Re: [Videolib] Film news from West Virginia

Steve Fesenmaier (
Wed, 13 Aug 2003 13:43:24 -0400

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Film Nuts – September 2003

Living in a Dreamworld

Pam Haynes began her new position as the second director of the WV Film
Office on Monday, July 14th. During her first two weeks she worked with

Dreamworks, Spielberg’s Hollywood Company, searching for sites to
be used as exteriors for their new film, “Win a Date with Tad
Hamilton!” Earlier this spring there was a local controversy when the
Putnam County schools superindentent, Sam Sentelle, rejected requests
from Dreamworks to film in local high schools. They wanted to use the
high school name “Poca Dots.” The story is about a girl from WV who
wins a date with a young Hollywood actor. Mr. Sentelle withdrew his
objections, but apparently Dreamworks was more interested in other WV
towns. They needed a town to stand in for Frazier's Bottom in Putnam
County, which is where two of the characters reside. They were looking
for a certain image of a town. They also needed various industrial
images, showing barges on a river, etc. With
Pam’s assistance, they chose both Oak Hill and Fayetteville in Fayette
County for the town and they shot the barges near the DuPont Belle plant
and bridges up and down the Kanawha River to Charleston. They also
filmed at the Grandview Overlook in Raleigh County. They looked at Pt.
Pleasant and other places, but it wasn’t
what they needed. Pam also spent some time during her first two weeks
helping Disney and New Regency find locations for future films. Haynes
previously was president of the WV Intl Film Festival and worked on
productions in NYC, WV and Virginia. As the director of the WV Film
Office, she hopes to be able to support a variety of film festivals and
film-related events– to the best of the Film Office’s economic
abilities. She told
me, “Steve, this has been incredible! I just spent my first two weeks in

the job working with Dreamworks. I couldn’t imagine any better way to
begin!!” You can contact Pam at: Her website is: The website is undergoing a major redesign
and should be available by the end of the year.

Sutton WVFFF 2003

The 4th WV Filmmakers Film Fest will take place in Sutton on the first
two weekends of October – Friday thru Sunday. At least 15 of our
filmmakers and one native-born English prof will be presenting their
films. On Friday, Oct. 3 B.J. Gudmundsson will start off the PatchWorks
with clips from her work in progress on Cal Price plus intro Doug
Chadwick and Susan
Burt whose 1979 film “True Facts…” is finally being sold on VHS. She
will also intro Gary Aide. During the rest of the weekend there will be
a WV Filmmakers Guild meeting and several filmmakers will show their
films, concluding with Gerry Milnes from Augusta who will play
music and then show his newest films. On Sunday films entered in the
competition will be shown. Also, at the Elk Theater the newly restored
35-mm print of “Matewan” will be shown. During the second weekend there

will be many more films including new ones from Charleston-based Jaguar
Educational, the son of Cambridge Educational. The finale event will be
the world
premiere of Kevin Carpenter’s “Elk Hotel.” Sponsors this year include
the Dept. of Education and the Arts, WV Arts Commission, Jaguar Ed. and
many local
sponsors. For complete info check the website at: Kevin Carpenter, prez of Sutton’s Landmark
took his family to Europe during the month of July, celebrating the fact
that he
was made “WV Tax Dept. Employee of the Month.” Before he left he filmed
some wrestling action for Arm Triangle Choke with alternate

end.”( He
took his camera with him to Europe to shoot some scenes for his film
“Elk Hotel.”

The Texture of Life

Gerry Milnes, filmmaker, musician, and Folk Arts Coordinator of the
Heritage Center at Davis & Elkins College presented a talk July 26th on
"Traditional Farming Methods" at the Lost River Museum, in Lost River,
The program was presented by the Lost River Educational Foundation as
of a year long series of lectures, demonstrations, and activities
surrounding weaving, spinning, and textile arts. Milnes is also a
consultant on a documentary being produced by Ray Schmitt and the Lost
Educational Foundation called "The Texture of Life: The Tusing Sisters
Branch Mountain.

The Middle Voice – A Film about the Health Care Crisis in WV

Pennsylvania film director Donna Dudick has directed her second feature
film, this time shooting part of it in Bethany, WV. The film is called
“The Middle Voice” and has a very timely topic – the medical care
crisis. Two years ago she made her first feature, “The Mommy Track,”
showing it locally in theaters and on cable TV. Now she plans on getting

this film shown in film fests around the country – including ones in WV.

The heroine is a lawyer who represents a 12 year old girl who has
suffered a severe stroke. Dudick wrote the screenplay before the actual
doctor walk-out in Wheeling last year. She has also started the
Algonquin Indiefest to showcase local indie films. Susan Seidelman,
director of “Smithereens” and “Gaudi Afternoon” will be the special
guest in Jan. 2004. For more info, contact her at:

>From Appalachia to Asia

L. Somi Roy, a well-known NYC based media programmer, wrote a great
account of the March 2003 exchange trip by several Appalshop filmmakers
to Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province in China. Earlier Roy had
arranged for filmmaker Les Blank to travel to Indonesia and to bring
Chinese filmmakers Bibo Liang and Liu Xiaojin to Appalshop.
You can read the full story at Of related
interest is a new Chinese film that was the most popular at Robert
DeNiro’s Tribeca Film Festival last spring – “Blind Shaft,” a new film
about coal miners in China. 5,000 miners died there last year. Kino
Intl. plans on releasing the film soon. Also, there was a recent article
in the NY Times about Chinese
photographer, Zhou Hai, who documents the price Chinese workers
including coal miners have paid for their Great Leap Forward. He says
that China “is a bit like Western countries in 1920's and 1930's.”
Lastly– The Pocahontas County Free Libraries system has recently created
the Pearl S. Buck E Pluribus Unum Collection. Allen Johnson, the
director, got permission from the Pearl Buck Foundation to use her name
– since she was born there. This collection will become a statewide
resource for people who want to explore the realities of our
multi-cultural country. For more info, call Mr. Johnson at:

Ken Hechler at the Movies

Ken was interviewed by Bravo TV for a special they had in August – a
three-hour doc about “All the Presidents’ Movies.” He was flown to DC to

talk about the movies that influenced President Truman. He talked about
the Frank Capra film, “State of the Union” starring Spencer Tracey as a
businessman who had the courage to speak his mind. The producers claimed

the film was a main motive for his run for the presidency. Hechler said
that indeed the film was one of his favs. Truman watched it with
Capra and got his own copy. Despite what the producer believed, Margaret

Truman told Ken that the film was NOT a main reason for his decision.
Hechler also talked about “Mr. Smith Goes to Washington,” Capra’s most
famous political film, and a Bob Hope comedy, “The Princess and the
Pirate.” The entire series was narrated by “West Wing” star Martin
Sheen. One of the funniest stories was about President Carter showing
“Apocalypse Now” to his military people. Their jaws literally dropped.
Sheen was a star of that film. Early in his career Sheen starred in two
Clyde Ware films made in WV and gave Ware the idea for his newest
WV-based film, “Rough Diamonds.”

Film and Philosophy

Gordon Simmons, WV lit expert and roaming philosopher teacher, will
be teaching a course on philosophy of science at the Pt Pleasant campus
of Marshall University. He plans on starting off with the most
influential person in the field – Karl Popper, and then present the
ideas of two other giants
– Thomas Kuhn, author of “The Structure of Scientific Revolutions” and
the anarchist, Paul Feyerabend. One film he will be using comes from
Films for the Humanities and Sciences – “Logical Positivism and Its
Legacy.” This film is an interview with Oxford philosopher A.J. Ayer who

brought the ideas of the Vienna Circle to the English-speaking world. (I

studied with the first member of the group to immigrate to America,
Herbert Feigl, who also was the last living member of the group.) Soon
Films for the
Humanities and Sciences will be releasing an updated series of films on
philosophy. The world premiere of the first episode, “Aesthetics,” will
take place at the Green Bank PL in November. If you are interested in
Gordon’s class, contact him at:

Legal Status of Dancing Outlaw

Kelli D. Talbott, Deputy Attorney General for Education, Arts & Boards

Division, was asked by WVPBS general manager the legal status of WV’s
most famous film, ”Dancing Outlaw.” Various sources including

sell the film. She told him that in her opinion WVPBS owns all rights to

this film and all other rights for films produced by Jacob Young while
he was an employee of WVPBS. I know that at least one source for the
film was told to discontinue distributing the film – and they have. In
my column last month I wrote about the great news that apparently Young
had acquired the rights not only to “Outlaw” but also all of his other
many films. According to Ms. Talbott, this is not the case. I am greatly

saddened by this news. Since Young was forced to leave WVPBS with a
week’s notice in August 1996, access to his films has ended. I certainly

hope that Young can hire a lawyer, or do whatever it takes, to gain
rights to his films. He is one of America’s leading documentary
filmmakers, ranking with people like Errol Morris. I know that some
WVPBS people have always disliked “Outlaw” and other films in the
award-winning “Different Drummer” series because they do not “show a
positive side of West Virginia.” Oxford American selected “Outlaw” as
one of the “essential films about the South.” ” John Jeremiah Sullivan
wrote, “Jacob Young found a way to do honor to his subjects, all of
them, even when they want to inhale gasoline from a sock and drive into
a river. “ I think that they all
need to read Lee Maynard’s hilarious, best-selling “Crum.” Luckily WVU
Press has a more critical appreciation of this work. Perhaps WVPBS could
transfer rights
for Young’s work to WVU Press – who will let people around the state and

world see these brilliant films by a brilliant homegrown filmmaker.

Elmer Fike – 911

Henry Mazurczyk is the assistant superintendent of the Port Authority of

New Jersey in Newark. Recently he contacted me about acquiring a copy of

a film he had seen at a training session – Jacob Young’s “A Glitch in
the System” about Kanawha Valley chemical plant owner Elmer Fike. He
thought that it was one of the best films he had ever seen about a man
who was a “glitch in the system.” I called him at work and he talked to
me like he had known me his entire life. He told me how he had to
contact the FCC, WV PBS, and finally myself about finding the film. I
told him that he was in luck -–recently Jacob Young had regained control

of his many films including this one and he could purchase it directly
from his website – Henry was very excited and when I
told him about all of Jacob’s other films, he suggested that I contact a

local theater in his hometown that might want to show the many films
especially “Holy Cow, Swami! He concluded his e-mail with this –
“I hope you can help track down a copy for me. I and the whole Port
authority of New York and New Jersey sure hope you can!” Whenever you
are in Newark, look up Henry – before he retires! He told me he owns 3
apt. houses….

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