The last time anything happened at the Regent Theatre was a movie in 1992. Years before its stage had acts including the Marx Brothers and other big names of the early 20th Century.
Although the building at 117 S. Limestone St. has been vacant for more than 25 years, it became the perfect place to film a video for a song that is a love letter to Springfield.
The video for song “Heart of Ohio (I am the City)” by Thaddeus Williams of The American Landscape will premiere at 8:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 7, at Hatch Artist Studios as part of the monthly First Friday activities.
The event is free. Once a Pine and The Morgues bands will perform 6:30-8 p.m.
Williams decided to write a song as a love letter to Springfield, where he grew up, after growing weary of complaints about the city and its problems.
“I was thinking one day why aren’t you doing anything and why don’t you take some ownership,” Williams said.
He reached out to one of the city’s advocates, Rod Hatfield. Williams and The American Landscape have performed at Hatch previously and Hatfield has shot several videos for other musicians here with his company, Hatch New Media.
From the minute Williams played Hatfield the song recorded from his phone, Hatfield’s vision began.
“I had chills listening to it,” Hatfield said.
Hatfield got clearance to shoot video in the Regent on a humid Monday in July. He had to rig up lighting in the dusty old hall with no air conditioning as the building doesn’t have electricity.
It didn’t bother him at all.
“It was so thrilling, it’s an iconic downtown cinema and a repository for a lot of Springfield’s memories,” Hatfield said. “We thought it would be a magical experience and add some impact to the video.”
With Williams performing on the old stage along with Brenna Myers of Once a Pine, Hatfield and videographer Brian Traylor projected B-roll footage of Springfield and its citizens shot for previous commercials and videos on the movie screen behind them, the first images on it since Jan. 30, 1992, while shooting.
The video’s storyline has Myers as a projectionist and Williams a viewer in the empty theater, where the past, present and future of Springfield coalesce in the moment, celebrating community.
Neither Williams nor Myers had ever been to the Regent before. Despite the dust, they found it cool.
Hatfield and Williams both hope the video is more than just a reminiscence of the city and a catchy tune, but inspires people to take pride in Springfield.
“I’m speaking to others,” Williams said. “If I can realize I am Springfield maybe we can come together.”
Hatch Artist Studios is located at 105 N. Center St. For more information, visit the company’s Facebook page.