Tofino’s municipal council presents Sandi Rideout with a Volunteer Recognition Award for her efforts launching and maintaining Monday night movies in Tofino. (Photo - District of Tofino)

Tofino cheers volunteer behind Monday night movies

“I’m a culture creep and so I really missed not having all those things in my life.”

Sandi Rideout’s remarkably tireless efforts to bring weekly movie nights to Tofino have led to a blockbuster accomplishment as her town’s council recently honoured her with a Volunteer Recognition Award.

Rideout showed her first film on April 18, 2005, after arriving in Tofino from Kamloops where she had enjoyed an impressive array of symphony, theatre and cinema events.

“I’m a culture creep and so I really missed not having all those things in my life,” Rideout told the Westerly News.

She said she had joined the Clayoquot Sound Community Theatre Association board almost immediately after arriving in her new West Coast home and saw an untapped opportunity in new projection and speaker equipment the board had purchased to host book launches by authors who were moving away from slides and towards powerpoint presentations.

“The theatre board realized that, if we wanted to have them in our theatre, then we needed to up our game, so the equipment was purchased at great expense back then and it wasn’t really getting used that much, I mean, how many book launches can there be in a year?” she said adding she pitched the idea of presenting movies to the board. “That’s how it started. There was a small group of us that kind of brainstormed our vision…The others on the committee were really positive and energetic, but they didn’t have time so I sort of carried the torch from then on.”

She added Monday movie nights have become “an institution” in Tofino that’s appreciated by a broader crowd than she first anticipated.

“When I first started, I kind of thought that I was going to be presenting to my demographic: the baby boomers who have grown up with movies and cried at The Incredible Journey and Snow White and I kind of had this vision that the theatre would be full of people my age,” she said. It has turned into something quite different…I show movies to way more than just my demographic. I try to show a wide variety so that a range of people can come to the theatre and have an enjoyable experience…It just takes one special movie and somebody will find out about what we’re doing and it’s so enriching.”

She added the movie nights are the association’s largest fundraiser, providing a steady and needed income to put towards a litany of bills that comes with maintaining the theatre, including electrical bills and equipment maintenance.

“We have to keep the funds rolling so we can continue to offer a venue that’s unique in our town,” she said. “Maintaining that space is expensive and so having a regular source of income is really important. That’s why I haven’t retired,” she said, adding that she is looking for an heir apparent to keep the movie magic humming.

“I am looking for an heir apparent. If anybody wants to apprentice with me and learn how to do this, I’d sure like to see it keep going after I’m pushing up daisies.”

Anyone interested in learning more can reach out through Rideout’s webpage or through the Monday Night Movies in Tofino Facebook page.

She added that the position carries a large workload that includes plenty of research along with communicating with producers and distributors while keeping the financial books in order, but added she “loves” putting it all together.

“I was a principal and a teacher for over 30 years and researching and preparing stuff is kind of in my blood and I do love doing it,” she said.

She said she had no idea she’d be honoured with an award when a volunteer movie night colleague lured her into council chambers next door to the theatre.

“My ticket-taker said to me, ‘They’ve got our chairs in the council chamber, you have to come in with me.’ So, I went in and she told me to sit down and I realized that I was not there to get chairs,” she said. “It was a surprise. It was a great moment… It’s wonderful to be appreciated.”

She added that she appreciates all her movie goers and supporters, particularly Lyndsey Page and Warren Rudd as well as poster designers Marion Syme and Albert Shepard.

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READ MORE: Tofino Theatre projects into the future

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