Fog City Mavericks: The Filmmakers of San Francisco – DVD Review

Available at Amazon.com

George Lucas. Francis Ford Coppola. John Lasseter. Saul Zaentz. Chris Colombus. Philip Kaufmann. Clint Eastwood. American Zoetrope. Industrial Light & Magic. Pixar. Apocalypse Now. Star Wars. Toy Story. One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. Invasion Of The Body Snatchers. What two things do these filmmakers, studios and films have in common? They all exist, or at least started, outside the Hollywood Studio system and they are all the subject of this fascinating documentary.

Starting way back in the 1800’s, we learn about Eadweard Muybridge, a San Francisco business man and photographer who was the first man to photograph a horse in motion to prove at one point all four of the animals legs were in the air. From there we jump ahead to the 60’s where we are introduced to Francis Ford Coppola and George Lucas and we learn about their early struggles with the studio system and the series of events that lead them to moving to San Francisco to make films the way they wanted to.

While Coppola and Lucas are certainly the most famous filmmakers in the Bay Area they most certainly aren’t alone, and they aren’t the focus of the documentary either. The film tells the story of a vast number of filmmakers, how they came to the The City and why they chose to avoid Hollywood as best they could.

The film describes San Francisco as a magical place and a magnet for people who think and do things differently. People who don’t want their films cut by a studio despite rave audience reactions, such as what happen with George Lucas and his second film American Graffiti.

This is a well-made documentary with wonderful interviews with the filmmakers as well as quality clips from their films. The film is definitely in love with San Francisco and her artistic community and there is nothing wrong with that. We learn about their success as well as their failures and it paints a wonderful picture of these great movie mavericks.

I must also make a comment on a personal note. As a struggling filmmaker myself, and one who lives in San Francisco at that, I found this film wonderfully inspirational. As much as I love film I’ve always been weary of moving to LA and after watching this documentary it confirmed for me that I, in fact, made the right decision to move here to this beautiful city that nurtures its creative talent instead of telling it what to do.

The film is presented in widescreen 1.78:1 and Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround. This is a very good-looking film for a documentary. It’s is very crisp and well put together.

On-Air Promos: (3 min.) This originally aired on Starz and the only extras on this disc are 3 on-air promos hosted by Richard Roeper

Perhaps I’m a little biased to film like this but I’ll try to be a little more levelheaded here. Fog City Mavericks is a wonderful documentary about filmmakers who didn’t want to be tied down or held back by the Hollywood Studios and did things their way. If you love film or San Francisco or both there is no reason you won’t enjoy this film.

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Anchor Bay and Starz Originals present Fog City Mavericks. Directed by Gary Leva. Starring Francis Ford Coppola, George Lucas, John Lasseter, Philip Kaufmann, Chirs Columbus. Written by Gary Leva. Running time: 120 minutes. Not Rated. Released on DVD: April 8, 2008. Available at Amazon.com.