I had barely sat down with my eggnog latte when Eric Barnett started showing me his vision board. He excitedly took me through his movie collages, made lovingly and carefully divided into categories with too many exciting pictures to name. His movie ticket collection hit the table next, Eric fishing out his favorites, pausing every few minutes to hold one and say “Ah… what a great movie” the same way the rest of us indulge in a great piece of chocolate or that first sip of coffee everyday. He thumbed through a folder with scratchy writing; a list of every movie he had seen in the last several years.
Eric, a recent ODU graduate, works in the film industry whenever he can. “I took a screenwriting class at ODU and fell in love with it,” he said at a coffee shop on campus. “When I go to the movies and see the credits for the screenwriter, I feel joy because I know one day my name will be on the big screen as well one day.” Degree in hand, he began to search for ways into “the biz.” He doggedly researched production companies looking for gigs and sent email after email, hoping for an opportunity to learn, a chance to work, or even just a response. “Some didn’t respond.The lack of responses didn’t deter me, though.” Eric said, cheerfully. “I kept going.”
When he’s not working as a freelance Production Assistant and going to movies, he’s dreaming up and outlining his pet project, the Ultimate Movie Theater. “It’s my baby!” Exclaimed Eric, as he shared notes, details, and pages of research he’s done, driven by pure passion. He has plans to enhance the movie experience by filtering out rude people (“I am an inconsiderate person magnet,” he told me) providing reasonable prices, having luxury features like reclining seats, incorporating local and indie films and, my favorite, making the theater a true community space. You can read more about the Ultimate Movie Theater on his Go Fund Me page.
As much as I would love to see more local love for films around here ASAP, (don’t forget about Christine at the Crossroads) realistically, this project will take Eric some time. I, for one, wish him great luck on his journey. His drive and passion makes me proud to be his Hampton Roads neighbor, and I hope our region will continue to inspire creativity and drive like his.
“Failure is only met by people who stop,” Barnett told me. “That is what I tell people to motivate them and that is something I stand by 100%.”
If you want to chat with Eric about movies or follow his passion project, check him out on Twitter: @The_Movie_Whiz.