten quite popular and services like Twitch and Discord are really useful tools as well. I hope more video streaming services take heed and can implement ways for people to enjoy the content together virtually.
“I also hope governments on a local, state, and federal level realize how important venues for music and movies are to communities," he continues, "and our collective sanity and offer some financial relief to the various small indie theaters and music venues that are hurting from this. So when spring comes and/or we find some relief from this pandemic, there are still going to be places to go to.”
Patti F. Smith is a special education teacher and writer who lives in Ann Arbor with her husband and cat.
Introvert Movie Nights happen every Saturday night at 10 pm. In order to participate in these events, join the Burnout Society Film Club group on Facebook, navigate to the event, and mark yourself as going; you will be added to the group chat on the night of the event. The next five movies, all of which can be found on Amazon Prime, are "Dr. Goldfoot and The Bikini Machine" (Oct. 3), "Bad Taste" (Oct. 10), "Poltergeist III" (Oct. 17), "Susperia" remake (Oct. 24), and the original "Fright Night" (Oct. 31).
The Burnout Society Film Club loves its social media; here are links to all the group's sites: