Chad Hunter’s lifelong appreciation of old theaters has led him to one of Dormont’s greatest treasures.
Hunter started Tuesday in his position as the new manager of Dormont’s Hollywood Theater, and said it’s the job he’s been waiting for since moving to the Pittsburgh area in 2009.
“I grew up going to some of the theaters that are gone, and that always struck me, even when I was younger,” Hunter said. “I was just really drawn to the historical nature of the Hollywood, and I’m so glad it’s still here.”
Friends of Hollywood Theater President Scott Jackson said Hunter was hired after a nine-month-long reorganization of the board of directors.
He said former manager John Maggio was re-interviewed for the position, but ultimately Hunter’s extensive background in theater management and grant writing is what led the board to hire him.
“John really worked hard for the theater. He has such passion to see it keep going,” Jackson said. “This was not a decision we took lightly. We've been doing this process for nine or ten months now, and all of us on the board believe this is the right thing for the theater.”
From 1999 to 2004, Hunter was the manager of a Rochester, New York theater called the Little Theater, an Art Deco-style theater built in 1929. He has worked on various film research and preservation projects, including “The Ten Commandments” and the home movies of Hollywood stars Martin Scorsese and Joan Crawford.
He has a masters degree in Arts Management from Carnegie Mellon University. He also is the project director and past board president of the Center for Home Movies, an organization that preserves home and amateur movies, and promotes the importance of those works.
Hunter said his first priority is to bring the theater into the new century of technology. He plans to research digital projectors, which will increase the theater’s ability to show movies that are no longer produced on traditional film.
“I like that the theater shows film and we plan to still do that, but the availability of print is becoming less and less these days,” he said. “We need the digital to continue the type of programming we want to do.”
Hunter also wants to start new fundraisers and awareness projects, continue building community contacts and research grants that could be available to the theater.
Eventually, he said, he wants to make the stage area larger to accommodate more live shows and other local events. His long-term goal is to help Friends of Hollywood Theater purchase the building.
"This is a real gem for the community," Hunter said. "I love the programming, and I love the community here."