February 34, 2004:
The premier screenings of the documentary Counting Sheep in Inyo County and Mammoth sponsored by the Lone Pine Film Festival are now history. Clearly the response indicates the film’s subject concerning the balancing of two populations of important animals in their natural habitat struck a cord in the local audiences as every screening was sold out and additional screenings had to be offered. Word of mouth has been strong on the quality of the film.
The screenings were held because the Lone Pine personnel of the Festival felt people would be interested in the film and because the film had been made on a shoestring budget and still had remaining debt. Producer, director and cinematographer Frank Green and Chris Langley, president of the Festival, had set an optimistic goal of having GreenTV of San Francisco walk away with $2000 to put towards the final edit and marketing of the film.
Frank Green stated recently that the gross receipts from ticket sales and sales of the vhs and dvd copies of the film exceeded $11,000. Much of that will be profit as the biggest expense for the showings was the rental of the “state of the art” rear view projection system. The cost of that was covered by sponsorship from Wilson’s Sports and Mountain Light Gallery in Bishop and by the Film Festival Board in Lone Pine.
Green summed it up, “It goes without saying I’m flabbergasted by this income. Far beyond my wildest expectations. Profound, heartfelt thanks.”
A great deal of interest has been shown in future showings of the film for all those who missed it. There have been numerous inquires where the film can be purchased. Although discounted at the original screenings, the film is available at Spellbinder Books in Bishop and soon at the Interagency Visitor’s Center and the Drug Store in Lone Pine. It can also be purchased by calling GreenTV at 415 255 4797 or visiting their website at www.Greentv.org.
The Lone Pine Film Festival wants to sponsor inexpensive events for the local residents as well as the fundraising events it needs to do to survive financial. The Festival and its parent organization the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History also intends, when possible, to champion and support little films which need “adoption” to exist. Obviously, local audiences are willing to help.
With the new income, Frank Green intends to do some additional editing and “tweaking” of the film. He hopes to get a “name” actress to do the narration for the film to improve its marketability. The film remains a full-time project for him for the time being.
Future screenings in Independence and Ridgecrest are being discussed. Counting Sheep will also screen Sunday morning of the Film Festival, October 12th as part of a series of nature documentaries all made locally. Other possible films, on the environmental impact of the DWP’s Owens Lake Project, are either shooting now or in the final stages of editing.
The Festival has already seen and accepted a second film entitled 5 Million Footsteps, directed by Jay Chapman, which will screen as part of this nature documentary “mini-festival”in October. This documentary tells the story of John Muir and his work against the story of his ascent of Mt. Whitney which is being reenacted in the film by a group of environmentalists and filmmakers. The modern ascent is de[icted as the story of Muir’s experiences are retold. Again, this film has still not found a home and was written and produced as the first of a series on the history of the environmental movement in the U.S. Other films are pending.
The Festival is now exploring bringing several short films made at the Camp site and about the Manzanar experience “on tour,” in conjunction with the Park store and the Inyo Council for the Arts. Stay tuned for announcements.