As the sun sets over the Catskill mountains of Coxsackie, NY, all four projectors of the Hi-Way Drive-In come to life, illuminating four massive silver screens. Born in 1951 along Route 9W, a major thoroughfare at that time,
the Hi-Way has screened movies for over 60 years. Its patrons of all ages come from miles around to experience the nostalgia, romance, and wholesome summer night fun that the drive-in offers.
But the threat of a new era looms closer as major movie studios announce they will no longer produce film prints of their features. But the Hi-Way Drive-In only has 35mm film projectors, and to upgrade all four to digital will cost around $300,000. For longtime owners Roger and Sharon Babcock, switching four projectors to digital is one of the greatest challenges they’ve faced, but they will do anything to keep the magic of their beloved Hi-Way alive.
Ironically, Enjoy Your Intermission is a movie about 35mm film, that was shot using a digital camera. From acquisition to exhibition, the majority of motion pictures are now digital entities; stored on disks of ones-and-zeros, rather than chemical celluloid. As “unromantic” as digital tools may be, there is no arguing their cost benefits and ease of use over film. We are witnessing a turning point, not only for the Hi-Way, but for thousands of movie exhibitors across America.
This theme of “out with the old, in with the new” is central to our story, but it is only the backdrop. At its heart, Enjoy Your Intermission is an intimate look into a piece of Americana that is still thriving, mainly due to the love and respect that the owners, Roger and Sharon, have for the theater and their patrons.
Roger and Sharon have owned the Hi-Way for close to forty years, and worked there prior to purchasing the theater. (In fact, they met at the drive-in. They got married while working at the drive-in. They started a family while working at the drive-in.) It's safe to say that managing the theater runs in their blood and that the employees and moviegoers are all part of their extended family.
If you ever find yourself in the Catskills of New York, you must stop in one evening for a double feature. The Hi-Way begins showing movies as soon as it gets warm enough, usually in late March or early April. They show movies every night until mid-autumn. You can find out which movies they are playing at:
Producer / Director
THE STORY OF A LITTLE DRIVE-IN WITH A LOT OF HEARTS
Summary of the Film
Roger Babcock is projectionist, maintenance man, movie negotiator, and mustache of the
Hi-Way Drive-In Theater. He and his wife, Sharon, purchased the drive-in in 1976 after having worked there for several years prior. Today, they humbly say that the Hi-Way has been their second home for literally over half of their lives.
On summer nights, if you look up toward the projection booth, you can see Roger standing on the roof of the snack bar looking out into the night. He’s monitoring the projections on the four screens, and smiling at the sound of the childrens’ giggles from the animated movies he plays on screen 2. He says it’s the most magical thing to hear from his booth.
John Waters has encountered some interesting things throughout his years as security person at the Hi-Way Drive-In.
At night, he drives a golf cart around the big grassy lot to make sure everyone has their headlights off, but in the complete darkness of the theater sometimes not everyone is watching the movies...so now they call John
But John has some simple words of advice: "If you don't want to be interrupted, turn your headlights off."
During the day, John walks every inch of the grassy lot and cleans up from the night before. Aside from trash, he's found some other interesting things, including strollers, chairs, blankets, money, and every article of clothing imaginable.
Sometimes what happens at the drive-in stays at the drive-in.
Sharon Babcock knows how to run a snack bar. After all, she’s been doing it for about 50 years.
Since the snack bar profits are the only reason the Hi-Way can stay in business, it’s important for Sharon to know exactly how much food to make on any given night. Accounting for rain, neighboring events which might steal customers, and the precise calculation of how many nachos and hot dogs she can transport in the family car, Sharon manages to predict the drive-in’s turn-out to a T. She ensures each night that there will be plenty of popcorn to go around, as well as a few extra cheeseburgers held to the side for a hungry Roger coming to visit the snack bar.
Joyce Lehnert is the first friendly face you will encounter upon visiting the
Hi-Way. She manages the ticket booth. Whether you come to see a movie every weekend, or only once a year, she will greet you with the biggest smile as if you've been their only yesterday.
She is the master of the ticket booth, and she likes to keep it old school. No fancy cash registers, just an old cigar box and a calculator.
Once all the guests have arrived for the double feature, she makes her way over to the snack bar to lovingly pick on Roger, who has usually come down from his projection booth for a cheeseburger.
Long ago, Joyce began calling Roger and Sharon "Grandma" and "Grandpa." It stuck. Now all the employees
do the same.
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Cinematographer / Director