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September 25, 2018, 07:46:12 am
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Author Topic: Film District  (Read 1504 times)
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These Aren't the Droids You're Looking For

« on: January 30, 2006, 03:43:23 pm »

Once upon a time (before Hollywood) Tulsa was at the heart of a new industry known as Motion Pictures, and was home to a number of pre-talkie studios.  Not surprisingly, westerns were among the staples, as we still had a number of (then) famous lawmen and outlaws (retired) willing to commit their story to celluloid.

Tulsa's film office died a few years ago with barely a whimper, but just down the turnpike they're breathing new life into that little piece of history:

Contact:  Bradley Wynn
(405) 833-1727
    The Oklahoma Film Society announced today it will move into the former Paramount Pictures film exchange building by February 1, 2006.  The building, located at 701 W. Sheridan, is in the 'historical keystone' of the recently announced downtown Oklahoma City Film District.
    The Oklahoma Film Society has worked toward creating the proposed district since June 2004.  Recent opportunities and community support has allowed the organization to become the first of two new film related tenants of the district.  The other, Oklahoma Casting, will also occupy offices in the former Paramount building.  Bradley Wynn, Founder and President of the Oklahoma Film Society and creator  and Chair of the Oklahoma City Film District Task Force says, "I am extremely pleased to find the Society in a position to take such a bold step into the future of the area by becoming one of its first film tenants.  We hope that our move will encourage others to come down and join us."
    The imposing structure was completed by 1930 and housed Paramount Pictures, Paramount-Famous-Lasky Corp, Griffith Amusement Company, Video Independent Theatres, Crescent Film Company, Majestic Pictures Corp., Sack Amusement Company, Theatre Poster Service, Producers Release Corp, Southwest Theatres, Inc., Southwest Theatre Equipment, Vumore Company, K. Lee Williams Film Exchange and the Film Coffee Shop (Floyd Griffith Restaurant).  When serving as home to the Paramount Exchange in the mid-1930s, The Oklahoman newspaper reported on February 23, 1936, that Russell Godwin operated a one-man cinema house for those who wanted to see the exchange films.  Godwin, who was not employed by Paramount, ran the entire operation.  He was the projectionist, the manager, the usher, and the janitor.  He charged each of his customers 50 cents per reel.  The theatre seated only 50 people, but it became a venue where all major new films were reviewed for booking.  The audience was usually composed of theatre owners, theatre managers, film salesmen, film exchange managers, and newspaper critics.  The Oklahoman is quoted saying “He exhibits films for the exchanges of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, RKO Radio, Fox Twentieth Century, Paramount and others.”  This former screening room will become the Oklahoma Film Society's new Russell Godwin Studio, available for future screenings, lectures, an upcoming weekly television series, and the Society's monthly meetings.
    Building owner Ron Smith says, "I haven't sold the property because I want to be part of what's happening."  Smith, who acquired the building nearly three years ago, states that he is willing to discuss affordable leasing options to any who might want to relocate to the film district now rather than later.  "I have a building that's ready to go."  Smith said.
    Other property owners in the keystone are also seeking future tenants.  Most notably, in the marqueed Film Exchange building, directly across the street from the Paramount and the historic jewel of the new district.
    With the advent of jet technology and instantaneous communication in the 1960's, the need for intricate film exchange systems gradually ended and former Film Row began to perish.  By the 1970's Paramount's former structure became vacant until the International Crystal Company acquired it in 1984.  Crystal moved from the building into its current facilities east of the Paramount in the early 1990's.  It remained vacant until Smith's purchase.
    Today, the structure does not exhibit its former glory, but Ron Smith plans to change that.  "Once we can get the area to a point where changes can be made without fear of vandalism and I can bring in leasing revenue, I'd love to remove all the added layers and reveal the beautiful history beneath it all."
    Revitalization and development of the proposed district will begin this year.
    The Oklahoma Film Society was founded to promote, educate, and provide for the Oklahoma film industry and its communities.  For more information about the Society and its many projects visit www.okfs.org or call (405) 833-1727.
    Paramount owner Ron Smith can be contacted at (405) 618-2680 or by email rondeb91@hotmail.com.
Images Available below can be emailed:
Paramount Pictures Building 1943 - Photo Credit - Oklahoma Film Society Collection
Paramount Pictures Building Today - Photo Credit - Dr. Dale Metzler
Photo of Proposed Film District - Photo Credit - James Murati
Oklahoma City Film District Logo
Oklahoma Film Society Logo
Oklahoma City Film District Map


"Tulsa will lay off police and firemen before we will cut back on unnecessarily wasteful streetlights."  -- March 18, 2009 TulsaNow Forum
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