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Daniel French

Daniel French. Photo courtesy of CAC

By Kevin Redding

“Answer the question, same category…Name the killer in Friday the 13th.”

Ghostface, the masked slasher in Scream, dishes out a fatal round of movie trivia over the phone to Drew Barrymore’s character in the heart-pounding opening of the 1996 meta-horror classic.

Over in Huntington, in the summer of 1997 when Scream was newly available on VHS, Daniel French, now 38, remembers his parents bringing the movie home—making sure to send their kid to bed before watching the R-rated stab-a-thon unfold. But French, obsessed with movies from a young age, snuck out of his bedroom and watched the entire thing from the hallway that led into the living room.

Daniel French. Photo courtesy of CAC

It was a viewing that “blew his mind,” with all the film references in Scream ultimately sending him down a path of discovery of other movies and deep-dives into directors, from John Carpenter to Alfred Hitchcock.

“Movies have been my number one, constant passion ever since,” said French, the host of Cinema Arts Centre’s monthly Movie Trivia Night since 2016. But no worries, the game of trivia that usually takes place the first Monday of each month in the theater’s Sky Room Café is “much less dire” than Ghostface’s. 

“I just want everyone to do well and have fun. When you think about the Cinema Arts Centre, you think independent films, foreign films, less mainstream movies, but I don’t want people to think they have to know who directed ‘M.’ It’s everything: a well-rounded, accessible experience for everybody.”

For every trivia night, French devises a fresh batch of 50 questions across five rounds revolving around film, actors and actresses, famous needledrops, awards, and more. 

One such question in a previous trivia was “What actress won Best Supporting Actress for ‘My Cousin Vinny?’” For one of the music rounds, the hint was “Directed by John Hughes” followed by a clip of “Danke Schoen” from…Anyone? Anyone? Ferris Bueller’s Day Off.

A tense tie-breaker was a reading of the cast list, from the bottom to top, of Jaws; the first team to correctly guess the movie title based on its minor actors won.

French, who joked that he battles with his film geek self not to have a whole category dedicated to the works of David Lynch, does bring a personal flair to the questions: “You know that during Halloween, there’s going to be a Scream question, and you better believe there’s going to be a question about one of my favorite movies Carol and a The Nice Guys question for Christmas.”

Each team writes their answers on a sheet of paper that’s graded and at the end of the night, there’s a final tally to determine the winner. With an average of 50 to 60 people attending the event every month, French says there’s no limit to the amount of people on each team—but keep in mind that the winning team earns a cash prize of $100; the second place team receives up to four Cinema Arts Centre gift cards, with a value of $24 each; and the third place team gets to come up with a category for the next month’s trivia.

Plus, concessions, including the beloved CAC popcorn, are open late so “you can have some snacks, have a beer or two, and just talk movies.”

French, who works in insurance full-time and is married with two kids, said of getting to host the event every month, “It’s incredible and just so much fun. It’s something I genuinely enjoy doing, I like seeing the regulars, and it blows my mind every time that people keep coming back. It’s a special feeling for me personally and it’s a good little community that we’ve built. I’m surprised they’re letting me get away with it still!”

Since French was old enough to get into bars, he’s been participating in trivia nights. But he’s the first to admit that when there weren’t movie or TV categories included in general trivia, he’d get upset. “I’ve got a specific set of skills that I’m pretty good at, but if those don’t come up, it’s tough sledding,” he laughed. But in 2014, he started going to movie-only trivia at his go-to theater, Cinema Arts Centre.

For two years, he gathered to eat, drink, compete, and talk about movies, even forming a close friendship with a rival team member—when she got married years later, he was in her wedding party. “You keep showing up, talking to people, and you already know you got one thing in common: a love of movies,” he said. The event had a rotating cast of hosts throughout this stretch, and in April 2016, he eventually approached the theater about giving the job a shot.

“Daniel French and his super entertaining Movie Trivia Night have become a fixture here at Cinema Arts Centre,” said Dylan Skolnick, co-director of the theater. “This event is a delight for true movie lovers, especially those with a competitive streak.”

Located at 423 Park Avenue in Huntington, the Cinema Arts Centre will host Movie Trivia Nights on Jan. 8, Feb. 12 and March 4. Tickets are $10 per person, $7 members at www.cinemaartscentre.com or at the box office. For more information, call 631-423-7610.

Do you know a lot about movies? Then join the Cinema Arts Centre in Huntington for Movie Trivia Night: At Home Edition on Monday, Jan. 3 at 8 p.m. hosted by Daniel French. Tickets are $10, $7 members. To sign up, visit www.cinemaartscentre.org.

How do I play? 
It’s simple! When you purchase your ticket, you will provide a valid email address for admission. This email address will receive a Zoom meeting code and password.
What do I need to play? 
You will need two electronic devices – preferably a computer/laptop/iPad and a smartphone. We will use the computer to stream the trivia over Zoom and we will use the smart phone to answer the questions (using the program AHASlides). This will be explained in more details when we get going, but for now, please know that you will need two devices to play.
Who can I play with?
Your ticket of $10 ($7 Members) gets your team access to Trivia. Your team will consist of whomever you are physically with right now. We will not be able to combine efforts with people you are not physically with. If you would want to play against the people you are with, that’s allowed as well.
What do I get if I win?
Well, we’re all winners when we play trivia and now you get to support the Cinema Arts Centre that you know and love. But in a more real way, the winning team will get up to four (4) CAC Gift Cards (1 Per Team Member) and bragging rights!
Is this anything like the monthly trivia?
Yes and no. Yes in that it is trivia hosted by Daniel French. No in that it will be structured a bit differently and will not have any other links to the monthly trivia (no sneak peeks, tournament of champions, etc.).
For any questions please email Daniel French at [email protected]
Sign up here.