Where in New York City can you eat popcorn next to Sean Penn or Madonna? At The Cinema Society! Founder Andrew Saffir has created an intimate movie screening society where New Yorkers can watch the latest and greatest films before they hit the theaters. Not only has Saffir amassed a contact list of the most powerful people in New York, but he also has a reputation of hosting the best screenings and the coolest parties at the newest New York haunts.
A born and bred New Yorker, Saffir has not only created an intimate movie going experience, he can also make or break a new restaurant or nightclub by inviting the biggest names in fashion, music, film, the arts and finance. This all started with a list and a love for movies. Here’s how he did it.
How did you come up with the idea for the Cinema Society?
I started it 8 years ago in September. I saw a need in New York for a movie premiere that felt small, unique and special. I wanted to create an intimate experience for New Yorkers to screen a film before it hit the theaters. ... Being a movie lover myself, I felt there was something missing.
How did you come up with the name The Cinema Society?
I wanted to create something that sounded like what I wanted to create. My mission was to curate a group who would come and watch films in an intimate setting.
How did you compile this list?
The list is of friends whom I’ve amassed over the years. It’s a great group of contacts I’ve worked with, and met over the years.
What kind of people are on your list?
It’s a group of interesting and relevant New Yorkers. I try to make it the most dynamic mix: actors, musicians, artists and social people.
What’s the business model?
Movie studios were spending money on big premieres that people weren’t enjoying. Many brands that were out there are willing and able to partner. I went to Dior and then to Oscar de la Renta and then JP Tods to host the screenings. I created something that didn’t exist: luxury brands sponsoring movie premieres.
How many people do you invite to each movie?
It depends on the screening. It can be 100 to the Crosby Hotel to 1,000 to the Ziegfeld for premieres.
Where did you go to school?
Hunter High School and NYU.
Where did you work before?
I worked for Ralph Lauren for 11 years in their corporate offices in [the] men’s retail division. I ran every thing to do with menswear, which encompassed product develop and marketing. Ralph Lauren is an amazing company. When you get there you don’t want to leave. I decided I needed a change and focused on the film world, which is what I studied while at NYU.
What are your favorite movies?
“Annie Hall,” “Goodfellas” and “The Graduate.”
What are your favorite haunts?
Central Park to watch Shakespeare.
Where do you shop?
I love Bergdorf Men’s, Tom Ford, Bruno Cuccinelli, Loro Piana and Ralph Lauren.
Who’s your favorite New Yorker?
Who are your favorite actors?
Robert Downey Jr. and Sean Penn.
Don’t be afraid to try what you want to do. I loved working at Ralph Lauren, and after 11 years I wanted to do something in film because I studied film. Don’t be afraid to follow your dream and your passion.