Whatever form your end-of-year holiday season takes, I think we can all agree that this season of giving, sharing and goodwill toward all is also a giant, stressful brain-ache. And that’s at the best of times. You know, when a seemingly endless pandemic isn’t hampering our efforts to go out and shop for the perfect present for that loved/family-obligated one on our list. 

And while we here at the Indie Film desk have no idea what to get, say, the boat enthusiast in your family (An anchor? Just spitballing), here are some last-minute picks for the film fanatic on your list. Added points for shopping local and supporting Maine businesses, and for avoiding the holiday mail crush. 

Give a membership.

Local screening venues/godsends like Space and PMA Films offer discounted movie tickets to members, along with other tangible benefits. (A membership at Space entitles members to free tea at events!) Oh, plus, your gift will also help support two vital local arts organizations during tough economic times, but we’re mostly in it for the cheap movie tickets. You can buy your gift membership online, too – no fuss, no muss. Cross that one off the list. 

Cost: Space memberships start at $40/year, while you can gift a PMA membership for as low as $5 (for a month), or $60 for the year, if you actually like the person you’re giving it to.

Give free nights at the movies.

Of course, you can just spring for the tickets outright by buying your favorite film fan a book of passes or a gift certificate to their local movie house. Since you don’t necessarily know (or want to know) your recipient’s movie taste, this gives them the flexibility to go and see whatever giant superhero punch-up or artsy foreign erotic drama they’re in the mood for. And while many of us are still a little iffy about the wisdom of actually sitting with other people in a movie theater in these pandemic times, free tickets never go bad. (This will be over sometime, I’m almost sure of it.) If you don’t pick up your gift certificates in person, you might have to wait for the mail, but who’s going to the movies when there’s so much shopping to do anyway?

Cost: Pretty much up to you. (Again, depending on how beloved your beloved actually is.) Portland’s Nickelodeon, for example, sells gift certificates in amounts as low as $25, which covers admissions and concessions. And if you’re still wary of the whole “breathing other people’s air for two hours” experience, Maine’s fine drive-in theaters (like Pride’s Corner in Westbrook, currently showing some holiday favorites) are a safe bet (as long as your car’s heater works), and could always use your gift-given support. 

Give weird movie memorabilia.

Portland businesses like Strange Maine and The Fun Box Monster Emporium are literally crammed to their Congress Street rafters with just the sort of movie-adjacent stuff any film fan worth their popcorn salt loves to strew all around their house. A glimpse into Strange Maine is rewarded with the sight of shelves packed with obscure VHS and DVD movies, film-related gewgaws, and the occasional buried cinematic treasure. Meanwhile, right down Congress at The Fun Box, you’re likely to discover a trove of carefully curated, reasonably priced movie T-shirts, posters and unlikely action figures. You know there’s a “Puppet Master” enthusiast out there who’d love that evil jester action figure. (Note: We cannot guarantee the evil jester action figure will never come to life.)

Cost: Go ahead and load up – while some of the rarer items are going to cost you (a limited-edition, movie-quality Hellboy hand doesn’t come cheap, people), there’s plenty of movie nostalgia in your price range. And, once more, supporting local businesses is the gift that gives back.

Give them something to listen to. 

Like a lot of us, I’ve gotten heavily into podcasts in all this enforced alone-time. And, me being me, movie podcasts are my primary source of entertainment. I listen to “The Flop House” and “How Did This Get Made?” for my “making fun of bad movies” enjoyment, while “With Gourley and Rust” has become my go-to for an encyclopedic (and funny) examination of the entire slasher genre. And while there’s plenty of free content out there (like Portland’s own excellent Fun Box Monster Podcast), a subscription to podcast outlets like Audible or Maximum Fun will ensure that the movie enthusiast in your life will always have exclusive and exhaustive movie talk for their earbuds.

Cost: Audible is $8/month, Maximum Fun is free, but audience-supported, with heaps of bonus content for paid members. Trust me – your happy film fanatic will never run out of stuff to listen to. 

Books about movies? Why not!

I read about the weird and wonderful reaches of cinema before I was ever allowed to see, for example, the works of Chilean-French director of phantasmagorical movie nightmares Alejandro Jodorowski. Books were my gateway to movie madness, and still remain so. So whether you’re looking for scholarly treaties on the oeuvre of Ingmar Bergman or a down-and-dirty retrospective on sleazy “Jaws” knockoffs (sign me up for “Jaws Unmade: The Lost Sequels, Prequels, Remakes, & Rip-Offs” by John LeMay, available at Portland’s Green Hand Bookshop), Maine’s independent bookstores (like The Green Hand, Print and Longfellow Books) have just what you need to cross that last, movie-obsessed weirdo off your shopping list. 

Cost: Up to you, but, one last time, supporting your local Maine businesses? Priceless. 

Dennis Perkins is a freelance writer who lives in Auburn with his wife and cat.

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