Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Three Big Ideas, One Unmentionable Name

I must admit, the News-Press has been devoting a lot of coverage to the Santa Barbara Film Fest this year. However there's at least one film being shown at the current festival that the News-Press surely won't be running an article or story about.

Three Big Ideas is a documentary film that reveals the principles featured in the three best-selling business books of the last 30 years.

The film explores why some companies thrive and others don't and brings to life how the concepts from the books, In Search of Excellence, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, and Good to Great, can help organizations manage their way through and beyond the recession.

Why some companies thrive and some do not? Greatness? Excellence? Sounds like that's something that News-Press owner Wendy McCaw would be interested in learning more about. After all, ever since that fateful day in July of 2006 when editor Jerry Roberts and his top deputies walked out of the newsroom, "cease" and "desist" have replaced "journalism" and "excellence" as the two words most likely to be used in conjunction with one another when describing what comes out of the south end of De la Guerra Plaza.

Although McCaw could learn a lot from this documentary, I assure you that she won't be allowing her writers to mention it. You see, the producer/director of Three Big Ideas, Sam Tyler, is also the producer/director of another film you might have heard of. It was called, Citizen McCaw.

But long before the News-Press mess and the movie that chronicled it, the Montecito resident had established his credentials as a filmmaker with his PBS documentaries, In Search of Excellence and Good to Great.

Three Big Ideas was a nine-month project that Tyler paid for himself. Assisting Tyler in the project were locals Brent Sumner, who served as cinematographer and editor (as he did for Citizen McCaw) and narrators John Nathan and Madalena Fossatti.

One of the organizations featured in the film is the Santa Barbara Zoo. And the film includes archive footage of a young Steve Jobs exhorting employees of Apple Computer about what their mission should be.

I met with Tyler over coffee last week to talk about Three Big Ideas and the conversation eventually turned to Citizen McCaw. I asked him why Citizen McCaw was never shown at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. He told me that although the organizers of the festival were willing to include Citizen McCaw, the truth of the matter was that the film needed further work and wasn't ready to be shown in time for the 2008 Festival.

Tyler did say that Citizen McCaw is an ongoing project and we haven't heard the last of it.

As for Three Big Ideas, it will be going straight to PBS after its showing at the Film Fest.

Three Big Ideas will be shown at 7 pm tonight (Tuesday) at the Museum of Art and again on Thursday at 12:30 pm at Victoria Hall.

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Sam Tyler isn't the only Citizen McCaw producer who has a new film premiering this week. Chuck Minsky, is the director of photography on the movie Valentines Day, which opens in theaters (no, its not entered in the Festival) on Friday.

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Film Fest recommendations for Tuesday.

Last Train Home. This film was shown at the recently concluded Sundance festival and was described by the NY Times as, "a beautifully shot, haunting and haunted large-scale portrait by Lixin Fan about an astonishing migration involving 130 million Chinese workers who each year travel by train, boat and foot to return home for New Year’s." Screens at 10 am at the Metro 4.

The Dead Will Guide Us. In the late 1980's Liberia imploded into a 16 year civil war. With this as the backdrop, the film focuses on reconciliation and healing. Will be shown at 10:45 am at the Metro 4.

Charlie Haden: Rambling Boy, is a warts and all look at the life of the great jazz bassist. Haden will perform a small set at the Q&A. Plays at 12:30 pm at Victoria Hall.

A few days ago, I had the chance to sit down and talk with New Zealander Clive Neesom, director of Last Paradise. Within the first minute of our conversation he made it a point to say that this is not a "surf" film. Rather he described it as a "real life satire" using the evolution of extreme sports as a backdrop for focusing on the issues of today. Sounds ambitious. Screens at 3:30 pm at Victoria Hall.

City of Shadows, is a big epic from Canada, about doctors fighting a plague in a small town. Shows at 9:30 pm at the Metro 4.

The full Film Festival schedule is posted at Edhat.

Latest photos at my Film Fest photo gallery.
© 2010 by Craig Smith and www.craigsmithsblog.com