Tuesday, October 21, 2008


On October 4th I got a Facebook message from Melanie Miller, Artistic Director of the Jackson Hole Film Festival, (above, right with Festival Programmer Cevin Cathell and me) announcing the closure of the Festival due to lack of funding.

Today's DAILY VARIETY has run an article (HERE) about how the current economic crisis has affected the world of film festival sponsorships.

It's a sad day when truly great Fests such as Jackson Hole have to shutter because local and national sponsors drop out for monetary reasons. I realize there are a glut of festivals world-wide -- in fact, too many here in the States in my view -- but fests that find a special niche and promote real independent cinema (not just studio specialty arms) are rare and serve as an oasis on our cultural deserts.

Melanie, Cevin, Diane and the entire JHFF gang, I want you to know how very much all your hard work has been appreciated. I know Cevin you're already over at Sonoma (another favorite of mine) and Diane you are busy at work on a feature film, but I will always remember the incredibly impressive (and exceptionally well run) festival you put on and wish you tremendous success in your next adventures.

Thank you for your dedication and talent over the past five years. I feel exceptionally fortunate to have been a participant.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008


I reluctantly checked out of L'Auberge, but was excited to be joining Gerard and Jane for a quick breakfast at their home high atop a mountain range. More stunning views. More great food. More wonderful conversation. I hated leaving Sedona, but needed to get back to L.A.

Just to put things into perspective, this is the sight that greeted me upon arriving into Sedona Monday:

And this is the sight that greeted me upon returning home:

Unaltered pictures reflecting my altered life. Altered by the fact that I've been so fortunate to travel to so many cool places, and meet so many cool people. All because of this little film called SHERMAN'S WAY. For a "road trip" movie that doesn't go anywhere, it's taken me on one helluva fun trip so far.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


I spent the morning working on a screenplay, at first at the desk in my room, then down by the stream. It was a perfect work environment. I even managed to make a number of business calls from my al fresco office. At one point, an agent in New York interrupted our negations asking if I had just quacked at him. No, I said. I’m surrounded by ducks. I assume he thought I was in L.A., and I found it humorous that he didn’t follow up my comment with anything other than a nonplussed “Oh.”

After lunch I finally had the opportunity to meet Pat in person. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more enthusiastic festival director anywhere on the planet. His infectious smile and enthusiastic love of movies goes a long way to explain why Sedona Film Festival enjoys such a great reputation among filmmakers and filmgoers alike. As I pulled up to the Harkins Theater, I took note of the many construction/traffic workers outside the theater. They seemed to be waving people into the cinema with their big orange flags. When Pat greeted me in the same reflective yellow vest and hard hat, I became aware of all the traffic cones and street signs leading into the theater where the film was going to be playing. It was all for us! I was so amused and impressed with how they decked the place out with the Sherman traffic sign motif. Very clever. Very effective.

We went inside and did a sound and picture check on the film before I dashed back to the hotel, where Mike was due to arrive at any minute. The theater lobby was already filling up with people buying tickets to the 4:00 screening – including Joaquin’s mom and dad, sister and nephews, aunts, uncles and cousins. The place was crawling with Sedillo’s!

Mike and I got some business done on his porch (over a glass or two of wine) before we headed back to the theater for the first screening’s Q&A. It went great until an audience member commented on how cool she thought the sepia coloring we did on the film was but asked about its meaning. I looked to Pat and he explained that there was a problem with the projector, but it was being corrected for the next screening. It was funny how many in the audience thought it was some kind of artsy creative choice we made. Maybe on our next film. As we’ve seen at many other festivals, the audience asked great questions and made for a lively give and take.

Following the Q&A, Pat introduced Mike and I to Mary and Suzy, festival board members who were graciously hosting a dinner for us at their home between screenings. And what a home it was. A stunning, sprawling pueblo-inspired ranch home nestled in one of the most beautiful spots I’d ever seen. The delicious food was topped only by the delightful conversation. It was certainly an evening to remember. Time for us to return to the theater came quickly, and Mike and I arrived just as the film finished up.

Now… a warning for filmmakers on the festival circuit who also like their wine: ease up on the grape before doing a Q&A. I’m afraid I was a little fast and loose with my attempts at humor and forgot that our audience consisted of more than just college kids. When a sweet elderly man commented on how much he enjoyed not just the jokes, but also the heartfelt moments that left a lump in his throat, I smiled, paused and promptly called him a “pussy.” The stunned look on everyone’s face – including Mike’s – albeit priceless, is one I hope not to see anytime soon. I’m sure there were other transgressions, but thankfully my buzz was such that I’ve all but forgotten them. I’m sure Mike will remind me, however, whenever the opportunity arises. Luckily, everyone afterwards was extremely kind and filled with good humor. Seems the evening was a success.

I can’t wait to finish our next film and hopefully be invited back to Sedona. I’ll promise not to drink too much.

Monday, October 13, 2008


I was particularly excited about returning to Sedona to screen SHERMAN’S WAY during the festival’s Second Tuesday series. As I mentioned earlier on this blog, I had been to the festival years and years ago with another film and it has long held a special place in my heart among film fests. Add on top of that Joaquin Sedillo (our DP) still had tons of family living in his hometown of nearby Flagstaff and were certain to attend, I knew Mike and I were in for a fun couple of days.

After arriving at the huge Phoenix airport, I hopped into my (generously provided) rental car for the two-hour drive to Sedona. (BTW, have you noticed the trend at rental car companies lately? They seem to run out of the compact or midsize car you reserved the second you arrive, and offer to “upgrade” you to a gas-guzzling SUV. It’s happened to me 6 times in the last couple months. This time I insisted they honor the reservation, and they eventually found for me an economy car that resembled a bright red roller skate that “whistled” loudly whenever I exceeded 30 mph.)

The scenery got increasingly beautiful as I neared the Red Rock desert city and, aside from a plethora of construction workers buzzing around a series of brand new roundabouts, the town looked exactly as I recalled. As I checked into the L’Auberge de Sedona (this fest really knows how to spoil filmmakers!) I was taken by the amazing views surrounding the luxury resort. I snapped a picture of the view from my cabin (above).

Fest director Pat Schweiss called to make sure I was settled in and asked if I needed anything. I looked around the sumptuous room replete with King Size bed, wood-burning fireplace, big screen TV, spa bathtub and a private porch overlooking a duck-filled stream. “I could really use an additional 5 days here!” “We’d be delighted,” was Pat’s cheerful reply. I, of course was kidding. Not sure if Pat was.

The hotel was hosting its nightly wine and cheese reception (anytime you put the words “wine” “cheese” and “free” together… I’m there) in the main lobby and I was joined for a drink with my old friend from Australia, actor/writer Gerard Maguire. It was great seeing him after way too many years. We continued our visit over dinner at the nearby Cowboy Club and promised to get together again tomorrow after the screening when his wife Jane Alsobrook could join us. Jane and I worked together years ago (she in distribution, I in production) -- she’s a legend in the independent film world.

Saturday, October 4, 2008


Okay, how trippy is this? A screen capture of this blog was utilized on TV personality Tamara Henry's blog, and now I'm posting the altered blog in our blog. It's all getting a bit Escher. Tamara's show IN WITH TAMARA HENRY (which will air this coming Monday, October 6 in the Los Angeles area on Time Warner Cable channels 43, 77 and 98) features a segment on the Gaia Film Festival where SHERMAN'S WAY was honored with the Audience Award for Best Feature. I'm the in-studio guest, and had a fun time chatting it up with the delightful Ms. Henry. Unfortunately, I have no idea what time the program airs. Perhaps you can just park yourself in front of the TV and watch public access programming all day long.

Friday, October 3, 2008


One of the biggest personal by-products of directing SHERMAN'S WAY was my new-found enthusiasm for British cars in general, MGB's in particular. Little by little, I've seen my mailbox filled with all sorts of publications relating to British motorcars -- some I've subscribed to, and others that just mysteriously show up in my mail. One such publication arrived today, and as I was perusing its contents over lunch, I was surprised to see a mention of our very own MGB movie. Appropriately titled BRITISH MOTORING magazine sent reporter Kathleen Mangan to the MG2008 Car Show, where as you may recall, we screened the film to an enthusiastic crowd of 300. Thanks, Kathleen for mentioning the film! We appreciate the publicity! If you'd like to read the article online, click HERE and scroll down to page 35.

We've also started getting some press surrounding the upcoming SEDONA FILM FESTIVAL Second Tuesday Screening on October 14th in Arizona. Check out the latest online edition of RED ROCK MAGAZINE for a feature article on SW.