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ORANGE : Two Film Lovers Revive Long-Dormant Cinema

Todd Blood clearly recalls filmmaker George Lucas’ acceptance speech when he won the Irving Thalberg Award for lifetime achievement at the 1991 Oscars: The producer-director thanked his teachers.

Inspired by that moment, movie aficionado Blood vowed that he would someday open a film school.

He now has a location in mind: the renamed Village Theater on Tustin Street in Orange. Blood and partner Larry Simms have renovated the building, which was built in the 1960s as the Villa Theatre, and reopened it this month as a venue for family films and classic movies.

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“We’re going to show good, safe films. Your kid won’t be able to sneak out of one theater and go into another and be violated,” Blood said.

By January, he said, he hopes to begin offering film classes and eventually to open a production company. “That’s what we are going to be doing here, making films,” said Blood, a 35-year-old Fullerton native.

The theater had been vacant for five years when developer David M. Valentine bought it last spring. He considered tearing it down, but Blood and Simms persuaded him and the city’s Redevelopment Agency that it should be restored.

“I think it’s a good concept,” Valentine said of their plan. “This is our community theater, so to speak. And if they can make it a little bit different, that’s a plus.”

With a redevelopment grant from the city and a lot of elbow grease, the two are doing most of the renovation themselves. Though one of the theater’s auditoriums still awaits new seats, the other is welcoming moviegoers.

Blood commissioned a large “Star Wars” mural for the lobby and another depicting the 17th-Century ship of Captain Blood, who he says was his ancestor.

Blood, who studied filmmaking at UCLA, concedes that his ambitions are lofty and that producing feature-length movies in Orange is “a ways off.” But he and Simms are determined to try, he said, because “we just love the movies.”


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