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'Fog City Mavericks' Explores San Fran Filmmakers

15 Mar, 2008 By: Billy Gil

Director Gary Leva

If you're a DVD aficionado, chances are you've seen writer-director Gary Leva's work. He's behind the making-of featurettes of such varied and esteemed DVD projects as Malcolm X, Ben-Hur and All the President's Men.

But Leva also directs documentaries. His latest, Fog City Mavericks, chronicles several prominent filmmakers from San Francisco. The film hits DVD April 8 ($19.97), from Anchor Bay Entertainment.

“I was having a meeting with George Lucas on another project, and he expressed to me his desire that someday there be a record of [the] burgeoning film industry in San Francisco,” Leva explained.

In addition to Lucas, the film includes interviews with and discussion of such directors as Francis Ford Coppola, Sofia Coppola, Clint Eastwood, Philip Kaufman, animator John Lasseter, actor/producers Robin Williams and Michael Douglas, and producer Saul Zaentz. The group also includes George Lucas' Lucasfilm, which launched the Graphics Group in 1979 — a computer division that eventually became Pixar Animation Studios.

“Any discussion of film in San Francisco in the current more-modern era would have to start with Francis Ford Coppola because it was Francis's dream to create a filmmaking utopia outside of Hollywood,” Leva said. “He inspired George Lucas. He's sort of the dean and leader for a lot of these guys.”

Leva's film starts with photographer Eadweard J. Muybridge, who developed the precursor to film, the zoopraxiscope, in the late 19th century and moves onto the great filmmakers who would eventually call San Francisco home.

“That kind of innovation is something we see throughout San Francisco's history,” Leva said. “I'd like people to walk away with an appreciation for this group of filmmakers and their ability to take their independent ideas, their unwillingness to make conventional films, and marvel at the idea that they've managed to become very successful by playing by their own rules.”

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