Sunday, June 29, 2008

SHERMAN MAKES IT INTO PEOPLE MAGAZINE!

Even PEOPLE MAGAZINE is taking notice! The current CHILD STARS: THEN & NOW Special Edition tracks the careers (and non-careers) of some of TV's most popular former child stars. Among them is our very own Lacey Chabert, who starred as Claudia Salinger in the long-running hit drama PARTY OF FIVE. What would have been really cool for PEOPLE to mention, however, is how PARTY co-stars Michael Shulman and Thomas Ian Nicholas also appear in SHERMAN'S WAY. Shulman, who of course stars as Sherman, played Claudia's first season boyfriend Artie Baum, while Thomas, who plays the intern Tom in SW, played her boyfriend Todd Marsh in the sixth (and final) season.

Friday, June 27, 2008

MG2008 - Day Two

Have you ever seen such a good-looking audience before?

At about 7pm this evening a bright flash caused me to pull back the curtains and look out my hotel room window. The 9pm Drive-In Movie screening of SHERMAN'S WAY seemed to have hit a pothole: it was POURING down rain. I knew event head Jim Schulte had everything under control, but I couldn't help but wonder what was happening downstairs with those hundreds of convertibles, let alone the projection and sound equipment. When I got down to the lobby, I heard people asking in what room the movie was going to be playing, and followed them into a large banquet room where there was already a large screen and about 350 seats set up. It seems that a contingency plan had long been in the works and and everything went off without a hitch.

The packed room couldn't have been a better audience. Even though some of the, let's say "less than accurate" restoration techniques portrayed in the film got some of the biggest laughs, the response to the story, characters, jokes and even the more tender moments seemed very authentic and appreciative. I don't think I've ever been more concerned about how an audience would respond. The MG community has been so great and so supportive of the project, I just really wanted them to like the film. And judging from the applause and the fact that 95% of them stayed after for the Q&A, I think they did. There were great questions, funny comments and very kind compliments.

Afterwards I met many kind folks who were very generous in their compliments, including Kathleen Mangan of Classic Motorsports and British Motoring Magazines and Richard Lunney, editor of Classic MG Magazine. Both expressed interest in doing features and/or reviews on the film! That sort of PR is so important to indie films like ours. I'll keep you posted.

Tomorrow is the big Car Show, so I've got to get some sleep. Oh, by the way, Josh and I spent a few hours at Longwood Gardens today, something any lover of outdoor beauty should certainly see when they are in Pennsylvania.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

MG2008 - Day One

We arrived here in Philadelphia, well, actually Valley Forge... or maybe it's technically King of Prussia... in any case, we arrived in Pennsylvania late yesterday and settled in to the hotel which is surrounded by hundreds of MG's. There are mostly MGB's but numerous MGA's, a few MGC's, some T-series MG's and a handful of MGB GT's. Everytime I see a red MGB I think how nice it would have been to bring the film's little B here. Then reality sets in as I recall how much of an ordeal it would have been to drive it from Los Angeles.

The folks here, the MG enthuisiasts, are such a terrific group. Many have come up to me to let me know how excited they are to see the movie Friday night. I'm a nervous wreck! Even though the film has played beyond our expectations to festival audiences, this will be the first time a group of gear-heads and people who really know their way around an MGB will see our "Hollywood" attempt at MG restoration!

I spent a chunk of the day with my son Josh seeing the Valley Forge National Park, a gorgeous and historic site that we could easily have spent more time exploring.

At dinner time it was off to the MG BBQ. Rather than write about it, I thought I'd share a brief video of the experience so you can actually see some of the cars. But first, a word to those at MG2008 who see this: I noticed that I keep incorrectly referring to all MG's as "MGB's" -- it's not so much a B bias, but rather me trying to do a video in one take without a cameraman, sound mixer, script supervisor, editor, you know, all the people who typically keep me from making too many mistakes! Anyway, take a look...

Sunday, June 22, 2008

GAIA FILM FESTIVAL - Day Three: WINNER!!

Our good fortune continued its streak today when we were awarded the Audience Award for Best Feature Film at the third Annual Gaia Film Festival here in Boulder, Colorado. I was thrilled when Festival Director Una Morera announced from the stage in the historic Boulder Theater that we won.

The other Audience Awards went to FIVE WISHES, the short that proceeded our film at yesterday's screening, and FIELDS OF FUEL, the much publicised doc that had all of Boulder buzzing. Fellow filmmakers Michael Goorjian and Josh Tickell are terrific guys and I couldn't be happier they walked away with awards too.

Today started with an early brunch for the filmmakers and festival staff and jurors. After last night it was hard getting up for the 9am event but I managed to make it there and lo and behold, Heather was already seated and looking far prettier than she was entitled to considering our late night. I didn't stay long, however since I really wanted to see the 11 AM screening of DIAMOND DOG CAPER. I thought the two shorts that proceeded the feature were very clever and well produced, but unfortunately my two hours of sleep caught up with me 20 minutes into the feature and I had to retreat to my hotel room for a nap.

The rest of the day is a bit of a blur, but I'll share with you via video some of it below:

Saturday, June 21, 2008

GAIA FILM FESTIVAL - Day Two

Okay. So it's after 3:00 AM and I can't possibly be held responsible for anything I'm about to write since I was dragged kicking and screaming to bar after bar. Well, maybe not kicking and screaming, but I do recall uttering under my breath at least once "but I need to get back to my room. I need to blog." But before I go into how my night ended, let me backtrack and tell you how my day started.

I woke up late. Much too late. But I needed the sleep. I headed out to grab some food on Pearl Street and read a script while I ate. I then headed over towards the public library where our screening was to take place, but was distracted by the hordes of half-naked coeds running around with large inner-tubes. I followed the crowd (out of mere curiousity, of course) down to a river where tons of college kids were rafting the rapids. It looked incredibly fun, a little dangerous, and wonderfully refreshing on such a hot day. After watching for a bit, I wondered over to the Library and settled in for the last few minutes of the Q&A for CAKE EATERS with producer Jesse Scolaro, one of those responsible for keeping me out so late...

Soon it was time for our screening, which was preceeded by Michael Goorjian's terrific short FIVE WISHES starring writer Gay Hendricks in a surprisingly moving acting debut. Before our film screened, I was introduced by fest director Una Morera. I mentioned to the audience that my son Josh was going to be attending CU Boulder in the fall and their response was so warm, I videotaped the entire crowd welcoming him to their city. It's included below:



After the screening we had a lively Q&A. This audience was very keen on hearing about the process of making the film, not just the budget, production schedule, etc. As often happens, the questions and comments spilled into the halls and I met some terrific Boulderites. Or is it Boulderidians?

Then it was a quick TV interview with the lovely Tamara Henry, host of the Los Angeles celebrity show IN WITH TAMARA HENRY. She was exceptionally gracious and kept the conversation lively and fun. I'll keep you posted on the segment's airdate.

I was running late to a meeting with a Denver-based playwright, who was more than understanding with all the interuptions. We settled into the bar at the St. Julien and discussed his play until it was time to head into the 8:15 screening of SAMSARA, Pan Nalin's spiritual love-story set in the majestic Himalayas. This two hour and twenty minute epic was far more accesible than I imagined and I was quite taken by the beauty of it.

Okay, now we're back to where I started. I got a message on my cell from Heather, Una's friend and sometime helper, letting me know the filmmaker's party was moved to a new locale. When I arrived and introduced myself to Heather, I settled in at the bar with a glass of Melbac. It turns out, Heather was the gifted singer/songwriter that entertained at the Opening Night party. The conversation opened up to include the other filmmakers at the table including Jesse. Before we knew it, the bar was closing and we were ushered out to the street and I said my goodnights. Jesse and Heather had decided however, that I was going to join them for a nightcap at another bar, so giving into peer pressure, I trapsed down Pearl in search of an open bar.

Along the way, we picked up an hilarious trio who had clearly been enjoying the Boulder nightlife. Somehow, they managed to get the local Ben and Jerry's opened up and snagged some free ice cream, which we all eagerly shared on the sidewalk. They opted not to join us at The Foundry where we barely made last call. Upon being kicked out of that establishment at closing time, we huddled at the door marvelling at all the young people wondering aimlessly in search of a Saturday evening that didn't want to end.

This is where we met Angelo and Dana, two long time buddies that roomed together in college and provided some (often unintentional) comic relief as they gave a running commentary to the scene around us. I felt that if Josh were to meet guys like this when he gets here, he'll be just fine. They walked us back to the hotel (Angelo clearly had eyes for Heather) and said goodbyes... about ten times.

All in all it was a very fun day. The screening went well, the interview went well, the meeting went well, the party went well and well, the bar hoping went well. And now I gotta get up for a brunch at 9AM. Isn't that techincally still breakfast at that hour?

Friday, June 20, 2008

GAIA FILM FESTIVAL - Day One

My lordy it's beautiful here. Getting here was another matter. Taking the FlyAway shuttle to LAX at 4am is never my ideal way of starting ANY day. But, despite never being able to sleep on a plane (let alone two due to the stop-over in Salt Lake City), I was happy to be greeted at the airport by Gaia Jack-of-all-trades Maxamillian, who whisked fellow filmmaker David Sereda and me from the Denver Airport to Boulder in what felt like minutes.

After checking in at the St Julien Hotel and Spa, I settled in and glanced through the local papers only to come across a couple of articles in the COLORADO DAILY that mentioned SHERMAN'S WAY. One, in which I'm quoted throughout, has me saying something I'll forever deny... even if I actually said it! (Check it out HERE. I won't repeat it here, other than to say I'm far too young to have a 26 year old!!)

The other article quotes festival director Una Morera chatting up the festival's offerings, including SW. You can read it HERE.

I'm going to try to get a few minutes of shut eye before tonight's party and Opening Night screening of the doc WATER. I hear it's quite good.

More later...

It's 11:17 PM and just returned from the Boulder Theater where a good size crowd came to see the doc WATER. Very heady stuff, especially for a sleep-deprived Angelino. While there I got to meet Josh Tickell, director and star of FIELDS OF FUEL, the doc that won this year's Audience Award at Sundance. We actually bumped into each other in Jackson Hole but didn't really get a chance to chat. Looking forward to seeing his film Sunday.

Also met Juror Jerry Aronson, director of 1994's THE LIFE AND TIMES OF ALLEN GINSBERG who recently retired from teaching film at University of Colorado at Boulder. Una was a charming hostess as she introduced all of us filmmakers from the stage before getting the screening underway.

Tomorrow starts with THE CAKE EATERS, which I saw at JHFF so it looks like I get to sleep in, then explore the town. Yippee!

Thursday, June 19, 2008

PAGING MR. EBERT...

So, dear reader, we need your help. Your comments matter and as we begin to share the film with distribution execs they'll be looking for reviews of the film throughout the internet. If you've seen SHERMAN'S WAY, and liked it, perhaps you could take a moment out of your busy day and write a review and post it on the New York Times website, or IMDb, or Rotten Tomatoes, or any other site that allows regular folks like us post reviews online.

Here are some handy links:
New York Times

IMDb

Hollywood.com

Yahoo Movies
Thank you, as always, for your continued support. And remember, the quicker we get this movie sold, the sooner annoying posts like this will cease!

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

MUSINGS ON OUR MUSIC

One of the most frequent comments I get about the movie at festivals is about our music. It seems everyone loves the incredible group of songs that Music Supervisor Dondi Bastone collected for our soundtrack and the quirky underscore composer David Michael Frank created just for SHERMAN'S WAY.

While deleting old files on a flash drive, I came across some video clips of early sessions with David as he composed cues on the piano in his studio. To me, scoring is one of the most exciting stages in a movie's life. And to watch David alter, shape and incorporate my notes on the fly is nothing short of magical. I must confess it's not always easy for me to listen to a piano and extract from that how a cue will sound with a full orchestra, but somehow David can hear every oboe, every violin and every percussion. It's truly a gift I envy.

Here is a clip from the final scene on the beach. I actually think it sounds incredible with just the piano.

video

Monday, June 16, 2008

THATSA SO GAIA

Well, later this week I head out to Boulder, Colorado for the Gaia Film Festival. I'm really looking forward to this fest for, among other reasons, my son is going to the University of Colorado at Boulder in the Fall and I want to get to know the city better.

The festival describes its mandate as supporting a film "that inspires us, lifts our spirit, or transforms our lives. A Gaia Film makes us feel more hopeful, more thankful, more connected, more passionate, and better about life in general. We identify with a Gaia Film's characters on a deep, emotional level, and are motivated by their stories to pursue positive change in our own lives. A Gaia film honors the belief that simple choices can change the world and inspires us to make a difference."

Hmmm. Throw in some skin and a poop joke and it describes our film to a tee!

Saturday, June 14, 2008

BURBANK MG CAR SHOW

I realize this is a festival blog, and a car show is hardly a film festival, BUT this terrific group of MG enthusiasts invited us to bring the little blaze red MGB from the film to participate in the show and how could I possibly say no since so many of them are friends and supporters of SHERMAN'S WAY. Besides, Bob and Vicki Bond were there with their beautiful 1967 MGB which we also used in the film as the "restored" version at the end of the film.

video

It was incredibly hot in the valley today, but that didn't stop hundreds of car fans from showing up. We had a lot of fun talking up the film, handing out stickers, postcards, posters and of course special "Sherman's Way" water bottles.

Joaquin was there with me, and we reminisced about the film shoot with the Bonds about our adventure in Northern California. By the way, their car won second prize in the "Chrome Bumper B" competition!

Monday, June 9, 2008

DAY FIVE - Jackson Hole Film Festival

Well all good things must come to an end. But why must the end always include trying to stuff a week's worth of junk into an overnight bag? I rushed out of the Lodge early and headed to the Jackson Hole Airport to return the rental car, check in and make it to the gate in time for my 10:30am flight. In addition to all the clothes I brought for both Newport and Jackson Hole, I now had two huge gift bags (one for Mike) as well as news-clippings, program guides and of course, a foot tall bronze statue (pictured at right). But I had to get home today in time for my son Josh's birthday.

I was pleased to learn that fellow filmmaker Matt Merkovich was on my flight and we were able to sit next to each other and continue the wonderful dialog we began at the festival. Matt's a smart guy and it was freaky to learn how much we had in common -- like we both have the same favorite word: sesquipedalian. Odd but true.

After three airports, two planes, a shuttle bus and a cab I made it home. Well, actually, Josh had called as I landed at LAX asking me to come visit him on the set of SWINGTOWN. How could I turn him down on his birthday? So I cabbed it over to the set, luggage in tow and watched him hustle on his incredibly high-paying summer job. I'm so proud. He seems to really like working on a set. After about 20 minutes, I headed home and jumped onto the phone with Mike and we caught up on business.

I've included below some video from yesterday's drive into town before our final screening. Just thought I'd share the view of the Grand Tetons. Not sure why I giggle like a school boy every-time I utter "Grand Tetons." Just sounds naughty.

video

Sunday, June 8, 2008

TWO FESTS, TWO AWARDS, ONE HELLUVA DAY

My day could not have started off better. After just a few hours of sleep, I was awakened by a call from the awards director at the Newport International Film Festival, who wanted to make sure I'd be at the Awards Ceremony later that morning. I told her I was in Jackson Hole but not to worry, Mike was still in Rhode Island. She asked for his cell number and hinted that it would be very beneficial if he appeared at the awards ceremony.

Later, while I was taping an interview, Mike texted me that we had won the coveted Audience Award for Best Feature. Our second such award. I shared the news with the interviewer and camera crew and went back to hamming it up before the lens.

Moments later, I ran into James and we headed into Studio One for our 12:30 screening, which James introduced. He was very funny, mentioning how even though he's a festival board member, was unaware we'd submitted the film and been accepted. When he saw our film's title on the list, he thought "Huh. I think I did a movie not long ago with the same title." The film started on time before a mostly packed house and played quite well, I think. James and I sat next to each other and I was pleased to hear him actually laughing along with the audience.

Afterwards, he stayed for a brief moment for the Q&A, then rushed off to a screenwriting panel on which he was a participant. I'd say 99% of the audience stayed for the Q&A which went on for about 20 more minutes. Great questions from a great audience.

I sneaked into the panel thirty minutes late. When James saw me pointing a camera in his direction, he pretended to be asleep while another panelist was speaking. I've instead decided to share with you the picture of him cracking his fellow panelists up with a witty (and insightful) response to a question.

When the panel was over I headed down to the square for a burger at Billy's Burgers then a little gift shopping for my son Josh's 20th birthday tomorrow.

It was back to the Center for the Arts and a quick drink with friends before settling into the main theater for the awards ceremony, where Melanie and Cevin handed out really cool Remingtonesque Cowboy Statues to winning filmmakers. About halfway through the ceremony, Melanie announces that they added a new category this year: Best Pre-recorded Acceptance Speech. You see, in anticipation of many filmmakers not being in attendence we were all asked to videotape a speech and send it in advance. So, one afternoon, Tom and I brainstormed and shot a few different approaches, the last of which we submitted and is included here below:



Well, I was shocked when they showed our speech to the entire crowd and then called my name to come up on stage and accept my very own Cowboy award. It was too surreal to give an acceptance speech for winning an award for an acceptance speech. Very Lewis Carroll. But very much appreciated.

Of course, the very fun day was followed by a very fun party. Which was followed by more partying at a nearby pub. I've really enjoyed this fest. Especially getting to know some of the other filmmakers like Kurt Kuenne, James Lester and Matt Merkovich -- the latter two pictured here with me showing off our 12" men.

I head back to LA in the morning and really need sleep. This is timestamped 11:59 but it's really 2:57 am. That way the blog entry date is for Sunday. There. Now you know my trick.

NEWPORT INT'L FILM FEST - The Shulman Perspective

By Michael Shulman

NEW YORK -- I just got back from a terrific and much needed weekend away from the hustle and bustle of NYC to the beautiful and historic Newport, RI. The NIFF was a great experience, and I couldn’t believe the amazing collection of prize-winning films that played at the festival. I say prize-winning because…well, we won! But I’ll get back to that later (did I mention we won?). First, let’s start at the beginning.

I’ve always loved Newport. It’s a town that has so much to offer—the scenery, the history, the restaurants, and the beautiful inns. So we were thrilled to be invited to screen. Craig arrived on Monday to prep the town for the SHERMAN’S WAY marketing machine (by machine I mean us). And on Wednesday morning at 6:00am, I journeyed to Penn Station (also historic as it’s historically crowded), hopped on the train, hopped in a cab, and met Craig at the Klau residence. Now, this festival did accommodations a little bit differently -- they placed filmmakers with a family, and the Klaus were truly one of a kind as they were endlessly hospitable. When I rang the doorbell to their Tudor home, to my “surprise” (notice the quotes), it wasn’t the Klaus who answered but Craig (he had made himself at home).

After talking to the Klaus and passing up their 10th offer to feed us, Craig and I went to the hospitality lounge to distribute more posters (and truth be told for me to drink my 5th cup of coffee that morning). After meeting some filmmakers, we had about an hour to kill before dinner, so we visited the Elms mansion, one of the most enjoyable activities in Newport. It was amazing to see how the “old money” families of Newport lived, with their regal and opulent multi-million dollar homes in which they only spent 1 maybe 2 months out of the year! But the coolest aspect of the family history was how many of these families achieved such vast wealth by sheer hard work and innovation.

Craig and I had a great dinner at 22 Bowens, located right by the water, and then it was off to a press interview with Jim Gillis for the Newport Daily News. As the locals already know, Jim is a wonderful guy, very down to earth, friendly, and talkative (trust me, that’s a rare treat for the interviewee to get a reporter who actually engages in a dialogue!). Jim, Craig and I took some pictures, talked about Newport, the experience of filming SHERMAN’S WAY, creating Starry Night Entertainment, and what we hoped for out of this festival. And then, it was off to the first screening.

Louisa, the festival director, introduced the film (a big honor), and then it began. That’s when I close my eyes. Kidding! Well, sort of. But I’ve by now memorized every frame. The screening went well, and Craig and I really enjoyed the Q & A afterwards where we found the questions both interesting and unique—people truly wanted to hear the story behind the story, and that’s always fun to tell. After the screening, we went to an after party and then it was off to bed. At 3:50am, we headed back to the airport, Craig to Jackson Hole, and myself to New York for a meeting the next day.


On Friday afternoon, it was back up to Newport, this time by car and with my girlfriend Jessie and our new dog Stevie. It was Stevie’s first trip to Newport. He was very excited (ok, I made that part up). We had a nice scenic drive, and checked into the Le Farge Perry house where we were greeted by the innkeeper’s own dog, Jacks. After showing us to our room and innocently removing the $5,000.00 duvet comforter and pillows from Stevie’s sight, she left us to enjoy a beautiful inn. Stevie was in heaven.

On Saturday, the three of us strolled around Newport, first to the ocean (it was Stevie’s first time) and state park. It was so nice to be in this huge state park with no one else in sight (remember, we live in New York City where grass is shared by 3 million other New Yorkers), and after that we visited a terrific pet store where we stocked up on treats, a great organic sandwich place, and then it was off to the screening (Stevie and Jessie stayed back at the inn).

I’ll be honest, I was really nervous! Usually Craig tests the film beforehand and does this great stand-up routine (yes, it really is a stand-up because it’s THAT funny) but this time it was just me, and believe it or not, I’m very shy. The festival staff sensed my nerves and were incredibly friendly and caring. They allowed me to test the film with the projectionist, who had everything set perfectly. That was very reassuring. And, what really helped was that my cousins Doreen, Rich, and Sloane had driven all the way from New Jersey to see the film, which I so greatly appreciated. We had the chance to talk before and catch up, and then I sat next to them during the screening. They laughed when I sat down with my popcorn, candy, and drink. Hey, it’s a movie!

The screening went well, and much to my surprise I really enjoyed the Q&A afterwards! So many people stayed, and it was nice to see the audience members smiling and genuinely interested in hearing more about how the movie was made and what will be its future. All in all, I thought, a wonderful experience, two great screenings, and two terrific audiences. Now, time to enjoy the rest of the trip and head home. Never did I imagine there would be more to come!

Jessie met us with Stevie afterwards and we all went to dinner (we had picked a really friendly local Italian restaurant named Sardella’s that allowed dogs!). I had such a nice time catching up with my cousins (whom I never get to see alone), sitting out in the sun, and eating some great food (and drinking wine!) at Sardella’s. After dinner, we took a long walk back and said goodbye--I still couldn’t believe they came all this way to see my film.

Sunday morning we woke up early, checked out (praising Stevie endlessly for not causing a lawsuit), walked along the cliffs, stocked up on Starbucks, and were about to hit the road when my phone rang…and rang…and rang. It was Ashley, the festival coordinator. “Hey…um…Mike are you staying for the Awards Ceremony?” “Well, I’m not sure Ashley, I appreciate the offer but I probably should head back. Hey, by the way, who won?” Ashley paused and replied “Mike, are YOU staying for the Awards Ceremony.” A beat. “Should I?” Ashley paused again. “See you at the Awards Ceremony.” “But Ashley-“ And she hung up. I stared at Jessie for a moment. “I think we should stay.”

They had the Awards Ceremony on a beautiful ferry, and I got to reconnect with Aaron, the other filmmaker staying at the Klaus. After Louisa’s and Eric’s opening remarks, they got underway with the Awards. And after a few minutes I heard “and the Audience Award for Best Narrative Film goes to….SHERMAN’S WAY! Michael Shulman please stand up”

I couldn’t believe it! All eyes turned to me, and everyone started clapping. I froze. It was a true honor. I walked up, got handed their award, a “Clammy” (a beautiful blue glass Clam) a plaque, and the mic. Hmm…at which point I said a few things I can’t remember, and smiled.

At the end of the festivities, I walked down the dock, called Jessie to tell her to make room in the car for our Clammy, and called Craig, who was very excited. As I said to Louisa and Eric, we were both thrilled and honored to even be at the festival, let alone win. What a great weekend! We’ll be back, film or no film.

And now…it’s 100 degrees in New York and humid. Back to reality!

AUDIENCE AWARD WINNER! Newport Int'l Film Fest

Mike was able to be present at the Awards Ceremony aboard a ferry boat in Newport Harbor where SHERMAN'S WAY was awarded the coveted Audience Award for Best Featire! Woo-hoo! Pics and Mike's blog story to come shortly!

Saturday, June 7, 2008

DAY THREE - Jackson Hole Film Festival

Today was like the perfect "film festival" day. I started my morning out watching an oddly touching, quirky doc called EVERYONE BUT YOU and although the crowd was, well, sparse, I could tell we all enjoyed subject/filmmaker Eric Shiveley's self-exploration of life, love and home. Immediately following the screening, I dashed out to join Mike via speaker phone for the introduction of our screening in Newport. (Look for Mike's blog entry from Rhode Island soon.)

After plastering the immediate area with postcards, stickers and posters hoping to drum up an audience for tomorrow's early screening, I settled in to see the Shorts Program III. Shorts are often the highlight for me of any festival, and this program was particularly strong. Stand-outs were CUTE COUPLE, A DAY IN A LIFE, VALIDATION, VOICEMAIL and SAL MOSCA. Although truth be told, everyone of the shorts were terrific and exceptionally well-programmed.

Afterwards I got an opportunity to talk shop with VOICEMAIL director Matthew Merkovich and VALIDATION director Kurt Kuenne, who it turns out also directed the award-winning doc DEAR ZACHARY, which I was fortunate enough to see up at Cinequest. Plus it turns out, he's friends with my pal, writer Rebecca Sonnenshine. Small world.



I made a promise to myself to actually sit down to at least one meal today and made good on that promise by stuffing my face with pizza at Mountain High Pizza Pie. I chose that place mostly because I like the way the name tripped off my tongue. On my way there, it began to snow. Or hail. Or snail. Couldn't quite tell. I just know it hasn't ever happened in LA whatever it was. I whipped out my trusty camera and shot some video. It was magical. At least to me. The locals looked a little annoyed at it. Or at me videotaping it. Not sure which.

I barely made it into the 5:15 screening of CAKE-EATERS, a beautifully shot, if somewhat slow-paced drama that starred John McCain look-alike Bruce Dern, as well as the young dude from TADPOLE. I can't recall where I've seen the young actress, but she was quite good in a difficult role.

From there, I gave Kurt Kuenne a (circuitous) ride to the Q BBQ Party (I got us a tad lost even though I'd passed the damn place twice daily for the last three days). What a fun party! Great band, great food and wall-to-wall film lovers.

Actor and juror Bill Pullman, who brought his wife and young son, was at the lively bash. I managed to weasle a pic with Pullman and the always upbeat and energetic Program Director Cevin Cathell.

I also finally got to meet James' lovely wife Kristina, as well as some of his local friends.

Now I'm not sure if it's all the wine I drank at the party or what, but it seems there were more animal-like creatures to welcome me back at the lodge that did last night. Hmm. We'll see how the lobby looks in the morning.

Friday, June 6, 2008

DAY TWO - Jackson Hole Film Festival

Took forever to get out of the hotel today. Chatted by phone with Mike in NYC as he prepped to head back to Newport, and with Tom in LA. SW was invited to screen at the Gaia Film Festival in Boulder, Colorado which should be fun as my son Josh will be attending University there in the Fall. Josh, incidentally was our set photographer on SW and many of his pics have appeared in print and online recently.

I finally made my way downtown around 3:30 and was eager to find a lunch spot since I hadn't eaten anything of substance since my meal with Mike Wednesday night. Much to my surprise, there was NOTHING to eat anywhere near the Teton Theatre where the 4:15 screening I was hoping to see was playing. After roaming the wooden-planked sidewalks, I finally had to give up on lunch and dine on popcorn during HAVE DREAMS WILL TRAVEL, a charming road picture starring two very talented young actors. One of the film's producer's is none other than JHFF Programmer Diane Becker, who incidentally produced the AFI short SADIE AND THE SLOT MACHINES, which was edited by our very own Chris Gay. Small world. After the Q&A I had to dash off to our own screening down the street.

I walked into the Center for the Arts and was stunned to see the huge lobby stuffed with an overflow crowd. Could they all be here to see SHERMAN'S WAY? Yeah, right. They were all here to see United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon give his keynote address. Great. Our little movie has to compete with this? His speech was sprinkled with humor and was well-received. (I tried to imagine, however, how the same crowd would react to President Bush -- or any US President for that matter -- making the same plea for Hollywood to use it's influence to promote a specific agenda, no matter how noble. But alas, I digress.) It was impressive to see him captivate the audience and I applaud the festival's commitment to important global issues.

Five minutes before showtime, I walked into Studio One where we would be screening at any moment and was taken aback to see just two in the audience. I walked back out and made a beeline for the bathroom, to both pee and hide. Luckily, when I returned there were significantly more butts in the seats. Ultimately, we had around 75 people or so and they were a terrific audience. As I told James later in the night (he couldn't attend as he was having dinner with the Secretary General... seriously), there were laughs where there hadn't been before, and other times when no one laughed where there had been guffaws at other fests. Go figure. But great crowd nonetheless. A smallish group of 30 or so stuck around for a lively Q&A hosted by none other than my new friend Diane Becker.

In the hall I got to chat even more in depth with a number of audience members who stuck around to say some very nice things. Then I was off to the Filmmaker's Party at the Lindsay McCandless Gallery. I've got to say, both parties I've attended here have not only been well attended, but very well stocked with food and booze. Not always the case for late-arrivals like me.

I got to chat it up with among others, James Lester, director of doc SAL MOSCA: UNSUNG, who I met on the plane ride into Jackson. I plan to see his film tomorrow. Also met Siobhan Mahoney, a funny and attractive actress/producer who has a short CUTE COUPLE playing this weekend. Then there were producers Wally Kurth and Markus Zetler of sports doc CLASS C. Briefly chatted with Lauren Williams of MovieHatch.com, a website dedicated to finding new film talent. We got interupted, but I look forward to chatting with her more about their venture. Ran into Matthew Stevens, the founder of the Indie Spirit Film Festival, who very generously provided me with bunny ears in the photo with festival Artistic Director Melanie Miller and Programmer DIane Becker. Is this blog starting to sound like a Larry King style stream-of-conscious column?

Thursday, June 5, 2008

NEWPORT DAILY NEWS FEATURE

We're now officially bi-coastal as Mike stays behind in Newport and I venture to Jackson Hole.


We "woke" up at 3:30 am to get to TF Green airport in Providence in time for my 6am flight(s) to Wyoming and Mike's 6:30am flight back to NYC, (Mike returns to Rhode Island on Friday with his girlfriend Jessie to host the Saturday screening solo). I say "woke" even though I never went to sleep after returning from last night's party around 1am. After changing planes in Atlanta and Salt Lake, I made it into Jackson around 2:30pm and was greeted by a text from Mike informing me about a front page feature article that appeared in today's NEWPORT DAILY NEWS. We had met with reporter Jim Gillis just prior to our 9pm screening last night at the Opera House Theatre. Like all Newporters, a very nice guy. In any case, check out the article by clicking on the thumbnail image below, or click HERE.

After checking in to the beautiful Snake River Resort, James Le Gros (sporting a long Hell's Angel beard for his new HBO series ONE PERCENT) picked me up and we drove into town to catch the Opening Night film HEART ON FIRE. It's a touching film about children soldiers in a small war-torn African nation, but nonetheless a challenge to sit thru (subtitles and all) after being awake for 36+ hours straight and eating only airline "snacks."

Speaking of my flights, on the leg from Salt Lake to Jackson I sat across the aisle from and chatted it up with Anonymous Content producer/manager Michael Sugar, an extremely funny guy with exceptional taste. (He liked my film, what can I say other than he has great taste?) Also seated next to me was LITTLE MISS SUNSHINE producer Ron Yerxa, who offered to share his bag of fresh cut carrots with me. Seems industry turnout at Jackson Hole promises to be substantial.

I'll write more later. For now I just need sleep. Sleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee...

Wednesday, June 4, 2008

NIFF - Day Two

Well the weather didn’t last. Woke up to grey skies emptying torrents of rain across the vast lawn that spread out below my second floor room. Mike arrived via train/cab from Manhattan around 11am and we quickly made our way to the Filmmaker’s lounge in a car borrowed from our generous hosts Jimmy and Sue.

At the lounge we met producer Thomas DeWolf who is in town with his docu INHERITING THE TRADE. Unfortunately, I won’t be in town to catch a screening as I leave early tomorrow for Jackson Hole.

The rain let up a bit after lunch, so we decided to take in a tour of The Elms Mansion. What a stunning piece of architecture. Mike and I strolled the palatial grounds plotting our next film as we gawked at the formal gardens. Yes, we’re both geeks and damn proud.

We rushed back to make a 6:30 dinner reservation at 22 Bowens and stopped at a small side street adjacent the Filmmaker’s Lounge. Now, most Angelino’s readily guess that we named our film after a street in Los Angeles, but we were pleased to find the Photo Op (at right) in downtown Newport.

Dinner was spectacular and the bottle of wine we shared made for an easy icebreaker for the interview we were going to give just before the 9pm screening of our film.

We met just outside the Opera House Cinema with reporter James Gilles from the NEWPORT DAILY NEWS and chatted and took pictures for about 45 minutes, at which time we were whisked away into the theater.

No matter how many times I see it, it’s always fun to see our film’s title on a marquee, just below of which I met festival director Louisa Percudani (who bears a striking resemblance to actress Mercedes Rhuel). We were honored to have her personally introduce the film to a smallish crowd of just under 100. (She told me she thought it was a great crowd considering it was late on a weeknight.) The audience was very audible in their laughter and seemed to enjoy the film, especially the elderly woman who talked through the entire movie, (“Who’s that?” “Did he hurt himself being dragged by the car?” “Whoever heard of a cat that thinks it’s a dog?”)

After the screening Mike and I engaged in a lively Q&A. We were surprised that almost the entire audience stayed and asked question after question. Good questions too, not just “How much was the budget?” etc.

In the lobby, we were introduced by our hosts to Aaron Rockett, a documentary filmmaker who is also staying at the Tudor Mansion with Mike and I. Regrettably I’ll miss his docu but look forward to seeing it another time. The three of us drove the short distance to the After Party and arrived just in time to fight over the last two beers. Aaron and Mike won. Just as well, I was driving and had to get up in a matter of hours.

NEWPORT THIS WEEK: Review

Another good review, another front page mention! Today's NEWPORT THIS WEEK features a cover story on the 11th Annual Fest and singles out 5 of the 100 + films, including SHERMAN'S WAY. Reviewer Patricia Lacouture says SW is "a delightfully clever romp where soul searching never gets bogged down in artificial angst."

Bi-monthly tabloid MOTIF also singles out SW in today's edition, referring to SW as having "generated great buzz already" and among three listed "must see" films at the festival. Woo-hoo!

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

MOVIES, MANSIONS AND MIDNIGHT STROLLS

What a gorgeous day to start the festival. The weather in Newport couldn’t have been nicer and I took advantage of it by walking everywhere. Imagine that… an Angelino WALKING! I walked down Rhode Island Avenue to Broadway and made my way to the festival Box Office/Filmmaker’s Lounge and checked in. Hospitality Director Carol Tucker greeted me and handed me a bag of goodies and was, well, extremely hospitable. After putting up some posters and placing stacks of postcards throughout the lounge, I headed out towards the Opera Theater where we’ll be showing tomorrow night and Saturday afternoon.

I met production co-ordinator Bryan Belmore outside the Jane Pickens Theater where tonight’s Opening Night presentation of MAN ON WIRE will screen. Like so many festival bigwigs, Bryan divides his time throughout the year working various festivals (Sarasota and Hamptons in his case) and his enthusiasm for independent film was evident.

I headed down Thames and plastered as many shop front windows with posters as possible, then continued down America’s Cup along the Warf before trekking up Bellevue to take in some sightseeing of the fabulous mansions. I took a tour of Marble House, then sat on the vast lawn overlooking the harbor and made calls to the coast. For an hour I talked business with folks in LA while relaxing in one of the most beautiful spots in America.

I got back just in time to head out to the theater to see the wonderfully engaging doc MAN ON WIRE. Tightwalker Phillipe Petit, who charmed the audience afterwards in a lively Q&A, made for a compelling, if not obvious, subject. I was amazed how quickly the 80 minutes passed. I recommend seeing the film when it hits theaters.

I stopped by the After Party at the Yachting Center for a bit and chatted with a few of the folks that make the festival run smoothly behind the scenes, but was mostly on my cell phone doing business with LA. At least I had a drink in my hand and a view of the yachts in the marina.

I stumbled two miles back to the mansion, getting completely lost in the dark. All those giant homes look alike in the midnight blackness. I was worried about waking my generous hosts as I finally made my way down the hall, but they were up, eager to chat about the film we'd all seen earlier. Just yesterday they were strangers. Now I've got two terrific new friends. I love film festivals.