The Big Picture

Mandorla, as the name suggests, is about a unity of opposites at its core, centered on Ernesto, a seeker for a meaningful life despite his conflicting inner and outer worlds.

Our working trailers are the quickest measure of the film: 

California trailer

 French trailer

Over 20,000 plays on Vimeo so far

Mandorla follows Ernesto, an American video maker drawn by dark and magical visions to a medieval French city where he seeks an illusive banker to help him understand this mysterious calling that has cost him his career and now threatens his family and sanity.

This site is for you to discover and follow Mandorla (independent and low budget by necessity) as it's being made. We have written, shot, and are now editing the film. Release date: 2014. Stay tuned, and follow regular updates on our Facebook page.

Follow the Film



Mixing it up at Skywalker Sound... with Zach Martin (Skywalker mixer), Shaun Farley (our sound supervisor and editor), Liz Holdship (our dear Executive Producer and Art Director), and yours truly.

In four intense days we covered our four reels (everything except the credits reel).

Back into it on Monday... after a bit of well-earned rest for all.



The last six months have been an explosion of work on Mandorla.

We honed our edit and storytelling, brought together some beautifully fitting music, and now have an exceptional team together to finish this moving film.  

We've worked hard to finish important details and are locking down our sound reels as we prepare to start our mix this month at venerable Skywalker Sound.

Special Effects are also coming together in some fantastic ways from friends in LA, France, and San Francisco. Wish we could show you more pictures but don't want to give too much away. Stay tuned!

Right after sound comes final color correction in August then we're off to film festivals.  Will keep you posted! Be sure to "like" our Facebook Page for more frequent updates!




A couple of days ago I had the impulse to work on the design for the poster for the film. Here's the result of my collaboration with Liz.

We found this advice from seasoned designer Niel Kellerhouse helpful:

"I view the “poster” (or making a single representative image) as a necessary exercise. In the same way a successful logo is a single image that represents a large company, it communicates a message about themselves, who they are and what they do. Likewise a poster should sum up what it is you want to message, sell or communicate about your film. Not in 24 frames, not 30 seconds, but one frame. You have one frame to tell me about your film. This process helps bring you to a clearer more concise communication with what it is you're trying to sell. Whether this single image or frame is manifested as a poster, an electronic ad, a billboard, a DVD cover, etc. it doesn't matter. It will directly inform all your ad media."

It's our first draft on a poster. We're now back to editing the actual film (at 24 frames per second).

Stay tuned.



My god, it's full of stars!!

Space, outer and inner, is an interesting frontier with regard to the music magically coming together for our Second Act.

From the opening titles on, music is essential to experience the story of Mandorla. Let me tell you more about it.

We often seek out the right music for a scene before we edit it. Many would rightly say this isn't traditional, but it's a secret some of us have been using for many years. So far we've been very lucky to find and license the exact music we want, thanks in large measure to our Composer, Music Supervisor, and good friend Robert Rich. He is at the center of our expanding music universe.

Robert brought us the perfect track for our opening title sequence from his friend and fellow Hearts of Space label mate, Michael Stearns (composer for Baraka, Samsara), which then transitions magically into another other-worldly track from UK-based artist David James Hughes to perfectly open the first scene. Robert opened his entire library (30 albums) to us and many tracks are an uncanny match for particular scenes.

Robert Rich working with Andrew Souter's WayfarerLate last week we needed a special track for what we knew would be an extensive scene with a lot of important visual storytelling. On Thursday Robert forwarded a track with permission from Andrew Souter called Wayfarer--The Ancient Ones. Andrew has long admired Robert's and Michael Stearns work, and creates his own music when not running his music software company, 2CAudio, and content creation company, Galbanum.

I listened to Wayfarer and felt it was right for Mandorla, and one particular sequence, straight-away.... if... a couple of elements, plucks on a light synth harp, and some metalic, granular synth FX, could be removed and some old European-Mid-Eastern-like insturments and mystical sounds could be layered in by Robert.

Andrew SouterOn Friday Robert sent our request to Andrew.

Andrew was more than game for this and did a remix of the song on Saturday. I received it during dinner and played it for our guests.

All agreed it was beautiful and imminently cinematic.



Haroun Serang playing a vintage Mandolin while listening to WayfarerEarlier Saturday, Robert had called his friend and professional musician Haroun Serang into his studio to record him playing an antique mandolin (Haroun's family heirloom) while listening to Andrew's original Wayfarer. Robert then received the new Wayfarer mix from Andrew and layered in Haroun's mandolin, which plays extraordinarliy well with Andrew's synth and minimal piano, and then added some subtle mystical elements of his own. Robert, Liz and I often describe working on Mandorla as an alchemical process. You can see why.

Sunday, Liz and I received the new mixed track and we both agreed it's beautifully suited to our coming edit.

Our bed of stars is made, loaded, and ready to go in our Avid.

We can't wait to get started.

Amazing... how quickly some collaborations come together--especially with music.

We hope the same will unfold when we round the corner into sound design and, down the road, the final mix. That will be another story to share.

You'll have to wait a while to see and hear this scene in the context of Mandorla, but you can have a listen to Andrew's Wayfarer--The Ancient Ones on SoundCloud:

click to go to Soundcloud

On SoundCloud, Andrew writes:

"Wayfarer is a project name I use for the deepest of deep ambient space music. This is music that is meant to invoke a sense of traveling without moving to remote and unknowable reaches of outer and inner space."

If you read the many praising comments for Wayfarer, you will see that one fan wrote, "My god, it's full of stars!" As Andrew replied to the fan, 2001 A Space Odyssey is a great film. I would also add it has a very interesting use of music.

There have been many exciting stories regarding the film and editing the last few weeks. This is just the latest one.





Recent abstract shot from our youngest on-set photographer, Amanda Miller (age 12). Can you tell what it is? Answer at the bottom.

Without a doubt, some of the top feelings while making a feature film are:

  • having all your scenes shot and “in the can” for editing
  • arriving at the mid-point of editing the story
  • working with great people who want to “live the dream” with you

All three of these have been realized this past month.

Here’s a quick update on where we are at now and some wildly exciting developments just ahead:


In May we arrived at the mid-point of our edit. The process is straight-forward. We make our cuts, play the edit, get pulled into the story, and then the screen goes dark. We think, “Wait, what happened? We want more!” We then quickly realize that we need to get back to work. Happens every time.


Set photography courtesy of Glenn Holdship


 The final scenes for the film were written to happen “two years later” in the story, and in summer rather than fall. It turns out we followed the script literally on this point. Liz suggested we schedule and prep for shooting our final scenes this summer. So we put our bright new intern, Anna Robertson, onto the tasks at hand. Anna came through beautifully, pulling crew, locations, and catering together for a 10 day shoot over 2 weeks.





Pleased to announce that Mandorla is now officially listed in the Internet Movie Database. Complete cast, crew and all will be added before the premiere.




Robert Rich, our dear friend and good neighbor, offered us the use of any song from his 30 album collection. As luck and fate would have it, many of Robert’s songs are an uncanny match with some special scenes we have. Maybe this has something to do with our shared affection for Tarkovsky, or alchemy? Robert has also generously extended the use of his studio, where he has made additional recordings for the film (usually over a glass of wine).





Sound, as George Lucas said, is at least 50 percent of the storytelling in a movie. Today I'd say it's even more so. I am very grateful to have two friends and seasoned sound pros on-board from the start. Randy Thom (IMDb), the venerated multiple Academy Award winning Director of Sound Design at Skywalker Sound who has kindly advised and mentored me on Mandorla since the script stage, and Kent Sparling (IMDb), a veteran of studio and indie films alike. They will both review our mid-story edit in the coming week.



Another passionate arena for us is color. Like sound, color can have magical latitude for storytelling, particularly on a subconscious level, which suits Mandorla. We are glad to have connected with the wizards at Colorflow at the Zaentz Media Center in Berkeley, and look forward to working with them when our edit is locked in.




As some of you know,  I am a font fanatic. It should come as no surprise that I hold a film’s title sequence as vitally important. As luck would have it, I found a young man who shares this passion. Christian Schmeer is studying for his Masters of Art degree at The Royal College of Art in Visual Communication (Ridley Scott’s alma mater). He is as excited about the title sequence for Mandorla as I am, and is quite a filmmaker in his own right.  




We are very fortunate to have the continued support and guidance of people like Michele Turnure-Salleo, Director of Filmmaker 360 at The San Francisco Film Society. In recent years the SFFS has played a vital role in supporting a growing Bay Area film community that has produced some of the most noteworthy and successful films on the indie scene such as Sundance winners Fruitvale Station (in theaters on July 26) and last year's Beasts of the Southern Wild.




Liz recently re-read a paragraph in Bill Plotkin’s book, Soulcraft, that deeply resonates with Mandorla. We approached him to consider including it near the film’s conclusion. We are thrilled that Bill readily agreed and had this response to seeing the Mandorla trailer:

“I’m very impressed with and moved by the trailer — a strong evocation of the terror, ecstasy, and urgency (or necessity) of the call to spiritual adventure, the implicit and troubling reminder that with shifts of consciousness, there can be shifts in world, in “reality”, and of course the Shadow and the necessity of facing it if we wish to be whole.”

—Bill Plotkin, PhD., author and founder of the Animas Valley Institute

Once a film is made people need to hear about it, and you can’t have too many people help with this. In addition to other talented speciality film PR talent we plan to consult, Jon Bloom, a good friend and CEO of Silicon Valley’s leading boutique Public Relations and Communications firm, McGrath Power, has stepped up to help us get the word out about Mandorla in the best way possible. 



Saving one of the best notes for last, Julian Clark, my first intern long ago, has just completed launching Audi USA’s new website and is now kindly taking time to help us organize our post-production schedule while Anna is away teaching at a summer camp. One of Julian's many talents is to move creative things along to meet deadlines and deliveries.


Our plan forward:

  • Finish a good film
  • Show to key people (you know who you are)
  • Submit Mandorla to major film festivals
  • Get the word out and make it available for people to see worldwide, either through traditional distribution channels or through our own

We’re going back to work. Stay tuned!






ANSWER: During our June production, my daughter Amanda was given a small camera and encouraged to shoot something creative with it. She was only too happy to oblige. She walked up to one of our cinema camera rigs and took a shot right directly into it. Right into the matte box ND glass and our 50mm lens behind it. Not surprisingly, the result feels like a world within a world, which I think represents this film (if not this occasional blog) well. Nice work, sweetheart.

BTW, Amanda also runs the clap board in the video clip above.