Golf is a rich man's game, primarily because to create playing courses, land that's ideally suited for farming, housing, or public parks is corralled by the privileged elite. (Why do you think it's called a greens fee?) Jen Schradie's The Golf War, a compelling piece of agitprop that could have been titled Scenes From the Class Struggle in the Philippines, exposes that nation's government's plan to displace peasants and farmers to develop a tourist resort in the picturesque seaside community called Hacienda Looc.
Schradie and videographer Matt DeVries shot their 40-minute doc with a compact digital video camera, which proved especially handy when they had to flee security guards armed with M-16s. "I feel strongly that DV is an extremely useful tool for political activists," Schradie says. "For our security, we could pose as tourists. We didn't have to look like filmmakers when we were moving from location to location." And when the duo stopped to shoot interviews, they found it another advantage that their subjects weren't overwhelmed by crew and gear. "It was already intimidating for the farmers to have two tall white people in their community," Schradie notes.
The Golf War fits perfectly into the Bay Area's long history of politically charged documentaries, only we can't rightly claim it: Schradie moved to San Francisco from North Carolina just last fall. While thrilled to discover the BAVC (Bay Area Video Coalition) and the Film Arts Foundation, Schradie readily admits, "It was a lot easier to get $147,000 in in-kind editing and equipment contributions in North Carolina because there aren't dozens of filmmakers vying for them." Schradie has scheduled screenings of The Golf War on Thursday, Feb. 3, at the Fine Arts in Berkeley and Thursday, Feb. 10, at the Victoria Theater to benefit the film's grass-roots distribution and Hacienda Looc. Call 626-5510 for more info.
Good publicists learn early on that it's your client's name that has to get in the papers, not yours. If your ego can't handle that, you'd best find another line of work. So Bradley Jones' initial instinct, after confiding that he was heading to L.A. on short notice to work for filmmakers Michael and Mark Polish (Twin Falls, Idaho), was to say the move was off the record.
He instantly relented because he met the Polishes on the job at Larsen & Associates, one of S.F.'s key PR firms for independent and foreign films. The Polishes came through town last July to promote Twin Falls, and Jones and the brothers struck up a friendship that continued after the filmmakers moved on. "Over the course of different conversations they asked me what it is I really wanted to do," Jones relates. Write screenplays, he replied, and the Polishes asked to see the treatment of his work in progress. After two weeks of silence, Jones finally got a reply to his e-mail.
Turns out the busy Polishes have scored high-paid writing gigs with Disney and New Line, and now need someone to transmute their ideas into screenplays. "Your story sounds like our sensibility," they e-mailed Jones. "We think you could write our scripts." Still a little dazed, Jones says, "Needless to say, my jaw hit the floor. I couldn't believe they would choose me." Jones lands in L.A. any minute and jumps right into North Fork, now prepping for a late spring or early summer shoot in Montana with Mark starring and Michael behind the camera. Doesn't it give you a warm, tingly feeling when one of the good guys gets a break?
Michael Fox is co-host ofIndependent View, which airs Fridays at 10 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.