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.

 

Monday
May112015

MANDORLA EMBRACED BY DUBUQUE!!! INTEREST BY FILM INDUSTRY!!!

Julien Dubuque's Five Flags Theater may well be our favorite of all film festival theaters.Certainly in the realm of San Francisco's Castro Theater.

The Julien Dubuque International Film Festival was a divine dream that I don’t think we’ve quite woken up from yet. The Festival staff, led exceptionally well by Susan Gorrell (which reflects why they are one of the "Top 25 Film Festivals in the World" by MovieMaker Magazine) was incredibly helpful at every turn.

Before a screening is always a "charged" time. At most film festivals, after the first couple of days of screenings it’s the word-of-mouth about films that matters most. Fortunately for us word spread about Mandorla and we had a packed house for our prime-time Saturday screening that included Liz Gilman, Executive Producer from Produce Iowa (the state’s film office), a number of JDIFF’s board of directors such as Michael Coty (festival co-founder) Peter Tinsman, Brian Cooper who is also the Executive Editor of Dubuque’s newspaper, the Telegraph Herald, (see an article mentioning Mandorla) and a lot of other great, warm-hearted people we connected with over the festival, Patrick Sterenchuk, Andy Wilberding and family, and others like my old, life-long friend, Lyle Friesenhahn and his family.

Getting settled early in our seats we made new friends, Brian Cooper, JDIFF board member, and his lovely wife Ann, Plus Liz and I.
Two shots from Mandorla's "Queen's Bridge" scene in Lyon...The result was a very engaged audience that followed every nuance and detail on the screen that Mandorla offered. At the end they all applauded and stayed to ask very thoughtful questions. Afterward, one person said he felt that we made the film for him. At the next screening another person said "This was the story of my life. Of course it's his (Ernesto's) life but I never had the words to express it as beautifully as it is on the screen." To have a film connect with an audience like this, this is the experience every filmmaker dreams of. So it is truly a dream come true.

...featuring le belle Caroline Michel.We felt light as air at the festival's grand party that night, and met more great people. This included the mayor and his delightful wife, Deborah, and their friends. What a beautiful, warm hearted big little town Dubuque is, with three universities!  

The next morning a Producer’s Rep. from Los Angeles (invited to the festival to host a panel) invited me to breakfast to talk about representing Mandorla to distributors. We had a good chat on the creative and business sides of things. Will keep you posted. Meanwhile, interest in Mandorla continues to grow.

Mandorla postcard we gave out at the festivalOur location scouting crew day one: Tim Meyer, Andy Wilberding, Jim Barefoot, and Liz.Before we arrived at the festival, we had the feeling that Dubuque and Iowa might play a role in our next film. We sensed the Universe put us here for that, so our plan to spend one extra day for location scouting quickly expanded to two fantastic full days. More festival board members came to help us: Theresa Heim, Tim Conlon, Eric Lucy, and Jim Barefoot, also with the Dubuque Film Office, along with festival volunteer and troubadour Andy Wilburding and Tim Meyer, our perfectly cool and laidback wheelman. 

Location scouting crew day two: Theresa Hein, Eric Lucy, and Liz.The good folks at DreamCatcher Productions (Joe, Suzie, Tim, and Jackson) gave us a solid perspective on shooting locally Be sure to check out the trailer they made for the Julien Dubuque.
Frank Lloyd Wright's path to the light in Winslow House.
It was then off to Chicago for a couple of days, which was a bit chilly but a lot of fun. As luck would have it, we had a special, private tour of Frank Lloyd Wright’s first private home commission, “Winslow House,” which is stunning. Most filmmakers are, for some reason, huge fans of architecture and I am no  exception. Thank you to Winslow descendent Marion O’Duffy and especially Peter Walker, who grew up in this extraordinary house, which he has placed on the market. My hope is that its heritage will be preserved.

Before flying out of Chicago, the Theosophical Society in America, in Wheaton, IL, was kind enough to let us stop by and speak at length about our research interests regarding our next film. It was that kind of connection and talk that let’s you know you are in the right place at the right time talking to the right people.

So after a break in Lyon, France, the adventure continues, for Mandorla, and the next film!!

Onward!!

Roberto

P.S. Here in Lyon, it was relaxing to hang-up the filmmaker badge for a while, take some pics of what is old (15th Century, St. Jean, Vieux Lyon) and a short walk away to the new (21st Century, Confluence), and explore how the two might go together... in Photoshop.

I know. Photoshop. It's one way to relax. Maybe a means to meditate on the next film. But can you spot the Julien Dubuque Filmmaker badge in the collage bellow? The Mandorla is pretty easy. ;)

Hope this finds you all well, wherever you are in the world.

Images from old St. Jean and the new Confluence, where the Saône meets the Rhône.

Thursday
Apr232015

It's Showtime... Mandorla Premieres!!

It's hard to believe, but after all these years of hard work, miracles, and challenges, Mandorla is set to premiere at the Julien Dubuque International Film festival in a few hours.

 

 

Liz and I arrived in Dubuque yesterday and discovered, on the upper Mississipi, an old jewel of a city brought back to luster, its proud French heritage clear and present.

We were welcomed warmly and continue to be at every turn, at every place here. From the JDIFF staff led by Executive Director Susan Gorrell, to...

 

...a new restaurant "Brazen" run by an enthusiastic and talented young chef/owner named Kevin.

There's magic here on several levels, and the vibe of energy is spinning up. Time to finish this post, and see Mandorla onto the big screen.

Our thanks to all of you who worked on Mandorla, and support it by following our posts.

Stay tuned for more pics and reports from the Julien Dubuque, which earned it's ranking as one of the coolest 25 film festivals in the world.

On with the show!

Roberto

p.s. here's an iphone pano-pic as the crowd settels in around us...

 

Thursday
Apr092015

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?

Wednesday
Apr012015

moving into launch position

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

Tuesday
Mar242015

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!

Onward!!

Roberto