“Ding! Dong! The Groundhog’s Dead”

It looks as though spring is FINALLY arriving here in Burlington, Iowa. And…it’s about time. We need to be able to look forward to that “beautiful “first week in June weather” that has been a hallmark of every Snake Alley Festival of Film since the beginning.

To add to that, we have a plethora (look it up, Bunky) of really excellent entries this year, and the judges have been working their eyeballs to the bone. (What!?! You didn’t know that eyeballs had bones?)

There are gonna be some killer flicks…and a couple of new surprises this year. So, you definitely do not want to miss this one. Make plans to be here.

The downside to this nice spring weather is the judges are starting to get “Spring Fever.” We had to use leg irons to shackle them to their chairs. If we didn’t, they would sneak out and go tip-toeing through the tulips, or lolly-gagging down in the meadow, or romping in the woods, or…well, you get the idea.

Not to worry though. When the judging is done, we’ll give them each a double-shot of espresso with lots of sugar and a puppy. Then we’ll send them home to their parents.

Speaking of parents, Lonnie’s step-brother is coming this year. Yet another reason to attend as you watch the two neophytes try to best the master. (That would be me, Lonnie and Ray’s dad.) Little do these two up-starts realize…the master has not revealed all of his tricks.

Book your flights and rooms now. Space is going fast. Plus…there will be wiener-dog races down the main street of town.


“Boomtown, Baby!”

Do you know that Burlington, Iowa was named one of the top 50 most livable cities for baby-boomers? Yep! None other than The Huffington Post gave us that distinction.

We like to think that The Snake Alley Festival of Film contributed to us winning that honor. (Well…that and the Wiener dog races.)

And speaking of things that are booming, The Snake Alley Festival of Film is going crazy this year. It has really blown up on us. Great new talent, lots of quality entries, and new volunteers to help out.

Not only that, but this year’s “after parties” look like they’re going to be over the top. (I just hope my poor liver can take it. But, I’ll suffer through it.)

The late entry deadline is roaring up on you if you haven’t got your film in yet. April 1st is the last day. So get ‘em in here…NOW!

See you at the Capitol Theater, or the “after parties,” or both. And for the really brave, the “after, after parties” at the Hopkins residence.

“Tis The Luck O’ The Irish”


Monday, March 17th is Saint Patrick’s Day. And surely you’ll be wearing of the green and indulging in a wee bit of corned beef and cabbage to help you get some “Luck O’ the Irish.”

The real question is, “Do you feel lucky? Well, do you, Punk?” Oops, sorry! Wrong movie. That one had nothing to do with Saint Patrick’s Day.

But if you’re really lucky, your short film will be an official selection of The Snake Alley Festival of Film. You’ve already had a wee bit of luck because the deadline for entry was extended until April 1st.

And a “short’ film is not necessarily a story about leprechauns…although it could be. So put down that pint of Guinness and pull up yer kilt there O’Donovan. And get crackin’. June is coming faster than an Irishman heading to happy hour.

The same goes for all of you budding James Joyce types out there. Get those screenplays in.

And “top O’ the mornin’ to ya” from the crew at Snake Alley Festival of Film. See you in June.

A disclaimer is due here. No Irishmen were harmed during the writing of this post…but some damage was done to a bottle of Jameson’s.

Uh Oh! You Missed It!


That’s right Bunky! You missed the March 1st deadline for entering your short-film masterpiece into The Snake Alley Festival of Film at the Capitol Theater in beautiful Burlington, Iowa.

But before you say, “Oh @#$@*%!” we’ve got good news…and some bad news.

Here’s the good news. Just because it’s you, we’ve extended the deadline. The deadline for late entries (that would be you) is now April 1st! (No fooling.)

Now for the bad news. The judges have already strained their beady little eyeballs watching an endless array f really, really good short films. And just because YOU dawdled…they’re going to have to work extra hard and push their little peepers to the limit.

So when your entry is selected, and you’re here for The 3rd Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film—and you see people roaming the streets with blood-shot, teary, runny, puffy eyes, mumbling dialogue—you’ll feel pangs of guilt knowing that it is all YOUR fault. (Or they’re recovering from one of the “after parties.”)

Actually, our judges love it, and they come back year after year. It’s a good excuse to get out of class. (And, because Third Grade can really get boring year after year.)

On a side note, it looks like Lonnie Schuyler’s brother will be attending this year, as well as his Dad. If you know Lonnie, you know you can now expect a triple dose of smart-aleckness this year!

See you in June at The Snake Alley Festival of Film.

Getting Better With Age!

In the last blog post, someone mentioned something about someone being “really old!”

Now, if you look at the picture which accompanied that post, you’ll notice TWO older guys there. One is the really cool older guy who’s been around the block a time or two. The other is a rapidly aging actor who used to be on an ancient series called “Melrose Place.” (Was color TV invented then?) I mean, when was the last time you Googled some of the cast from that show? Talk about ancient.

Now that we’ve cleared THAT up—let’s get on to new business. The deadline for entries into The Snake Alley Festival of Film is rapidly approaching. The entries are coming in at a furious pace. Don’t dawdle and get shut out! March 1st is the deadline for entries.

It will be the same great Snake Alley Festival of Film that we’ve all come to love…but with some extras. This year we’ve added an extra day and some cool new surprises.

We’ve also got some new judges, since one of our “OLD” judges will be in San Francisco on an internship. (Can you believe that? Putting her career ahead of The Snake Alley Festival of Film.)

Paulina and Julian

Paulina and Julian

What? You haven’t mailed your entry yet? Tick tock! What are you waiting for?

The Early Bird Gets…?

How would you finish that sentence? The Early Bird Gets the Worm? What other meanings does the term “Early Bird” have? For a lot of old people (I can say that because I qualify as an old people…at least chronologically) it means the “Early Bird Special” at the local hash house. Wow! Mystery meat, mushy vegetables, and day-old bread at a hefty 20% discount. What’s not to like?

But…if you make short films or write short film screen-plays, it means you can get a significant discount to the Snake Alley Festival of Film if you get your entries in by February 1st.

Speaking of February 1st, I’d like to mention another “first” that’s taking place here. For the very first time in the history of The Snake Alley Festival of Film, an out-of-state film maker and People’s Choice winner (Gabe Munitz-Alessio) has teamed up with some local film folks  to do a project in and around Burlington, Iowa.

Who knows? Maybe Burlington, Iowa will become known as “Hollywood on the Mississippi” and Snake Alley will be called the new “Street of Dreams.”

Get your entries in. This year’s Snake Alley Festival of Films promises to be bigger and better than ever. (And that’s saying something!)

All this talk about “Early Birds” has made me hungry. Time to take these old bones down to the local diner and “gum on” some cheap vittles.

Resolutions Or Regrets?


Well folks, it’s a brand-new year and time to look forward to what the future can bring.

We hope that one of your New Year’s Resolutions was to submit a short film, a screen play, or simply to attend The Snake Alley Festival of Film.

This year the film fest will be held from June 4th through the 7th, 2014.

If you were there last year, you know what a blast this film festival is. The people who missed it were totally bummed out.

This year promises to be even bigger and better judging by the entries that are already coming in. they look fantastic.

The early-bird deadline is February 1st and comes with a nice discount.

The Snake Alley Festival of Film was written up in Movie Maker Magazine and mentioned in The Huffington post. Some of last year’s film makers from around the country are here in Iowa working on a project called “Hotel P” including last year’s People’s Choice winner from Boston.

If you’ve never been to Burlington, Iowa and The Snake Alley Festival of Film, it should absolutely be on your “bucket list!” Come just once—you’ll be hooked for life.

Don’t spend the rest of your life wondering “what if?” Come this year and you’ll have no regrets.

On Being Thankful!

It’s the time of year when we’re supposed to look back (and forward) and think of all the things we are thankful for. My thought is…if you are alive and healthy, you’ve already got a lot to be thankful for. If you live here, in the greatest country in the world, you’ve got even more to be thankful for. If you have family and friends that love you and care about you, then you’ve got it all!

Here at The Snake Alley Festival of Film, we have many things to be thankful for. Here’s a partial list:
We’re thankful for all of the wonderful people (volunteers, sponsors, and contributors) who help make this film fest a huge success.
We’re thankful for all of the talented people we’ve met so far and for those we’ll meet in the future.
We’re thankful for the people of Burlington, Iowa for getting behind this project when we started it and continuing to support it.
We’re thankful for all of the film makers, screenwriters, and artistic folks from around the globe who’ve contributed to our success.
We’re thankful for having such a great venue (The Capitol Theater) to showcase the talent that participates in The Snake Alley Festival of Film.
We’re thankful for Tina Salamone, who helped take us to the next level, and also a little sad that she’s taken a job as the Performing Arts Manager for the City of Bloomington, Illinois.
We’re thankful that we’ve been granted non-profit status so that our donors can take the tax write-off.
And we’re thankful for our family and loved ones, both near and far away.

This is only a partial list, but it gives you an idea of how much we all have to be thankful for. For the rest of this year and into the next, use gratitude as a guide for all that you do.

From our house to yours—Have a very Happy Thanksgiving! Here’s a little Thanksgiving treat from the Disco Era. Have your speakers on.


Be Afraid! Be Very Afraid!

Janet Leigh in shower scene from Psycho.

Janet Leigh in shower scene from Psycho.

The witching hour is fast approaching! I’m referring to “All Hallows Eve,” also known as Halloween.

‘Tis the time ghosts and goblins, tricks and treats, eerily glowing Jack-O-Lanterns, and things that go “bump” in the night.

It’s also a great time to watch scary movies.

If you Google the phrase, “The scariest movies of all time,” you’ll get some very subjective lists. Even Reader’s Digest weighs in with their list of the top 31 scariest movies of all time. I don’t agree with all of them, but here is their list: The Exorcist (1973), The Shining (1980), Halloween (1978), Poltergeist (1982), The Evil Dead (1981), The Cabin in the Woods (2012), A Nightmare on Elm Street (1984), The Birds (1963), Alien (1979), Coraline (2009)

I think Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho” should have been on the list, (but I’ve always been partial to the shower scene with Janet Leigh.) I also liked “Them” and “The Blob.” It’s a generational thing.

Which movies would you pick for your Top 10 Scariest Movies?

During last year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film there was a special screening of “The Legend of Beaver Dam.” This short film was funny, scary, entertaining and should be in the “Top 10” list of any scary short films.

On this same subject, here is an interesting link from David Thrasher on the Iowa Films Facebook page at: https://www.facebook.com/groups/116202208392934/permalink/677048065641676/
His link for the movie factoids is:

This year for Halloween, I’ve developed my own scare tactic. I’m downloading a picture of a huge motor home. Then I photo shop a picture of my wife and myself standing next to it. Next, I email it to the kids with a note asking, “Do you think this will fit in your driveway?”

I wish I could see their faces when they open THAT email! Bwaa haaa haa!

Not to be too scary, but are you getting ready for next year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film. It has a way of sneaking up on you.

And if you notice that Lonnie Schuyler has a lot more gray hair…you know he saw my motor home email!

Who Shot Liberty Valance?

Way back in 1962, “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance” opened in theaters around the country. It starred Jimmy Stewart, John Wayne, Vera Miles, and Lee Marvin in what is arguably one of the best westerns ever made.

What, you might ask; does that have to do with The Snake Alley Festival of Film? Well, Sunshine, hang on to your skivvies. I’m getting there. The story from which that movie was taken was written by a lady who was born in McGregor, Iowa, a little town much like Burlington. And…she was one of the first women; if not THE first woman to write a western that was accepted by what had been an all men’s club. Her name was Dorothy M. Johnson.

Although she was born in Iowa, her family moved to Montana when she was young. There, she fell in love with all things western. After studying English in college, she moved to New York because jobs for women writers were scarce in the west at that time. Writing short stories, poetry and books, she eventually became editor of a women’s magazine.

But she missed Montana and still dreamed of writing westerns. She made her way back and wrote the story that became “The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.” Other stories by her became “The Hanging Tree” starring Gary Cooper and “A Man Called Horse” starring Richard Harris.

She was in her own way a pioneer. She was a woman who broke the barrier into what had been a good-ole boys club.

And…at last year’s Snake Alley Festival of Film, a female screenwriter (another Iowa girl) walked away with the prize for best screenplay. Her name is Danielle P. Smith. (What is it about Iowa that produces so many talented people? Is it the water—or something else?)

So, start writing troops, or filming, or editing, or whatever. The next Snake Alley Festival of Film will be here before you know it.

(This blog was inspired by an article written for CNN.com by Bob Greene.)