Film Premiere Raises $5,000 for MBHS Drama Dept.

Written by Neil Farrell

Neil has been a journalist covering the Estero Bay Area for over 27 years. He’s won numerous journalism awards in several different categories over his career.

March 14, 2024

Bay Theater owner, Cameron Wilson, holding check on the right, poses with Morro Bay High School Drama students, last week. The donation was from the proceeds of the Bay’s screening last December of the film, ‘Camera’ which was filmed in Morro Bay.

The new owners of the Bay Theater have made a splash in the community already, donating proceeds from a special screening of a movie filmed local, to help out Morro Bay High’s drama students.

Cameron Wilson and wife, Rachel Louie bought the iconic downtown theatre last October and vowed to continue the theater’s tradition of giving back to the community. Thankfully, circumstances aligned to help them, via a somewhat unlikely route.

Mayor Carla Wixom said the producers and crew of the film, “Camera,” including producer Jay Silverman had been coming into her family restaurant, Carla’s Country Kitchen, before shooting began. The producer was lamenting difficulties getting permits from the City to Wixom’s daughter, and she suggested her mom might be able to help. He said what’s your mom got to do with anything, and the response was, “she’s the mayor.”

From there Wixom said, she was in touch with Silverman and his production crew. After the movie wrapped, they asked Wixom where they might hold a local premiere and possibly arrange a donation to the community? She hooked them up with the new Bay Theater owners. 

Bay Theater owner, Cameron Wilson, fills out a giant symbolic check for $5,000 that he and wife Rachel Louie donated to the Morro Bay High Drama Department, proceeds from the December premier of the film, ‘Camera.’

The premier for “Camera,” which stars Beau Bridges, Jessica Kennedy Parker, Bruce Davison, Scotty Tovar, Ross Partridge, Ayinde Howell, Jorge-Luis Pallo and newcomer, Miguel Gabriel, was held in January.

Wilson said after he was contacted about the premier, he contacted Wixom about where they should donate the proceeds? She suggested the Morro Bay High Drama Program and one thing led to another.

First, Wilson said he was unsure how the community would respond to an unknown film, but when tickets sold out fast for the initial screening, he added a second, which also sold out. All told, they raised $5,000 for the MBHS Drama Department.

The Drama Club students all signed this giant Thank You card for Bay Theater owners, Cameron Wilson and Rachel Louie.

Principal Scott Schalde welcomed everyone at an official donation, check-passing photo op last Wednesday and dozens of drama students packed the school’s theater to say “Thank you.” 

Wilson said the movie was “impressive” and the response of the community coming out in support was amazing. He said he was thinking they’d be able to donate $500 but the $5,000 donation was huge.

Principal Scott Schalde said it shows how little events in a small town like Morro Bay can lead to something “amazing for our little high school.”

Kate Kostecka, the school’s drama director, said they “have a lot of needs,” including replenishing their costume inventory after an unfortunate accident saw all of their extensive costume wardrobe thrown out by a workman.

They are also starting to save up the estimated $30,000 they need to purchase a “Short Throw Projector,” a stage device that allows them to project a background onto a screen at the rear of the stage, saving time and money on building scenes for their live productions.

Schalde said they plan to rent one for their upcoming production of “Beauty and the Beast,” set for Fridays-Saturdays, April 19-20 and 26-27. Show times are at 7 p.m. both days, plus a 2 p.m. matinee performance on Saturdays. (Tickets were not yet available on the school website, but should be soon.)

The production will be entirely run by the students — from the actors to the stagehands, lighting and sound crew and backstage people too — with about 30 involved in the musical production.

This was the second fundraiser for the new owners of the historic theater. They also screened the film, “Botso, The Teacher from Tbilisi,” which documents the life of the extraordinary artist, the late Botso Korisheli. That screening raised money for the SLO Youth Symphony

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