John Sayles' AMIGO and A Moment in the Sun out at last.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Saturday, March 17, 2012

In Chicago for Story Week this week

Columbia College Chicago has graciously invited John to be part of their internationally-known Story Week event, being held in Chicago this coming week.

The event will feature both Amigo and A Moment in the Sun.

Here's all the info from Columbia about readings, screenings, and signings on March 21-23.

Filmmaker John Sayles Visits Story Week

The work of John Sayles has been integral to the development of independent film in the United States. Beginning with his first feature, Return of the Secaucus 7, his movies have helped define the "other" that exists beyond Hollywood. Despite an unwillingness to tailor his subject matter and style to the dictates of the mainstream, he has managed to direct sixteen feature films, including his most recent film, Honeydripper (2007), which starred Danny Glover. His seventeenth feature, Amigo, was filmed in the Philippines in early 2010.

His novel A Moment in The Sun, set during the same period as Amigo, in the Philippines, Cuba, and the US, was released in 2011 by Dave Egger's publishing house, McSweeney's. Sayles was recently honored with the Ian McLellan Hunter Award for Lifetime Achievement by the Writer's Guild of America.

Co-Sponsored by the Fiction Writing and Film & Video Departments:

Wednesday, March 21 at 4 pm
Screening/Q&A with John Sayles, Filmmaker
Hosts: F&V faculty member Dan Rybicky and F&V Chair Bruce Sheridan
Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor

(You can RSVP to the Facebook Event for the above screening)

Thursday, March 22 at 1 pm
Reading/Conversation/Signing with John Sayles, A Moment in the Sun
Hosts: FW faculty member Randall Albers and F&V Chair Bruce Sheridan
Film Row Cinema, 1104 S. Wabash, 8th Floor

Thursday, March 22 at 6 pm
Literary Rock & Roll: American Dreamers
Readings and Signings including John Sayles
Metro Chicago (all ages), 3730 N. Clark

For more information, visit the Story Week page.

From March 18 through March 23, 2012, the Columbia College Chicago Fiction Writing Department presents the sixteenth annual Story Week Festival of Writers with a feast of readings, panels, and performances celebrating the written word. All events are free and open to the general public. 2012’s theme “Surviving the American Dream” was chosen to provoke some serious questioning and prompt new thinking about the future of our country, as well as the future of creative work.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Vote for Didi Barrett March 20, 2012

Here I am with our Half Moon Yoga Barn teacher Nancy Causey.
We are lucky to have a smart woman to vote for in this special election for State Assembly.

Visit to learn more.

Don't forget to vote!

Monday, January 23, 2012

A nice mention of me at Sundance from the ever gracious Sarah Green at the INDIEWIRE KEYNOTE.

Sarah Green's Sundance Keynote: "Be as generous as you can be."
"The Tree of Life" and "Take Shelter" producer Sarah Green
Sarah Green has earned a long-held reputation as a tenacious producer, with credits that include last year's "The Tree of Life" and "Take Shelter;" she's currently in post on Terrence Malick's new film starring Rachel McAdams and Ben Affleck. Today, she delivered the keynote at Sundance's annual Producers Lunch, an honor that's previously gone to "Beginners" producers Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen, "Blue Valentine" producer Lynette Howell and "Win Win" producer Mary Jane Skalski.

With kind thanks to Sundance and Green, we're publishing her speech in full.

Thanks to Michelle Satter, Anne Lai and Sundance, for honoring you all by hosting this lunch, and for giving me the honor of addressing you.

I am in awe of you all. I have pored over this year's festival catalog and watched movies since my arrival, and I am so heartened by the films, by the movies that are being made because of you. Yes, money is tight, but we are making movies! Your accomplishments strengthen us all, and I am very grateful to you.

I am also grateful for the extraordinary generosity of my fellow producers. There are many fine examples right here at Sundance -‐ so many folks giving up their precious time to mentor others through the programs encompassed by the Creative Producers Initiative, for instance. Mentorship is a powerful force; I know that without the guidance of those who mentored me, I'd likely still be flipping hamburgers, which is an excellent profession but one that I was certainly less suited for than this.

I was doing just that, cooking in a restaurant and attending Emerson College, when I got the opportunity to intern for Debra Franco, who was self distributing her films through a co-op of independent filmmakers. Not only was she insanely generous with her time and expertise, she offered me a job with the flexibility to work on others' movies, all while becoming well versed in DIY educational distribution. Who would have guessed how relevant that would be in today's distribution landscape?

Debra introduced me to cinematographer Nancy Schreiber. I was living under the fantasy that because I was technically inclined, and really wanted to be an artist, that I might become a DP. Nancy did her best to train me, but one day, working as an electrician and listening to Nancy debating a particular lighting nuance with her gaffer, it occurred to me that, not only do I not have an opinion on the problem, I don't see it... I was not destined to be a cinematographer.

I stumbled my way into production management, where fortunately I had the amazing Peggy Rajski to turn to. Peggy was producing films on which she also served as production manager, and generously offered to teach me, which was fortunate because when I say I stumbled my way in, I am not kidding. I remember Peggy showing me a call sheet, which blew my mind. All that information in one place! Cost report? A revelation!

I learned a lot from Peggy, enough so that when she and Maggie Renzi decided to move on from their producing partnership, I felt empowered enough to say yes when invited by Maggie to be her new producing partner. I was hardly qualified, but fortunately for me Maggie likes to mentor. I watched her get "City of Hope" financed over one lunch, from which I took that producing was easy. It took a while to understand the background of that one lunch: an established and well-loved writer/director, a good script, a cast assembled through past relationships and reputations, a budget that made sense, a timely niche in the marketplace, and a direct and personal relationship with Larry Estes who made that particular financing call. Super easy!
You are the people getting movies made. You have likely benefited from someone else's generosity. I encourage you to pass that on.
These are extraordinary examples of generosity, I know, and I can only hope you have had, or can create similar opportunities. Those of you who are new to producing: if you get them, use them; work your butt off and don't stop until you have learned everything possible from the situation. And then work some more; it's good training for the tenacity you will need to get your next film off the ground.

While I was learning to coordinate and then to production manage, I took on a trainee coordinator called Georgia Kacandes. Yes, that Georgia Kacandes, the one who got a shout-out from Martin Scorcese at the Golden Globes last week, the one who ran physical production at Paramount Vantage and then at Paramount. While I was mentoring Georgia from APOC to Coordinator to UPM, I was learning valuable lessons in how to be a boss. Those of you who know Georgia won't be surprised to hear that she sat me down one day and explained that if I wanted her to take responsibility, I had to give her the reins; micromanaging wasn't doing either of us any good. I learned a lot from Georgia, as you will from your mentees.

I belong to a producers' group. You know that person you've known forever, who you trust completely and can ask anything of, who you know is truly on your side? Belonging to this group means I have 20 of those, 20 people who have come together for the sole purpose of supporting each other as producers, to be as generous as we possibly can be with each other.

We advise each other, we share information, we introduce each other to financiers and actors and other collaborators and we cheer each other on. It's insanely enriching, empowering and rewarding, and it brings out the best in us all. I recommend it to every one of you; find a group to join that brings out your own generosity.

Beyond the Sundance programs already mentioned, there are many existing groups to join: the PGA, which is reforming its Independent Film Producers Committee in which I am involved, Film Independent, IFP and the Independent Producers' Alliance that formed out of Jay Van Hoy and Lars Knudsen's keynote speech last year, to name a few. Or you can form a group of your own; within an intimate group, you can afford to be even that much more generous.

You are the people getting movies made. You have likely benefited from someone else's generosity in getting where you are. I encourage you to pass that on, to be as generous as you can be with each other, and to new folks coming up. You are probably doing that already -- maybe consciously, maybe unconsciously. Make it a priority, because that's how we will all thrive.

It may seem like someone else's film getting made precludes yours, but I don't believe that to be true. If that happens, it's more likely that their material is stronger or more accessible, or their relationships more developed. Working from your most generous place will feed your relationships and make them stronger; and being generous with your time and resources when it comes to others will likely result in that same generosity back to you. A little tough love from your peers can go a long way toward making your project more viable.

So give some of your time, your expertise, your energy to mentor, to train, to advise and to cheer. What benefits one independent film benefits us all. Who hasn't referenced "Brokeback Mountain" or "Little Miss Sunshine" or "Precious" when trying to explain that our "female-driven," "period," "coming-of-age," "Americana" (oh, and here's the real eye-roller in a pitch meeting) or "drama" was going to make pots of money. A truly successful indie gives us all something to point to when pitching our own film, and makes it easier to get another independent film made.

I wish you all, every success.

Thursday, January 5, 2012


I know I promised to catch you up on posts of where we've been with AMIGO in the past few months. Apologies! The holidays overtook me and now I am getting an early start on valentines production while watching what the Academy sent us For Consideration.
In the meantime, if AMIGO is not coming to a theater near you soon enough, catch it on VOD.

Go to to see the many carriers for VOD.  The website has some live links that will take you directly to the pages where you can stream: Watch it on iTunes, Amazon, YouTube, and various local carriers.    And for all of you with Netflix, AMIGO will be out on January 18.  Stay tuned.

Monday, November 28, 2011

AMIGO at the Smithsonian

Okay, it was ages ago, but at the kind invitation of our friend Konrad Ng, Director of the Pacific Asian Program of the Smithsonian, we went down to DC to show AMIGO.
 Here we are at a terrific Mexican restaurant called Oyamel with, from the right, Konrad, John and me, Robert Perkinson, and our pal Catherine Park, all the way from LA. That's Robert's book and his other project is campaigning to locate the President Obama Library in Hawaii. Seems like a good idea to me.

We never got any state money for any of our films, but I am considering this trip paid for by the government. They covered our train ride from Poughkeepsie and two nights in the lovely Washington Plaza Hotel, built in  1962 and kept amazingly intact.

Our room was tiny but the price was right and the atmosphere in the lobby and bar was international.
Nicole joined us and we visited Occupy Wall St. Washington.
They had a library

and a very tidy campsite. We dropped off some used towels and floor mats to make life there more comfortable. I can mother this movement and I am proud of how it has captured the conversation in this country and around the world.
Through AMIGO we continue to meet smart, young Filipinos (and some great older ones! like Sonny Izon with whom we had a nice but hurried dinner during the show-both interrupted by power failure at the theater in the Museum of the American Indian). Teddy Gonzalves is a professor in American Studies, which discipline is now including Empire Studies.
Here is Teddy's lovely wife, Charita.
John makes anyone look small.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

I've been away

Did you miss me? I have actually had some time off-and I'll be doing more of that, just watch me-but we haven't stopped promoting AMIGO and MOMENT IN THE SUN.

I'm going to work backwards, and take you to the most recent stop on our American Lakbay/Tour: The Sixth Annual Sanibel Writers Workshop. John was the keynote speaker and also read from the Tampa chapter to a warm crowd of about 300. Speaking of warm, thank you to Tom De Marchi for the invitation-once accepted, we cooked up a mini-tour of Florida and Louisiana, follow us along. For more about the conference,  go to 
Here's Tom with John. Florida Gulf Coast University is very lucky to have teachers as enthusiastic as Tom and his wife Karen Tolchin. Their students had to buy John's book!
Here are some getting autographs.
Here is the view, through the screen of our 2nd floor lanai, of the beach on Sanibel Island.

We fled New York after 9.5 inches of snow and 4 days without power. We deserve a view of the Gulf.