New Times Who are you, Benford?
Benford Standley I was raised in Texas, I’m from the road, I’d guess you’d say since I’ve been in the entertainment/music business since 1967. I produced concerts with Waylon Jennings, Willie Nelson, Emmylou Harris, Merle Haggard. I own a home in Paso Robles. I have two children who are third-generation Paso Roblans.
New Times What was the impetus for the Paso Robles Digital Film Festival?
Standley I am producing two documentaries myself: one with Haggard and one with Bob Dylan—The Singing Brakeman, a documentary on Jimmy Rogers, the father of country music. The other one is Pioneer Troubadours, a project that originated with Eric Clapton.
New Times These are digital films?
Standley Everything in the business now is going digital. There is no tape or film.
New Times So why call this event a film festival?
Standley I wanted to take the word out of the title. But a lot of folks still shoot in film and go digital in the editing room. George Lucas said a while back he would never do another film, on film.
New Times Tell me how the festival started.
Standley Festivals are becoming tourist destinations. They were just for the filmmakers in the early days and now the public [plays a big part]. Knowing and seeing the opportunity in this town, the location being halfway between L.A. and S.F. made it logistically the tank-of-gas vacation. And north of here are the Silicon Valley digital people and south of here you have the entire Hollywood movie world.
New Times What film screenings are you excited about?
Standley One thing that makes this festival different is we are paying tribute to many great documentaries like The Last Waltz and Shine a Light, the Rolling Stone documentary [directed by Martin Scorcese], which didn’t even play here in town. They stand the test of time. We are also screening No Direction Home, the Dylan documentary. A Los Lonely Boys documentary too. The major theaters don’t play these. Heart of Gold, Jonathan Demme’s film on Neil Young. The film companies are excited because these films get left out of the mix. Saturday is “Make My Saturday” and it’s a tribute to movie making and the music genius of Clint Eastwood.
New Times Why is Eastwood a genius? Hitchcock was a genius. But Eastwood?
Standley Going all the way back to Mystic River, he wrote a song and played on the soundtrack. His son Kyle wrote songs for that soundtrack as well. Changeling, his new movie, the music is by Clint. He’s done the music for several of his films.
New Times Music seems to play a huge part in this festival. Is that because of your background?
Standley Soundtracks many times make more money than the movie. The other is the importance of music in composition, in every scene. The background music.
New Times Is Clint Eastwood making an appearance?
Standley Yes, Saturday afternoon he will be here.
New Times Give me an idea of what will take place throughout the five- day festival.
Standley Panels, screenings, and more will take place for the most part at the Paso Robles Inn ballroom, but also at the Park ballroom, Level Four club, Martin Weyrich Winery, and the Cattleman’s Lounge. Events are taking place all day, at those places. This is the film festival without a red carpet. At most film festivals the stars just come and go on this red carpet scene. The stars are going to stay here.
Christy Heron can be reached at email@example.com.