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Logan and Noah on the FarmI’ve spent the past few days with Logan and Noah Miller who wrote, directed and starred in “Touching Home” opening tonight. I immediately felt comfortable with them since I have three brothers.  But you will too if you catch them at the post film Q&As after the Fri & Sat shows.  The Millers are sweet, kind, considerate, creative, uber smart, down to earth, engaging, entertaining — and it’s no surprise that they both have girlfriends.  Their infectious enthusiasm and amazing tenacity also comes through in their book, “Either You’re In or In the Way.”  Buy it at TT Fri or Sat and they will gladly sign it.

TT staff member and music/film writer Gina Moccio met the Bros and wrote this article.  It’s a great snapshot.  Enjoy!

“What You Don’t Know, You’ll Figure Out”
Logan and Noah Miller: the forces behind Touching Home
By Gina Moccio

      When Logan and Noah Millers’ dream of becoming professional baseball players stopped short, they decided to become involved with film. They found out they were excellent writers and put their ideas into screenplays. Touching Home had been around for a while, and all their friends and family knew the film existed on paper. Though, when the boys’ father passed away alone and in jail, it sent them into a frenzy of guilt and grief. They made a vow to tell their father’s story; Touching Home would be a reality in one year. Armed with seventeen credit cards, a grant from the Panavision New Filmmaker Program, a contract in the form of a handshake from Ed Harris, and enough passion and determination to turn the Earth upside down, the Millers were able to make it happen.

      With no physical experience in the filmmaking world and an operation of this size to pull off between themselves, people wonder how they did it. Just how were they able to tackle their doubt? The negativity of others? The answer is that the feeling never went away. “We felt terribly inadequate,” said Noah. Though he didn’t agree with the use of the word naive because it’s often used to limit someone’s thinking; he knew they needed to learn as quickly as possible. “And we knew we were starting with a considerable deficiency.”

      He told a story about George Lucas, the Stars Wars tycoon. Apparently, Lucas’ crew didn’t believe in the first film and would walk off set as soon as their time was up whether they were in the middle of a scene or not. Lucas actually checked himself into the hospital during the editing process because he thought he was having a heart attack. He thought he had made a bomb. A bomb that as of 2008, ended up becoming the third-highest-grossing film series in the world. Logan said they thought about that when they were reflecting and writing their book, Either You’re In or You’re In the Way. He understood they’d always be underprepared for the next step, but it was just a part of jumping in. “I think it’s good to be honest and outrageously optimistic,” said Noah. “You have to be honest with where you’re at and then shoot for Andromeda.”

      Having each other to share the responsibilities with certainly helped. When one Bro was down, the other Bro would build him back up. “It’s a blessing for sure,” said Logan. “But sometimes we argue and work against each other.” Since both brothers acted in the film, they played both a character and the director. “It’s tough for me to take direction from him,” said Noah. “I trust what he says, but he’s always telling me stuff during the day; he directs me all the time in life. We butt heads on everything, but we eventually come to an agreement. No one acts unilaterally.”

      Logan and Noah’s film education consisted of pouring themselves into books on directing, producing, and other major bones of the film body. Putting together Touching Home with the help of several loyal friends and crew members they had gathered was the ultimate filmmaking crash course. Usually this is the part where, “they could write a book about what they learned” would come in, except they already did. But the most standout lesson was, “what you don’t know, you’ll figure out,” said Logan. “So many times you don’t start something because you don’t feel that you have the requisite knowledge– whatever that is.” Noah added, “Hire really good people. Explain to them what you want and let their creative minds take over. They’ll bring you things that you never even thought of.”

      The Millers’ favorite part of creating Touching Home was the sound mixing at Skywalker Ranch. Finally they were able to slow down and let time be one of the decision makers. Logan enjoyed the methodical aspect and the time to reflect on what they had done. “Or hadn’t,” added Noah with a laugh. “We now had a movie that worked.”

      Reality is a gray zone when you’re talking about the pursuit of dreams. It’s also a matter of perspective. Though, if there’s anything a person should do with their dreams, it’s “go after it. Don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t do it,” said Logan. Feeling insecure and uneasy is just a part of the process, he explained. “Nobody is any smarter than you are and nobody knows you better than you do.. What do you think Bro?” “I agree. I concur,” said Noah with a laugh.

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     We’re saddened to say that longtime Tampa Theatre friend Rosa Rio has passed away. Below you’ll find a bit about her life.  There will be a public memorial for her at Tampa Theatre on Saturday, June 5 at 11:00 am. More details at www.tampatheatre.org/Rosa.php

     Please share your memories of Rosa in the comments below and we’ll pass them along to her family.

  

ROSA RIO, LEGENDARY THEATRE ORGANIST, DIES AT 107

     Rosa Rio peacefully passed away at her home in Sun City Center on May 13, 2010 with her husband, Bill Yeoman, by her side.  She was 107 years old. 

    Her prolific career began with a simple declaration to her family at age eight, “When I grow up, I want to play a big piano, wear pretty clothes and lots of jewelry, and make people happy.” 

    She was extraordinarily positive, motivated and determined.  She was able to seamlessly adapt to changes in the entertainment industry (silent films, talkies, radio, TV, and finally, back to silent films). “I can’t believe that I’ve been so fortunate to have been in so many things that went out and I bounced back,” she said in 2007.  Her path was not without challenges.  As the only woman in the orchestra pit, she routinely challenged men who considered her to be second fiddle because of her gender.  She allayed those stereotypical reactions with talent, charm and a (sometimes bawdy) sense of humor.    

    Tara Schroeder, Tampa Theatre’s Director Programming and Marketing, had become best friends with Rio.  “Rosa’s talent and passion for music and the theatre organ was remarkable, and in fact I am certain that her passion was the key to her longevity.  I feel so fortunate to have become so close to her. She is a testament to the will of spirit,” Schroeder said.

    Rosa began taking piano lessons at eight, and at ten landed her first job at a silent movie theater in hometown of New Orleans.  After studying music at Oberlin College and silent film accompaniment at The Eastman School of Music, Rosa accompanied silent films in movie palaces in New York and New Orleans.  The balloon burst in 1927 with the advent of “talkies.”

    In the 1930s and 40s, Rosa was dubbed “Queen of the Soaps,” having provided organ accompaniment for 24 soap operas and radio dramas, sometimes dashing from one studio to another with seconds between shows.  On average, she played for five to seven shows per day, including “The Shadow” with Orson Welles and “The Bob and Ray Show,” “Cavalcade of America,” “My True Story,” and “The Goldbergs.”  

    Rosa was hired by NBC as a temporary replacement while they searched for a man.  “I asked them if they were looking for a man or an organist,” Rosa said.  She stayed for 22 years and was the first woman hired into an orchestra of 156 men.  It would be ten years before another woman was hired, and would kindle Rosa’s life-long passion for women’s rights. 

    Transitioning to television, Rosa played the organ for many network series, including “The Today Show,” “As the World Turns,” and “The Guiding Light.”

    On piano, Rosa worked with many vocalists, most notably Mary Martin, whom she accompanied at her audition for Cole Porter.  

    Since 1996, Rosa performed for over 30 silent film presentations for full houses at the Tampa Theatre’s 1,400-pipe Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ.  Her last performance at Tampa Theatre was on August 30, 2009 when she provided the accompaniment for a Buster Keaton silent comedy.  While the sold-out audiences always thanked her with standing ovations, she graciously returned the accolades, saying “I have such gratitude for the wonderful people who have such love for the theatre organ, silent pictures and Tampa Theatre.”

    John Bell, Tampa Theatre’s President and CEO said, “We were so fortunate to have Rosa as part of the Tampa Theatre family for the past 14 years.  She was an amazing woman with remarkable talent who introduced tens of thousands of people to the magic of silent films and the theatre organ.  While I am very saddened by her passing, I am so thankful that she was able to share her musical talents throughout her long and fulfilling life.  She was an inspiration to so many people, young and old.”

    If you would like to express your condolences to Rosa’s family, you can send cards and letters to Tampa Theatre, Attn: Rosa’s Family, 711 N. Franklin St., Tampa, FL 33602. Please no flowers. Emails can be directed to tara@tampatheatre.org.

    Tampa Theatre will celebrate her life with a memorial on Saturday, June 5 at 11:00 am.  The public is invited.

 

Listen to a portion of Rosa’s StoryCorps Recording

StoryCorps recorded some wonderful conversations with Tampa Bay residents during their stay in Ybor City in partnership with our local radio station WMNF 88.5 where you you can tune in regularly to two different pieces each week.  Listen to Rosa’s recording here: http://feeds.feedburner.com/wmnfstory

Rosa Rio Magazine Article

Read more about Rosa in this in-depth article
from the Journal of the American Theatre Organ Society.

Rosa Rio on Fox 13’s “Charley’s World” with Charley Belcher

Listen to Rosa Rio’s interview Charley Belcher featured Rosa on one of his entertaining “Charley’s World” segments.  Click here to watch it. 

Rosa Rio Interviewed on NPR

Listen to Rosa Rio’s interview on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition.  Rosa speaks about her experiences playing the organ on The Shadow with Orson Welles and countless other radio shows, silent movies, and soap operas – and being the Tampa’s special event organist.

She Improvs with Age

A gift for improvisation has carried organist Rosa Rio through a century of change.  By Cooper Cruz in The Weekly Planet

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Put your speedo away, Brian.  Alas, the orchestra pit swimming pool project was only a frivolous April Fool’s Day fantasy.   Thanks to everyone who played along.  Lest you thought the orchestra pit was also dubious, the proof is in these then and now pictures.  In the early days, the Tampa Theatre Symphony Orchestra or an organist at our Mighty Wurlitzer Theatre Organ would accompany the silents or, after sound pictures arrived, provide pre-show entertainment.  Much later the pit was covered to accommodate live performances and now is a storage space.  The hole in the stage does have a cover which is very heavy.  One day while covering it, I stumbled and fell into the pit.  My injuries weren’t a picnic, but I did have fun describing the accident on my workman’s comp paperwork — which I heard cracked up the claims processors.

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As unique experiences go, watching movies beneath the Tampa’s twinkling stars and billowing clouds is an E-ticket ride. (btw – was Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride an E-ticket?  Does anyone besides me remember E-tickets and Mr. Toad?)   But I digress.  For our new Cinema & Splash Summer Classics Series, we’re transforming the orchestra pit into a swimming pool so you can swim under the stars while watching classic movies on the big screen.  And no worries about about soggy popcorn with our specially-designed floats with water resistant concessions holders.   And here’s the best part: you won’t even need your sunblock! Check back tomorrow when I’ll announce the Cinema & Splash Summer Classics Series schedule.

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Tara @ Sundance 2008

Packing my parka and bathing suit (more on that crazy fact below*) for the Art House Convergence immediately followed by the Sundance Film Festival next week.  Presented in cooperation with the Sundance Institute, the AHC is a three-day gathering of 120 art house professionals representing 68 theaters, plus other industry professionals for sessions and speakers (including Sundance Film Festival Director John Cooper and Filmmaker Michael Moore.  Yes, that Michael Moore who also operates a successful art house in Traverse City, MI.)  

I’m co-leading two sessions — “Working with Volunteers” and “Profitable Special Programs” — and looking foward to learning from my colleagues during other interesting sessions.

I’ll be at Sundance for the first few days of the festival.  Getting film tickets is a fun adventure — but I really mean that in a good way.  In 2008, I happened chat with someone on the shuttle who had an extra ticket for a screening of Frozen River (which we brought to Tampa Theatre.)  I had 20 minutes to change my plans and shuttles.  Made it with five minutes to spare.  

Paparazzi @ Sundance 2008

Lots of fun and quirky things happen during the festival.  One year, I chased some  paparazzi who were chasing Mary-Kate Olsen (who was there with her film, The Wackness — which was good).  After she ducked into a door, I snapped a pic of the photogs.  They were both confused and amused.  So hope to have more adventures to share this year.

* So what’s up with the parka and bathing suit?  The AHC is at the Homestead which has a natural hot springs.

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