Indie film house may be in works for downtown

January 9, 2014

Greenville News

Lynn Riddle

Grnvlle News re Crowdfunding
Daryn Zongrone, left, founder of The Film House, and Frank Knapp Jr., president and CEO of SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce, announce a crowdfunding effort to help launch an independent movie theater downtown. / Heidi Heilbrunn/Staff

Two Upstate residents hope to open a 300-seat movie theater in downtown Greenville by 2015.

The theater, The Film House, would specialize in independent films and classic movies, said Daryn Zongrone, who studied psychology and film at the University of South Carolina Upstate and has worked as the manager of O-Cha tea bar.

Zongrone announced the project Wednesday along with a fundraising campaign through It is the first project for SCcrowdfund, said Frank Knapp, president and chief executive officer of South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce.

The campaign will run until March 7.

Zongrone said she hopes to raise $30,000 through the online funding site and then will seek investors and large donors to get the $1 million needed to open. She is looking at a site on McBee Avenue. She envisions three screens with permanent seating and a bar area to serve beer, wine and appetizers.

Zongrone and Adam Renkovish, the film series director, have been staging movies weekly since Nov. 23 at Coffee Underground. The first shown was Charlie Chaplin’s “The Gold Rush.” They’ve also shown family-friendly fare such as “Hugo.” About 20 people have attended, she said.

One of the best-attended movies was “The Graduate,” which attracted a number of older people who had never seen the 1967 film starring Dustin Hoffman and Anne Bancroft, Renkovish said.

Renkovish holds talk-back sessions after the movie, and some local professors have agreed to be involved as well, Zongrone said.

“We want this to be educational as well as entertaining,” said Renkovish. “We want to encourage people to talk about how they feel about the film.”

Zongrone said she has relied on advice from the owners of similar ventures in Asheville, Columbia and Winston-Salem.

There have been previous attempts to open an indie theater downtown, but they never quite caught on.

Knapp said he believes the difference in The Film House is the founders are treating it like a business.

Zongrone thinks her project, with a much larger concept than has been attempted before, will be different.

“We believe go big or go home,” she said.

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