Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Student Films Target All Kinds of Love

Monday, May 28th, 2012

Idyllwild Arts alum, Gabe Harshman, acted in "Love Without End"

By Marcia E. Gawecki

All five shorts shown at the Student Film Screenings on Saturday, May 26, were about love.

They involved different themes, including a zombie apocalypse, teen angst, separation and death, gay marriage and restoring eyesight to Ethiopians. But the overall premise was about love — of self, your siblings, your parents, your friends, your spouse and your fellow man.

By the packed house (for the second night in a row) and the standing ovation at the end, the audience loved them all. Even a few tears were shed.

“Get ready to cry!” exclaimed Shanna, a visual art student, after intermission. “The next one is really sad.”

She was right. “Love Without End,” written and directed by Rosey, was a story about love and loss. It was produced by Harald, edited by Minori and filmed by Cyrus.

“No matter what kind of love you have, it never ends,” said Rosey, as she stood at the podium introducing her short film. By the dramatic pauses in her brief speech, it appeared that the film could be autobiographical.

"Life After Death" was more than just a zombie apocalypse movie

“Love Without End” featured two strangers sitting on a bus headed for a special stargazing place in the mountains. Richard, played by Gabe Harshman, an Idyllwild Arts theater alum, lost his wife to illness, while Jason, played by Jared Billings (a film teacher), never found his sister after his parents died and different families adopted them.

The two standouts in the movie were local youngsters, Brighton Dahleen, who played Jason at age 8, and Jennie, played by Elsie Fisher, from the Universal Studios computer animated film, “Despicable Me.”

“It just tore my heart out to see them separated,” Shanna said.

Gabe also got a callout in the thank you credits. He is best known as the louse with the powdered wig in “Learned Ladies.” While at Idyllwild Arts, Gabe also played in the “Laramie Project” and the “Mystery of Edwin Drood.” Now, after two years at Roosevelt in Chicago, he’s living in Los Angeles and taking improv classes with Gary Austin, founder of “The Groundlings.”

He’s also friends with Idyllwild Arts film alumni, Nick Caine and Sean Stromsoe, who helped edit the films.

“Gabe was great to work with,” exclaimed Lujie one of the crew. “He worked with us until midnight and never complained.”

If you look closely at the way that “Love Never Ends” was shot, the two men who play the leads were never face-to-face, but side-by-side (on the bus, on the rock). That’s because Gabe’s part was shot first, weeks before Jared’s part, that was added later.

“I take pride in taking direction,” Gabe said earlier. “I’m an actor, not a director or producer, whose job is to look at the big picture.”

He said it was great coming back to the natural surroundings of Idyllwild after living in LA.

“It was really peaceful looking up at the stars,” Gabe said. “I miss that.”

Film crew unloads on location in Idyllwild

For the first film shown Saturday night, “Life After Death,” was more about the love between a sister and brother, than a zombie apocalypse. It was written and directed by Armani, a sophomore film major. In his introduction, he keenly noted that not many sophomores got their films “green lit.” He thanked his leading actor, Quincy, for making the most of her big sister role. Armani also thanked his real-life sister for her inspiration and his mother for her loyalty.

“This film is dedicated to my mother,” Armani said. “For believing in me, even when I turned into a zombie.”

He also said that he was inspired by a book that featured zombies that were not just cold-blooded killers, but still showed signs of humanity.

The action-packed zombie short, featured realistic makeup on the battle beleagured Quincy and her boyfriend, Eric. In an instant, she left  her 5-year-old brother alone to go out with Eric. (In hindsight, it may not have made a big difference if she was home because the zombies were taking over the world).

The movie makes good use of TV news announcements and voice mail messages to convey the seriousness of the zombie apocalypse. In most of the scenes, Eric wielded a semi-automatic rifle, to fend off zombies, coming close to getting bit once.

When he shot one zombie in an abandoned home, the bloodstain left on the wall was digitally enhanced.

(from L) Juwan sings to Jared, as Caleb plays at the 2011 screenings. This year, Jared acted in "Love Without End."

In his opening remarks to “Life After Death,” Jared said that the special effects company has agreed to work with Idyllwild Arts students again next year.

“That says a lot about the professionalism of our film students,” Jared said.

“The Wingman,” a coming-of-age comedy, features two Idyllwild Arts alumni in the leading roles, Connor Farwell and Russell Bomgardner. It was written and co-directed by Gabby and her brother, Angelo.

“As a former theater major, I thought I’d escape acting,” confessed Gabby, in her opening remarks. “But then, I’m in the film, so Angelo directed me.”

“Wingman” was produced by Alyssa, edited by Paris, Alex and Gabby. It’s about Jace, played by Russell (Shortcomings) who is bullied by the overbearing Payton, until a tragedy happend. Connor is still self-absorbed, but Russell has changed. Gabby, as the angel that only Russell can see, helps him find his backbone and realize his true merits.

“We think Angelo is awesome,” exclaimed Ira Abrams, in his opening remarks.

As cinematographer, Angelo captured Idyllwild’s natural beauty, including scenes from Lake Fulmor, and meadows near the state park.

(from L) Idyllwild Arts alum, Russell Bombgardner (shown with Kathryn) plays the sidekick in "Wingman"

The “Assosa Eye Clinic” documentary, also showcased the talents of Idyllwild Arts alumni, Sean Stromsoe (film) and Charles Haysbert (theater). It showed the efforts of Dr. Samuel, the only physician for 200,000 people, and the Tropical Health Alliance, to help restore eyesight to cataract patients in Ethiopia.

Though mostly visuals and little dialogue, Sean and Charles tell a heart-warming tale about a father and son. Through cataract surgery, sight in one of the father’s eyes is restored.

“I can see you!” the father exclaimed as his bandages were removed. “This is my joy to see my son again. Thank God.”

“Perfect,” a 3-minute short-short, was written and produced by Anna, just days before the weekend film screenings. It featured a love-struck girl musing about her prom date. Then reality strikes when his mom drives them to the dance.

The final film of the evening took on a political tone. “A Family Like Mine,” is a documentary about children growing up with same-sex parents. It was written by Katherine, or Tia, whose single dad is gay. It was produced by Tirzah, filmed by Alex, and edited by Moira.

President Obama portrait by Marcia E. Gawecki, Idyllwild

Recently, President Obama has supported legislation that allows same sex couples to marry. It is landmark legislation and a big risk for an incumbent president, yet opposed by the religious right.

“When I came to Idyllwild Arts, I was surprised to learn how many people grew up like me,” Tia said.

In her film, several instructors from Idyllwild Arts told their perspective of gay families, including Shambo Carpenter, a philosophy teacher, and Melissa Wilson, an animation teacher. Also, the wife of Daniel Gray, who was pregnant at the time.

They spoke of confusion, pain and isolation growing up as children of gay couples.

“My brother and I decided once that we weren’t going to listen to or associate with people who didn’t understand our family,” said Shambo, who has two mothers.

Tia, whose father is gay, didn’t know the term until she was nine years old when another child told her.

Her father described how his own mother sent him to a psychiatrist when he was young, to see if he was gay.

"Gabe was great to work with," exclaimed Lujie.

“They put me in a room with all kinds of toys. I bypassed all the cowboy guns and went straight for the dolls,” Tia’s father recalled. “When my mother asked the doctor if I was gay, he said, ‘Regardless if he’s gay or not, he’s going to be a father.”

“A Family Like Mine,” showed Tia growing up, riding bikes and drawing with her dad. Tia is African-American, and her father is white.

“People on the street used to ask me where I got this child, and if I took her from someone,” Tia’s dad said. “I used to tell them that I was babysitting for Diana Ross.”

Through a multitude of conversations with gay parents, children of gay parents, priests and news clippings of the opposition, “A Family Like Mine” will help give an insider’s perspective to the same-sex marriage debate.

“People don’t realize that when they are attacking same-sex couples, they are also attacking the children of those families,” Tia said “People like me.”

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All Rights Reserved.

 

 

 

Student Film Screenings Tonight & Saturday

Friday, May 25th, 2012

A zombie screams

By Marcia E. Gawecki

Zombies and pilots are among the themes for this year’s Student Film Screenings held tonight and Saturday at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theatre on the Idyllwild Arts campus. The much-anticipated event is free and open to the public.

Part of the zombie movie was shot next door to me in Idyllwild. I volunteered my neighbor’s house because frankly, my kitchen was a mess.

Maurice Mysenburg’s home was perfect because it was unoccupied (he lives in La Habra), it had a small Sherwood Forest in the back yard, and dark wood paneling throughout.

The script called for one actor to shoot a zombie dead against the wood paneling in the bedroom.

“I wonder if the blood will leave a stain?” asked Isaac, head of the Film Department.

Isaac and Gerald decided they needed to match the wood paneling so they could use it as an overlay. (I’m sure my neighbor, Maurice, wouldn’t want to live with zombie blood above his headboard.) As it turned out, however, they created the blood stain in post-production.

The film crew unloads all of the equipment

Outside, the film crew was unloading the lights, camera and equipment. I was just sorry that I wasn’t going to be around to watch them shoot the zombie film, “Life After Death.”

Before I left, one of the students asked to use my garden hose. I imagined that he needed it to fill up a fog machine or something.

As it turns out, he needed to hose down a zombie.

She had platinum blonde hair, and caked blood all over her face. She was a gruesome sight. And she stood there screaming. Why the zombie needed to be wet and miserable was unknown.

A zombie in full makeup

The zombie film was written by Armani, a sophomore film student at Idyllwild Arts, who insists that it’s got a decent storyline.

“It’s about a guy who convinces a girl to leave her 5-year-old brother at home so that she can go out with him,” Armani explained.

(See ‘Zombie Teen Flick” Idyllwild Me post dated April 10).

“‘It’s more about the story between the sister and brother,” Armani said.

Armani said that “Life After Death” is not autobiographical.

“My sisters didn’t leave me home alone until I was 10,” he said.

Most of the other short films, including “Wing Man” were shot in and around Idyllwild. Those who come to the Student Film Screenings tonight and Saturday night will notice many local sites.

Like all Idyllwild Arts events, the event is free and open to the public. But come early to get a good seat. For more information, contact (951) 659-2171 or visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

Palm Springs Film Noir Fest Opens Tonight

Thursday, May 10th, 2012

(from L) Jeffrey Taylor, actress June Lockhart and Charles Schlacks at the 2010 Film Noir Festival

By Marcia E. Gawecki

The 12th Annual Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival opens tonight (May 10) at the Camelot Theater in Palm Springs.

A small band of loyal film noir movie buffs from Idyllwild will attend the 3-day film festival dedicated to B-movies. Among them are Jeffrey Taylor, Green Cafe, who hosts a weekly movie night in Idyllwild, and his friend, Charles Schlacks, Jr., who has attended each year since its inception in 2000.

Their idea of heaven is sitting in a movie theater watching four films each day.

“Most of the movies shown at the festival have never been seen by the public before,” said Jeffrey, an alum of UCLA, whose film department helps restore old films, including many Film Noirs.

Of the 12-movie line-up that includes “Cry Danger,” “I Love Trouble,” “Shield for Murder” and “The Big Heat,” Charles has only seen “The Big Heat” before. He’s 81 years old.

Both men were good friends with the festival’s originator, Arthur Lyons, a former city councilman who wrote mystery novels and loved Film Noir. Wearing a cap and white shoes, Arthur often looked like he stepped out of one of the movies from the 1940s. However, he was only 62 when he died in 2008.

Since then, Alan Rhode has taken over his mantle, and continued the festival.

Arthur came to Jeff’s movie night to show a rare film noir and promote his book about film noir, “Death on the Cheap.”

Some of the attractions of the Arthur Lyons’ Film Noir Festival is that movie goers can mingle with movie stars. After many of the movies, Alan interviews one of the stars to get the “inside scoop” of what it was like back then. Most of the stars are in their 80s, but are still smart and lively.

For more information, visit Green Cafe’s web site at www.greencafe.com or the Arthur Lyons’ site, www.arthurlyonsfilmnoir.com.

Tickets are still available at the Camelot Theater before each showing.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

Zombie Teen Flick Shot in Idyllwild

Tuesday, April 10th, 2012

Idyllwild is the perfect locale for a zombie movie

By Marcia E. Gawecki

‘Bong of the Dead,’ ‘Chopper Chicks in Zombie Town,’ ‘Dead Men Don’t Die,’ ‘Flesh Eating Mothers,’ ”Oh, My Zombie Mermaid,’ and ‘Plan 9 from Outer Space’ are among the more curious titles of zombie movies listed on the internet.

You could say the world doesn’t need another zombie movie.

“But it’s not just a zombie movie,” insists Armani, a sophomore film student at Idyllwild Arts. “It’s got a decent storyline.”

Armani is talking about “Life After Death,” his short film that was “green lit” recently. (Green means ‘go’ in the film world). The high school students that make up his crew began shooting yesterday.

There’s no ‘zombie’ or zombie reference in the title of his film, which was intentional. In fact, Armani doesn’t even want to discuss zombies.

“I don’t want to speak of it,” he insisted. “Everyone has their own opinion of zombies.”

However, he will talk about is his storyline.

Recently, teen zombies were roaming on the Idyllwild Arts campus

“It’s about a guy who convinces a girl to leave her 5-year-old brother at home so that she can go out with him,” Armani explained.

Zombie drama ensues.

“‘It’s more about the story between the sister and brother,” Armani said. “I’m fighting hard to keep that part alive.”

“Life After Death” is not the first film at Idyllwild Arts that was written one way and turned into quite another.

Two years ago, “Prima Ballerina Assoluta,” Dhavit’s 18-minute short film about ballet dancers, started out as a Kung Fu ninja fighters movie, with lots of death and fight scenes. (See “Kung Fu Ballerina” blog post dated 4/20/10).

“But then Isaac (Webb) and I realized that the only ones on campus athletic enough to carry off a fight scene were the dancers, so we had to change it a bit,” Dhavit said.

Armani has plenty of students willing to turn into zombies for him, but he wants to make sure they don’t take over the movie. The familial relationship is key.

“No, it’s not a true story,” Armani laughs, when asked. “My sisters didn’t leave me home alone until I was 10.”

Kai, a former film student at Idyllwild Arts, said that horror films and night shooting takes a lot of work.

“You have to light every step,” Kai insisted. “Sometimes it’s better to rewrite a night scene.”

Armani said that most of “Life After Death” will be shot during the day or inside the house at night, so lighting isn’t going to be a problem.

“We’re shooting at Bruce Ryan’s son’s house in Idyllwild,” Armani said. “It’s practically across the street from us.”

Look for "Life After Death" to be shown at the IAF Theatre in the spring

Bruce Ryan donated the funds for the sound stage, and his son often lets film students use the house when they’re away. And it’s secluded enough that you wouldn’t see zombies roaming on Tollgate.

Not too long ago, zombies were roaming around on campus. They were not the undead, but students playing a Humans vs. Zombies tag game that lasted more than a week.

“You can stun a zombie by throwing a sock at him,” explained a faculty member at a recent All-School Meeting. “Inside is safe, but outside anywhere is fair game.”

Throwing socks seemed harmless enough until one dancer lost her balance in all the excitement and dislocated her shoulder.

“The sock didn’t hurt her, but her heavy shoulder bag pulled her down,” explained a student who witnessed the fall.

As a heavy fog rolls up the mountainside, Idyllwild appears to be the perfect setting for a zombie movie. Likely, the students have already wrapped up shooting. But in this small town, where many residents believe in fairies, ghosts, and Idyll-Beasts, it’s possible that zombies already roam Hwy. 243.

“Life After Death” and other student shorts will be screened at the end of the school year. The film screening is free and open to the public. For more information about the film department at Idyllwild Arts,  visit www.idyllwildarts.org.

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

Glass Fixer Knows About Film Crashes

Friday, April 6th, 2012

A cracked windshield can obstruct a driver's view

By Marcia E. Gawecki

In 2005, Doug Shelby, owner of Shelby Auto Glass in Hemet, got a call from one of the film students at Idyllwild Arts. The teenager was thinking of putting a car crash in his short film, and he wanted to know about breaking windshield glass.

Doug doesn’t remember who it was, but likely it could have been Alexis Echavarria, who won the “Audience Choice Award” for “18 Minutes,” a short film about the last 18 minutes of sunlight on earth.

The 16-year-old student died before the screening at ShortFest 2009 in Palm Springs, but a student award has been set up in his name.

In one of the scenes in “18 Minutes,” a young couple pauses on the street for a moment to kiss, while another car hits them head on. The teenage girl goes through the windshield, while the teenage boy survives. A dramatic scene ensues, showing the boy picking her up and cradling her in his arms, just moments before the world ends.

“I don’t think a head-on collision at low speeds, with one car parked would cause someone to go through the windshield,” said Doug. “Windshields are too tough now.”

In 'The Vow,' a woman goes through the windshield and gets amnesia

Doug explained that most car windshields are made of two panes of glass with a thin layer of plastic in between. That combination of glass and plastic is super strong, and makes it hard for anything to go through it, especially a person.

“You would have to be traveling about 90 mph straight into a brick wall to go through the windshield,” Doug said.

But teenage filmmakers are not the only ones who don’t get the windshield thing right.

A few weeks ago, Doug and his wife, Debi, went to see “The Vow,” a true love story about a married couple who get into a car crash. It’s the same premise. The two park momentarily at a stop sign to kiss, and then are rear-ended by a 14-wheeler. The woman, played by Rachael McAdams, goes through the windshield and survives, but gets amnesia.

“I leaned over and said to my wife, ‘That would never happen,'” Doug said.

Too bad director Michael Sucsy didn’t have Doug on the set to advise them about the realities of windshield glass.

Doug just shrugged and said, “That’s Hollywood!”

Many windshields crack in Idyllwild due to the weather

Shelby Glass is located at the bottom of the hill in Valle Vista/Hemet. Doug’s son works in their mobile unit that services Idyllwild businesses, including Idyllwild Arts.

“Shelby Glass is the best,” said Tucker McIntyre, head of Transportation at Idyllwild Arts. “We’ve used them for years because they’re reasonable and they come up to us for no extra charge.”

Shelby’s free mobile service covers Idyllwild, Beaumont, Banning, Hemet, and San Jacinto, among other cities.

For more information on Shelby Glass, contact (888) 298-7125, (951) 927-9810 or visit shelbyautoglass.com. The shop is located at 45457 Hwy. 74 in Hemet.

And to view Alexis Echavarria’s ’18 Minutes,’ visit www.alexisechavarria.com. (Video takes some time to download, so please be patient).

Copyright 2012 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

 

The Monster’s Daughter Visits Idyllwild

Saturday, November 5th, 2011

For more information, contact Jeffrey Taylor at (951) 659-6000

Goodbye to Cafe Cinema Regulars

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

By Marcia E. Gawecki

This Friday night, Sept. 30, Cafe Cinema in Idyllwild is saying goodbye to two beloved movie regulars, Will Waddell and his wife, Lori Alexander. Since they will be moving to Santa Monica soon, Jeffrey Taylor asked them to pick the movie.

As you may know, Lori is an accomplished composer and musician, and Will is a beloved biology teacher at Idyllwild Arts. They chose two cinedues, “Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” from Israel, and “Sex Among Other Things,” a short created by Idyllwild Arts students featuring Will as a sex ed teacher and Casey Abrams, our “American Idol” heartthrob,  as one of the students.

“Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” is a coming-of-age comedy that centers on a 16-year-old-boy, Shlomi. He takes care of his relatives, including his brother, mother and grandfather. He is a tremendous cook who can handle a lot of household chores.

However, things change for Shlomi when his school principal discovers that he is a genius. To get the proper education he needs, Shlomi must change schools. Yet, this genius is reluctant because of his mad crush on the girl next door.

Will can empathazine with Shlomi because he was in a similar situation in his youth.

“I had a mad crush on a girl in middle school,” Will recalled. “And before I could make a move, I got the news that my family was moving. I didn’t want to go.”

Oftentimes, teachers and students at Idyllwild Arts Academy are asked to try out for short movie roles. As a biology teacher, Will was a natural actor who delivered  his lines with deadpan accuracy.

“It was really fun being in a comedy,” Will had said. “As long as it didn’t take away from my class time, I was game.”

(from L) Casey Abrams with Caleb H. from Idyllwild Arts, also appears in Friday's movie, "Sex Among Other Things"

Any seasoned actor could tell you that comedy is difficult. If the timing or actor’s expressions are off, then everything falls flat. Yet, Will was a natural humorist, the students who worked on the movie had said.

 

In “Sex Among Other Things,” Will used a life-sized skeleton to discuss the clinical aspects of human copulation to students in the class.

“The director allowed me to ad lib my lines a lot,” Will said. “I’m glad that I didn’t have to do another take.”

Casey Abrams fans can catch his early comedy talent in “Sex Among Other Things.” Casey is a natural cut-up, but he also can show a serious side. In “18 Minutes,” Casey played a young boy dealing with a father who was slipping into insanity (played by local Chris Pennock).

“I knew Casey had talent way back then,” said Jeffrey Taylor, before Casey made it big on Season 10 of “American Idol.”

Jeffrey had shown “Sex Among Other Things” years ago at Cafe Cinema when it came out for the first time.

Come see the full-lenght comedy,”Bonsieur Monsieur Shlomi,” and the short, “Sex Among Other Things” this Friday night at the new Cafe Cinema located at 53290 Deerfoot Lane in Idyllwild. For more information, visit www.greencafe.com

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

 

San Jacinto Dressmaker Worked on ‘Gaslight’

Wednesday, July 27th, 2011

A young girl looks over sale fabrics at Jo-Ann's in Hemet. Not far away, a former MGM dressmaker recalls working on Miss Bergman's white gown.

 

 

 

 

By Marcia E. Gawecki

A smart-looking couple poured over books of sewing patterns at Jo-Ann’s Fabrics in Hemet. She was looking for the perfect dress pattern for an upcoming wedding outfit. As it turns out, Rhea was a former dressmaker for MGM Studios in the early 1940s, and worked on the film, “Gaslight,” which also happens to be Cafe Cinema’s Feature Film this Friday night in Idyllwild.

“I worked on Ingrid Bergman’s dress,” Rhea said, “The white one that she wore coming down the stairs.”

Director George Cukor’s 1944 mystery-thriller, “Gaslight” is about a woman who is driven out of her mind, wrote Jeffrey Taylor in a Cafe Cinema email. Ingrid Bergman received the first of two Academy Awards for this film, which also stars Charles Boyer, Joseph Cotten, and an 18-year-old Angela Lansbury in her screen debut.

“Gaslight” was nominated for seven Oscars, including Best Picture, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Art Direction and Best Cinematography (black and white). It won for Best Actress and Best Art Direction.

Rhea said that she couldn’t remember any details about Miss Bergman’s dress.

“That was about 100 years ago,” she joked.

However, she was one of many dressmakers at MGM who worked on that dress.

“No one ever made the whole thing,” she said.

Rhea said that working at MGM Studios was as good a job as any after WWII. The pay was sufficient, but, after three years, she left.

“We all worked different shifts, and it was really cutting into my social life,” Rhea said.

She later worked for Douglas Aircraft, where she met her second husband, Rick. They’ve been married for 54 years and now live in San Jacinto.

“Back then, dressmakers could sometimes mix up the colors on the star’s dresses,” Rick reminded her.

“All the movies were made in black-and-white, so color wasn’t all that important,” Rhea explained. “For example, if a star had a larger bust, and we needed to add more material to the front of her dress, it didn’t have to be an exact color match–just close enough.”

“Of course, now with color film, you have to be exact,” Rhea added.

Rhea said that she had seen “Gaslight” about three times and really enjoyed the film. However, she and Rick won’t attend the “Gaslight” screening in Idyllwild this Friday night because of other plans.

“You should see it,” Rhea said. “It’s really a good movie.”

Festivities take place at 7 p.m. at the new Cafe Cinema in Idyllwild. Food, beverage, and admission are free. Cafe Cinema is located at 53290 Deer Foot Lane. For more information, visit www.cafecinema.org, or call (951) 659-6000.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Cary Grant Connection Shown in Idyllwild Friday

Tuesday, June 14th, 2011

Svetlana, an Idyllwild artist, recently reunited with Cary Grant's daughter, Jennifer

By Marcia E. Gawecki

He was the perfect gentleman onscreen and off. Handsome, debonair, with that wonderful British accent. He could play a romantic comedy, and then switch to a compelling drama the next.

He played opposite all the leading ladies of the time, including Katherine Hepburn, Grace Kelly, Eva Marie Saint, and Deborah Kerr. He was “mad” for Sophia Loren, but it was Mae West who famously asked him onscreen, “Why don’t you come up and see me sometime?”

He was best known for “North by Northwest,” “His Girl Friday,” “An Affair to Remember,” and “The Philadelphia Story.” Everyone loved to watch Cary Grant.

However, only a few close friends knew that Svetlana, an Idyllwild artist, once worked for Cary Grant.

She never said anything about the movie star’s personal life, perhaps adhering to a nondisclosure agreement. More than likely, she just respected the guy and his privacy. Since she worked as his chef, Svetlana sometimes would let it slip that Cary Grant liked a certain kind of food. But that was it.

Now, Svetlana’s secret has come to light! In a Cafe Cinema Special Event, at 7 p.m. this Friday, June 17, there will be a short video capturing a 30-year reunion between Svetlana and Jennifer Grant, Cary Grant’s only daughter. After the short, Cafe Cinema will show a 15-minute CBS interview with Jennifer Grant, followed by the Cary Grant film, “Monkey Business.”

Cafe Cinema regulars (from L): Rosemary, Svetlana and Analia

According to Jeffrey Taylor, Cafe Cinema, the reunion between Svetlana and Jennifer Grant happened a few weeks ago at her book signing of “Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.”

“The two hadn’t seen each other in 30 years,” Jeffrey said. “Svetlana helped raise Jennifer from age 14 to 18.”

Jeffrey captured the tearful and remarkable reunion on his personal camcorder. This short will be shown first on Friday.

According to the Internet Movie Database (IMDb) web site, Jennifer Grant is Cary Grant’s only child. She resembles her mother, actress Dyan Cannon. Although he became Hollywood’s leading man, Cary Grant discouraged his daughter from becoming an actress. However, after graduating from Stanford University and working as a chef, Jennifer joined the TV cast of “Beverly Hills, 90210.”

Her book, “Good Stuff: A Reminiscence of My Father, Cary Grant.” is available on Amazon.com. One reviewer called it, “A love letter to an amazing father.” It reveals many mementos of Jennifer’s early childhood.

Jeffrey Taylor, Cafe Cinema, captured the reunion on video

“I want people to know that the persona was real,” Jennifer said in a CBS interview. “It wasn’t a mask.”

The love that Cary Grant bestowed on his daughter was evident in the mementos in her book. However, Archibald Leach’s childhood in Bristol, England, wasn’t as joyful. His mother was sent to a mental institution when he was nine, and his father was neglectful. At age 14, he ran away and joined the circus. Yet, Cary Grant turned it into a positive. Later, his Hollywood films showed Grant performing cartwheels, backflips and slapstick.

At 7 p.m. this Friday, June 17, Cafe Cinema will show a video of Jennifer Grant and Svetlana’s reunion; the CBS interview with Jennifer; and finally, “Monkey Business,” a film starring Cary Grant, Ginger Rogers, Charles Colburn and Marilyn Monroe. Svetlana will be on hand to talk a little bit about the reunion.

All events at Cafe Cinema are free and open to the public. To get to Cafe Cinema, head towards Idyllwild Arts on Tollgate Road. Turn left on Meadow Glen, stay to the right until you hit Double View, and then make a left. Take a quick right on Deer Foot Lane, and look for the house on the right with the familiar purple sandwich board. For more information, visit www.cafecinema.org or call (951) 659-6000.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved.

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Student Film Screenings Unite, Excite

Saturday, May 28th, 2011

(far R) Scarlett wrote/directed Penelope; Laura wrote/directed/sang Rockstars; Malcom produced Fitz; while Sorrelle (far L) acted in Dead Serious. Courtesy photo.

By Marcia E. Gawecki

I like coming to opening nights. Everything is always edgy and raw. Bugs need to be worked out, things don’t always go the right way, but there’s an electricity in the air. You were there and You Saw it First.

Friday night was Opening Night of the Film Screenings at Idyllwild Arts. There were four shorts and one super-short, or a 3-2-1. The short films included: “Penelope,” “Fitz,” “Dead Serious” and “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” all created by women writer-directors. And the super short was entitled, “Bonding at Breakfast.”

You gotta love the Film Department at Idyllwild Arts. They really “roll out the red carpet” for these films. While people are standing in line, they’re treated to exceptional jazz music from the Jazz Department, stand on a red carpet and buy standard concessions, which includes popcorn, pop and chocolates. Proceeds go to help fund an upcoming film trip to Ethiopia.

If you’re planning on going to Saturday nights’ Film Screening, plan to come 30 minutes early. No kidding, it’s essential to stand in line to get a seat, or you’ll be standing in the back row. As you head down the hallway towards the theater,  try not to pick your nose or say anything embarrassing because “You’re on Candid Camera!”

(from L) Giovanna and many of the other dance students were extras in the films

Things went reasonably well for Opening Night. There was a schedule change. “Penelope” would be the first film, followed by “Fitz.” After intermission, “Dead Serious” would be first, and then Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience.”

Because it was unexpected, “Bonding Over Breakfast,” a short short (or 3-2-1) by Alexa, was delightful. Like getting a free bon-bon. It featured Melanie, a Theater major, as the mother, and a young girl as her daughter. All I can say is that girl was wonderful, bright and wise beyond her years.

Melanie, a theater major, plays a single mom in Alexa's short, "Bonding Over Breakfast"

“Penelope,” written and directed by Scarlett, actually started out as a conversation with her father as they were listening to the song, “Penelope” on the radio.

“This would make a good movie,” both had agreed. Fast forward six months, and Scarlett’s father is gone, but not the dream for the movie. In short, it’s gonna be a tear jerker.

Set in WWII, Penelope, a nightclub singer, meets Elijah, and falls in love. Then Pearl Harbor is attacked, and the U.S. enters the war. Elijah leaves in full uniform, and Penelope’s world crumbles.

All I can say is that 20 minutes of “Penelope” is not long enough. I could have used about 20 minutes more. It was romantic, tragic and beautifully acted and filmed.

(from L) Michel, Peter and Harold all played extras in the films. Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Scarlett made a good choice in selecting Paley as her lead and Analia Lenchantin,a classical pianist and actor from Argentina who now lives in Idyllwild.

As Penelope, Paley’s voice sounds like it’s whiskey and cigarette tainted. Her face expresses every complicated emotion. However, we wouldn’t expect anything less. Paley’s got good genes. Her mother is a famous comedic actress in Mexico.

If Scarlett decides to expand “Penelope” into a feature film, it has my vote.

A lot of the other students thought “Fitz” was the best film of the night.

“It had everything,” exclaimed Benny, a classical music major. “The story was great, and the lighting and the cinematography were spectacular!”

Benny was seated next to Andrew Leeson, a Creative Writing staff member, who agreed.

“Yep, that’s the one,” Andrew said.

“Fitz,” was written by Brit, produced by Malcom, filmed by Kai and edited by Paris.

In his opening remarks, Malcom gave the audience part of the back story.

(from L) Three for "Fitz," including Malcolm as producer, Kai as cinematographer, Gabby as lead actor. Sorrelle (far R) acted in "Dead Serious" Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts

“Brit brought Kai and I the script, and said that she had written it over the summer and wanted us to take a look,” Malcom said.

They did, and told Ira Abrams about it, who agreed it was a gem.

Fitz, short for Fitzgerald, is a co-ed boarding school, much like Idyllwild Arts. The only exception is the uniforms. “Fitz” centers on one newcomer, (exceptionally portrayed by Michael Minor, a classical bass player).

It’s hard to imagine that Michael Minor was just a bass player, until this movie came along. He had never acted before, and to take the lead was nothing short of astounding. Some people are just natural actors, and Michael is one of them.

(from R) Brooke (shown with actor Joe Spano) plays the lead in Ellen's movie,"Dead Serious." Courtesy photo.

Anyway, the story is about students who overcome an overbearing headmaster and take over the school. The cast of local talent shines, including headmaster.

“Dead Serious,” is a female teen angst film, complete with mean girls and a tragedy.

“It’s a black comedy,” Andrew Leeson explained, as  I complained that the mother was so callous.

Brooke was spectacular as the nice girl who gets bullied. Like Greta Garbo, the camera loves her face.

Madi, a Creative Writing major, was good as the Mean Girl. All of us have been bullied some time in our youth. Hats off to Sorrelle, one of Madi’s friends, who continually “hisses” at Brooke, like a pissed-off cat.

“Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience,” the fourth and final show, features a young boy who dreams of becoming a rock star. Hard to imagine the script from this show was originally about a poet who sent off his poems into the universe via helium balloons.

(from L) Melanie and Brit, who wrote and directed "Fitz." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

In the storyline. a young writer is at odds with his father who owns a Camero body shop. More than anything, he’d rather be writing and playing rock songs. Naturally, his dad wants him to focus on the task at hand.

However, when Pete has a chance to meet one of his rock star idols (played by dance instructor Jonathan Sharp), he takes a risk that changes his outlook.

It should be pointed out that Conor O’Farrell, an accomplished TV, film and screen actor, plays an exceptional grease monkey father. He notes his son’s artistic dreams, and makes a deal that could help him.

Laura wrote and sang songs for her film, "Rockstars: The Pete Weaver Experience." Courtesy photo Idyllwild Arts.

Writer-director Laura, not only plays his onscreen love interest, but also writes and records songs. In essence, “Rock Stars: The Pete Weaver Experience” is about her, and other songwriters, trying to make their mark on the world.

In short, the four, shorts shown at the Idyllwild Arts’ “Film Screenings 2011” are outrageous, funny and dramatic. They will make you laugh, cry and left longing for more!

Saturday night’s Student Film Screenings starts at 7:30 p.m. at the IAF Theater on campus. All shows are free and open to the public. Arrive early to get a good seat.

For more information, visit www.idyllwildarts.org or call (951) 659-2171.

Copyright 2011 Idyllwild Me. All rights reserved. Photos courtesy of Idyllwild Arts Academy.

Published on: May 28, 2011 @ 8:47

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