Trojan Film “The Pride of Strathmoor” Wins Jury Award at Slamdance

A huge Fight On! to Hench-DADA MFA alum Einar Baldvin, whose master’s thesis project, The Pride of Strathmoor, just took home the Jury Award for Animation Short at the 2015 Slamdance Film Festival!

And check out the trailer for The Pride of Strathmoor below!

The Pride of Strathmoor Trailer from Einar Baldvin on Vimeo.


By Tchavdar Georgiev

Tchavdar Georgiev at Sundance

Tchavdar Georgiev at Sundance

As filmmakers we often hear the saying that documentaries are “stranger than fiction” and that if you wrote this as a narrative script no one would ever believe you.

FINDERS KEEPERS that I had the privilege of editing together with directors Bryan Carberry and Clay Tweel, takes the term “stranger than fiction” to a new high. It is by far the funniest and most bizarre tale that has ever come my way involving a pitched legal battle over the ownership of a severed leg.

As a die-hard Sundancer, I always look forward to getting onto Main Street and start meeting my friends as well as total strangers wondering what are the films they enjoyed the most so far. Usually the response is: “Go see this and this film. I cried my heart out.”

Tchavdar Georgiev with Producer Ed Cunnigham

Tchavdar Georgiev with Producer Ed Cunnigham

Well this year I would proudly tell them: “Come see FINDERS KEEPERS, you will laugh all the way through.” And yet, it was the humor that I found the most challenging in shaping how to tell this story that was born out of tragedy for the family of the main character and amputee John Wood. As an editor you spend endless hours in front of the computer getting to know in an intimate way the inner workings of your character, whom you have never met in person. It is usually at the premiere after all is said and done you get to spend some time together. I was so excited to finally meet John Wood and ask his impressions of the film. He bit his lip, took a sip out of his non-alcoholic drink, looked into the distance and only then replied that he originally thought that the filmmakers are no different than any news or reality tv crew that has come out to interview him interested only in how to make the wackiest freak show out of him. But gradually as the shooting stretched over six years, him and his family started to develop a special bond with the filmmakers, where they would open up more and more on camera and speak freely about the tragedy of the plane crash in which John lost his leg and his father, as well as the dark fall into the years of alcoholism and addiction.

Tchavdar Georgiev with John Wood (main character of the film) and Wood's wife, Leslie

Tchavdar Georgiev with John Wood (main character of the film) and Wood’s wife, Leslie

It was incredibly gratifying that both John and the family were deeply touched by the film. And then John tore up and said that he was never able to get himself to apologize to his father while he was still alive for all the grieve he caused him as an addict, but the film that we have made is in a way his apology, his closure and his memorial to his Dad. He also hoped that other people would be inspired by it in their understanding of how to fight addiction.

As for me, I am grateful for being part of John Wood’s journey and working together with such an incredible team of Oscar winning producers Ed Cunningham and Seth Gordon, director Clay Tweel, as well as the many Trojans involved in the project – Bryan Carberry (director,producer, editor), Adam Gibbs (producer), Matt Radecki and Greg Lanesey (co-producers). It was also a special treat to be sitting at the premiere next to my USC mentor and teacher Lisa Leeman who taught me quite a bit about storytelling and documentary editing.

From Left to Right: Adam Gibbs (Producer), Bryan Carberry (Director, Producer, Editor) and Tchavdar Georgiev (Editor) of FINDERS KEEPERS.

From Left to Right: Adam Gibbs (Producer), Bryan Carberry (Director, Producer, Editor), and Tchavdar Georgiev (Editor) of FINDERS KEEPERS.

Alum Ross Putman from Park City

Ross Putman from Sundance

I just met a llama (pictured).


Sundance is a weird place. It’s a confluence of so many things at one time, it’s often difficult to gain your bearings. And in some ways, it’s as though the festival prefers it that way; your senses off-kilter and unaccustomed, struggling to make sense of the winter wonderland in which you find yourself. There are the massive mansions overlooking the city, designed like one might imagine a mountain-chalet-Vegas-themed casino to look, complete with massive screening rooms, picture windows, and color schemes evincing a particular attachment to shades of brown. There are the theaters, strewn throughout the valley and not easily connected between (or certainly, not with swiftness), holding such varied numbers of people between them that it does not seem inappropriate to read, in the subtext, some prejudice against a particular film built-in to the assignation of a smaller screening venue. Then there are the restaurants, clearly designed almost entirely for the yearly-visiting visiting Angelenos, every guest grumbling at the cost, quietly suspecting that there might, in fact, be a “regular” menu that costs significantly less, distributed literally every day that isn’t during the festival.

And then, there are the movies. I forgot about the movies.

My first year attending Sundance, I was freshly 23 years old, having just started USC’s MFA program. I convinced my beleaguered parents to finance my participation in the USC-sponsored trip, allowing me to attend the film festival to end all film festivals. This was my ticket. I was a narrative screenwriter, dammit, and these narratives were selling to Harvey Weinstein and Fox Searchlight and all those cool indie distributors that released all the cool indie movies I loved and wanted to write.

So I packed my bags, pulled out the winter coat I had been ignoring in the back of my closet, and bought my ticket. And I’ll be damned if my way there didn’t live up to all my over-inflated expectations. I flew Delta! They gave out free peanuts and soda! Jane Lynch was sitting in first class! Yes, I was en route to my destiny, where my newfound matriculation as a USC graduate student would open doors—nay, blow the doors wide open.

Now, never mind the fact that I had zero tickets, no party invites, and absolutely no business being in Park City. Who cares about that? I saw Oprah on Main Street. OPRAH. Yeah. And then I successfully waitlisted a few movies! I saw that Lil’ Wayne documentary about how he drinks a lot of cough syrup. I saw some spring break-themed movie that I think starred Amy Poehler? I saw some shorts! Oh God, did I see shorts!

That was six years ago. Since then, I’ve graduated. I’ve worked with directors, producers, and other filmmakers. I’ve produced a movie, THE YOUNG KIESLOWSKI (which, full disclosure, did not play the Sundance film festival), and went out on my own to make more of the kind of films I love, that I’ve always loved, and that I fall further in love with at every Sundance.

And now, traveling here in 2015, this place looks much different than it did the first time I stepped onto Main Street. Most everything is the same, but my perspective has changed.

After my first trip failed to produce a three-picture deal with Warner Brothers, I refined my strategy. I booked my own condo (way too far out) and bought some tickets (but didn’t get any movies I loved). I went to a few parties (I conned my way in, I guess). Here’s a fun tip: the worst thing that can possibly happen if you try to crash a party is that you won’t get in. Which is what would have happened if you didn’t try in the first place. So don’t lose too much sleep over party-crashing anxiety. Sometimes it actually works.

In the years that followed, I got us even closer to Main street. I got more party invites. I traded them with my friends. I had business cards printed, despite the fact that I barely had any “business” to speak of. I met my future manager, my future lawyer, and countless creative collaborators.

And then I kept coming back.

Six years on, Sundance looks a lot different than it did my first time there. I still haven’t premiered a movie here. I still haven’t seen a movie in the Egyptian theater (It just worked out that way… I promise I have nothing against it). And I still manage to always lose my voice around the third or fourth day of the festival (if you were hearing me read this rather than reading it yourself right now, you’d tell me to stop talking). The friends and colleagues I’ve met over the years at the festival are now making their own movies, getting into Sundance, and selling them to distributors. I’m seeing the people I care about have success at the place that made me feel it was even possible. And it feels pretty great.

I have met some filmmakers who say they’ll only go to Sundance once they have a movie here. I understand the sentiment, but my yearly trips have brought me to believe that those people actually have it backwards. The way I see it, coming to Sundance and experiencing it first hand, is the way you’re going to get your future movie here in the first place.

SUNDANCE 2015: A Tale of Two Films – An Intro

Sundance Top Scroll

Hello to all at SCA and beyond…I’m Doug Blush, currently at Sundance 2015 with the new documentaries THE HUNTING GROUND (as co-editor and associate producer) as well as  SEMBENE! in the International Documentary Competition (as consulting editor).  This is just a quick first greeting before a big ramble to come about our films, what Sundance is about this year, and what it means to have a premiere (or two!) here.  These are my eighth and ninth films in the festival over the last decade, and the first year I also come to Park City as a faculty member…I’m teaching 535 Intermediate Editing at USC this semester!

I’m hoping to post more today…the first four days of my time here have been packed with amazing moments, great conversations with other filmmakers, and the occasional old school punk band or two.  Looking forward to sharing more when I come back in out of the cold…

For now, I’ll add a link to both THE HUNTING GROUND’s trailer, and SEMBENE!’s Kickstarter (which was very successful!) to give you an idea of each film.  More to come…