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.)

“Best of the Fest!”

Another successful film festival is in the can.

Another successful film festival is in the can.

Okay! So you missed your chance to go to The Second Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film this past June. While it may be over…and maybe you missed the parties, the people, the glitz and the glamour…you can still experience some of the movie magic.

On September 5th through the 7th the Capitol Theater of Burlington will be showing a selection of films from the fest. Lonnie Schuyler, director of the SNAFF (Snake Alley Festival of Film) and his team of eagle-eyed experts have chosen a selection of films that represent a cross-section of the amazing talent that was on display in June.

Tickets are only $5.00. Five bucks…for hours of world-class entertainment. Talk about a cheap date. Show your sweetie just how much you care.

And speaking of sweeties, give Lonnie Schuyler a kiss for his birthday. It’s September 5th, but he’ll accept kisses on all three days. I won’t disclose his age, but if he was a giant sequoia, you’d fall asleep counting the rings.

On a serious note, he IS getting older, so try not to startle him. And if you see Phil Pool one of the SNAFF photographers, don’t startle him either. He just had a birthday and he’s even older than Lonnie. (If that’s even possible.)

Seems Like Only Yesterday!

It’s been almost a month since The Second Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film ended. The memories are fresh in my mind…and will last a lifetime. If you were there you know it was a blast. I couldn’t find anyone who didn’t have a great time.

If you couldn’t make it, start planning for next year. I’ve put the links to some of the pictures (as promised) so that you can see what went on.

You may have to cut and paste. Sometimes this platform doesn’t accept live links. I’m going to try, but if not…well, you know the drill.

Two of the links are for Cyn-A-Palooza which coincided with The Snake Alley Film Fest and includes great shots of the Wiener Dog Races. Enjoy!

FYI—If you’re new to this blog, you can subscribe by clicking on the button in the lower right-hand corner and following the instructions. (Thanks to Laura Woodard of http://www.grassrootsmarketinginc.com for this suggestion.)



Looks like the links ARE live. Enjoy the show!

Burlington, Iowa…You Rock!!

The Jig of Joy

The Jig of Joy

Now that The 2nd Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film is “in the can,” And it’s long after the “after parties.” All of the awards have been presented, accepted and/or mailed to recipients…it is time to announce one really BIG award, notice, or giant HUZZAHS! And that is to say a gigantic “Thank You” to all of the people who worked so hard to make the film festival the huge success that it was.

As you can tell by the above picture…Lonnie was dancing a jig, he was so happy with all of you. Comments I heard from out-of-towners were all raves about Burlington and its people. (That would be all of you.)

If your name isn’t in here, email me at gdschuyler@prodigy.net and tell me your name and what your job at the film festival was. I’ll get it in the next post.

Here, in no particular order, are the folks who made it happen.
• Tina Salamone-Director of the Capitol Theatre (This lady was everywhere—all the time. She’s truly amazing.)
• Joanie-who handled box office sales, concessions, etc.
• JoJo Munke- projectionist extraordinaire- kept films running without a hitch
• (I’m sure I missed a few)

Committee members
• Amy and Charlie Walsh of F&M Bank—Amy handled interviews, film maker liaisons, and other organizational duties. Her and Charlie put on the red carpet party in front of the theater and Charlie wore his chef’s hat and bartender’s apron as well. Plus, they took some of the film makers to their farm for some target shooting and a tour of the bank vaults.
• Brian and Tammy Hopkins—Brian raised funds and solicited sponsorships and they held the “after” after parties at their home. (I hope Brian knows that his wife is a saint.)
• Ryan and Jenny Turner—Ryan emceed the entire event and put together a fabulous awards ceremony. Jenny made a great professional video of blacksmith Bill Printy and how the “Alley” awards were conceived and made. (You’re a lucky man Ryan Turner)

All of the photos were the work of some world-class photographers. (You’ll be seeing many of them this year as we gear up for 2014)
• Phil Pool- Omni Photography
• Mike Roberson-Roby Photography
• Brandy Schwartz- Brandy Schwartz Photography

SNAFF-TV and live video feed were through the efforts of Mark Britton and Patricia Jean McCarron. They did the live film maker interviews, wiener dog races, and filmed the red carpet interviews. They are an amazing couple.

Music throughout the event (parties, etc.) was provided by Dustin Blank, Flash In A Pan, Sean Costanza.

Red carpet interviewers were Becky Kuster and Joe Heath (AKA Ryan Seacrest )

The Burlington High School dancers did an amazing bit of choreography and the band Red Fall Rising opened the awards ceremony with some rockin’ music.

Awards presenters were Trudie Poulter, Laura Engler, RaeAnn Kennedy, Heather Burgdorf, Alyssa Jennings, Emma Figueroa, and Patty Moad. A film maker from Australia, Gary Glen, was shanghaied into being a presenter as well as accepting an award for another film from Australia. (I think I missed a few here, also)

One of the most diverse (age-wise) groups of volunteers ranged from High-schoolers to college age folks and some who were approaching my age (which is getting up there.)
These were the people who manned the Annex and fielded questions, signed in film makers, handed out swag bags, and sold souvenirs, (look it up, Julian) plus a myriad of other tasks.

They are:
• Dale Kurth
• Bill Wright
• Annie Barner’s dad, Randy
• Axton and Tasha Upton (where ever we needed them)
• Alex Stewart (who was just accepted to a prestigious university)
• Mariah Young (an all-around assistant who helped me with my computer)
• Julian “Cucumber Eyes” Swayzer (he knows why I call him that
• Dane Barner (who wound up sick in his hotel room)

The task of assembling and coordinating all of these volunteers fell to the beautiful and talented Paulina Nicole. She did much of this while studying Interior Design at Iowa State. She is quite possibly, the most poised, organized, and efficient young lady that I’ve ever met. To top it off, she has a good sense of humor, a quick wit, (necessary when working with me) and she worked start to finish every day of the event.

Last but not least is Cynthia Stiefel Schuyler, who not only worked herself sick opening her new store, and getting ready for Cyn-A-Palooza and the Wiener Dog Races—she helped Lonnie with almost every phase of planning and organizing The 2nd Annual Snake Alley Festival of Film. (You are also a lucky man.)

Thanks to all of you (including who I may have missed) this was a first-class event. You helped put Burlington on the map.

I can’t wait for next year!

Great Films In A Wiener Wonderland!

Film maker Q and A

Flash in the pan

Mad Russian

One unique event that happens in conjunction with the Snake Alley Festival of Film is Cyn-A-Palooza. It’s a family oriented street carnival highlighted by the Annual Pet Parade and the Wiener Dog Races.

This might just be one of the funniest and fun-est (is that a real word?) you’ve ever seen. Betting IS encouraged, with the proceeds benefitting the SPCA.

This is held right around the corner from the Capitol Theater during a lull in the film screenings. This is a “bucket list” event.

The “after party” last night was held at the Drake on the outdoor patio. Talk about ambiance…a very comfortable summer night, the stars, the river…all in sight of a beautiful bridge. Entertainment by “Flash In The Pan,” was “rockin’ da house!” (If you’ve never seen “the Mad Russian” play a fiddle, you must see this.)

Prior to the party, I sat in the theater for the last block of Friday’s screenings. It wasn’t easy finding a seat. The house was packed and it was close to being an SRO event. The Q and A session with the film makers was lively, spirited, and informative.

This year’s awards ceremony features live entertainment and a musical revue. Sorry you couldn’t be here. You missed a fun event.

This festival has grown to three times the size it was last year. In fact, the sightseeing tour had to turn people away. For those of you who didn’t make this year’s fest…lock in the dates for next year. We’re already planning to add more events.

We Got The Mojo At Mr. Moto’s

Mr Motos after party 2

The after party following the first day’s blocks of films was an incredible blast. We went to a cool little pub about a block from the river called Mr. Moto’s. They put out a humungous variety of pizzas for the film fest crowd and the libations flowed freely.

If you’ve never been around a group of film makers and their entourages after they’ve been “properly lubed,” you just haven’t lived. Live music interspersed with witty (and sometimes not-so-witty) repartee made for an incredible evening. The “after” after party crowd did not disappoint. (From what I hear of course…I was a good boy─sorta.)

We’ve just begun the second day with a delicious brunch at The Drake on the river. And now the films are rolling again.

If you have any doubts about this little town on the river rocks, consider this. Following the Snake Alley Festival of Film, they’ll launch “Steamboat Days,” a music festival featuring a variety of music genres. One of the headliners this year is Kid Rock. They anticipate crowds of 10,000 or more.

Last night there was also a gallery hop for people who are into art. There was live music, food and wine. As I said a few posts back, this town is becoming a Midwest version of Key West.

If you missed out, plan to make it next year. Your intrepid blogger will be here suffering through another day of friendly folks, fabulous films, and rocking parties.

Lights! Camera! Action!

Well, we made it to Burlington safely, although my wife was not thrilled with the shortcut I took through the cornfields and woods.

I spent most of the day helping Lonnie, Tina, Paulina, Ryan, Mark, Alex, Amy, Mariah, Brian and a host of other amazing volunteers set up the theater Annex for the film festival.

All I can say is, this is going to be bigger and better than last year.
There will be a radio interview with a film maker from Australia and with a film maker from New York. Then…at exactly 11:00 A.M. the registration and sign ups begin. At noon it’s Showtime.

One of the film crews from New York arrived this afternoon and we got to see a preview of their film titled, “Phil’s Butts!” What a great bunch of guys and if this is the quality of films we can look forward to…I can’t wait to see the rest.

If you can get here (the New York crew drove 20 hours straight through), don’t miss this.

If I’m coherent and able to write after the party tomorrow, I’ll fill you in. As I once said, “Be there or be square.”

Prayers For Oklahoma

Tornado damage in Moore,Oklahoma

All of us involved in putting on The Snake Alley Festival of Film are praying for the folks in Moore, Oklahoma who were hit with a devastating tornado on Monday.

Film makers, like most artists, are keenly aware of the fragility of life and how quickly it can change. They use their lenses to depict joy and sorrow, happiness and despair, and the triumph of the human spirit over tragedy.

We know that the people of Moore, Oklahoma will triumph over this tragedy as they have over others. But our hearts still go out to them in their hour of need. We mourn with those who have lost loved ones to this terrible storm.

Please…keep them in your thoughts and prayers, share in their grief, and donate what you can to the charity of your choice. A Google search will tell you which charities are serving the people of Moore.

The indomitable will of the human heart will triumph—even over this tragedy.

And So…Let The Judging Begin!

One of the awards for film makers.

One of the awards for film makers.

As you may have noticed in the last unpunctuated, haphazard, post—the selection committee has made their choices known.

If yours is one of the films selected, “Congratulations!”

If your film or screenplay didn’t get chosen, know this: Some of the entries were screened three and four times. The level of talent and quality of work (including yours) was that close. Please continue to produce the quality of work that we had the privilege to watch.

And please attend The Snake Alley Festival of Film and support your fellow film makers. Last year, we saw some wonderful friendships develop and watched some great collaborations begin.

As to the list that was published last week: If your film was there, I’m sure you were able to pick it out of the word jumble. If not…and you’re trying to figure out the titles…Good Luck! It seems that someone was so excited that he forgot to use punctuation. I won’t mention any names (Lonnie) but hopefully, it will get updated soon.

And if you think the selection committees had a tough job—just imagine what the judges are going through.

On a final note…The Snake Alley Festival of Film opens in about 5 ½ weeks! Woo Hoo!

“Yes, We’ve Got Trouble”

Port of Burlington Visitor Center

Port of Burlington Visitor Center

If you’re following the news about the flooding along the Mississippi, you may have noticed that they mentioned the Quad Cities area. Burlington (home of the Snake Alley Festival of Film) is one of those four cities. (Quad means ‘four’ there, Sparky.)

Not to worry, mi amigo. The flooding here will not hamper our production. The show(s) will go on.

But, enough of that for now. It’s time to announce the answers to the Snake Alley Festival of Film trivia challenge. Check your answers to the questions in the last post to see if you’re a winner.

The name of the movie about two con-men was “The Music Man.” The actor who beat Sinatra for the lead role was Robert Preston. This movie made him an A-List Star. His con-man partner was played by comedian Buddy Hackett. The female lead was played by Shirley Jones.

“The Music Man” was written by Iowa native Meredith Wilson. He went by his middle name of Meredith, but his actual first name was Robert. He was born in Mason City, Iowa and “The Music Man” premiered there in 1962. In addition to “The Music Man” he wrote “The Unsinkable Molly Brown” and did a production for California’s Centennial and Oregon’s Centennial. He also wrote the University of Iowa’s fight song and Iowa State’s fight song.

Did you get all of the answers? Congratulations! Contact us during the Snake Alley Festival of Film and we’ll arrange for you to kiss the winning wieners. (You lucky dog!)

The party begins in only six more weeks. Just remember…tickets include invitations to the “after” parties.

Keep those cameras rolling.