The Big Picture

Mandorla follows Ernesto, a visual artist and seeker stuck in a corporate video job, who is drawn by dark and magical visions to a medieval French city. There he seeks an illusive banker to help him unlock an obscure dream, deep within him, that threatens to alter his job, family, and sanity.

Working trailers: 

California trailer

 French trailer

Over 21,000 plays on Vimeo so far

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 edited the film, and are now preparing it for release in 2015. Follow regular updates on our Facebook page.



The image that refused to be lost

A discarded test shot five years ago that refuse to leave my mind

We are working today, tonight, and most likely into tomorrow and beyond on some final touches for the film. Nothing like a festival premiere to make you focus on getting a shot or sequence just right.

This particular shot has never been seen in the film before. It has, however, been stuck in my head for years, haunting me, and was lost on a hard drive somewhere because it was just a test shot long ago.

All production shots for Mandorla are meticulously organized. Except this one. And maybe one other.

Years ago I acquired, by luck, my first vintage (30 year-old), forgotten and professionally abandonded (in Russia) anamorphic lens. Like any filmmaker with their first anamorphic lens, I was eager to find that mysterious anamorphic magic. And this shot did it for me.

I once heard Francis Ford Coppola say that a filmmaker should save every shot that could be related to a film, including the short and long ends of shots, which he (or his legendary editor Walter Murch) often used to improve a scene.

A few weeks ago I had to organize (clean-up) my office and I spent a day pulling out old hard drives, booting them up, printing out their directory of files, and then taping that listing to the drive itself before locking it into a clear plastic box destined for the basement.

That process helped me find this lost shot. And Liz, the perfect co-editor, helped tune the sequence to make it work. Very excited it is now in the film. Can you tell?


moving into launch position

Mandorla will have its world premiere at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, April 23 - 26, 2015.


The long hours... And then you arrive

Digital haze from long hours in the home studio

The long hours began not long after our last big email/blog update back in August, 2014. Yes, I know, it’s been that long. Feature films take a while to make for a number of reasons and demands, perseverance in the pursuit of what the film is about being foremost among them.

As you may recall in our story, we had just The mighty Stag theater at Skywalker during our sound mix check. finished our back-to-back marathons: the sound mix and color grading, and needed a break before assembling the finished puzzle pieces.

At the end of the day the context of any film comes down to two things: marrying image and sound into a relationship that serves the story.

Proof that Liz's art direction can make any picture interesting. At the height of the California summer I packed hundreds of our finished sound and picture files onto a 2 terabyte drive and headed off to join Liz, my exec producer and partner, in Lyon, France, where she had been taking care of business for a couple of weeks.

I called her on the way to San Francisco’s International Airport and confessed I was not looking forward to the 12-plus hours of flying overnight, sitting up. In a consoling way, she said, “These are the long hours.”

I love the light in Lyon, and its people, artisans. They have a regard for the agreement of old world ambience with the style of modern times. This is the restaurant of the Cour de Loges, a favorite place of respite, where we also shot a number of scenes, in and around.After arriving and having dinner in the old city of St. Jean, at a restaurant where the walls are 500 years old, I looked out to the street where we shot scenes for Mandorla, and my sense of time began to shift.

It was always clear that Mandorla wanted to be. All I had to do was surrender and take one leap of faith after another, and, despite the upheavals over the years, it would all turn out. The key, I found, was tuning into that faint thread of inner signal that was all but drowned out and lost in all the chaotic noise and life explosions. And that is exactly, it turns out, what Mandorla is all about.

During our sound mix last summer I saw a listing for an up-and-coming international film festival that struck a chord with me. I wrote to the executive director of the fest, Susan Gorrell, and included a link to our work-in-progress trailer. I quickly had an encouraging response. As soon as we put together our image and sound in Lyon I submitted to their festival, and their 75 member(!) selection committee.

I am very, very pleased to announce, after all these long hours, months, and years, that Mandorla will have its world premiere at the Julien Dubuque International Film Festival, April 23 – 26. Julien Dubuque was voted “One of the 25 coolest film festivals” by Moviemaker magazine. Mandorla will be “Discovered in Dubuque,” and we’re really looking forward to it. We are also reminded of the line in Field of Dreams, “Is this heaven?” “No, it’s Iowa!”

We are in contact with a good number of other festivals in fantastic parts of the world, and hope to announce more screenings as we run up to our release in October – November!




Found in Translation

Trabajando para terminar nuestros subtítulos en español con el profesor y traductor Jasmin Banic.

Working in the home studio to finish our Spanish subtitles with teacher and translator Jasmin Banic.


Subtitling program... another very technical endeavor that we had to dive deep into and learn because we wanted to have control over creating GOOD SUBTITLES, which is far too often neglected in films.




Films, if they strike the right chord in you, can make you feel emotion, and think. Right now, I'll let you guess my emotion as I think "How can I get our beautiful surround sound and stunning subtitles on to Blu-Ray and DVD discs...?" 

I'll find a way. Don't worry. It's not our first challenge.

[Got it. Blu-rays are burning. The trick was converting our .wav surround file to Dolby Digital's .ac3 format. A musician told me, "Yep. Standards are wonderful. That's why there's so many of them!"