A crowd estimated at 100-125 filmgoers, filmmakers and film presenters took over one side of Mesa restaurant in Costa Mesa Tuesday night for "An Evening With the Directors," a benefit that precedes the 10th annual Newport Beach Film Festival opening Thursday and continuing through April 30.
Guests paid $60 each, with proceeds going to NBFF and Irvine Barclay Theatre's young professionals' booster group NEXT@theBarclay, to hear indie directors Sam Bozzo (Blue Gold: World Water Wars), Drake Doremus (Spooner), Brent Huff (Cat City), Stephen Latty (The Drums Inside Your Chest) and Doug Pray (Art & Copy) describe their projects. (In the interest of full disclosure, the event was put together by Media Boutique's Claudia Schou, who is the wife of the Weekly's Nick Schou.)
Over by the bar, Pray recalled all the places his film has and will play: Sundance, Boston, Canada, San Francisco, Los Angeles. The documentary about extraordinary advertising that manages to speak to the times like respected forms of art is quite a departure from his previous films, not that you can pin Pray down. His 1996 debut, Hype!, was about the explosion of the northwest music scene. He went on to make docs about various London characters (2004's Veer and 2005's Sidewalk Gallery), Haiku Tunnel's Josh Kornbluth's monologue on growing up with communist parents (2004's Red Diaper Baby), graffitti culture (Infamy of '05), contemporary American life through the eyes of long-haul truckers ('07's Big Rig) and a bio of 85-year old surfer, health advocate and sex guru Dr. Dorian "Doc" Paskowitz (last year's Surfwise). Art & Copy screens twice at the Lido: at 8 p.m. Sunday and 4 p.m. Thursday, April 30.
Standing a couple bar stools over from Pray was Huff, a nice fellow who seemed to enjoy swapping stories about our respective families as much as he did talking about his thriller set in Palm Springs. Seeing the Salton Sea for the first time, he decided right then he would shoot there one day. He got his wish with Cat City, although he--and certainly his gruff star Brian Dennehy--did not wish for the 114-degree heat. Or the swirling flies. Or the stench. Those are now long-ago annoyances. What bothers Huff now is his screening slot: 3:30 p.m. Friday at Edwards Island 6. "Will anyone even be there?" he asked. Later, when he took the microphone to speak to the crowd, he obviously still had the desert hot center on his mind when he mentioned how great it was being at the Palm Springs Film Festival. He did catch himself the second time, though.
Doremus, who grew up in Santa Ana and attended with his mother, Orange County Crazies' founder Cherie Kerr, told me he was over the moon that his romantic comedy, which stars former Tustin resident Matthew Lillard, screens at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Lido. He recalled pacing the theater's lobby as a kid, dreaming that one day audiences would fill the huge movie house for one of his pictures. He's got a prime festival slot for his debut Spooner, so he at least has a decent shot. Having Lillard on hand for a post-screening appearance won't hurt.
If you like this story, consider signing up for our email newsletters.
SHOW ME HOW
You have successfully signed up for your selected newsletter(s) - please keep an eye on your mailbox, we're movin' in!
The portable sound system inside the Mesa was off, but Bozzo clearly said, more than once, that Blue Gold will be his first and last documentary. Having previously made shorts and 1994's comedy thriller Holiday on the Moon, the Irvine resident stumbled upon Maude Barlow's book Blue Gold and decided it would make a great documentary. How hard could that be? So hard that Bozzo swears he won't attempt to make one again. Reviewed here, Blue Gold: World Water Wars screens at 11:30 a.m. Sunday in the newly remodeled theater in the Peter and Mary Muth Interpretive Center and 7:30 p.m. Monday at Edwards Island Cinemas 4.
Facing the crowd, Latty asked how many people hate poetry? After a few whoops, the director informed that was why he made The Drums Inside Your Chest, which tracks a magician emcee and seven poets/spoken word types performing in Los Angeles. Poetry/spoken word has changed in the last decade and become "more rock 'n' roll," according to Latty. Anyone who sticks around for The Unusuals, the new cop show after ABC's Lost, will recognize Amber Tamblyn, the poet who curated the LA show, which she also performed in. Drums Inside Your Chest, which is reviewed here, screens at Lido 6 p.m. Sunday.
There were also reps present for the coming-of-skate story Street Dreams and Saturday Night Centerpiece film Dim Sum Funeral.