By Haley Harris, Josh Adams and Anthony Garcia | Staff Writers
The Cinema Series at Augusta University has been increasing in attendance at a constant rate, and 2016 marks the highest percent increase between years so far.
According to Matthew Buzzell, assistant professor in the Communications Department and co-chair of The Cinema Series, the event brings together students, faculty, staff and community members to watch “fresh” films that are not screened at local box-office cinemas.
Attendance of The Cinema Series in 2013 averaged 81 people with five films shown. In 2014, it averaged 72 people with 19 films shown. In 2015, it averaged 103 people with 12 films shown and this year there is an average of 147 people with the two films shown so far. There is an 81.5 percent increase all together from 2013 to 2016.
Between last year and this year, there is a 42.7 percent increase. This is the largest increase between any years so far.
Buzzell said the full experience that viewers receive is what he thinks is causing the increase of attendees.
“I think (it’s) the entire experience of going to The Cinema Series,” Buzzell said. “We’ve raised the bar in multiple areas, and I think that’s part of (the reason attendance has increased). Because we are showing films that are fresh and trying to show films that you couldn’t see anywhere else.”
Buzzell said he is trying to improve every year.
Richard Pukis, assistant professor in the Communications Department for television and cinema, said the increase is noticeable.
“If you look at the attendance maybe three, four, five years ago,” Pukis said. “When it was in the other building…where the attendance sometimes was maybe 30 folks or something of that sort, and now we’re averaging, you know, over a hundred, easy.”
Pukis and Buzzell said there could be other reasons for the increase to note, as well.
“Professor Buzzell keeps up that Facebook page, so that’s advertising,” Pukis said. “I’ve been teaching a class for the last three semesters called Inquiry 1000, and one of the things about that class is that the students have to come and see some Cinema Series films…We’ve done the two years of the Cinema Series t-shirts… so those have advertised it.”
Buzzell said the biggest problem The Cinema Series has faced over time since he took it over was the popularity of Netflix, Redbox and other new accessories to film watching. He said when he took over The Series, he wanted to make sure the films he presented were not already out on DVD.
“The distribution of films is changing constantly,” Buzzell said. “And so the idea was let’s try to make sure that the films that we screen are as fresh as they possibly can be and that they’re not going to be found streaming – that we’re offering something you can’t get anywhere else.”
Neil Davenport, senior communications major, said he is a frequent attendee of The Cinema Series.
“I would like to go to each one, but it just depends on if I have time,” Davenport said. “I go for the film. I go to support the cinema series. I go to enlighten myself on the reason why we’re being presented the film.”
Davenport said The Cinema Series attendance differs for each showing.
“I kind of see the same faces [at the events],” Davenport said. “Whenever the event is about a bigger idea than the film itself, I see more people there, but when it’s just for the film, it’s mostly communications majors.”
Buzzell said he intends to keep pushing toward more people attending. He said his next project for The Series involves showing every Oscar nominated short film for this year. He said “it has never been done.”