I (Anthony Crosby) may have mentioned this before on a past AAT blog; still, one of my favorite activities to do in this community is to spend an afternoon or evening at one of our local theaters. It’s always a pleasant, relaxing experience doing so, especially since they put in their fancy reclining chairs! However, because going to the movies is often a way to get a little escape from the realities of life, I never think much about all the behind-the-scenes work that has to go into making my experience so enjoyable. Thankfully, we have people in our town, such as today’s guest, who do put a lot of effort and thought into providing a positive cinema-going experience!
This week, we’re joined by Toril Tapia. Toril has worked as an employee at our local theaters for almost ten years! Throughout her time there, she has risen the ranks and now acts as GM (General Manager) for the Cinema 6 theater located near the Elko Junction Shopping center.
Thank you for making time to chat with us this week, Toril. We’re excited to get the behind-the-scenes scoop of managing a theater! However, let’s start our conversation today by getting to know you and how you became GM of the Cinema 6 in the first place!
“I’ve lived in Elko since I was two years old. I grew up doing the summer movie programs at the theaters, so I’ve been really able to see their growth! When I was younger, I was actually given a tour of the Crystal 5 theater’s booth, so when I was learning the projection stuff there for work, I felt like it was oddly familiar. I went home and talked to my mom about it, and she reminded me that I had been there when I was little! It’s fun to see how things have evolved even since I was little.
“I started as a “box girl” in 2011, selling tickets out of the box office, working concessions, and cleaning theaters. Within seven months, I got promoted as a shift manager. That was actually the year I met my husband, Caleb Tapia, at the theater! In 2014, I was promoted to an assistant GM, and in 2016, I became a GM of both of the theaters here in town. When the new company took over, I took over the Cinema 6.”
Toril, what are a few “behind the scenes” nuggets of information you can drop about the realities of the movie-going world?
“We’re completely digital when it comes to our movies; there’s no film whatsoever. We don’t even get hard copies of the movies anymore. They’re sent to us via satellite, and then we transfer them to the projectors. We’re a lot more high-tech than people may realize. I started working with film in 2011, but in 2012, the industry made it mandatory to have digital projectors.
“We would love to get and play every movie! Unfortunately, what it comes down to are the studios. If a movie has a limited release, they’re going to put it in a bigger market. So, it doesn’t work out for us sometimes.
“Finally, my staff is primarily made up of teenagers, and many times, this is their first job. So, I have to train them in what it even means to have a job. That takes patience and understanding. There are also times when there are issues with the technology that I’ve never had to deal with before. For example, if the popcorn machine goes down, then we have one vendor in Elko and one in Spring Creek I can call, and that’s about it. However, those types of issues don’t happen too often, even though they are harder to fix.”
Your theater is obviously Elko’s go-to destination for people looking to catch some significant, blockbuster films! What’s been the craziest night you can remember working at the theater?
“There’s been a lot, but I think the biggest one I’ve had to deal with was last year with Avengers Endgame. We had three auditoriums screening the movie to about five hundred people, and they were selling out during each set! It was a lot! Usually, those become twelve-hour days, but they can be broken up to where I can run home and eat something between a movie set.”
Thank you for sharing a bit about your experiences and insights with us this week. It seems safe to assume that after working there for almost a decade, you enjoy your job at the theater?
“I think I’ve romanticized it all in my head! I enjoy movie theaters; my house is decorated with old reels. And, as I mentioned, it’s also the place where I met my husband! It’s a fun job; I love working with the technology, my staff, and the customers. It’s a fun job; there are new challenges and surprises every day!”
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See you around, Elko!
Written by: Anthony Crosby
Edited by: Nadara Merrill