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Media Life: Sundance Film Fest awards shine on Colfax producer’s movie

Matt Medlin’s “Obselidia” picks up two wins; Thriller “Bloodline” shoots in Foresthill; Grace White remembered; KAHI could go Dodger blue
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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Sundance has been very good to Colfax High School grad and Weimar product Matt Medlin. Medlin was honored enough to have two films he co-produced – “Obselidia” and “Night Catches Us” – chosen for screening at last month’s prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. After all was said and screened, “Obselidia” turned out to be a hit with film fest judges, picking up two major awards. The movie – shot this past year in Death Valley – won the Alfred P. Sloan Award for the best use of science in a film. It also earned the Excellence in Cinematography Award. The film, which has a scientist as a main character, was shot with a single high-def camera called a RED Cam, which was bought by Medlin and “Obselidia” Director of Photography Zak Mulligan about a year ago. It’s an auspicious start for the film, which also picked up a favorable review in Variety. Medlin et al are still seeking a distribution deal. If that doesn’t happen soon, expect it to be shown at more festivals and maybe even screened in Auburn or Colfax. It’s been quite a year for Medlin, who graduated from Colfax High in 1996 and recently relocated from New York to Los Angeles. THRILLER IN FORESTHILL When you need an authentic Native American bark lodge for filming a thriller in the backwoods of Placer County, who are you going to call? In the case of director Matt Thompson and his new movie “Bloodline,” it was Foresthill’s Kevin Drone. Thompson, cast and crew made the trek to Drone’s Todd’s Valley property last week to shoot location footage at Drone’s authentic, hand-hewn lodge. Thompson, who cut his teeth on local productions at venues like Roseville’s Magic Circle Theater before heading for Hollywood, is creating the indie genre flick after receiving kudos for a shorter film that earned some early buzz. “Bloodline” in its shortened version took eighth place out of hundreds of entries at the Big Bear Horror Film Festival. Now Thompson has started shooting a thriller, with his eye on past low-budget successes like “Open Water” and “The Blair Witch Project.” Born and raised in Roseville, Thompson is still in his mid-20s but can already list a directorial debut last year on a feature film – “Listen to Your Heart” – that includes in its cast the likes of Cybill Shepherd and Shirley Knight. And, oh yes, Thompson is also a convert to the RED Cam. It’s being used on “Bloodline” and the director says it helps give the film an “epic look.” Thompson isn’t abandoning his acting chops – which have seen him appear in feature films “7eventy5ive” and “The Hustle.” This past fall, he played Stanley Kowalski in Sacramento theater troupe Big Idea Theatre’s staging of “A Streetcar Named Desire.” And, this just in, he’s been selected for the March issue as one of Sacramento magazine’s 17 people to watch. AMAZING GRACE Media Life first crossed paths with the late, great Grace White a dozen years ago when Jerry Stiller came to Colfax to film “The Independent.” White, then employed at a Colfax restaurant, struck up a friendship with the filmmakers and ended up playing a major role in assembling extras and props for the movie. White also secured a spot as an extra for this reporter to provide an inside story on the production for the Journal. That’s me in the background during one of the street scenes, just before one of the minor characters cracks one of filmdom’s worst off-color jokes ever. White was starting to consider taking her life in a different direction at that time and soon after embarked on a career as a comedienne. Over the ensuing years, White lived up to her first name, showing plenty of grace in the face of the various and sundry roadblocks showbiz puts in front of aspiring entertainers. But she kept her aplomb and her dream alive, even after being diagnosed with lung cancer in 2007 and given months to live. White would devote the next two years to raising lung cancer awareness through the American Lung Association and Bonnie J. Addario Lung Cancer Foundation. She battled her disease longer than the medical world forecast, finally succumbing Dec. 3. Those touched by this wonderful human being can join in a celebration of White’s life starting at noon Saturday in the Colfax Veterans Memorial Hall, 22 Sunset Circle. It’s a potluck so friends are invited to bring both food and their memories. DODGERS ON KAHI? Finally, the word out of KAHI 950 is that the programming gurus are seriously considering taking Oakland A’s radio broadcasts off the air and replacing them with Los Angeles Dodgers baseball, featuring the one and only Vin Scully. Is Auburn ready to be part of the Dodgers nation? Stay tuned. Media Life’s Gus Thomson can be reached at 530-852-0232 or gust@goldcountrymedia.com.