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Film fest full of fascinating flics

April 13, 2003

For the last two years or so I've covered the openings and behind the

scenes stuff related to the Newport Beach Film Festival. I never went

to one screening until this year.

For Christmas I got a digital video camera, and I have tried

making some mini-movies, so my interest was piqued. New digital

technology makes it easy and affordable to make a decent film on a

laptop. Just upload your film into a laptop computer and you can make

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your own masterpiece, or so you think. I have managed to dazzle my

friends and family with a few "shorts" of my own created on my little

Apple computer. Everyone was amazed, but I know better. I have to

admit the videos I have made came out pretty good, but making a real

movie is something else. So I went and checked out a few movies at

the festival.

Press pass in hand, I grabbed the program and circled the films

that generally interested me, mostly documentaries This included any

travel, photojournalism, extreme sports, music themes and interesting

stories.

Documentary filmmaking is something I am interested in, and

actually believe I am capable of producing someday -- if I could ever

decide what subject (and there are millions).

I started with two documentaries in a row. "Pipe Dreams," which

follows two Olympic athletes as they head toward the 2002 winter

games, and "The Wonder of Phil" by local filmmaker, Michael Stute. I

photographed Stute for an article in the Pilot a week before the

festival and I had heard about Phil Shane through the Orange County

music scene.

I was looking forward to it. Both were at the Orange County Museum

of Art. As I walked, in the "theater" was like a large classroom with

the screen taking up one side of the wall. Intimate and friendly.

People chatted away in small groups excited about the film. I felt

like I should have known someone but I didn't. I chose a seat and it

turned out the guys in front of me made the film.

"Pipe Dreams," I would learn later, was one of the better movies I

saw all week. Beautiful mountain scenes with top-notch snowboarding

and skiing. But it wasn't just a bunch of action, it had well-woven

story, using photography, music, interviews, natural sounds and drama

to tell the story of the snowboarder and ski jumper. It was shot at

all hours in all conditions. No clowning around and very pro. The

cast of these two never flinched as the camera followed them toward

the 2002 games in Salt Lake City. An impressive and complete story.

It reminded me of "Hoop Dreams," a basketball documentary, that came

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