As the programmer and creative director for Alamo Drafthouse in Dallas-Fort Worth, James Wallace ('08) comes up with ideas for the movie theater's theme nights.
"A lot of our best ideas start as jokes, where we'll all laugh, take a pause and then are like, 'No … wait ... we actually have to do that,'" he says. "Like those things that seem so crazy or silly at first thought, but then that's what makes us who we are -- the movie theater that does crazy stuff like a Muppets Take Manhattan/Jason Takes Manhattan double feature on Friday the 13th."
Alamo Drafthouse, with 35 locations across the nation, has spent 21 years creating offbeat movie experiences, and it is the perfect job for Wallace. As a child, he loved the excitement of seeing movies like Back to the Future and Star Wars on the big screen. As a radio-TV-film student in professor Harry Benshoff's classes, he learned how to analyze movies, explored genre film -- and was inspired to go into film journalism. After graduation, he wrote for local outlets like the Dallas Observer, The Dallas Morning News and Central Track and for several national online outlets.
It was in covering film festivals in Austin 10 years ago that he had his first experience with Alamo Drafthouse. So when Alamo opened theaters in Dallas-Fort Worth in 2013, he knew it was the place for him.
"It was just unlike any other movie theater I had ever experienced," he says. "You could tell that it was run by people who loved movies."
The chain boasts another UNT connection -- Wylee Wooldridge ('13) serves as DFW communications manager -- and Wallace regularly runs into Benshoff at the theater.
Wallace hopes that Dentonites will enjoy the Alamo Drafthouse as much as he does at the new Denton location, which opened this summer.
"I remember being a kid and being so in awe of that experience of going to the movie theater to see these movies that became such an important part of my life," Wallace says. "So now to get to personally be a part of that experience for moviegoers, and even help craft and curate it, is what it's all about."