Our Man Flint
A recent throwaway line in this space referring to "phantom" S.F. Film Commission Executive Director P.J. Johnston prompted dissenting missives from a veritable squadron of local film industry pros. Veteran location manager Lampton Enochs, who worked on 20th Century Fox's Bedazzled remake in April, writes, "The film had a very short prep period and the planning for the San Francisco [shoot] was woefully short. As a result, several of the details integral to our filming fell through the cracks. Through no one's fault but our own, we had our backs against the wall more than once. In one particular instance, P.J. spent a good portion of his evening on the phone arranging a fire department permit we needed for the next day's shooting." Enochs concludes, "I know that the producers of Bedazzled returned to Los Angeles both impressed and appreciative."
American Zoetrope's Howie Stein chips in, "P.J.'s a vital ingredient in keeping filming and postproduction in the Bay Area." When Academy Award-winning sound editor Walter Murch wanted to add the rhythm and hum of old-time Muni electric buses to the DVD release of Francis Ford Coppola's masterful 1974 chiller, The Conversation, Johnston arranged for just such a vehicle to be driven to a quiet, secluded area one recent Sunday morning. (Insert your own waiting-for-Muni joke here.) As we speak, Murch is remastering The Conversation soundtrack on the mixing stage at the peacefully elegant Niebaum-Coppola estate in Napa Valley. Zoetrope, naturally, is pre-mastering the DVD, which will be out just in time for you to add to your Christmas wish list.
In Like Flint
Brian Gordon, the grand poohbah of the Golden Gate Awards (the juried competition sidebar of the S.F. International Film Festival), is on his way to Marseilles at the request of the Sunny Side of the Docs fest there. Invited to present three documentaries from this year's S.F. smorgasbord, Gordon picked a pair of local films -- Julia Query and Vicky Funari's Live Nude Girls, Unite! and Maureen Gosling and Ellen Osborne's Blossoms of Fire -- plus out-of-towner Josh Aronson's Sound and Fury. The filmmakers are also getting free trips courtesy of the French, who still consider government support of arts and culture a keystone of a civilized society.
The Ipcress File
North Bay screenwriter Pamela Gray (Music of the Heart) is adapting the Holocaust memoir The Seamstress for director Agnieskza Holland (Europa, Europa)... Chronicle film critic Mick LaSalle's upcoming book about forgotten heroines of the silver (and silent) screen, Complicated Women: Sex and Power in Pre-Code Hollywood, is on track to reach bookstores in September... Blockbuster Video's crusade to open an outpost at Polk and Sacramento just a few doors down from Gramophone Video was temporarily squashed by the S.F. Planning Commission by a 4-3 vote, despite a recommendation by Mayor Brown's anything-goes S.F. Planning Department. The commission was narrowly persuaded by the Polk District Merchants Association and neighborhood residents that a video chain outlet was unwise and unnecessary. Watch for the sequel: Blockbuster's attorney filed an appeal.
Michael Fox is host ofIndependent View, which airs Fridays at 10:30 p.m., Saturdays at midnight and Sundays at 5:30 p.m. on KQED Channel 9.