Promoters Wettstein (left) and King flanking John Vereuck at last year’s event.
Guerrilla (lack of, er, none) marketing notwithstanding. By the time you read this, it’ll have started.
Give them a little more time, and movie lovers Meng King and Andreas Wettstein will catch up to big time sequel generators “Saw” … or “Harry Potter.” Usually a new “sequel” is cause for much scoffing and snickering, but not in the case of the Mammoth Film Festival, which promises to get better with each successive edition.
King and Wettstein return to Mammoth Lakes this weekend to launch their 4th annual Mammoth Film Festival. If you haven’t attended the festival in the past, now’s your chance. Sure, there are tons of great films, but it’s not just about watching movies. Its about watching a movie, meeting the director and then seeing that guy puke his guts out in the Village later that night. True story.
For 25 bucks you get to see two full days of great films, go to a bunch of sweet after-parties and besides, if you saw the new Harry Potter movie, it’ll feel good to see something that doesn’t suck for 90 minutes. Being an MFF fan, I had to find out what’s in store for this year’s lineup. On Tuesday, I caught up with festival co-creator, Andreas Wettstein via phone from Los Angeles.
The Sheet: I kept hearing that the Mammoth Film Festival wasn’t going to happen?
Wettstein: I don’t know where that rumor came from. There was never a time where it wasn’t going to happen. It’s always been on the books. In fact, we knew the dates last year.
Sheet: It seems like there are a lot less films this year?
Wettstein: We definitely streamlined it. We’ve always tried to move towards the idea of more quality films. We tried to be more selective this year. One major difference is we’re only using one venue. As you probably know Mammoth isn’t overflowing with film venues. The Ranger Station has done a lot of upgrades to their equipment and it has a very Mammoth feel to it, with all the cool ski gear on the walls. It has a lot of charm and character. I guess you could say it’s a happy coincidence that it also has the best equipment.
Sheet: So what are the film categories for this year?
Wettstein: It’s the same as last year: features, shorts, extreme sports and green films. However what’s new for this year is the faith category. It’s been an important genre in the film industry as of late. You can see the theme of faith in films. Even [James Cameron’s] “Avatar” has a faith/spiritual element to it.
Sheet: I saw on the website there’s a film called “Walk in the Clouds” but it doesn’t have Keanu Reeves in it? What the hell?
Wettstein: I think the Keanu film is called “A Walk in the Clouds,” a subtle difference I suppose. It’s interesting, though; you can’t copywrite a movie title. So oftentimes on IMDB you’ll see a lot of films with the same name.
Sheet: Sweet! I’ll make a film called “Avatar 2.” So, what do you expect attendance to be like this year?
Wettstein: I imagine with the economy the way it is, it’ll be a little less than previous years. But I’m not sure what to expect. I just want people to have a great time. We’re mostly concerned about creating a great festival for the filmmakers and the audience.
Sheet: I think if people aren’t showing up, as a backup plan you could just throw in “Inception.” It just came out on DVD, and people love anything with Leonardo DiCaprio.
Wettstein: Hah! There you go. No, the films are great, and we hope people enjoy them.
Sheet: I noticed that there are two films about bicycle racing. Are you a cyclist?
Wettstein: You know we were partially looking for films that we think will be appealing to the Mammoth audience. But part of the reason we started the green category and the extreme sports category is that we thought people in Mammoth could relate to that. But films seem to always be submitted in groups. Every year it’s different. One year be it was gangster themed films, then marathon films … this year I guess it’s bikes. Funny how that works.
Sheet: I think every year I enjoy the shorts category the most. Could this be because I have a short attention span?
Wettstein: A lot of them are really good. Shorts are nice because it’s a large undertaking to make a feature-length film. Sometimes a 10-minute short might be the best way to tell that particular story. A movie that is great can always be longer and it would still be great. But usually a movie that is too long should have been shorter.
Sheet: Huh? Yeah, it seems as though, with the advent of cheaper, high-quality cameras, everyone’s making movies. You must get a ton of submissions.
Wettstein: It’s interesting because that’s absolutely true. However it takes more than a nice camera to make a great film. That goes without saying. It seems like the submissions haven’t changed over the years. I think what it affects, though, are the types of films that get made. Not only have cameras gotten better, but they’re a lot smaller, which makes for great extreme sports films. For example, take last year’s film, “Second Nature,” which is about downhill skateboarding. That couldn’t have been done with a giant HD camera.
Sheet: I gotta ask, is this festival really just an excuse for you to party and go skiing?
Wettstein: It would be if we had time to party and ski when we came up there. Every year I think to myself, “This is the year we’ll get a chance to go skiing.” There is never any time. But every year I do a gondola ride to the top, so at least I get a little vista and some snow under my feet.
Passes can be purchased at the lower lobby of the Grand Sierra Lodge in the Village all day Friday, Dec. 10.
For a full schedule and film info, log on to www.mammothfilmfestival.com.