Ep. 11: Inside The Minema with Sam Cavitt & William Erb
This episode is the first chance we’ve had on The Cineluxe Hour to really dive deep into the creation of a luxury home theater. And the room explored here is a trailblazing effort that goes beyond being able to produce a better-than-movie-theater experience at home to include state-of-the-art video- and teleconferencing—a need that has come to the forefront as the pandemic has caused more and more people to work from home.
Since this theater, dubbed the Minema (for “mini cinema”), was essentially a collaboration between designer Sam Cavitt and his client, William Erb, we interviewed both William and Sam about the process that led to its creation.
Sam Cavitt (a frequent contributor to the site who we’ve featured in Cineluxe Trendsetters) is known for designing—and spreading the gospel about—no-compromise home entertainment spaces, which he prefers to call private cinemas.
William Erb isn’t a typical client. His enthusiasm for high-quality video and audio caused him to get deeply involved in the planning, building, and tweaking of the Minema. The mandate to create a high-end movie-watching and music-listening space that could also accommodate conferencing was difficult enough, but Sam and Willam had to make it all work within the constraints of a high-end LA condo.
Here’s an overview of the episode:
1:18 Sam talks about how a designer is different from an integrator, and how only a small group of people do what he does.
4:04 Sam discusses the kinds of clients he usually works with, and what makes someone a Cinema Connoisseur.
5:27 Sam introduces Willam, who talks about how he found Sam and brought together the team that created his theater.
10:34 What Sam and his company bring to a project like the Minema.
13:10 How Sam collaborates with integrators.
15:32 William describes his approach to finding the trades to create a theater.
18:01 William gives his objectives for the Minema.
20:12 The emergence of multi-use luxury theaters.
23:14 The problems of doing sound isolation in a condo.
29:00 William talks about how the theater was developed for more than just movie watching and what his expectations were for videoconferencing.
32:45 How to create a space where none of the functions are compromised.
37:19 The recent surge in demand for luxury home cinemas—and for making them more flexible.
42:10 William’s future expectations for his theater.
44:09 Sam on appreciating a private cinema as a luxury item.
46:29 William on how video- and teleconferencing is a great opportunity for integrators.
47:36 William on how beginning the planning of a theater by giving the integrator a budget number can actually hurt a client’s chances of getting what they’re looking for.
50:09 Sam talks about the importance of thinking of a private cinema as an experience and a luxury acquisition instead of just some room for watching movies.
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Sam Cavitt is the founder & CEO of Paradise Theater. His firm has collaborated with leading integrators, architects, designers & builders on nearly a thousand of the world’s finest private cinemas, employing an exclusive process that assures excellence always. Sam is also spearheading Cinema Connoisseur, an initiative to create a community of enthusiasts—cinema connoisseurs—both professional and public to embrace and enhance the world of private cinema and film. He likes to spend his spare time in Maui surfing, sailing, paddling & drumming.
William Erb is a longstanding movie enthusiast, music lover & home AV tinkerer. He has been using his spare time, now that he is semi-retired after a career in banking and biotech, to renovate his new home in Los Angeles with a private cinema and a distributed audio system, both state-of-the art. William became a client of Sam Cavitt’s Paradise Theater in the very early stages of his renovation project. He was lucky enough to get the private cinema completed just before lockdown, and is glad not to need an excuse to stay home to watch movies and listen to music.
Michael Gaughn—The Absolute Sound, The Perfect Vision, Wideband, Stereo Review, Sound & Vision, The Rayva Roundtable, marketing, product design, some theater designs, a couple TV shows, some commercials, and now this.