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Documenting the Lake Twin

Lakeridge graduate Mia Schauffler to tell story of our local theater in age of the metroplex
by: VERN UYETAKE “I wanted my first try at a documentary to show how a small theater has to change ... it needs a new edge to stay competitive, even if you have a loyal clientele base.”

– Mia Schauffler

Just 19 years old, Lake Oswego's Mia Schauffler has already learned an important lesson in life.

Never give up.

That has already helped on her documentary about the Lake Twin Cinema in downtown Lake Oswego as it strives to stay relevant, and profitable, after many decades in business.

'It's a nice piece of history,' said Schauffler, a sophomore at the University of Oregon and a graduate of Lakeridge High School. 'It's great that the Lake is staying here.'

Great for Lake Oswego's history lovers and movie lovers. The Lake opened in 1951, and its original building was designed by architectural icon Richard Sundeleaf. There may not be a building in town where more people made more memories.

However, a movie theater can't get by on nostalgia alone, especially with a huge movie metroplex not far away at Bridgeport Village. Now, under owner Drew Prell, the Lake Twin Cinema is pushing ahead with ambitious plans that will allow it to survive in the age of the metroplex.

Oddly enough, Mia Schauffler, so very young and having never made a movie before, is just the right person to tell the story. Her cinema saga began a couple years ago when she couldn't find a summer job.

'I was having no luck,' Schauffler said. 'I thought about going to the Lake, but I thought they would never hire me.'

Schauffler's mind said 'No,' but her feet said 'Yes.' She went to the Lake Twin Cinema anyway. Happily, she proved herself wrong.

'Scott Dunkl, the manager, asked me a few questions and hired me,' Schauffler said. 'I was in the right place at the right time. They hire one person a year.'

For several months, Schauffler sold tickets and popcorn and, most beneficial of all, she observed the people who came to the movies. She also got the idea for her first major college project.

'I wanted my first try at a documentary to show how a small theater has to change,' Schauffler said. 'It needs a new edge to stay competitive, even if you have a loyal clientele base.

'I had never made a film. I didn't know if I could do it. But I'm obsessed with film and the evolution of film in general.'

Schauffler was short on experience but long on desire. All of her extracurricular classes at the UO are film-based. She has poured her energy into Duck TV, serving as an actor, writer and producer, producing the program Group Therapy. She also works as a multimedia producer for The Daily Emerald and is a member of a film culture group.

Right now she is one happy little filmmaker.

'The Lake is such an awesome subject for story telling,' Schauffler said. 'This has turned into a really cool story. I've really learned a lot. I don't love editing film, but I do love acting and writing.'

In working on her documentary, Schauffler has discovered the Lake's history, heard the stories of people who have worked there many years and found how Prell plans to keep the theater going for a few more decades - by adding a bar and café, which he hopes to have ready by the summer of 2012.

When her film is done, Schauffler has a very cool idea for the ending: She wants it to premiere at the Lake Twin Cinema.

Schauffler's story on film is only the beginning of her media career, but she already has her peak in mind. She wants to be a cast member on Saturday Night Live. That sounds like a moon shot, but Schauffler has learned some lessons well.

'You don't get anything unless you ask for it,' she said. 'I plan on not stopping and keep asking.'




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