LA Times
Weekside Weekly - Friday, July 23, 1999
Of hype and Hondas by Marcela Rojas

If it werenít for her trusty Honda Prelude, Katherine Griffin couldnít have made her first feature film "The Innocents," which she wrote, directed and stars in (with real-life best friend Kama Lee). For eight months, Katherine lived in her car in San Jose to economize while rewriting the screenplay. She also held down three waitressing jobs to save up the money for her 102-minute movie, which chronicles two high school friendsí journey to learn about family secrets, the past and true friendship. It was "Honda" - her name for the car - that greeted Griffin at the end of a 16-hour day. Honda kept her warm at night. And Honda that took her across the country to her filmís set in Bloomington, IN.

Once there, Griffin put Honda to work as the craft service car for the 20 day shoot. "Honda made my life simple," reminisced Griffin, 26, of the car that helped her to stockpile $30,000 of the under $100,000 budget for the film. "Iíd do it all over again if I had to." Ironically, on the last day of filming, Honda apparently decided sheíd fulfilled her cinematic duties and let out her last vrrooom. "Films that are made like this, probably have more passion behind them then 75% of films that are made with everything in place," said Dances With Films Fest co-founder Leslee Scallon. Fellow co-founder Michael Trent explained that the festival was created to showcase undiscovered filmmakers, including those with films lacking known directors, actors, producers or production company financing.

"Dances With Films Festival" will screen 12 feature films, 16 main shorts and five additional shorts, to be shown today through Thursday at Laemmle Monica four-screen movie theater in Santa Monica. "We wanted to make this festival a starting ground for filmmakers," Scallon said. "In the market, filmmakers are expected to make a masterpiece of their first film, right off the bat. And if you donít come out running, then youíre discouraged. We understand that film-makers need to grow and learn." Submissions have doubled this year to 600. Word of mouth may have fueled the increase and success stories didnít hurt. The more than 6,000 people expected to attend the 1999 festival will not see small-scale films, Scallon emphasized."These are not gritty, hand- held films," she said. "These are quality made productions, well-acted, with some breathtaking cinematography. Itís one of the last remaining festivals that goes back to the root of what independent film festivals are about."

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