THE GFFO LIVE MOVIE EXPERIENCE
The Grand Feature Film Orchestra (GFFO) presents its performances with a variety of cinematic influences. From the early days of silent movies to the more modern live music/dialogue, low and high voltage sound/visual effect combinations, the GFFO creates a fascinating melding of different traditions to provide a unique and fun experience.
Here's what you can expect in a live GFFO performance:
After you visit the food and snack counter with your tasty refreshments and piping hot popcorn, you'll walk into the theater. There you'll see the orchestra seated between the movie screen and the audience. Two sound effects areas will be to the left and right of the movie screen, where our percussionist and sound effects engineers do their magic. The orchestra will be preparing and warming up for the evening's presentation. Film performances take much work and concentration, so the orchestra members will be focusing on tuning and readying themselves for an extended precision performance to be synchronized to the film as it plays.
Here is the program order for a typical GFFO presentation:
1. The Overture
In the early days of cinema, theaters generally had live musicians to accompany the movie. So it wasn't uncommon for these cinematic orchestras to play a bit before the films began. It's kind of like a warm-up for the audience to get ready for a great concert.
The GFFO will start with music in a jazz or classical style -- usually in an upbeat manner before the movie begins. In addition, the orchestra will often feature certain members as soloists.
2. The Short
About a century ago, in the early days of movie theaters, many films were short -- about 5 to 15 minutes in length. Later on, when full-length feature films began making the scene, a short film would often be shown beforehand as an opening featurette.
Many famous early filmmakers produced short films, such as the comedies of Charlie Chaplin and Buster Keaton. Later on, the popular tradition would be carried on -- especially with animation -- with stars like Bugs Bunny, Road Runner, "Tom and Jerry," and Superman. Even today, Pixar still precedes its features with an animated short.
The GFFO presents a short movie right after the overture. It's generally an original score or a restored original score performed live-synchronized to the film. Sometimes the short is not presented before a longer feature movie to keep the overall time consistent.
3. The Snipe
Some film industry professionals think of theaters as candy/snack stores that play movies. They're not wrong. Movie theaters depend on the sale of their delicious popcorn and other tasty snacks as a major source of revenue. So it's not uncommon for cinemas to provide a one or two-minute animated film, called "theatrical snipes," inviting you to the lobby to get yourself a treat!
The GFFO will present one of many classic snipes before an intermission. So, let's all go to the lobby!
4. The Intermission
If you didn't get popcorn and drinks before the show, no worries. There's a 10-minute intermission to get those delicious treats. Intermissions can occur before the Feature film or, on rare occasions, splitting a longer feature into two parts.
5. The Feature
This is the main event of the evening and is presented as a tribute and honor to the art of film and the music that joins it. Some of the greatest movies ever made are presented in their original restored version with live music synchronized to the action on-screen by the GFFO.
This is the GFFO's specialty. After a short while, the orchestra will seem to disappear into the movie as you enjoy a live silent film world premiere in the way they were done many years ago in the giant movie palaces of New York, Chicago, Paris, and London.
Though movies and other elements within our concert can vary in length, our performances are generally two hours in duration.