The Coast News Group
Jim Hamilton, right, and his daughter Jennifer are volunteers with the North County Film Club. They aim to make independent films more accessible. Photo by Noah S. Lee

Film club brings indie titles closer

OCEANSIDE — The words “independent” and “foreign” tend to disappoint moviegoers interested in seeking out those alternative films, namely because they can only be found in major cities and are not close enough to home.Fortunately, thanks to the combined efforts of Jim Hamilton, his daughter Jennifer and half a dozen other volunteers of the North County Film Club, these obstacles are no longer a concern.

“We wanted to make these things more accessible,” said Jennifer, the club’s corporate liaison, “so you don’t have to go really far to find it. And I think that we’ve been hugely successful in that respect. It’s stuff you can’t see elsewhere —at least, not in North County.”

Now approaching the beginning of its second season , the club was designed to bring independent and foreign films closer to the community, so that the people who enjoyed them didn’t need to drive down to San Diego to see them.

For example, many of the films they’ve shown in their first season — “Moonrise Kingdom,” “Ruby Sparks,” “The Sessions,” “Hermano,” and “The Deep Blue Sea”—aren’t what you would usually catch sight of at a multiplex.

Through the North County Film Club, residents are getting to see these limited release films without having to travel great distances.

The film club has benefitted citizens who have longed to see them but didn’t want to put up with the expensive ticket prices and driving.

“It’s a matter of leisure,” said Jim, the club’s chairperson. “We wanted them up here at an affordable price.”

Jim went on to say that Hollywood’s failure to identify an independent/foreign moviegoing demographic and inform those people of the films’ availability served as motivation to create the club.

To compensate for the industry’s shortcoming, he and Jennifer communicated with groups that they figured were admirers of indie/foreign titles.

“We got our basic membership there, and then those people talk to others. And most of this has been by word-of-mouth,” he said, explaining the club’s origins. “And also we had ads and people at ‘The Coast (News)’ (that) have written articles about us which have let people know of our existence. Local newspapers are invaluable for connecting a community.”

Jennifer concurred, saying that the club is a solution for moviegoers not knowing where to find the indie/foreign films they want to see.

“I think part of it is that people don’t necessarily know where to go for direction, as far as what kind of films to seek out,” she said. “And I think that there’s a very diverse set of tastes out there that actually kind of expects to be catered to at this point, because we’ve gotten so used to personalizing our content.”

That niche, however, does not consist of members only. Everyone is free to come to the theater and purchase tickets for any of the screenings.

As stated by Jennifer, the club is “not going to restrict people from coming in. We wanted it to be a place where people could connect.”

Jim and Jennifer work in conjunction with Digiplex Cinemas Mission Marketplace to showcase their ever-changing collection of indie and foreign films, and the benefits for both parties have been substantial.

While the club gets a venue from which to operate, the movie theater turns a profit from this venture.

“Digiplex has been great,” Jennifer said. “For one thing when we give them the list of films, they get back to us very quickly on which ones they’ve been able to get the rights to. They’ve been very flexible in terms of which dates are available and which films to show on which dates. They’ve been supportive in terms of having film club materials around and available.”

Having just finished “Your Sister’s Sister,” Jim has finalized preparations to have “A Royal Affair” kick off the next season. He has not, however, expressed interest in expanding the organization, citing potential logistical issues such as cost, manpower.

“I’m really happy with where we are,” he said. “I don’t see us going out and visiting service clubs or so on.”

See the North County Film Club’s first film screening of their second season, “A Royal Affair,” July 14 at the Digiplex Cinemas Mission Marketplace.

Visit the club’s website,, to find out more about when the next film in their seasonal roster is scheduled to be screened.