Five Things We Learned - April 24, 2017

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Four: Five Things We Learned
by Marshall
Marshall
by Marshall hmv London, Bio Word monkey, nerd, film guy, gamer

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Four: Five Things We Learned

There are four key cinemas, most with several screens, showing movies all day, every day, at the Newport Beach Film Festival. When you make the decision to see one film, you’re basically choosing to miss five or ten others. It’s a bittersweet process that calls to mind the movie Sophie’s Choice, only we’re not in Nazi-occupied Poland, and most of these movies will eventually receive some sort of general release, allowing them to be seen another time. Apart from that, though, it’s pretty much the same thing.

Welcome to Day Four at the Newport Beach Film Festival!

 

Tale as old as time.

Arriving at the festival, each with their own short film to premiere, Don Hahn and Dave Bossert are House of Mouse legends who, for years now, have staged a unique two-man show at Newport Beach called Disney Rarities. Widely and rightly considered a festival highlight, it’s a collection of hilarious and fascinating anecdotes and clips so rare, some haven’t seen the light of day in several decades, if indeed, ever.

Disney aficionados, and pretty much everyone else in the world, adore Don because he’s the producer who gave us The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast – both the animated original and the current live action megahit. Disney Creative Director Dave Bossert, meanwhile, is a super-charged house of Mouse brainiac who worked as an effects animator on the likes of Who Framed Roger Rabbit and The Hunchback of Notre Dame - both also produced by Don.

“We go back a long way with the Newport Beach Film Festival,” says Don. “Dave Bossert and I first came down here eight years ago with Roy Disney. Roy had a house here, and though he passed away some time ago now, we still love to come to Newport Beach, keeping Roy’s memory alive, and sharing these great Disney treasures from our vaults.

“We’re just a stone’s throw from Disneyland here, so there are a lot of Disney fans. We’re always very warmly welcomed and it’s fun to come, to share the most obscure things we can find and embarrass ourselves with our backstage stories!”

 

Walt’s vault.

There’s a lot of love for Don and Dave at the Newport Beach Film Festival. A lot of love for Walt Disney, Walt’s son Roy Disney, the Disney Studios and, of course, The Magic Kingdom, Disneyland.

Disney Rarities is an event, unlike any other, for devotees of Mickey and his Mouseketeers. A chance for fans to meet the men who made many of their favourite films possible, to see backstage footage, some amusing old clips and, most thrillingly, to be the first to lay eyes on vintage gems so deeply buried in the Disney vault that they’d been forgotten for nigh on a century.

Created by Disney and Ub Iwerks before Mickey Mouse was even a glint in Walt’s eye, Oswald the Lucky Rabbit was sadly not lucky enough to enjoy a long career, starring in just 26 shorts through the ‘20s and ‘30s. Or so we thought. Turns out there’s a 27th, incomplete but utterly astounding, and screened for the first time ever, at Disney Rarities.

From amusing ‘50s footage poking gentle fun at Walt as he struggles to remember the name of various Disneyland attractions, to snippets of behind-the-scenes footage of Emma Watson and Dan Stevens shooting Beauty and the Beast, Disney Rarities affords a peek into a usually much more guarded world, another reason to make the trip next year to Newport Beach.

 

We do need another hero.

From his deep, slow, honey-dipped drawl and piercing gaze to his lopsided cattleman’s ‘tache and wistful smile, 72 year-old Sam Elliott dominates the screen in The Hero (pictured above), a sweet, insightful comedy/drama about a western movie icon whose career, health and family are now distant, haunting memories. The film’s a standout hit at the festival this year.

Buoyed by illicit smokeables and a not-quite-as-icky-as-it-sounds relationship with a thirtysomething comedian played by Orange is the New Black’s Laura Prepon, Elliott’s character faces his mortality, meets his fans, and tries to re-connect with his daughter (Krysten Ritter) in a film that, although on paper it sounds like something we’ve seen a thousand times before, on screen is charming, touching and dryly amusing. A sweet, elegiac indie that you should definitely make time for when it eventually moseys into a cinema near you.

Producer Don Hahn
Producer Don Hahn
Bands on stage at the Newport Beach Film Festival
Bands on stage at the Newport Beach Film Festival

Five Questions With…

We’re back with Don Hahn now, for our regular Five Questions slot. The guy is an absolute legend, we think, and so does everyone else.

 

Who’s your movie idol?

“Someone I’ve become a huge fan of is Werner Herzog. He’s a great narrative filmmaker, his documentaries are equally good and he has a great attitude about what a filmmaker is, which is showing what it is to be human and following the human journey. I know that sounds unusual as you’d probably expect me to say Walt Disney, and obviously he is, but in terms of living, breathing, exciting filmmakers, I just love Werner Herzog.”

 

What’s your go-to comfort film?

“Aside from Hot Tub Time Machine and Booty Call – but that’s everybody’s choice – I would probably say Back to the Future. It’s brilliant storytelling without an extra frame in it. It’s Bob Zemeckis at his best and I love it.”

 

From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“It’s never the red carpets, the tuxedos or the awards. I like all those things, but what I love are those moments of discovery, when somebody comes up with an interesting or unexpected story idea, or an actor comes up with a great performance that you didn’t expect, or you spot something in dailies that’s unusual… Those moments of discovery when a great film starts coming together. Like when I first heard that amazing song, ‘Beauty and the Beast’. They’re wonderful days.”

 

What would you like people to know about your new film?

“I have a short documentary showing at the festival. It’s called The Gamble House. It’s Doc Brown’s house from Back to the Future, so maybe that’s the reason I like that movie so much! It was the first modern house in California, built at the turn of the 20th Century by the brothers Charles and Henry Greene. They were influenced by lots of British, Irish and Scottish arts and crafts guys, and in turn, they brought about a revolution in American architecture.”

 

What’s the question that, during interviews, you’re surprised you’re not asked more? 

“You know what people almost never ask about? And I’m glad you did. They rarely ask about the music or the contribution of sound. Maybe it’s obvious when it’s a musical, with great songs by Alan Menken and Howard Ashman. But if you have Hans Zimmer doing your score, or Danny Elfman, and that score is a key part of the storytelling process, that should get way more attention.

“People talk about the director, they talk about the writer and the actors, but rarely do they say, ‘Wow, what a contribution to the narrative of your movie the score makes.’ I’m a musician, I grew up with music, and I wish people acknowledged, a little more, the contribution music makes to the experience of going to the movies.”

 

 

Five Further Questions With…

We’ve a double edition of Five Questions today, as the concept’s catching on at the festival and proving rather popular. Finally today, then, we’re chatting with Riley Thomas, the writer and producer of a cool pop musical called Stuck, a tale of six strangers stuck on a New York City subway. Starring Amy Madigan, Ashanti and Breaking Bad’s Giancarlo Esposito, it’s going to be a huge hit, we predict.

 

Who’s your movie idol?

“My movie idol is Joss Whedon. I revel in his ability to create and sustain a world, and fill it with metaphorical storytelling that is in a class of its own.”

 

What’s your go-to comfort film?

“My go to comfort film is The Sound of Music. All I need to live is to remember: ‘I go to the hills when my heart is lonely. I know I will hear what I've heard before. My heart will be blessed with the sound of music and I'll sing once more.’”

 

From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“My favourite part of the movie making process is when it's shown to its first audience. Experiencing an audience react to the work everyone has put into the film is an unparalleled feeling.”

 

What would you like people to know about your new film?

“I want people to know that this film is about them.”

 

What’s the question that, during interviews, you’re surprised you’re not asked more? 

“I'm surprised people don't ask how I picked who was going to be on the train. In the initial draft of the show the movie’s based on, there were 13 characters. Over the course of its development, elements of each character got combined and reduced into each other.”

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