Media Life: Colfax set to relive its “Independent” movie memories

By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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From time to time, a community gets a chance to go Hollywood and take part in a movie. Auburn’s had a few of those moments, most notably in 1995 when “Phenomenon” filmed extensively at several locations in the community. Visitors can check out the commemorative marker in Old Town where John Travolta’s George Malley character fell to the ground in a crucial scene in the movie. Newcastle had a movie moment in 1996 when Kurt Russell and “Breakdown” filmmakers shot some crucial scenes. Folks at the Main Street’s Wells Fargo Bank can point out where Russell’s character sat for one scene. The time to trot out the tinsel for Colfax came a dozen years ago, when comic actor Jerry Stiller – fresh from the hit TV series “Seinfeld” arrived in town to film for two days in the mountain community. Quite a bit of footage from Colfax found its way into “The Independent,” a film that made the festival rounds and then found a distributor for a short art-house run in 1990. The film itself didn’t set the world on fire. But the filming in Colfax was memorable enough to spark a reunion for the hundreds of volunteer extras who took part in the June 2008 shoot. Elan Vitkoff is helping organize the get-together, which will take the form of an 8 p.m. Oct. 1 showing of the film at the Old Pharmacy Building,30 North Main St., with an open invitation to extras and crewmembers. It could be a big crowd, with an estimate at the time of filming ranging as high as 300 people taking part in a street scene and then a theater scene inside the Colfax Theater. The showing also marks a first. When “The Independent” had its short release in 1990, the closest it got to Colfax was a Sacramento screening. After a dozen years, it’s finally making its debut in the town. MORE SHOWINGS PLANNED Vitkoff said “The Independent” screening in Colfax also marks the start of a film series “First Friday Movies at The Old Pharmacy Building.” Already being planned is a Nov. 3 showing of the 2008 documentary “Food Inc.” on corporate farming – a film that kicked off the successful film series last year at Auburn’s State Theater. THIRD THURSDAYS SUCCESS The State Theater’s “Third Thursdays” movie offering this month of “Blade Runner: The Director’s Cut” was another sellout. Scheduling commitments on TV soap “The Young and the Restless” kept “Blade Runner” co-star Sean Young from making a potential appearance but she was able to link up with Dave Rosenthal at KAHI 950 AM for a live interview with actor and friend Perry King. Two movie fans at the State for the screening – Michael Zabkar and Cody Schnell – got a chance to speak with Young on the air too…Next up is Mel Brooks’ “Young Frankenstein” on Oct. 21 and there are rumblings there may be a pre-Halloween costume contest. Anticipating the “Blade Runner” sellout and after having to deal with turning away as many as 150 people to a “Casablanca” showing in August, the State Theater tried out a second showing on Sunday for the first time. Richard Del Balso, of the film committee, said that the Sunday matinee drew about 20 people. But after experiencing a gradual buildup in crowds for the Thursday showings, the second screening on the following Sunday still holds promise and will continue at 2 p.m. Oct. 24.