Few young people have seen as many movies in their lifetime as Natalie McCandless, the young manager of Avalon Theater & Video Inc., 3605 S. State, who figures she has seen more than 4,000 films.
Her father, Art Proctor, bought the Avalon Theater 25 years ago, and she grew up working in the theater after school and on weekends, cleaning up at first, then managing the concession stand and finally running the theater's big 35mm movie projector and managing the theater while attending Olympus High School.When her father started a video movie business next door to the theater in 1980, a year after McCandless graduated from high school and began attending college, she managed that business, too.
Through her teens, she watched the two or more movies a week that the Avalon Theater presented and saw about four or five other movies each week at local screenings held for theater managers. When her father started showing classic films at the Avalon, they were in 16mm and she could take them home to watch.
"We usually watched two or three classic American films at home during a family home evening each week, screening the films to decide if we wanted to show them at the Avalon," McCandless said.
Her family's video movie store has about 1,800 titles and has had at least 500 others through the years. She has seen practically every film her store has rented.
McCandless graduated from the University of Utah in 1985 with a degree in, you guessed it - television, radio and film. Since then she has worked for a video movie distributing company and formed a company with her sister, Tracey Proctor, producing video movies of weddings, entertainers on stage and family histories.
One of her special times of the year is Academy Award night in April. "My mother, Nancy, and my father invite their close friends to the house with my sister and my brother, Jeff, and my husband, Dan. There are about 30 of us. We fill out a ballot beforehand, listing who we think will win and then we exchange ballots the night of the awards and check our choices.
"The winners get prizes. I've won a few times and have come in second or third a lot."
McCandless and her husband now have a son, Joshua, 10 weeks old, but she still works 35 hours a week at the video store and fills in at the theater when necessary.
Her hobby? "I still enjoy visiting movie theaters, sitting in the audience eating popcorn and watching films,." she said, smiling.