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How did the festival begin?
The Cultural Park board thought that Sedona would be a good place for a film festival, and that it would be a good fund-raiser for the park.
When I moved here, there was one theater, The Flicker Shack. We’d get one movie a week; I remember Jurassic Park was here for two. The Flicker Shack was where everybody here went for years.
Were the workshops part of the festival from the beginning?
From the beginning! The first year they had a brown-bag lunch to discuss directing and writing. Off the top of my head, I don’t remember year two and three. Year four covered the relationship between editor and director, and we saw clips from [the restored director’s cut of] Touch of Evil before anyone else. That’s why I remember it! And we saw unseen clips from Raging Bull because [longtime Martin Scorsese editor] Thelma Schoonmaker was here. Behind-the-scenes clips of Titanic before it won the Academy Award. It was amazing. Professionals come and learn new things and gain an accessibility to other parts of the field that they haven’t had before.
The Filmmakers: Frank Warner
Close Encounters of the Third Kind was a landmark film of the ’70s, not only as a pop culture event, but for its technical achievement. Sedona Film Festival & Workshop curator Frank Warner won a Special Achievement Oscar for Sound Effects Editing for Close Encounters.
Sedona Monthly: What are your goals for the workshops this year?
Frank: To give students the idea not to give up, to follow their heart. The letters I get after the programs keep me going. They’re inspirational.
And in the future?
We’re working with Yavapai College on new hands-on workshops. I’d like to see that grow, with young people making films we can show in the festival.
The Filmmakers: Ben Burtt
Star Wars. Indiana Jones. E.T. Ben Burtt has been involved with all of them as a sound designer and editor. In addition, he is the director of the IMAX film Blue Planet. He will be delivering a presentation on the art of movie sound design at this year’s festival.
Sedona Monthly: You’ve created some of the most recognizable sounds in popular culture. Is there any one thing or particular film you’ve worked on that you’re most proud of?
Ben: Well, I guess I have to go back to the first film I really did any serious sound work on, the first Star Wars. At the time, it was unusual to have someone develop sound effects. What I did in that film – the voice of R2-D2, the sounds of the light sabers, the laser guns and the spaceships – got a lot of attention. And of course, the film had a unique impact and the sound was part of that. I’m proud of the work that was done in it, and we’ve built on it over the years.
I’ve enjoyed doing the Indiana Jones films. I love adventure movies. The Indiana Jones films resonated a bit more with the kind of movie that makes me smile. I directed some episodes of the Young Indiana Jones TV series. I’ve had a long association with Indiana Jones.
Can you turn off your professional ears and just enjoy a night at the movies?
I love movies, so I think I’m able to become a moviegoer without too much bias. But the sound is important to me; I don’t often hear soundtracks I really appreciate. So yeah, I guess I am somewhat critical in that regard. I tend to think, Is that the right music? Is that the right sound effect? What would I have done? I guess I do ask that question some of the time.