Daily Camera (Boulder, CO)

Project promotes local film industry

March 16, 2003
Section: Local News
Page: C1
Rachana Rathi, For the Camera

LOUISVILLE -- A boom mike hangs over Michael Gallagher`s head, and Barbie dolls lie at his feet as he finishes a heated exchange with his neighbor and walks to the sliding glass doors leading out of the basement and to the backyard.

"Cut!" yells the director.

Gallagher and about 10 other people are crammed into one side of the basement with camera, lighting and sound equipment, as well as props and furniture, at the Saturday shoot of a half-hour narrative film entitled "The Bloods and the Crips."

Gallagher will go home after shooting 12 hours, pack all night and then shoot 12 more hours today. He leaves for Las Vegas at 5:30 a.m. on Monday morning.

"It`s obviously an inconvenience, but this is a great project," said Gallagher, who`s moving because "there`s so little filming happening in Colorado."

That`s a major problem for Colorado film artists. Funding, investment and representation are hard to come by, causing film students and professionals alike to flee to the coasts for work.

A Boulder film company, the fledgling Puppet Stew Productions, wants to change all of that. The company, which plans to handle independent filmmaking from the idea stage to the distribution process, aims to increase the number of films produced locally and in turn, create work for local film talent.

"There`s such great talent in the area, both in terms of film students and existing professionals," said company director Julie DiBiase, 34. "There should be no reason why anyone can`t get work right here."

DiBiase and three friends -- Robin Bucknam, Alan Bucknam and Sarah Welton -- began Puppet Stew in January. "The Bloods and the Crips" is the company`s first film.

The nonprofit film, shot in a house in Louisville, is a neo-suburban dark comedy which "touches on a lot of hypocrisy in American society," DiBiase said.

While more than 60 percent of the film`s crew consists of students, its actors are all professionals. Regardless of their status, the film`s $2,000 budget requires the entire cast and crew to work as volunteers.

They don`t seem to mind. Many cite the need for a more cohesive Colorado film community as motivation.

"Donating time is the least we can do," said Michael Richmond, 32, the film`s lighting director. "We all want the same things, except everyone has their own agenda instead of raising the bar of the whole community."

Richmond and other industry insiders are having a hard time figuring out why.

Bruce Kawin, a film and English professor at CU for 28 years, attributes it to lack of agents in the area.

"There are a lot of good resources and an awful lot of talent in this town," Kawin said. "But when someone completes a film, they try to find an agent and send the film to Hollywood."

Oscar-winning documentary filmmaker Rosalyn Dauber, who moved to Boulder from Los Angeles six years ago, has a different theory. She attributes it to Colorado`s love for the outdoors and non-team-driven activities.

"Colorado has beautiful landscapes ideal for filming, but there`s something about this place that supports solitary, rugged endeavors," she said. "Filmmaking is very much a team undertaking."

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