You don’t say

“I can barely walk and chew gum.”

– Filmmaker Ed Shank, whose “Cowboys” has been accepted into the Tallgrass Film Festival, on cowboy Matt Perrier being able to “converse intelligently while riding a horse”

The Marple venue to open in former Marple Theater and Fat Tony’s space downtown

WICHITA — A new venue is opening in the former Fat Tony’s space at 417 E. Douglas, but it’s not a bar.

“It’s going to be a completely different building than it has in quite some time,” says Kyle Dick.

Dick and Stephen Coldwell are opening the Marple to host national touring acts, which could be musicians or comedians or DJs.

“It’s really no set thing,” Coldwell says. “We just want to have a nice venue – bring back the history of it.”

Dick says he’s heard a lot of history about the building, from old Wild West characters hanging out there to burlesque dancers and even more risque goings-on.

“I don’t know how true all of it is.”

Most people remember it as the Marple Theater. Dick and Coldwell hope to show films there again and perhaps host some Tallgrass Film Festival events.

“We love the space,” Dick says. “It’s kind of been underutilized for a while.”

Coldwell says the approximately 2,500-square-foot space is “amazing.”

“I just fell in love with it,” he says.

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Former Armstrong Shank executive creates ‘Cowboys’ to show life in the Flint Hills

flint2WICHITA — Since leaving the Wichita advertising community for retirement in the Flint Hills four years ago, a lot of Ed Shank’s behavior has been pretty typical of retirees.

The former co-owner of Armstrong/Shank, which today is Armstrong Chamberlin Strategic Marketing, is an avid birder who is learning to garden vegetables and flowers. He takes long hikes with his Irish terrier, Lili, through big ranch country. Generally, Shank spends time enjoying his surroundings at his home 60 feet above the west fork of the Little Falls River, complete with a dam and waterfall below his house and prairie vistas and hardwood forest trees for his and his wife’s viewing pleasure.

“It’s just a truly wonderful place, and most people in Kansas have no idea … how spectacularly beautiful it is,” Shank says.

That’s why he’s also having what you might call a working retirement. He’s written a book called “Prairie Sparrow” and, while waiting to publish it, is now writing another. Shank also has proof he’s been working in the form of a movie he’s made called “Cowboys.”

“Part of doing the movie was a way of informing people of how beautiful it is and that it’s worth preserving,” Shank says of the Flint Hills.

He says he spent a lot of time watching his neighbors move cattle, and “I just finally became curious enough that I wanted to get on their ranches and film them.”

Shank says prairie is one of the most endangered ecosystems in the world. He says some people see it strictly for what it can produce, though.

“If it doesn’t generate income, then it doesn’t have any value to them.”

His view is “the beauty itself is enough to justify leaving it alone.”

Or have ranchers work it.

“Thanks to them, we still have a tallgrass prairie,” Shank says.

He chose to spotlight the Perrier family and their Dalebanks Angus Ranch in Greenwood County, though Shank interviews other ranchers in the area as well. Part of the reason he says he selected the Perriers is that they work their cattle by horseback.

“Very few people anymore work cattle by horseback,” Shank says.

Shank says part of the reason he made the film is “in recognition of the intelligence and hard work of my neighbors.”

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Candela event space to open at the Lux

UPDATED — The Tallgrass Film Festival used some of the Lux’s first-floor space at this and last year’s festivals, and now a couple of those areas are going to officially open to the public as event space.

Candela is the name for two areas that will be available to rent for parties, business meetings and other events at the Lux, which is at the northwest corner of First and Market.

There’s an auditorium that seats 200 and a hospitality room that has a stage and seats 80.

“It’s all original construction (and) architecture,” says Jeremy Luginbill of Lifeboat Creative. “We’re working to enhance the space.”

He says developers Robert Eyster and Michael Ramsey are having the rooms repainted and refurbished, but otherwise the spaces retain the midcentury modern feel of the 1953 building, which the Kansas Gas and Electric Co. built.

“KGE used to do presentations in the hospitality room of their gas ranges and other things,” Luginbill says.

He says there are about 300 lights in the auditorium in different tones.

“It’s just a unique lighting situation.”

Luginbill says that inspired the name Candela, which is a base unit of luminous intensity.

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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

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.”

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You don’t say

“This festival has given me more than any other in the United States — or really the world.”

— Documentarian Denny Tedesco referring to the Tallgrass Film Festival at the Thursday screening of his “The Wrecking Crew

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.”

You don’t say

“The trouble with this city . . . is all in the reputation.”

— Moviemaking journalist Geoff Edgers, who came to Wichita to show his “Do It Again” documentary at the Tallgrass Film Festival and wound up writing a travel story on the delights of the city for the Boston Globe