Meet Dylan Haley, a guy with an infectious laugh and the organiser of the monthly Far Out Film Nights at the Dome Cinema.
Dylan grew up in Berkeley, California, a city well-known for its liberalism. An epicentre of the anti-Vietnam war and Free Speech movements of the 60’s in the US, Berkeley has kept that tradition of radical politics and challenging the status quo to this day. “It’s a pretty groovy place” says Dylan that most people born there never leave. But Dylan did leave, initially to go to art school in New York and then to Los Angeles to “surround himself with artists”.
It was while he was living in L.A. that Dylan met Sarah, a Kiwi lass who had ended up immersed in the music industry, starting out DJing in bars and moving into music licencing, with a role placing music in film and Television.
Whilst Dylan still sometimes feels as if being here in Gisborne is some kind of happy accident, the pair made a conscious decision to ditch the rat race and find a place to raise a family of their own. With Sarah’s family all living here, Gisborne was that perfect place and Dylan reckons that in some ways Gisborne and Berkeley share a similar vibe in some ways; a special kind of soul that you don’t just find anywhere.
Since moving to Gisborne five years ago Dylan says he’s been educated on all sorts of things from beekeeping to growing vegetables to fence building, and he’s enjoyed growing friendships built upon shared interests in music and art. However he’d been here for a while when he started to realise how much he was missing chewing the fat about film with other people who were as excited about it as he was. For Dylan it was time living next to some excellent video stores, first in NY and then LA that really got him into watching movies. It was always something of a solitary endeavour until the company Dylan did graphic design for opened a film distribution wing; restoring old films, repackaging them and redistributing them. Dylan started doing the poster design for the films - something he continues doing to this day - and finding himself surrounded by film nerds, his appreciation for film and talking about it with others, was thoroughly entrenched.
In his early days of Gisborne living Dylan would wander over to the Ballance Street Village to grab some lunch from the bakery. He’d often stop by at Retro, to yarn with Ro Darrall. When Sally from the Dome Cinema also showed up at the shop on one of those occasions, Ro prompted Dylan to share his idea for a regular film night showing classic films with her. Sally was sold, and in true Gizzy-styles, Far Out Film Night was born.
So what is Far Out Film Night? Each month Dylan chooses a film from his own personal catalogue of favourites. He goes for films that have stood the test of time but that are also somehow a little fringe-y, left of centre, usually with some kind of anti-hero theme, and always with substance.
Getting the rights to screen any particular film is an exercise which can have Dylan communicating directly with the family of deceased filmmakers or the original film producers and it’s a part of the process he enjoys.
On the night Dylan introduces the film, touching on anything from the social or political history which may have shaped the film, to the backgrounds of particular actors, fun facts about the director or the likes. He is passionate about the films he shows, as an intentional curation of some of the best films that have ever been made. He especially relishes seeing old films on the big screen, likening the experience to time machine travel into the past.
For Dylan the Far Out Film Nights have achieved his own personal goal in finding people to talk film with, with some of the regulars soon becoming firm friends, and for Gisborne people, it’s an opportunity to enrich both our cultural and social lives; an opportunity to step out of our own lives for a couple of hours to experience someone else’s reality, in another time and place.
Far Out Film Night is on the last Tuesday of the month (that’s tonight!) at the Dome Cinema. The doors open for pizza and toasty hang outs from 5pm and the film starts at 6:30pm. Bookings are essential (027 590 2117) because these nights are pretty popular!
Tonight’s film is a documentary about the life of pianist and jazz great, Thelonious Sphere Monk. Featuring live performances by Monk and his band, and interviews with friends and family about the offbeat genius, Dylan reckons this is another banger of a film!
Bonus Hot Tips from Dylan:
#1 If you are searching for something quality to watch on Netflix right now, look for the film Crip Camp. Not only does it prominently feature Dylan’s hometown, he reckons it will have you remembering what we are all here for.
#2 If you’re wanting to break free of Netflix you might want to check out streaming platform mubi.com - comparable in price to other platforms, available in NZ and good for films in particular.
You can follow the Far Out Film Night on Instagram @far.out.film.night
Story and photo by Sarah Cleave