Fog City Mavericks

Fog City Mavericks (2007)
Anchor Bay Entertainment
Cast: Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, Saul Zaentz, Chris Columbus, John Lasseter, Steve Jobs
Extras: Promo Clips

When the documentary "Fog City Mavericks" arrived on my desk I was ambivalent at first, I admit freely. Judging from the packaging alone it appeared as if this documentary about the filmmaking scene in the San Francisco Bay Area would highlight only George Lucas, Francis Ford Coppola and Pixar. While they are incredibly talented and influential filmmakers, of course, they are not all there is to that colorful breed of moviemakers located in Northern California. Fortunately however, it turned out that there is a lot more meat to this documentary than I first expected.

The documentary tells the story how young filmmakers like George Lucas and Francis Ford Coppola become disillusioned with Hollywood early in their careers as constant studio interference and executive management proves to be highly detrimental to their creative efforts, if not outright offensive. As a result these filmmakers decide to create their own studios, namely Zoetrope and Lucasfilms, in order to have the ability to full artistic control over their work. However the way to et there is a long and arduous one as people like Saul Zaentz and others can attest. On the other hand however, the rewards are immeasurable. Especially once Coppola finds critical and financial success with his films, such as "The Godfather" and "Apocalypse Now," suddenly the dream of a successful filmmaking community outside of Hollywood seems to become a reality, while "American Graffiti" gave Lucas the boost of commercial success he needed.

As the success of people like Coppola and Lucas grows, so is their interest in reaching out to other filmmakers in order to give them the opportunity to make personal films as opposed to the artificiality of the Hollywood machinery. People like Chris Columbus, Philip Kaufman, John Lasseter, Clint Eastwood and many others are attracted by the fresh breeze that the Bay Area film community provides them with. Today, this community has indisputably provided the world with some of the most amazing, entertaining and commercially successful films, bringing the love for cinema to the forefront of the process.

For anyone interested in filmmaking, and for anyone interested in a bit of background about these talented filmmakers that have clear visions and decided not to let themselves be distracted, this documentary is a must-see. Not only will you learn more about their origins and backgrounds, you will hear it in their own words. To hear George Lucas talk about his near-death car accident at the age of 19 is simply mesmerizing, while hearing Francis Ford Coppola discussing his bout with Polio as a child leaves you simply stunned at the willpower and determination that drives these people. It is easy to see then why they are as successful and unique as they are – because they will let nothing get in their way to do what they want to do.

The DVD presents the documentary in a 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen transfer on the disc with a Dolby Stereo audio track. The presentation is great with solid black levels and good color reproduction. Since most of the audio consists of narration and interviews, the stereo track is absolutely serviceable and does its job to bring home the message.

As extras the release contains three promo clips from the Starz Channel where the documentary was produced for and first shown.

Director Gary Leva does a great job here giving people a glimpse at the unique filmmaking community around San Francisco. With wonderful archival footage and photos, candid and very personal interview segments and a nice flow, this documentary sucked me in from the first minutes. It perfectly manages to bring to life the idealism these people represent and how they fought to retain their artistic freedom in an industry that is typically dominated by high-rolling executives and focus group marketing.

If you consider yourself a fan of the cinema, you have to see this film!