One of the anchors of Beacon's Main Street is Story Screen — an independent movie theater with cushy seating, old-school concessions, pristine picture and sound, and (coming soon) its own cocktail lounge.
Story Screen’s physical location is an extension of the pop-up theater experience that founder Mike Burdge had been running — first in an apartment, then in stores and restaurants throughout Beacon. In addition to running the theater’s programming, Mike is also the editor-in-chief of the Story Screen website, which features articles, reviews, and a podcast.
The theater doesn’t feel like a corporate chain theater, but retains its natural Beacon flavor. Concessions include local favorites like More Good syrups and Hudson Valley Marshmallow Company marshmallows. Much of the art on the walls was created by artists with local connections, including Evan Cohen, who designed the cans for Hudson Valley Brewery.
Overall, the entire venture is quite clearly the brainchild of someone who deeply loves movies and the entire moviegoing experience. Talking to Mike Burdge only confirms this impression.
Hello! Who are you? Tell us about yourself. What are you passionate about? What do you enjoy doing?
My name is Mike Burdge and I’m a film lover and big fan of pizza. I recently opened, along with some friends, Story Screen Beacon Theater in Beacon, an independent movie theater showcasing both old and new films from all over the world, with a niche for providing the very best screening experience you could possibly hope for.
While this primarily takes up most of my time on a day-to-day basis, whenever I can I like getting a quick movie in with my partner, Diana, and my two fur babies, Willow and Hank (Hank enjoys horror films as well as space adventures, while Willow’s tastes lean more towards the avant-garde stylings of Barbara Hammer or Derek Jarman.)
How did you decide to start Story Screen?
Story Screen really got started when my love for film transformed from a desire to understand and create into one of exhibiting and discussing. Nowadays it’s insanely easy to have equipment to make film, but one of the hardest parts is getting a crew and money together in order to really create something that meet expectations. While I still write and edit, and have plans to eventually start up a production company of my own, I’ve found that showing films and critiquing them with friends and strangers is helping me to understand my relationship with film in a much more unique way than attending film school and learning film history did.
How did you discover the Hudson Valley?
I was born here, living in and around Beacon most of my life, with a quick trip to other various parts of the world during my stint in the US Navy. Most recently, I moved to Poughkeepsie with my partner in order to venture out a bit.
Where are your favorite places to spend time in the Hudson Valley?
Self-promotion aside (there really is nothing like catching a flick at Story Screen Beacon Theater, seriously), I also love getting myself some food from oh-so-many places in the Sanctuary of Sustenance that is the Hudson Valley. Some key figures that pop into my head are:
- 🍔 Meyer’s Olde Dutch (Beacon)
- 🍺 Draught Industries (Beacon)
- 🍜 Quinn’s Rest-n-Rant (Beacon)
- 🥪 Rossi’s Deli (Poughkeepsie)
- ☕ The Poughkeepsie Grind (Poughkeepsie)
- 🌮 El Azteca (Poughkeepsie)
- 🍕 DD’s Pizza (Poughkeepsie)
- 🥙 Haddad’s (Poughkeepsie)
Do you have a go-to coffee or beer order, and from where?
I’m a pretty picky coffee drinker. That’s not to say I’m the end all be all of coffee knowledge, but I know what I like and I know where I can get it. An Iced Black Eye with Cold Brew from Big Mouth Coffee Roasters in Beacon is insanely legit, as is a good straight up hot coffee from Ready Coffee in Wappingers Falls.
Since moving to Poughkeepsie a few years back, I’ve found that Poughkeepsie Grind on Main Street, right by the train station, is an amazing spot for a quick espresso, and their beans, from Illuminated Coffee Company, is what I personally use at home.
Where do you do your best creative work?
An office is always the best place to center yourself and get some good work done.
While I’m not always able to sit down for a good length of time, as I’m constantly on the run for various aspects of my business, I do have a pretty sweet office space at my home, complete with a small TV for catching up on movies, and my record player with a few choice vinyl that ultimately makes up my “Get a Bunch of Stuff Done” mix. Anything from movie soundtracks, classical, jazz, old school rock, and even a little bit of Streetlight Manifesto to get the heart soaring.
What’s your favorite movie soundtrack?
Favorite movie soundtracks, being films that contain music by various artists, would have to be a very hard tie between 1996’s Trainspotting and 1989’s Do the Right Thing. Both are insanely enjoyable mixes. And as far as film scores, some of my favorites include The Empire Strikes Back, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, and Halloween.
How has the Hudson Valley influenced or impacted your creative work?
My entire business has been able to grow and become what it is today due to the various local communities’ continued support. This would never have happened if it wasn’t for the people of this area engaging and spreading the word on our little operation, and it has led to some truly fantastic friendships and professional partnerships that I can’t imagine being without.
What’s surprised you most about living and working in the Hudson Valley?
The options, both as a consumer and creative person, are seemingly endless. From Beacon to Newburgh to Cold Spring to Poughkeepsie to Wappingers Falls to Kingston, and so many more, there is just no shortage of amazing food, events, and diverse communities that are everything any adventurous individual could ask for. Plus, we’re just a quick zip to NYC, and that’s never a bad thing.
What do you hope to see for The Hudson Valley film scene in the next few years?
The Hudson Valley has an amazing scene for film, both in exhibition, production, and education. The more film is treated like the pinnacle of multiple art forms that it is, the more money will be invested by the communities surrounding it to make it flourish in the most interesting ways that the Valley can offer. Seeing larger and larger film productions take place in and around the Hudson Valley is very exciting, as is seeing older and newer film oriented businesses pop-up and reach a level of success that is needed in order to plant the seeds of some truly unique events and happenings in the film community.
Anything you want to plug or promote?
Definitely check out our Instagram, website and Fandango page to catch all the latest cool flicks we’ve got going on at Story Screen Beacon Theater. And for the greatest of ease, sign up for our newsletter at the bottom of our site to receive weekly updates on special events, screenings and critical content from loads of film buffs from the area.