Saturday, September 6, 2014

From Pinewood Studios to Lone Pine, California

Next month, the Lone Pine Film Festival will celebrate its 25th silver anniversary. And there to document the California hamlet's long Hollywood legacy and crucial connections to the Western genre will be nascent British filmmaker John Jessup.

Jessup is no stranger to the "Pine" movie-making community. In 1968, after leaving art school, he worked for four years at UK's famed Pinewood Studios as a runner and junior draftsman. Among the films he touched: On Her Majesty's Secret Service, Billy Wilder's The Private Life of Sherlock Holmes and Ken Russell's The Devils

Jessup went on to an illustrious career in the ad agency business, founding and later selling his own shop before joining Leo Burnett UK in 1992 as creative director. After two decades at the top of the profession, he left Leo's in December of last year to pursue independent film projects.

From his blog:

Lone Pine is just a little speck on the map that sits about half way between Reno and San Bernardino on Highway 395, but remarkably it’s been the location for scores of movies . All the big Hollywood filmmakers would come here to use the nearby Alabama Hills, and its unique 85 million year old rock formations, as a backdrop for many famous films, mostly westerns.
Watch a John Wayne or a Randolph Scott film, or any other cowboy hero come to that, and the unique rock shapes will appear again and again... The idea is to create a charming, funny but reverential documentary about this little desert town set around the time of the film festival. We’ll talk to the delegates and the locals and find out how and why these three days in October have such a profound effect on the place, making it spring to life like a desert flower.

Jessup first visited Lone Pine in 2010 while overseeing a commercial for Dewars Scotch. He returned on vacation in the fall of 2013, happening upon that year's edition of the October festival.

He was back in Lone Pine once more this June with co-producer Valerie Pierre-Louis to shoot footage at another annual event, "Concert in the Rocks," put on by the Lone Pine Film History Museum.

Given Jessup's professional filmmaking background and the incredible scenery of Lone Pine, this documentary stands a chance to be giddy-up great. The 2014 event runs October 10th-12th. Among the celebrities expected to attend this year are Bruce Boxleitner, Johnny Crawford and Willam Wellman Jr.

[Lone Pine Film Festival]

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