June 21, 2018

Topanga Nights To Offer New Venue for Fun, Food and Films this Summer


If all goes according to plans, Topangans will have a new opportunity this summer to gather up their families and friends for a picnic dinner, live music by local musicians and an evening of classic films beneath the stars. Beginning this June, the Topanga Community Club will be hosting Topanga Nights on the second Sunday of each month.

The scheduled dates for this year are June 10, July 8, August 12 and September 9, says event chair Dianne Porchia. Each evening will begin at 6 p.m. with self-catering picnics and music, followed at 8:15 p.m. by a full-length feature film shown on a 16-by-22-foot outdoor screen at the Community House ballfield.

Porchia says her hope is to offer a selection of entertaining PG films with a Topanga nexus. “For example,” says Porchia, “someone from the community may have worked on or appeared in the movie and be willing to come and give a brief ‘insider’s introduction.’ Or perhaps a movie will have a Topanga location or a theme that is close to the heart of Topanga’s diverse, creative and conscientious community—for example, movies with themes related to outdoor adventure, environmental preservation, or the performing and visual arts.”

Porchia conceived of this summer-long fundraising event for the Community House as an extension of the Topanga Days Country Faire held annually on Memorial Day weekend. Topanga Days was “described in Whole Life Times as a ‘celebration for bohemian culture,’” says Porchia, and “now this event offers additional summer-long family-and-friend fun into the night.”

She also sees Topanga Nights as a natural complement to the Topanga Film Festival. “Whereas the Film Festival screens recent movie shorts by new and upcoming filmmakers, Topanga Nights will be screening one classic or old release, full-length feature film per evening.”

Topanga Nights is intended to raise funds for the ongoing support and improvement of the Community House and its philanthropic, educational and social activities and services for the Topanga community. “In order for the Club to continue playing such a pivotal role in the community, it needs to look at alternative ways of fundraising beyond Topanga Days as its sole significant source of support,” says Porchia. “Topanga Nights will enable this to happen, while providing another means for our community to get together.”

To that end, Porchia says cash donations of $10 per adult and seven dollars per senior or teen will be requested. There will be no charge for children age 12 and under, says Porchia, who adds, “We also want to make this community event affordable to everyone, so after 8:15 p.m. when the movie is ready to screen, we will no longer be asking for donations.”

Preparations for the event are well under way, says Porchia. So far, the Topanga Nights committee has obtained donations of the outdoor screen from Rhythm & Hues Studio, hardware and materials to construct the screen supports from Topanga Lumber, color posters by Copies Plus in Woodland Hills, color banners from Image Factor Architectural Signage, and an exotic oriental rug from Wonderful Things at Pat’s Topanga Grill.

Still, with the grand opening date for Topanga Nights looming large (just two weeks after Topanga Days), Porchia is looking for help to bring things together. “We need help on all levels from the community at large—business owners, creatives, and individual volunteers—to make this event happen. More specifically, we need financial support or sponsorship for our digital projector rental; screening licensing fees; merchandising products such as fleece blankets, picnic blankets, sweat shirts, and so forth; concession items such as healthy canned beverages, packaged snacks, candy and desserts; printing, lighting and sound equipment. We are also accepting gift items and certificates for a raffle at each event.”

Above all, Porchia says, the Community Club needs “entertainment industry resident support—actors, directors, writers, producers and production people who are affiliated with classic or contemporary PG movies—to come forward to help us obtain screening permission as well as be willing to speak briefly before the movie about their involvement with it.”

Still, Topangans need not have a Hollywood connection to pitch in and help out. “We need in-kind service and volunteer support during the event for entry gate admission; merchandise, concession and raffle ticket sales; traffic, parking, and security; flashlight assistance at the exodus; e-mail list gathering; TCC membership sales, and more,” says Porchia. The non-profit TCC can award community service credit for teen volunteers, she adds.

Despite all the work to be done, Porchia keeps the emphasis on fun, however. “It will be a fabulous and fun event for the community to come together all summer long. I feel that Sunday nights are a great way to ‘keep it in the Canyon’ for families and friends on our warm summer nights. It will also give our teens a healthy and safe place to hang out during the summer months.” As an additional benefit, Topanga Nights could be “a big boost to the business community, bringing many new customers to local restaurants, markets and shops and new exposure to home businesses that advertise in the Canyon,” according to Porchia, who believes Topanga Nights has the potential to attract an audience of up to 3,000 people at each event. She says that figure is based on the weekly audience for the highly successful Hollywood Forever Cemetery’s outdoor movie nights which run from May through September each year.

Porchia also notes that Topanga Nights is meant to be a “leave no trace event.” “We are all blessed to be living in such a beautiful and serene place as Topanga, and I would like to encourage people to help keep our Canyon and our community lawn beautiful. So, ‘carry it in and carry it out.’”

In addition, Porchia admonishes prospective attendees to show their graciousness and respect for everyone’s enjoyment of this community event. “Please leave your pets safely at home, don’t bring glass bottles onto the playing field, don’t bring chairs with legs that will poke into our lawn and obstruct others’ view, and please turn off your cell phones and enjoy the movie.

“This is a fundraising event for the Community House, so please tell your friends and be generous with your support,” urges Porchia.

To learn more or to offer support, contact Porchia at (310) 455-2851 or e-mail dianne@porchiaswish.com.