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Lights, camera, scents at Ballston Spa film series opener

A summer of motion picture fun for the Village of Ballston Spa will kick off on Friday, June 5, with the first of many First Friday film showings. Organizers promise it will be a night full of delightful sights, sounds and even smells.

Those who haul their lawn chairs to Wiswall Park will be treated to a showing of Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory, (the 1971 Gene Wilder classic, not the Johnny Depp remake) as well as the scents that accompany it through the use of AromaRama, a 1950s cinema technology that was one of many gimmicks designed to lure audiences back into movie theaters after the advent of television.

"It didn't work out so well back then and it went the way of things that don't work out well," said Daniel DeFabio, director of the Ballston Spa Film Festival, which along with the Ballston Spa Business and Professionals Association puts on First Fridays. But the nature of Willy Wonka got him thinking about AromaRama.

"Wouldn't it be great to smell the chocolate?" said DeFabio. "I had to start from scratch doing the research, but I discovered that it worked better outdoors because the wind will clear the air for you."

On tap are chocolate, blueberry and bubblegum perfumes, as well as scents for the snozberries and fizzy drinks that had to be concocted from scratch (the properties of a snozberry are tragically undocumented). The sheer volume of delightful concoctions featured in the movies was the only obstacle.

"There are definitely more flavors mentioned in the movie than we were actually able to create," said DeFabio.

Having the scent of chocolate wafting through the village is particularly appropriate in Ballston Spa, said organizers, because the village was once home to a chocolate factory. One lucky moviegoer will get a tour of the defunct factory, as golden tickets will be placed in Wonka bars on sale Friday night. Four other lucky souls will receive prizes from local businesses.

Admission to the First Friday movies is free, and they kick off at dusk (around 9 p.m.). The Wiswall Park movie series will lead up to the second Ballston Spa Film Festival, to be held Aug. 6 through 8. A third day was recently added to accommodate the premier of "eScape: Season Two," an effort by students in Schenectady, Niskayuna and Scotia that premiered with fanfare at Proctors.""

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