The very first “Academy Award for Best Picture” went to the silent-era, 1927 film, “Wings,” which will be featured at the 16th Annual Sarasota Film Festival on Sat., April 12 at the Regal Hollywood 20 in Sarasota.
While the story is about two men who fall in love with the same woman when they enlist in the Air Force in WWI, the thrills come primarily from the extraordinary flying sequences the pilots engage in as they perform their missions.
“The aerial sequences are exceptional and were the benchmark for aerial fights and acrobatics,” said K.C. Schulberg, noting that the scenes were so daring and dramatic that George Lucas choreographed the scenes in “Star Wars” based on some of those flight sequences. “That's some testament,” he said.
Schulberg, the grandson of B.P. Schulberg, the film's producer, and a member of a family steeped in the filmmaking industry, will be present at the screening.
During a recent interview, Schulberg shared his thoughts regarding the film and how it might be viewed by today's audiences.
“I have no idea how the modern audience might react to a silent movie made in 1927, but at the cost of over $1 million, it was huge sum of money for a movie at that time,” said Schulberg.
Schulberg said that choosing William A. Wellman as the director created some controversy among those involved in making the film.
“They used to call him 'Wild Bill Wellman',”said Schulberg, stating that Wellman was a former fighter pilot and had a steel plate in his head...and “they were reluctant to trust him [to be director] because he had no experience like this.”
But, “he badgered my grandfather,” and in the end, “they took a gamble,” and the rest is history.
Regarding the 'silent' component of the film, Schulberg said, “The action sequences are pretty thrilling, and I think once people get used to seeing the emotion in the people without [the talking], they'll settle into it. If a movie's made well, people get over those conditions.”
K.C. Schulberg has impressive accomplishments in his own right.
Prior to moving to France in 1998, Schulberg worked under contract to Hallmark Entertainment in New York, a leading producer of movies and television mini-series, with an annual turnover of around $275 million.
Schulberg was responsible for developing the company's corporate image and its marketing campaigns, both domestic and international for over 60 films annually. He presided over a golden era at Hallmark Entertainment when the company won the top slot in audience ratings and awards across all the major networks.
Currently, Schulberg is in the very early stages of producing the film, “A Dream Last Night,” which has been described as 'magical realism,' where “the fantastic and real sit side-by-side.”
The movie is based on a short story, “Some Faces in the Crowd,” published around 1953.
“It's a kind of fable involving Seminole Indian voodoo and love, dual story lines that are above the water line of rational, and under the waterline where deities may be involved,” explained Schulberg.
He expects the shooting to begin sometime in October, with many of the scenes filmed in Everglade City, Florida.
While the story is not about the Seminole Indians, Schulberg said that the Seminole tribe has been extremely supportive of the project, and they have had a long-standing relationship with the Seminoles since his grandfather's days.
In setting the stage for "A Dream Last Night," Schulberg said, “This is not a period movie, but it feels like you are stepping into another era,” said Schulberg.
Perhaps that's in part due to some of the places Schulberg expects to be filming, such as Big Cypress Art Gallery, Keywadin Island, and the Rod & Gun Club, among others.
"The Rod and Gun Club is a great hotel and has a lot of history to it," said Schulberg. "You've got to see it if you don't know it."
Schulberg recently bought a home in Naples, saying “I got my first taste of the Everglades when I was five years old...and I've had an affection for this area ever since.”
For more details about other films showing at the festival, go online: www.sarasotafilmfestival.com
For more details about the Rod and Gun Club, go online: www.evergladesrodandgunclub.com