A month ago, I spoke with Adam Schenck, the manager of Michael Pollack’s Tempe Cinemas, about hosting the premier for our movie The Big Something. Only after we made the final decision to screen the film there, did I realize how important this choice was to my life and my history with the movies.

See, Tempe Cinemas is more than a theater to me. It is a part of my childhood. This theater stands as one of the milestones in my love affair with movies.

I was seven years old. We’d just come back for a year in Arizona from my family’s long stay in Africa. Cut off from almost all American media and culture, we hadn’t seen a movie at a theater in years. My dad had a heard something about a new movie that came out. It had something to do with dinosaurs.

But the movie wasn’t in the “big theaters” as we used to call them. It was somewhere between those and a video release. The only place we could find it was Tempe Cinemas, a small “dollar” theater (back when tickets really were a dollar). So we went, my mom, dad and I. We sat in that cozy darkness and watched something we’d never seen before. I felt like I’d been locked away for a long time and released to a whole new world. What I saw on screen was real, not just the dinosaurs but the people, the scares, the laughs, the whole story. The movie was Jurassic Park and that night we saw it at Tempe Cinemas is still my best time at the movies.

My Dad and I loved it so much we went back several times. So many that it seems now that I would come home from school and not even have enough time to throw my backpack down before my Dad said, “Son, you want to go see it again?” And we were off to Tempe Cinemas to watch magic on the screen once more.

See, I really believe that Tempe Cinemas is a place where movie magic can happen. A theater doesn’t have to be big and fancy to be majestic. No. It’s something else, some undescribed love that passes through the walls and seats up onto the screen.

I didn’t know who Michael Pollack was at seven years old. Through the years as I came and went from Arizona, I visited his theater and noticed a picture on the wall of a man. I soon learned that it was the owner. The name become recognizable; as I explored Tempe, I saw Pollack everywhere.

I still go to his theater and will always. I don’t know him personally, but I know that he loves movies. I can feel it everytime I walk through those doors and buy a ticket, pass the posters and statues and into one of the movie houses where I grew up.

I cannot thank him enough. Michael Pollack’s Tempe Cinemas is a true home for cinema. And there is no other place I’d rather show my first film.

-Travis Mills