Pumpkins are everywhere, children are chattering about their costumes, and the Sundance Watch has begun. When we checked in with San Francisco producer/directors Scott McGehee and David Siegel (Suture) last spring, they were bound for Baton Rouge to oversee screenwriter Mark Gibson's elegantly titled directorial debut, Lush. Just last week, Siegel, McGehee, and their two partners in the S.F.-L.A. production company i5 finished mixing the film at Fantasy in Berkeley. And as we speak, Sundance programmers are watching a print of Lush, which stars the underrated Campbell Scott (his father, George C., passed away a few weeks ago) as a booze-happy golfer trying to put his life back together after washing out of the pro tour.
Although it's not without its headaches, producing can be surprisingly healthy for the ego, McGehee reports. "We were there entirely to support Mark and his vision," he notes. "It wasn't about us at all, which was nice." At the same time, the duo's next movie was in development, so McGehee was deployed to the western front (L.A.) while Siegel remained on the Lush set.
Fans of the bright, down-to-earth S.F. State alums and the artful Suture will cheer the news that the duo is in pre-production to begin shooting its second feature in late January: The indie-oriented subsidiary of a major Hollywood studio has agreed to make The Deep End, adapted from the same book as Max Ophuls' "melo-noir," The Reckless Moment -- although i5 is prepared to self-finance the film. The sticking point is casting. Isn't it always? The studio provided a list of "bankable" actresses it would accept in the Joan Bennett role, but McGehee and Siegel have their own ideas about who's right for the part of a middle-class mom fending off blackmailers after covering up the accidental killing of her teenage daughter's lecherous older boyfriend.
Pull My Daisy
Last week's column contained a passing reference to the "new cinema on Sherman Street." The cognoscenti know I was speaking (with uncharacteristic inexactitude) of the new nothing cinema, the physical and spiritual descendant of the beloved no nothing cinema. The no nothing, for you recent arrivals, was a chilly, hyper-democratic King Street bastion of experimental film, grilled sausages, and cold beer, located approximately where one of the concession stands is presently going into Pac Bell Park. Although the new nothing space can't accommodate al fresco dining, it's a real indoor screening room offering year-round, shiver-free comfort. The programming? Let's just say the no nothing's delightfully anarchic spirit is alive and well.
Next Stop, Wonderland
She's an L.A. gal these days, but we can dredge up a local connection: Sofia Coppola accompanied hubby/actor Spike Jonze, director David O. Russell, and a mess o' producers to the White House week before last for a screening of Three Kings. Coppola's well-regarded directorial debut, The Virgin Suicides, opens after the first of the year, though I doubt that any presidential invites are in the offing. ... As hinted in this space a few weeks back, indie queen Sarah Jacobson heads to NYC in a few days to work as a field producer on Trackers, the new Oxygen cable network's show aimed at teenage girls. Rock on, Sarah.