After two hours of pitching, their luck changed. The In Smog and Thunder crew stopped talking, and Patchett started giving suggestions for the film. He even recommended Meredith as director and himself as executive producer. The flick was a go.
The movie was finished in 2001. Meredith declined to state how much it cost exactly, although one estimate puts it at less than $75,000. They even have a distributor—Doug Zwick of Pop Twist Entertainment—who hopes to line up a commercial run, believing audiences would hook onto the pop-culture references.
Those riffs in Birk's art could be used for a lot more, according to Los Lobos' Pérez.
"It tells people not from the culture that it's okay to appreciate stuff outside their culture," he said. "He's building bridges on a grassroots level, and that's how we need to communicate, that's how we're going to inform the powers that be. We do it one song at a time. Sandow does it one painting at a time."
In Smog and Thunder screens at the Orange County Museum of Art, 850 San Clemente Dr., Newport Beach, (949) 253-2880; www.newport beachfilmfest.com. April 9, 2 p.m. $8.