August 19, 2004

Me and Hal

One of the many highlights of the Crested Butte film festival was meeting Hal Needham, the writer and director of my one-time favorite movie, 'Smokey and the Bandit.' The first time I ever saw 'Smokey and the Bandit' I must have been between eight and ten years old, (it was made back in 1977). I watched it again recently on TBS at 1:30 AM. Unfortunately, they butchered many of Jackie Gleason's (Sheriff Buford T. Justice) famous and hilarious one-liners with their heavy-handed editing, (why edit at 1:30 in the morning?), but the heart of the movie was intact, and what remains of the adolescent in me couldn't help but grin ear-to-ear when Burt Reynolds punched the accelerator on that black Trans Am.

My first question to Hal was: "How did you capture the sound of that car? It just sounds amazing."

In his thick Southern drawl he explained how he knew exactly how he wanted the car to sound, and the Trans Am just didn't sound big enough, so he had found another car with a '...big ole engine in it,' slapped on some special mufflers and substituted the sound for the Trans Am in post production.

Unfortunately I missed the screening of 'Hooper' on Wednesday night, (I arrived in town Thursday morning), but I did catch a Q&A hosted by Hal after the awards ceremony on Saturday night. He has lead a truly remarkable life and enjoyed a prolific career. He's written, directed and been a stuntman and stunt coordinator on hundreds of the biggest films of all time. He was the first person to test the automobile airbags we now all take for granted, and was the first person to break the sound barrier on land. He was a contestant in the real-life version of The Cannonball Run, an experience he eventually turned into a movie. He is also one of the founders of Stunts Unlimited, an invitational association of stunt professionals. Do yourself a favor and check out the trailer button on their website, it contains nearly every one of the great film stunts of the last decade.

After listening to Hal's amazing stories of being a career Hollywood renegade I thanked him for his films and said how much fun I'd had watching them as a boy. He smiled, thanked me and said: "I've always made films that were a lot of fun. If you're not having fun, what's the point?"

August 17, 2004

Audience Choice Award

The Crested Butte Reel Fest 2004 has wrapped, and the filmmakers and cinephiles have gone home. It has been an unreal week in an unreal location, surrounded as we were by the majesty of the Rockies in the heart of Colorado.

The Saturday night program at Reel Fest included Academy Award shorts as well as the festival wrap up award ceremony. The Academy Award shorts were fantastic, and I particularly loved the German film, 'Die Rote Jake' (The Red Jacket) and the claymation 'Harvey Krumpet.'

The Reel Fest jury awarded Flickering Blue The Silver Award (second place), which was expected because we had been given advance notice, perhaps in the hope that we, the filmmakers, would attend. Throughout the festival Flickering Blue generated good word of mouth, and people stopped me and Harper Philbin (director) in the quaint streets of Crested Butte to tell us how much they loved our film. One woman said it had made her cry, which is a remarkable feat in a twenty-two minute film. However, it was still a shock to be awarded with the Audience Choice Award, which is, perhaps, the most valuable accolade a filmmaker can receive. It means that your film has resonated with audiences; they have understood and voted for your film. The crowded movie house roared when we were announced, and the post awards adulation was almost too much. Almost.

August 12, 2004

On the Road

I've driven 2500 kilometers in the last three days, through Washington, Oregon, Idaho and Utah, finally crossing into Colorado on Tuesday night. I embarked on this extensive road trip for a couple of reasons, the first being that I'm attending the Crested Butte Reel Fest in support of my film, Flickering Blue, and the second is that my route takes me through a few of the world's mountain biking meccas. This trip services my two great passions, film and riding my bike, (in case you weren't paying attention).

I rolled into Crested Butte this morning after spending the night in Gunnison, where I rode Hartman Rocks. I was in Moab, Utah, the day before, and road the world-famous Slickrock Trail at sunset.

Tonight Flickering Blue screens in Reel Fest's Primetime Shorts program, after which I will be hosting a post-screening Q&A with director Harper Philbin.

The rest of the Reel Fest program looks pretty good, and I'm really looking forward to the Friday-night screening of 'We Don't Live Here Anymore,' starring Mark Ruffalo, Laura Dern, Naomi Watts and Peter Krause (one of my new favorite actors from Six Feet Under). The film's producer, Jonas Goodman, is in town to support the film and host a post-screening Q&A.

More soon...