You don’t say

“I just want to go home and watch the ‘Real Housewives.’”

Tallgrass Film Association executive director Lela Meadow-Conner’s comment Sunday during the final night of the four-day Tallgrass Film Festival

You don’t say

“Now, if only Johnny Depp would come …”

Tallgrass Film Association executive director Lela Meadow-Conner’s e-mail on how she’d like the actor, who has disparaged Wichita moviegoers, to come to the new VI to X: Six Months to Tallgrass Ten film festival

MovieMaker magazine names Wichita No. 10 on best places for independents to film

WICHITA — Wichita and the Tallgrass Film Festival are getting some great press courtesy of MovieMaker magazine.

The magazine’s latest annual ranking of best places for independent filmmakers to shoot puts Wichita at No. 10.

“It’s kind of verifying something that we already knew,” says Jessy Clonts, Tallgrass’ marketing director. “What this proves is that other people feel that way, too, and hopefully it gets the attention of people who want to make films in this area.”

MovieMaker makes its picks based on “those places that go the extra mile in welcoming lower-budget productions just as much as they do the ‘big guns.’ ”

The magazine quotes Tallgrass Film Association executive director Lela Meadow-Conner on why Wichita works.

“Shooting is easy here. There’s very little red tape, permits aren’t required for filming on public property and there are plenty of local people who are experienced in all aspects of production and readily available for shoots.”

Kansas Film Commission director Peter Jasso agreed that “Wichita is a home away from home for filmmakers looking to turn their dreams into realities.”

It’s why, the magazine says, “Slowly but surely, Wichita is becoming an indie moviemaker’s Eden.”


Wichita film experts take umbrage at actor Johnny Depp’s characterization of filmgoers here

WICHITA — Actor Johnny Depp apparently thinks Wichita movie audiences aren’t too smart.

In a Sunday interview with Britain’s Guardian, Depp discussed his new movie, “The Rum Diary,” which is based on the book by Hunter S. Thompson.

“I believe that this film, regardless of what it makes in, you know, Wichita, Kansas, this week — which is probably about $13 — it doesn’t make any difference. I believe that this film will have a shelf life.”

Depp believes the film will do better in Europe than it’s been doing in the United States.

“Most definitely. It’s something that will be more appreciated over here, I think. Cos it’s — well, I think it’s an intelligent film.”

The Guardian reporter wrote that Depp then took “a meaningful pause” before saying, “And a lot of times, outside the big cities in the States, they don’t want that.”

A few Wichitans beg to differ.

Johnny Depp

“That’s just sour grapes,” says Warren Theatres owner Bill Warren. “Last time I heard, it didn’t do well in New York, either.”

Warren says he’s seen the movie and didn’t care for it.

“Ninety nine percent of people in America go to movies for entertainment, and it wasn’t a very entertaining movie, period.”

Lela Meadow-Conner, executive director of the Tallgrass Film Association, says she respects Depp but wonders what he was thinking in this case.

“First of all, don’t bite the hand that feeds you, Johnny Depp,” she says. Take people “who make you a movie star, and then you’re going to call them unintelligent?”

“People have these preconceived notions about cities like Wichita and cities in the Midwest,” she says. “Because his movie has been deemed a critical stinker . . . and audiences haven’t gravitated toward it, obviously he is trying to displace the blame onto audiences here who he deems unintelligent.”

Read More »

Tallgrass Brewing Co. to promote Tallgrass Film Festival on Tallgrass Ale cans

UPDATED — Manhattan-based Tallgrass Brewing Co. is taking its sponsorship of the similarly named Tallgrass Film Festival in Wichita to a new level by promoting the ninth annual festival on its flagship Tallgrass Ale cans.

“This is great marketing for us,” says Lela Meadow-Conner, executive director of the Tallgrass Film Association.

Since the cans are sold in Kansas and a dozen other states — ones where the film festival wouldn’t traditionally advertise — she says it promotes the festival “in a really innovative way.”

Meadow-Conner says Tallgrass Brewing founder Jeff Gill is “just super, super supportive of Tallgrass.”

The cans will include the Tallgrass logo and “stubbornly independent since 2003” motto along with the dates of this year’s festival, which is Oct. 20 to 23.

Some larger film festivals nationally have beer sponsorships, Meadow-Conner says, “But I’ve never, ever heard of anyone putting the logo on the can.

“It’s a pretty cool thing.”

Wichita Association for Motion Picture Arts changes its name to Tallgrass Film Association

WICHITA — The Wichita Association for Motion Picture Arts has changed its name to the much-less-cumbersome Tallgrass Film Association.

“The Wichita Association for Motion Picture Arts is a long-winded thing to say,” says Mike Marlett, executive director. “When I have to say that and then have to throw in ‘which sponsors the Tallgrass Film Festival,’ it gets really long.”

The late Tim Gruver founded WAMPA eight years ago when he started the film festival.

“It sort of amused him to have the WAMPA acronym,” Marlett says.

He says Gruver, a Native American, liked that WAMPA sounded like the Native American word wampum.

“It’s not that amusing when you try to use it all the time,” Marlett says.

He says the change will help streamline marketing efforts.

“We’ll be able to make better use of our marketing and be able to promote things year round that in a way advertises what we’re doing in the fall” with the festival, he says. “That’s a very helpful thing for us.”

Marlett says the association will take this time to do a new push for members, too.

He says using the new name instead of the old one will be easier for them — not to mention him.

“My jaw physically gets tired of it.”