Orange Countians Go Hollywood at the Newport Beach Film Fest
Sometime in the first half of the 1990s, I met with this youngish executive producer in Newport Beach named Brad Moseley, who wanted me to look at his indie project Cityscrapes: Los Angeles.
Because I am too lazy to go into my garage and move stuff around in dim hopes I hung onto a clipping of whatever I wrote about the film, I am going to have to rely on my foggy memory. Cityscrapes was, I'm pretty sure, black-and-white and jumped back and forth between different characters' stories in LA, similar to Robert Altman's Short Cuts.
The only story I vividly recall involved Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz and Ione Skye lying in bed all day. Michael Becker's Cityscrapes was Adam Scott's first picture, informs imdb.com, coming out the same year (1994) as the future Parks and Recreation star's first television show, MTV's short-lived Dead at 21.
Moseley was also the executive producer that year of Michael Weaver's Almost Hollywood, a comedy whodunnit about a murdered starlet. Next he was associate producer of Julie Taymor's Titus, a 1999 adaptation of the William Shakespeare play Titus Andronicus, with Anthony Hopkins in the title role.
And next came . . . fade to black.
Not until this year did Moseley get back in the film biz, as executive producer of the short film Out, which is an entry in the 2014 Newport Beach Film Festival (NBFF) that kicks off next Thursday, April 24, and runs for eight days.
Moseley's real job is investment banker and senior numismatic adviser at Monaco Rare Coins in Newport Beach. He's just one of many Orange County locals who burned the midnight matinee oil to play parts in productions that made this year's NBFF cut.
He says Cityscrapes enjoyed "big indie success" and that he figured he "hit it big" with Titus. But as Moseley continued to write, option and develop scripts, the financial market turned upside-down in 2000 and '01, followed closely thereafter by 9/11.
"Monetarily, everything dried up," Moseley says. "My plan was to work in the mornings and early afternoons, and then come back to the office to continue developing movies in the late afternoon. But I was splitting my attention. It did not work."
Though people still tried to entice him with film projects over the years, he resisted until very recently, when Charles Evered, a friend Moseley met in 1995 when he optioned an Evered screenplay with Matt Dillon attached, mentioned a short film he was writing and directing.
"I couldn't refuse," Moseley says. "It was low budget; a bunch of people wanted to work on it, and they just needed a little money. I read the screenplay, liked the story, and—wham!—I'm back in the market."
Out tells the story of a down-on-his-luck everyman (Marty James) who in less than 20 minutes faces the prospect of losing his home, mother and most closely held secret.
"There has always been that passion I had to put aside for awhile," Moseley says. "This movie brought me back into the spotlight, so to speak."
Next he hopes to bring to the surface his own story, loosely based on the SS Central America side-wheel steamer sinking 200 miles off the Carolina coast in 1857, treasure and artifact recovery efforts in 2001, and his own experience at Monaco, which helped convert gold bars and coins from the wreckage into a half a billion dollars.
"It can be as big as Titanic," he says of the movie currently in his head.
The big score for Chantal Molnar, a registered nurse who resides in Orange, would be changing American attitudes toward breast-feeding with the documentary she co-produced, The Milky Way. Molnar worked for more than 20 years at UC Irvine Medical Center, where she saw firsthand "how damaging medical practices are to breast-feeding and realized how drastically the culture must change in order for more moms to succeed."
Directed by Jon Fitzgerald, the film, which raised more than $100,000 on Kickstarter and makes its world premiere at NBFF, follows a lactation consultant promoting breast-feeding and includes interviews with such advocates as singer Alanis Morissette and actresses Carrie-Anne Moss and Minnie Driver.
American Wine Story, which shares the stories of upstart winemakers from around the country (including former NFL quarterback Drew Bledsoe), features an on-camera interview with Jay Selman, CEO of Tustin direct-marketing firm Pinpoint Technologies. But David Baker, the documentary's director, chatted Selman up about his side gig: hosting the indie podcast Grape Radio (graperadio.com), for which he's "interviewed more than 500 rock-star winemakers."
Selman was filmed in his Tustin studio as well as at Hi-Time Wine Cellars in Costa Mesa. American Wine Story, which is making its world premiere at NBFF, also includes shots from Giracci Vineyards in Silverado Canyon.
Another local who pops up in a documentary making its world premiere at NBFF is Balboa Island's Mike White. The former head coach of the University of California Golden Bears football team is among the talking heads in Bob Rider and Phil Schaaf's Don't Quit: The Joe Roth Story. Narrated by veteran college football announcer Keith Jackson, the film is about the quarterback who led Cal in 1976 while keeping secret the melanoma that was eating him alive.
Speaking of sports-related documentaries making their world premieres at NBFF, San Clemente's Brent Deal, a director of commercials, realized his long-held dream of making feature-length films with his first two at NBFF 2012: the stand-up paddling (SUP) flicks H2indO and Decade of Dominance. Two years later, he's back with two more world premieres: H2mexicO, which puts some of the first film's SUP stars on a "surfing yacht" in waters south of the border, and XOXO, which follows five female athletes from different sports to Maui, where they give something back to local girls.
Another documentary that made its world premiere at NBFF 2012 was Behind the Orange Curtain, which was about the alarming number of teens dying of drug overdoses in South County. It was partly inspired by the late Jarrod Barber of Laguna Niguel, and his mother Jodi Barber had her own short film in that same festival, Overtaken, which featured young people sharing their drug-abuse horror stories. Jodi Barber is back at NBFF 2014 with Overtaken 2, which checks back in with the first film's subjects to see how they are coping with their addictions.
Also making its world premiere at NBFF is Untouchables: The Children of God, a documentary about the callous abuse of little girls in the brothels of India. Director Grant Knisely resides in Newport Beach, as does one of the executive producers, Jaime Elizabeth Saul.
Franki Doll, a trainer at Rise Above Fitness in Huntington Beach (and musician, composer, sound engineer, motivator and more, according to her LinkedIn profile), was a production assistant on writer/director Keith Palmer's Swelter. Making its world premiere at NBFF 2014, the drama with Alfred Molina, Josh Henderson and Jean-Claude Van Damme is about robbers of a Las Vegas casino breaking out of prison after 10 years to chase the lone member of the gang who escaped capture—with $10 million.
Dirk Behlau and Jesper Bram's documentary Flake & Flames chronicles the Kustom Kulture movement around the globe and includes Orange County and Long Beach punkers, rockabillies, hot-rodders, tattoo artists, illustrators and all-around scenesters.
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