Logan Crow's world revolves around cinema. "Film and music were my first sexuality," the Frida Cinema director says. "I noticed those things way before I noticed my first boy or girl."
Crow wears many hats to run the daily operations of his beloved Santa Ana indie theater: programmer, projectionist, custodian, box-office clerk, promoter, poster designer, social-media correspondent, among others. You could say he'd do anything to provide like-minded movie aficionados a communal screening space. "I love the idea of inviting people over and showing them a film," he says. "I've been doing it all my life at home."
Born in Fountain Valley to an Ecuadorian father and a Nicaraguan mother, Crow moved from place to place before settling in Torrance. As soon as he learned to drive, he would go to Los Angeles' New Beverly Cinema, the Nuart and anywhere else that screened international, conceptual, limited-release films. And with the advent of MySpace, Crow started a page called Mondo Celluloid to share the programming schedule for the arthouse circuit in Southern California.
"What started happening was we were getting 5,000 friends, and I was getting messages like, 'Can you play this movie?' until finally I was like, 'You know what? That actually might be fun to do,'" says Crow.
With no experience in the theater business, Crow researched how to program a film screening and eventually brought the 1965 Russ Meyer classic Faster, Pussycat! Kill! Kill! to Silverlake's Vista Theatre, with original co-star Haji in tow. Then he launched even more screenings and founded the nonprofit film organization Long Beach Cinematheque to bring a wider range of films to fellow cinephiles with more frequency. But the frustration of not having his own independent movie theater to host these screenings began to wear on Crow–until he received an email from Santa Ana's Fiesta Twin theater landlord Ryan Chase offering him the chance to transform the space from a Spanish-language theater into something new and different.
Since the Frida opened in 2014, Crow's vision for a community arthouse has met a welcome audience. He has screened numerous independent flicks, film festivals, obscure international fare, midnight movies and cult classics. But Crow isn't fully satisfied yet; one of the many challenges he faces is finding the kind of corporate sponsorship that would help the Frida pay its bills, with its integrity intact.
"If we were to decide to run Fifty Shades of Grey tomorrow, we'd have our bills paid for the month, but we won't do that," says Crow. "The filmgoing and artist communities are finding us and coming. That's who we exist for."