As the lines that separate television, movies and digital content began to blur with increasing rapidity, Tim Chung of Brooklyn-based cinema Syndicated felt that there had to be a way to preserve the magic of the movie-going experience. This is precisely why, after leaving his job as a location scout in film production, he forced himself to remember why he got into the business in the first place: it was because he loved watching movies. And in a city rife with extortionate movie ticket prices and stock cinemas, Chung felt compelled to create a unique model where bar, theatre and kitchen merge and are available to the public for an eyebrow-raising, reasonable price. To this day, he is still deeply moved when he sees a packed house engaging with what he and his team have chosen to put on the screen at Bushwick’s Syndicated.
How/why did you become involved in your line of work?
I was working in film production as a location scout and while the work was intermittently exciting, it left me feeling ultimately unfulfilled. I remembered why I got into the business in the first place and that was because I loved watching movies, especially in a theater. I was feeling this huge lack of actually pleasant and unique movie-going experiences in New York City. It felt like ticket prices kept increasing for no good reason. As the line between television, movies and digital content started to blur, I felt like there had to be a way to preserve the magic of the movie-going experience.
Tell us a little bit about your present work, the Cliffs Notes version of your day to day and what is at stake:
My day consists of a range of small fires to big picture items. My work is all in our subtitle, “bar, theater, kitchen.” I meet with our programming team to see what works and what doesn’t work in the theater. We talk about movies we’d love to see in the theater and future programming goals. I work with the Chef about how we can continue to improve the food and the flow of the kitchen service and I meet with our bar and floor manager to keep improving the bar program and our floor service. The rest is people managing. As far as what’s at stake, it’s my livelihood and the livelihood of my staff.
What do you find most fulling about your work?
I am still moved and in awe when I see a packed house engaging with what we put on the screen. The movie programming aspect is definitely the most fun part of the job. The other side of my job that is incredibly fulfilling is when I see our operation from the back of house to the front of house firing on all cylinders. After a good night our entire staff feels it from top to bottom.That’s very fulfilling.
What is your proudest achievement with this work and what is your greatest challenge?
My proudest achievement is the simple fact that we’re here. It’s an incredibly challenging and tricky bit of business opening any business in this city. I’m just happy to be here and to even be mentioned in the same breath as our supposed competitors.
What do you hope changes or improves (or continues!) in your field in the future?
I hope this model continues to be successful and that we can continue to preserve the magic of going to the movies.
Who would you nominate for this list?
I’m a big fan of former Grantland, current NY Times writer Wesley Morris. I love his podcast he co-hosts with Jenna Wortham too. Actually, love both of these people’s work. I’d nominate both of them.
Learn more about this year’s 100 Influencers in Brooklyn Culture.