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What a Fine BIFF Weekend it Was!

Posted on: February 23rd, 2012 by lisabell 3 Comments

Once again at this year’s Boulder International Film Festival I had the pleasure (and the stress!) of coordinating the filmmaker liaisons and managing the VIP guests.

One of my many VIP driving trips in the car generously loaned by Flatirons Subaru


This photo and most on the page were taken by Randy Malone (www.photomalone.com).

Husband Steve Aldridge serves as the bodyguard and this year we even had a 3-man security team which I also managed. Nothing went awry and we work hard to make sure our celebrity guests and VIPs feel comfortable and secure at the same time.

Lisa's Angels

My week started off with getting to know writer, director and producer Lawrence Kasdan and his co-writer and wife Meg as well as producer Anthony Bregman who were all behind the opening night film “Darling Companion.” Lawrence wrote “The Big Chill” and Meg compiled the soundtrack for that film. Lawrence also wrote Raiders of the Lost Ark among many others. They were both impressive and ever so nice. I took them on a driving tour of Boulder and they had nothing but great things to say about our beautiful city. Too bad the tax credits and rebates aren’t as good in Colorado for filmmakers as they are in Utah. “Darling Companions” was set in Colorado, but primarily filmed in Utah for that reason. Mayor Hickenlooper and the Colorado Film Commission are trying to change that. Even guest Pam Grier (Foxy Brown-more on her later) told Steve and I that she’s been working hard over the past 5 years to change the program. Read the pros and cons of a new proposal in this article from Westword.

Anthony Bregman, who’s credits include “Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind” among many others, was quite charming and he received the “Excellence in Producing” award. He has four kids, who all ski, on the East Coast where there isn’t much snow, mostly ice. His oldest kids are ski racers which makes a lot of sense! I offered to take him for some real powder skiing next time he was in Colorado. He mentioned that he is afraid to take his kids skiing anywhere else as they might find out what they’ve been missing and never go back!

Anthony Bregman, Meg and Lawrence Kasdan

Me and my very dapper hubby on opening night!

Friday night featured an interview with William H Macy. Ahead of his appearance at Boulder Theater, he stopped by the Bitter Bar for a VIP Filmmaker Reception. He graciously shook hands and posed for pictures and had a good time. As we walked him back to his hotel for a couple of media interviews, I asked one of the security guys to “take the back.” William H Macy said “Why would you do that?” I said “Oh, so we don’t have all of the women of Boulder pawing and groping at you.” “Why not?!” he said.

He then went on to tell me a funny story about a motorcycle trip he had taken with his buddies a few years ago, in January in Northern California. None of them were prepared for the cold and rainy weather the experienced, none had any rain gear at all. He had on full leather gear but was soaked in short order. As they pulled up the the five-start Fairmont Hotel in San Francisco, he pulled up the visor on his helmet and was instantly recognized by a wild group of women. They proceeded to jump all over him and the rest of the guys, putting lipstick prints on his helmet and elsewhere. The women were curious though why the men didn’t move after the initial crush. It turned out they were literally all frozen to their bikes and it took a bit to thaw out enough to even move. I told Macy that I was glad I had security at the back!

As we drove him to the Boulder Theater for his sold out Conversation with Ron Bostwick and to receive the Vanguard Award, was blown away by the line of people around the block. He was truly humbled by the attendance and the attention he received. He said he didn’t know what to expect from BIFF, but that it exceeded all of his expectations. He had commented earlier in the evening at how well run the festival is and how calm we all were-or if we weren’t we were great actors! I took that as a huge compliment, knowing how far we have all come and especially our ability to work with top-level celebrities in making them feel comfortable and welcome in our down home way that can only be found at BIFF. He even hung out in the Filmmakers Lounge after the Boulder Theater event to get to know some of the filmmakers in attendance.

Ron, William H Macy, Lisa & Steve hanging out backstage

I happened to be in the hotel lobby the next morning with his wife Felicity Huffman came in the door. The two embraced as if they hadn’t seen each other in weeks, though it had only been the day before. It was so fantastic to see such a loving moment of two Hollywood stars who are truly in love. It was really one of my favorite moments of the weekend.

Next up on Saturday was Martin Sheen. Steve and I had recently seen his most recent movie “The Way,” (now available on Blue Ray & DVD as Mr. Sheen kept saying all day!) which was written and produced by his son Emilio Estevez. It was a fabulous film about a father who takes a journey in his son’s memory on the spectacular Camino de Santiago in Northern Spain.

Mr. Sheen, 71 years young, was only in town for a day, but he gave us his all. I had him sign a few VIP posters and he made a point of jokingly saying “Look at that William H Macy autograph, hogging up all the room, I’ll make mine that much bigger!” He later asked us in the car as we picked him up if that “Macy scoundrel behaved himself” while he was here and “was he at least sober some of the time?” Again he was joking, referring to Macy’s character in the Showtime series “Shamless” (which is a must-see show if you haven’t see it yet).

Mr. Sheen was at BIFF to also have a sold-out conversation with Ron and to receive the Master of Cinema Award. Again, as we pulled up to the Boulder Theater on a bright sunny Saturday afternoon, he said “what are all these people doing here?” When we told him they were all there to see him, he too was blown away.

Martin Sheen does a little dance before stepping over a puddle at the Boulder Theater (courtesy of the Daily Camera)

After the event, as I drove Mr. Sheen out the back alley with Steve, Robin and Kathy Beeck also in the car, we came across a women who was very distraught on her cell phone. He asked me to stop the car and proceeded to roll down his window. “Are you OK?” The women who was still crying looked a bit stunned as she realized that it was Martin Sheen who was trying to console her. “I’ll be OK” she said. “Well can we give you a ride or something.” “No thank you though I’ll be alright.” It was quite a touching moment and really spoke to his genuine care for everyone, which came across in every moment with him. Later that night, Ashley from registration came up to me at the Biff After Dark party, telling me a story about a BIFF volunteer who came in to get her credentials, telling the amazing story of Mr. Sheen seeing her in the alley and offering his kind words. It was her turn to be blown away by the kindness.

After a visit at the VIP party in Centro, I had the pleasure of taking Mr. Sheen back to the airport.

We talked about how hard it has been for Emilio to get “The Way” out in distribution.” The film was self-produced by Emilio and family funded, with Charlie kicking in the last of the production costs so they could finish the project. He and Emilio then embarked on a 7-week bus tour to self-promote the film. It never really got picked up by a major studio, which is truly a shame. I encourage everyone to buy it or rent it when you can (it just came out this week so probably not yet on Netflix). It blew my mind that two major stars could not get funding for such a fabulous film and that it is languishing out there while such crappy movies get major distribution. As Mr. Sheen said, that is the reason that film festivals are so important. A father-son memoir with he and Emilio is also about to be released and I for one can’t wait to read it.

The rest of our drive was spent talking about the Camino. I have wanted to do the 800 kilometer trek for a few years after hearing about it from a colleague. The journey takes anywhere from 1-3 months if traveling on foot, and is a life-changing spiritual pilgrimage. I talked about wanting to do the journey with our sons when they graduate from high school and he kept telling me what an amazing family journey it would be. His biggest piece of advice was “lubricate your feet every day” or else you will suffer with sore feet and blistars! I thoroughly enjoyed our talk and as I handed him off to the DIA escort, he gave me a big hug and said “you take your lads on the Camino, you won’t regret it.” I drove away, thinking “this is why I love this job.”

The last VIP for the weekend was in town for the International Film Series, but Steve was assigned to coordinate her transportation to and from her showing and to take her to the BAD party at the end of the night. We met her at her hotel and she looked amazing! I commented on her fabulous leopard shoes and she jokingly said “they are yours at the end of the night.” She asked Steve who the VIPs were still at the festival and Steve said “It’s all about you tonight.” She said “Get out! If I had known that I would have worn my fro!” It was after 11 p.m. when they finally made it to the BAD party and it was really rocking by then. I asked if I could get her a drink and she said “Oh no honey, if I drink after 11:30 I start throwing shoes, and I know you really wanted mine!” Very funny and gracious as they all were.

BIFF Director of Digital Communications Brad Weismann meets superstar and his lifelong crush Pam Grier! He can die happy now.

Speaking of the lads, my son Brendan and Steve’s son Will also volunteered for BIFF over the weekend, helping out as ushers etc. at the venues. Both had a great time.

My son Brendan helping out on closing night

I did actually get to sneak in viewing a few films, though not many as you might imagine, but every one that I saw was outstanding as always. I heard nothing but fantastic comments from filmgoers and filmmakers alike, and it appeared to me anyway that more shows sold out this year than ever before. Job well done all BIFF staff! Every person is integral in making the festival happen and we all have such a great time with each other. That enthusiasm and friendly vibe comes across to everyone involved, from the filmmakers to the VIPs to the festival attendees. Here’s looking forward to another “Best BIFF Ever” in 2013.

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3 Responses

  1. Thats a good content you write Thanks for sharing with us.

  2. Steve Aldridge says:

    Great story telling and a great experience we both had together.Thank You

  3. Lisa Simmons says:

    How fantastic, so much fun! I hope I can be there next year for the event. Love your stories!

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