Last week, I was thinking about where I wanted to shoot some pictures of the 2017 Volkswagen Beetle and I had several ideas. One idea that I had was to shoot on Main Street. There is a revival going on downtown on Main St., and I have loved watching it grow. When I was a young skateboarder in the Soda City, there was nothing on Main St. other than state agencies, banks and wig shops. The Arcade mall was going under, the theater under Jefferson Square had closed and it was not a place for growth and commerce. And yes, there was a movie theater under Jefferson Square. I saw E.T. there with my parents opening night and left out of there feeling overwhelmed with amazement at the power of film. Even as a kid, I just felt that seeing a film downtown, was the “in thing to do.”
In 1979, two college students, Carl Davis and Linda O’Connor, from the University of South Carolina, opened The Nickelodeon Theater in a converted bank at 937 Main St. For those of you that don’t know, that is on the other side of the State House. I had seen my share of independent films there over the years while I was locked away in High School. It wasn’t until 1993 that I had my fondest memory there. My friends and I went to see “Dazed and Confused.” A coming of age film that starred Milla Jovovich, Matthew McConaughey and the guy that ruined Batman (Ben Affleck.) It was at that moment, that I realized that the Nickelodeon showed films that you couldn’t see at the big theaters at the malls. They showed films that would give impact to social dialogue. This theater showed the types of films that proved there was still an original idea in America.
In 2012, The Nickelodeon moved to the old Fox Theater at 1607 Main Street. With it’s bright, eye catching marquee lights and it’s position in the busiest section of the new and improved Main St., The Nickelodeon Theater has become an important fixture for a new movement. A movement to bring life back to a once sleeping capitol city. The theater attracts over 50,000 people annually for their Indie Grits Film Festival. This incredible festival has been called one of the “Top 20 Coolest Film Festivals in the World,” by Moviemaker Magazine. Who says nothing happens in Columbia?!
When I thought about the timelessness of The Nickelodeon Theater, I realized that this would be the perfect place to shoot a photo of the new VW Beetle. After all, the Beetle is one of the most iconic automobiles in history. Shouldn’t it go in front of something just as iconic to our home city? When you think of the importance of independent film and art, you cannot help but think about the Volkswagen Beetle. The Beetle has had a huge influence and impact on our society in film, art and pop culture. The Beetle has been in such iconic films as Annie Hall and The Shining, as well as the more recent Fight Club.
If you have never seen a film at the Nickelodeon Theater, I urge you to do it this week. The Nick, as it endearingly become known, is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that has over 2000 members. This is not just any theater. This is an establishment that is designed to preserve the independent film and the spirit behind it. This theater gives us a place to share the visual arts in a way that is lost in big budget film. The Nick is a truly worthwhile place to share an evening with a loved one.
If you care about art and film, then the Nickelodeon is the type of place where you need to be. It is places like this that make our city not only cool, but meaningful. This weekend, grab a friend and hop a ride with someone with a VW Beetle and head over to “The Nick” to see something that might change your life for the better.