Play Misty for Me

The latest project from indie director Finn Taylor

With the subversive 1997 buddy movie Dream With the Fishes, Finn Taylor promoted himself from one-credit screenwriter (Pontiac Moon) to indie writer/ director. The next rung may be auteur, as the Albany resident has just begun production on Cherish, an edgy thriller-slash-love story. Robin Tunney plays a promiscuous, immature computer animator who runs over a cop while evading a stalker, then spends most of the movie under house arrest, where she falls for detective Tim Blake Nelson. Nora Dunn, Lindsay Crouse, and Liz Phair play supporting roles in the independent feature, which shoots around the Bay Area through June.

While the moody Dream soundtrack echoed the characters' druggy disorientation, Cherish is filled with the love songs Tunney requests from a sappy radio station. "Finn has some hyperromanticized scenes that will require a lot of '70s pop music," producer Johnny Wow reports, dashing hopes that a new Phair tune would be part of the mix. "We have a list of songs that are written into the script, and we're in the process of getting the rights." Wow and co-producer Mark Burton financed the film through a consortium led by their production company, avoiding studio interference and -- if all goes according to plan -- leading to a bidding war when Cherish debuts at Sundance next year. Meanwhile, Taylor is slated to direct a Hollywood feature this fall (unless it's derailed by a SAG strike).

NetworkAfter 17 years at the Bay Area Video Coalition, the last nine as executive director, Sally Jo Fifer takes over the Independent Television Service helm on Aug. 1. "I've spent my whole career believing that public media is the vehicle through which we can connect people and bring understanding between cultures," Fifer says in a phone interview. Noting that the S.F.-based (and congressionally funded) public television production company is that rare U.S. broadcasting entity for which profit doesn't dictate content, Fifer declares, "Without dialogue that is unencumbered by the state and by commercial interests, we don't have freedom of speech." She points out that while not everyone has a computer and Internet access, most have a TV. "And television is where most civic dialogue happens."

Bound"Trying to make a film about butch characters that are in between gender but aren't drag queens -- and I mean no disrespect to the drag queens -- is a difficult thing to fund-raise for in other cities," says Silas Howard, explaining why the queer buddy flick By Hook or By Crook is an only-in-San Francisco movie. Adds co-director and co-star Harriet "Harry" Dodge, "This version of gender is newer subject matter for cinema. People are interested and want to go there, but it's somewhat uncharted territory."

In making the movie, Howard (aka Flipper of the band Tribe 8) and theater veteran Dodge drew on a reservoir of community goodwill they built over years of running the Red Door Bearded Lady Cafe and Cabaret, the Mission District performance art space. But even their friends tried to talk them out of it. "They said, "You can't make a feature if you haven't made a short,'" recalls Dodge. "Well, we stubborn our way into things." Howard goes on, chuckling, "Now we only want to make shorts." Dodge joins in the laughter, "Yeah, we've been cured."

With By Hook or By Crook premiering in the S.F. International Lesbian & Gay Film Festival (Sunday, June 17, at 6:30 p.m. at the Castro), these local filmmakers can not only laugh but also dream of crossover success. "The whole movie isn't stuck on gender," Dodge explains. "The characters may be unrecognizable at first, but they're so human. You've heard of the movie Star Wars? Same audience."

 
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