News & Press

Eighty-Watt Cinema Defines a New Approach

February 01, 2004

(New York, New York) February 1, 2004 — Quickly nearing its first anniversary, Eighty-Watt Cinema L.L.C. marks the successful introduction of two energetic and headstrong theater veterans to a surging film industry hungry for young, new talent.

No strangers to the camera, Mr. Dilworth and Mr. White both carry Certificates in Directing from New York University and have been making comedy shorts and student shorts for over six years now. Dilworth and White first met at Haverford College, where they toured up and down the East Coast as members of the improv and sketch comedy group Lighted Fools. It was with the Fools that the duo first developed a love of filmmaking. They performed and screened their shorts for 300+ audiences at venues such as the National College Comedy Festival, the Wesleyan Comedy Festival, Haverford College, the University of Pennsylvania, Skidmore College, Bryn Mawr College, Fimprovedyestival, and the Mask and Wig Comedy Festival.

But even with their burgeoning success in comedy, Mr. Dilworth and Mr. White felt a stronger draw towards the dramatic.

In fact, Eighty-Watt’s name was inspired by Joshua and Nicholas’ first stage collaboration, a student production of Oscar Wilde’s Salome, for which an elaborate web of wires and light bulbs was horizontally suspended from the ceiling of a converted blackbox theater. “At that point we were just shooting from the hip,” remarks Dilworth. But Salome was a resounding success. With encouragement from their professors and peers, Mr. Dilworth and Mr. White embarked on a lifelong creative journey.

They built upon their success in the theater for several years, but as Dilworth explains, “we began to incorporate film and video more and more into our stage productions, and so the eventual transition to full-fledged filmmaking seemed quite natural.” These days Eighty-Watt Cinema is an expression of Joshua and Nicholas’ firm commitment to film and filmmaking, but the two do maintain an active interest in theater and live comedy, and plan to continue their efforts in those arenas under the Eighty-Watt moniker.

“Generally speaking, certain stories are best suited for certain mediums,” says Dilworth. “And the sorts of stories we want to tell right now are best conveyed in the cinema.” White explains that “We’ve always been excited by ideas. The creative process, regardless of the medium or the genre, allows you to experiment, and it enables you to make astounding discoveries about yourself and the world around you. We’re committed to that process, wherever it takes us.”

Eighty-Watt Cinema’s aim is “to encourage artistic experimentation and exploration in a professional atmosphere that demands responsibility and excellence”, no small task for a start-up production company in the motion picture industry. The filmmakers have a very specific strategy, however. “We want to nurture an artistic sensibility that preserves the kinetic relationship with the audience that we valued so highly in comedy and the theater,” says Dilworth.

But for Eighty-Watt, this is just as much a business-oriented goal as it is a creative one.

Dilworth remarks that film is often said to be the second most expensive art form, next to architecture, but that although “filmmaking is therefore a difficult business to be in,” success in every sense depends on the ability to stay focused on what is most important. For Eighty-Watt’s principals, having their priorities in order is key. “Good businesses make consistently solid products and pride themselves on customer service,” he says. “Our industry is ultimately no different than any other.” Once this fact is properly understood, he explains, the filmmaking process is quickly demystified. “Our audiences are our valued customers, and we are here to serve them. Too often, I think, this simple fact gets lost somewhere around pre-production. I still see more movies than I make, and I can tell you that demand isn’t a given. It has to be earned; it cannot simply be supplied.” He is also keen to point out that films are one of the few products that consumers still buy without ever having examined or viewed the product. “In such a hit-or-miss marketplace,” Dilworth says, “reliability and dependability are crucial. Our aim is to build a reputation for exceptional content, in every sense of the word. We’re confident that we can continue to win the trust of our audiences, every time out.”

Eighty-Watt’s approach makes a lot of sense to its employees and collaborators, too. Tim Naylor, the award-winning cinematographer of Horror and a professor at the New York Film Academy, remarks that there is “absolutely no arrogance on the part of either Josh or Nick. I’ve seen them learn inside a week what it took many of my colleagues years to figure out.”

At a time where commercial interests and profit margins are often at odds with creative freedom and artistic integrity, Dilworth and White find it most productive to consider themselves accountable to the loyal moviegoers who choose to spend their hard-earned money at the cinema. “It is at once a huge responsibility and a incredible opportunity,” says White, “Inside of the camera live millions of people, just waiting for you to show them something strange and wonderful.”

The company’s mission statement outlines two explicit goals: ” to provide existing audiences with quality films that exceed expectations in every way,” and “to draw new audiences and crossover audiences to the cinema with projects that redefine expectations altogether.” But as Dilworth later points out, “Sometimes intelligence, common sense, and a unwavering sense of responsibility can be revolutionary too.”

Eighty-Watt Cinema’s most recent project is a 35mm dramatic short entitled The Surprise. The story centers around Katie Miller, who on her thirtieth birthday is sent into a tailspin by a newly discovered pregnancy and an increasingly troubled marriage. Ultimately she is left to resolve her struggles alone, at a time in her life when assurances should outnumber surprises. “It’s about being in a situation where knowing what’s right and wrong and what you want and don’t want is impossible,” says director White. “I truly believe it is one of the hardest situations any person can ever have to face…but it is also about things we grapple with every day.”

The Surprise was a big departure for us, both thematically and stylistically,” says producer Dilworth. “A large part of our work has in some way or another involved an avant-garde re-imagining of classic and classical stories. I think that The Surprise demonstrates a versatility that will open new doors for us in any of a number of different genres.”

“There’s been a tremendous response to the film,” says White. “It’s sparking a lot of conversation, and that’s how you know that you’re reaching your audience. I couldn’t have asked for anything more.” The Surprise was officially completed in March and is currently touring the country on the festival circuit. To find out more about it and other Eighty-Watt projects, visit

Next up for the duo are another short, lensing this summer (with Dilworth directing and White producing,) and their first feature-length project, shooting in 2005.

Eighty-Watt Cinema L.L.C. was founded in 2002 by Joshua P. Dilworth and Nicholas White. Located in New York City, Eighty-Watt Cinema produces narrative shorts, features, and educational films.

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