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Jessica Ballou, Published April 15 2012

It's My Job: Staff’s energy inspires Fargo Theatre’s executive director

FARGO – To say Emily Beck is passionate about her job at the Fargo Theatre would be an understatement.

The window in her office overlooks Broadway in downtown Fargo, and her office is full of posters for films like “The Incredibles,” “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” and “Up.”

As executive director of the theater for the past nine months, Beck has taken a lifelong passion for films and turned it into a career. She graduated from Minnesota State University Moorhead in 2006 with a degree in film history and criticism. She worked as assistant manager at Marcus West Acres 14 after graduation before making the switch to the Fargo Theatre when Margie Bailly retired in 2011.

Q: How did you first get involved with the Fargo Theatre?

A: Volunteering through an MSUM film practicum for the film festival. It was an awesome introduction to the film festival and the Fargo Theatre in a different way.

After I graduated, I worked two jobs and I didn’t have time to volunteer anymore … but I knew I wanted to work here.

I fell in love with the place and the mission.

What is your day-to-day schedule like?

There really isn’t a normal day around here, to be perfectly honest.

It’s not so great for my sleep schedule, but I don’t mind it.

What has been your favorite event to be a part of from the administrative side of things?

The film festival. I love what it brings to the community. I’m very proud of it. A lot of people work really hard on it.

You know what it’s like when you’re a part of a team where you’re all passionate about the same thing? That’s what it’s like. It just kind of energizes you.

What is the most challenging aspect of your job?

The transition going on right now in the film industry (from 35 mm film) to digital projection.

I’m nine months into this position, and we’re going to have to launch a capital campaign to raise funds and support.

The industry is basically forcing theaters to use digital projection because it’s cheaper for them, but it’s expensive for theaters who don’t normally see a payoff (from the films).

By the end of the year, most theaters will have it.

It’s not an impossible amount of money, and other theaters are in a position much worse than us. It’s the challenge on the plate right now.

It was going to happen sometime, and it’s happening now.

This community always rallies around the arts. Always.

A lot of communities around the country are letting their theaters close. I don’t think that’ll happen here.

What’s the most rewarding aspect of your job?

I love sitting in the audience for an awesome concert or an awesome film and hearing the audience’s reactions. Even though I’m only involved in a small part of that, it’s pretty cool.

When we have kid flicks or school tours and young people come in here for the first time, and they say “Wow, that’s so cool!” I love that. That’s one of my favorite things.

I love my staff here. … They don’t work here for the money, I can tell you that.

How would you describe the working atmosphere here at the theater?

There’s a lot of passion and enthusiasm. There’s just a lot of energy here. Lots of things for everybody.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Jessica Ballou at (701) 241-5509