Friday, February 28, 2014

New Distribution arm

More wonderful news to report! As of today Highland Light has acquired a minority interest in The Movie Studio Inc, a distributor and producer of independent films in Ft. Lauderdale, FL. They will be distributing Dancing on the Edge and we will become their West Coast distribution entity.

Looking forward to starting pre-production on Michael's Ride around June 1st to shoot just after school lets out.

In the meantime we have been working with a young writer/producer in developing his new script Overclocked, a sic/fi crime thriller that Highland Light will produce this fall/winter. Alexander MacKenzie has been signed to direct.

I'll be heading down to LA to put the finishing touches on our $25M investment package and do some Top-of-show casting. It is anticipated that Nicole McCollough will star and I'd like to get as many of you "Dancers" as available into Michael's Ride as well. I miss you all!

More fun to come,

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Exciting year ahead!

Victoria and I had a great American Film Market (AFM) this year! Not only was the weather just beautiful, and great friendships made and renewed, but we managed to find new distribution for "Dancing On the Edge" and $25,000,000 in production financing for our slate of features.

As you may or may not know, I reclaimed the rights to D.O.T.E. from Breakthrough Entertainment as they were unsuccessful marketing the picture. We knew from the start it would be a difficult sell due to the fact that there are no marketable 'stars'. That, and the fact that poor production sound made it necessary to record a new M&E track necessary for foreign sales and that was not financially plausible.
So we decided to reclaim the rights and reshoot the entire picture with 1 or 2 bankable stars  for domestic release where it was designed to go in the first place. But it seems God had a better idea!

Victoria and I were passing through the lobby when a fellow came up to me and said, "You're a MacKenzie"! Naturally I was wearing my MacKenzie kilt (I always wear a kilt to these things) and we introduced ourselves. He said his father is a MacKenzie and that I looked just like him. "Are you buying or selling" he asked. "Selling" I replied and he proceeded to invite us to meet up in his room on the 8th floor ($8K/Day) and we'll talk.

So up to his room we went and he asked what we had. I told him that we have a slate of feature films ready to shoot but we were looking for co-production deals with distributors and funding. We talked for awhile about our slate then he asked if I had anything in the can. I told him the story about DOTE and he wanted to see the trailer. He was blown away and said he'd take it just as it is.

So, you can expect to see Dancing on the Edge on TV, in the big-box stores and Redbox this spring courtesy of The Movie Studio,Inc.( As soon as I know the network I'll let you know). Then he showed us a picture of his dad and now I know what I will look like at 93.

But the best is yet to come!

We also found two investors that between them will bring in $25M in production funding to Highland Light! In order to bring this money home it will require a moderate amount of legal work for my attorney in LA that along with travel and living expense for me in LA should run around $30K in bridge funding. With the holidays coming up I don't expect much to happen before the new year dawns, but then things should happen quickly. I expect we'll shoot Michael's Ride here in late June as soon as school lets out. The rest of the slate hasn't been set but perhaps we can get Devil's Walk in before the weather in Central Oregon turns.

That's it for now. We at Highland Light Productions wish you all a happy and blessed Christmas and New Year!

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Time to get back to work!

Hey Friends,

I'm so happy to be sharing with you all again now that our web issues have been fixed.

Much has transpired in the last year, My grandson Desmond James McFadden is a year old, and Victoria has retired after 25 years in the Clark County Sheriff's Dept. and is now producing full time at HLP. But not all has gone as we had hoped.

Like the old Scottish soldiers quote; "I may be wounded but I am not slain. I'll lay me down to bleed awhile then I'll rise and fight again". After two years with a distributor, we have yet to realize a single sale. So HLP has reclaimed the rights to Dancing on the Edge and will pursue other marketing alternatives. I need to do a bit of research on the best avenue to follow but we're not going to give up on it.

Victoria and I will be at American Film Market, November 6-14 in Santa Monica, California where we will try to move D.O.T.E. and I Hate Soccer as well as to solicit interest in the other films in our portfolio.

We are putting Michael's Ride on hold until next year as scheduling conflicts as well as the tragic passing of one of our key investors has delayed us to deep into the summer to be able to shoot. This delay will cause the school year to begin before we can finish shooting.

In the meantime, I have been signed by IHS Productions in LA to direct a $2.8M romantic comedy called "I Hate Soccer" to be shot in Portland, OR this fall. Highland Light Productions will co-produce.
For more details check it out here ;

We are also in the process of updating our website so please be patient while we make it better.
More fun to come,

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Here comes Michael's Ride

Well friends, here it is almost May and we at Highland Light are getting ready to move from the development stage to pre-production on Michael's Ride. The financing is coming together now and the Wa.State Legislature just gave us a big hand by passing a new Film Incentive program which will rebate 30% of our Washington spend.
This will allow us to do some real risk management for our investors.
In addition, our distributor has offered to supply the last 20% of the budget if we can raise the initial 80% and sign the 'stars' we are now in negotiations with. I have just finished the last major revision to the script and it is better than ever.

Marleah Stout, HLP's new Exec.VP and co-producer on this film , and I had a very successful trip to LA in late March. We acquired the rights to produce a wonderfully exciting feature film "Victory Girl", in partnership with Bernie Fried who wrote the story and with Peter Myer the screenplay. We also set the ground work to produce what may well be the biggest motion picture event of the decade. This will be an amazing sequel to one of the greatest films ever made. That's all the detail I can release about this project at this time but the wheels are already in motion with one of the biggest stars and studios in Hollywood.

What fun it was for us to spend ten days on Bernie's 45 foot Beneteau sailing yacht in Marina Del Rey!

Unfortunately, I had to with draw as Producer of "Three Times A Lady" to be shot later this year in LA because of time constraints. Yet this allowed us to put together a three picture package with a bigger distributor using HLP's own properties and they will co-produce.

One of the best times we had though was the wonderful dinner party that my literary agent Sherry Robb arranged  and hosted by beautiful veteran actress, Lisa London and her Director husband Barry. Two more gracious hosts  I've never known! The reception and love shown by Sherry and all the rest of my fellow agency actors so moving for me. And it was so nice to see my friend Corbin Timbrook, a wonderfully gifted Director now shooting his next picture in Texas.

Soon we were back home with a ton of work to do and opportunities for Highland Light we wouldn't have dreamed of a year ago.

On a sad note we bid farewell to Tom Zalutko, the incomparable Darryl Farmer of "Dancing on the Edge" fame who has moved on to pursue new opportunities as a writer for a film producer in LA. We wish you the best Tom. Put that new degree to work.

We now have to get the financing solidified and get stars on board and we're off to the races. We expect to cast supporting roles in June and Begin shooting mid-July.

So that's all the news that's fit to tell.More fun to come,

Monday, September 5, 2011

Dear 'Dancers' and friends, So much has happened so fast that our heads are swimming. I'm starting to recover from the tremendous crash after a month long adrenaline high from the success and good fortune lavished on us by the last 3 film fests.

Dancing on the Edge had it's world premiere at the historic Kiggins Theater in downtown Vancouver on Thursday August 11th 2011 and it was all that we had hoped it would be and more. When the first limo arrived at the front of the theater, the crowd waiting to get in was backed up all the way down the block and around the corner, BOTH WAYS! As the door opened and Co-Producer and award winning actor Tom Zalutko stepped out onto the red carpet , the crowd just roared! There was even the Ft. Vancouver Pipe band there to pipe us in! As each cast and crew member exited their limo dressed in tux and gown, they proceeded to the step-and-walk where the media and friends had ample photo ops of these hometown celebrities aborning!
When we got inside we found the theater full to capacity and many of the cast and crew and my fellow Vancouverites gallantly gave up their seats so others could attend (I tried to but they wouldn't let me). Even Mayor Tim Levitt, who took time out of his busy schedule to don a tux and introduce our film, refused to take a seat as long as there was a Vancouverite who needed one. It's one of the things that make me so proud of being a Vancouver resident! Yet I feel very bad for those loyal folks who supported us for so long that didn't get to see the show. The theater had to turn away about 200 people. When the film ended and the thunderous applause had subsided, we did a short Q & A for the audience then adjourned to Charlie's Bistro where we had our cast and crew and friends party which was a stunning success thanks to the awesome planning by my producing partner Tiffani Fjosne and the great staff at Charlie's. The Director of the Columbia Gorge International Film Festival,
Breven Angaelica Warren awarded us a second screening on Sunday and the Kiggins was nearing capacity even without advertising!

Five days later on August 17 th, Tom Zalutko, Alisa Rakoz, Nicole McCullough and her family, Ricky and Robin Torres, Emily Abramson, Victor Morris, Tara Krick, Russ and Jan Gorsline and Victoria, my daughter Beth and I arrived at the Millennium Hotel in Times Square, New York City for the 2nd Annual New York City International Film Festival and Market.
The Gala opening was nice as we walked the red carpet with stars John Savage, Steven Bauer and Sally Kirkland who was presented a lifetime achievement award by the festival. To be able to meet and talk with these stars was inspiring for our young people. You're not in Vancouver, Wa. any more Toto!

Our Grand Night the following night turned into a bit of a disaster that evolved into a huge blessing!
We all met in the hotel lobby dressed to the nines and the limos we hired swept us off to the legendary Tribeca Theater for our red carpet arrival and screening of our film. When we got there, there was no red carpet, no festival staff and no one there had any idea what was going on. It seems that we were the only ones to plan for Friday afternoon NYC traffic and then the thunderstorms came contributing to accidents that created massive, honking, traffic jams. An hour and a half later the festival folks show up and try to get things organized but to late to give us the step-and-walk that we paid for. We screened the film to a full house and a tremendous ovation. John Savage came as well and loved the film and sang it's praises the rest of the time at the festival. Our DP, Daniel Steely who turned 18 the last day of the shoot won Best Cinematography honors.
Because of the dog and pony show the night before the festival organizers went to the trouble of shaking up their whole schedule and presented us with an opportunity to screen Dancing on the Edge on Sunday night in Times Square al fresco!
As I was called to the mic to introduce the picture to the crowd of about 200 people in the square I was surprised when Roberto Rizzo , the festival founder, awarded me the Best Director Award. The picture promptly started and I was whisked off to the step-and-walk to do a TV interview and photo session for the paparazzi. Then I took a seat next to Tom, Nicole and Emily and was amused to watch the bystanders look to me with the big golden statuette in my hand, then look at the girls, then to the screen where Nicole and Emily were doing a scene, then back to the girls again several times. Finally, recognition struck and cameras began to emerge until there was a wall of photographers shooting us as we sat watching ourselves on the screen. Then Roberto came by and said "Do you see this? Can you believe this? I've never seen anything like it!" I stood and looked around and Times Square was packed with I'm told, by around 7000 totally enthralled people, staring at the screen. It was absolutely surreal! I have goose bumps now just thinking about it! Nobody spoke! Nobody moved! They just watched! When the film ended, the ovation was huge! We were two hours on the red carpet after the film for pictures and autographs, mostly for Nicole, Emily and Tom who were indeed stars!

Not to go into a lot of detail, but the Friday night snafu also led to greater exposure to the distributors that attended of which two are actively interested in a deal.

When I got back to my hotel room after the Times Square screening, I got a call from my wife that the prestigious IndiFest
competition announced the winners and that Dancing on the Edge had won the Award of Excellence for Best Feature Film, and Best Leading Actress (Nicole McCullough) and the Award of Merit for Best Supporting Actor (Tom Zalutko), Best Overall Post-Production (Tara Krick / Rexpost), and Most Motivational / Inspirational Film. Indies are a Big Deal!!!
Counting the Triangle Award from the Columbia Gorge Fest, that's 10 awards in three festivals! Not bad for a first-time cast & Crew!!!! I'm so proud of all of you!
On to the Tacoma Film Festival where we'll screen 6:30pm Monday 10 October 2011 at the Grand Cinema! More fun to come, Sandy

So another monster success for a film that no one gave us a chance of making!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Wednesday, April 27, 2011


I originally wrote Dancing on the Edge in 1980 to help troubled youngsters find help and hope, only to have it languish in my file cabinet for 31 years. I started to produce it several times, only to have to set it aside to get a real job to support my family while working on other peoples projects. Then in January 2011, I had the chance to produce and direct a $12M feature with an Oscar© winning actor. We had the financing all but in hand when it was revealed that the source of the money was morally unacceptable. I turned it down. Losing that financing was pretty depressing. Finally, my amazing wife Victoria said, “You’re a wonderful writer with a cabinet full of good scripts. Why don’t you do one of your own?” Apparently, my time had come, as it seemed like everything I touched turned to gold. Victoria helped me buy a Canon 5D Mk.II set up and I had much of my own grip. I had to rent a dolly, 2 back up C-stands and a car mount kit. After buying insurance and a city film permit I had $4000. and had no idea how I would feed my crew for 23 days. It was nothing less than the Biblical story of the loaves and fishes in the 21st Century, as we ate like kings every day. We never actively solicited investment (we had no time) but folks would come up to me that had heard about what we were trying to do and would hand me a check for a thousand dollars expecting nothing in return but were just moved to contribute to what we were trying to do.

Then there was my cast and crew.

None of them had any real experience in feature filmmaking or screen acting. I couldn’t afford even the excellent Ultra-Low Budget contract offered by the Screen Actor’s Guild so I had to use non-union talent that became one of the show’s greatest miracles.

No Director ever had a crew more dedicated or professional in their execution of their many duties as my crew. Most of them wore many hats and functioned with distinction in positions well beyond their experience, notably my DP, a 17 year old with a master’s eye, Daniel Steely. I was also blessed with the most amazing cast I’ve ever worked with. Tom Zalutko, my business partner and best friend, Alyssa Rakoz, Emily Abramson (who walked on hoping for an extra job) all first time actors. Heidi Geil a nursing student, and the incomparable Victor Morris the only veteran actor and co-producer, all contributed performances that were beyond belief. But leaving us all in awe was the stellar performance of 13 year old Nicole McCullough, of tiny Warren, Oregon. No actor in the 43 years I have worked in this business has been more of a joy to direct or an honor to know than Nicole. This young lady is endowed with as much intelligence, moxie and class as Jodie Foster and is destined to be a mega-star of the future.

To quote Dale Newton & John Gaspard’s book ‘Digital Filmmaking 101’ “In the early stages of the rough cut, you often make a real switch in your thinking. You stop trying to make the movie you set out to make, and you begin to define the movie you have made.”

How true that has been for me. I knew I had written a good story. I had confidence in my ability as a director of actors, yet I had never worked in the digital format before. I had a cast and crew that were virtually first timers, and I prayed that I wouldn’t have a very expensive ‘home movie’ on my hands. I hoped that the top pros at Rexpost in Portland, OR wouldn’t laugh me out the door. Like the above quote, it wasn’t long into the rough cut when I discovered that under the loving care of my Editor Ben Meader and Post Prod Supervisor Tara Krick, what I feared would be a frog started turning into a beautiful princess and a picture that was far and away better than I had anticipated. My wife was right all along.

Yet , the greatest joy is not the destination, but the voyage. My life has been permanently and profoundly changed by this experience. The conquering of personal fears and insecurities, the confidence that comes from victory over difficulty; and the joy and love I have and will continue to share with my fellow teammates will lead me on to our next picture.

Thirty-one years ago I wrote this script in the hope that if I could just influence one life for the better then I would be a success. I never dreamed it would be mine.

“Sandy” MacKenzie

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

"Dancing On The Edge" is in the can!

Well Friends, after 21 days of shooting "Dancing on the Edge" is finally in the can and it's GOOD! You can all be very proud of an awesome achievement! Working with a script that called for locations with limited access requirements, Mother Nature giving us fits, long hours and deferred pay, your morale and professionalism during the campaign was above all praise. It was so hard for me to say goodbye to you all at picture wrap and I can't wait until we're back together again shooting "Runaway Hearts" this summer.

As I sit here tonight I can't help but think of how blessed this production has been from start to this moment. Its hard to believe that it was only a few months ago we had our hopes of shooting "Iron Lyncs" this April dashed when we had to turn down the $12M which proved to be from an unacceptable source. It was a knee-jerk reaction to that launched me into producing Dancing... but I knew I had to shoot something or die! So I dove head long into the project and come hell or high water, I was going to put it in the can. I scraped together what little money I had and managed to buy the camera and grip and figured I'd shoot during the day and fund raise at night in the hope that I could find enough to buy you lunch each day. And God did the rest. Each day, the money would appear from mostly unsolicited sources, friends who wanted to help, my partners who pitched in what they could, and another day's shooting went in the can and the lunches and craft services got better and better. Then there's our magnificent cast, who for the most part, being relative if not virtual beginners, delivered performances that were nothing short of brilliant, day in and day out. Then there were the locations themselves. How perfect was "Priority Place" and the grace of all those at Our Lady of Lourdes to allow us to invade their Pastoral Center for the better part of two weeks. How about the day we spent shooting in the Clark County Sheriff's Office where even "COPS" was denied permission to shoot. Or the Sheriff himself taking the time to come out late on day 21 to play a part after driving all day returning from a family tragedy? Or Happy Valley Urgent Care that only came available 24hrs prior to shooting there and just "happened" to have a training facility next door!

But the greatest miracle for me is my awesome crew, many who stuck with this show at great sacrifice! You have all made a permanent place in my heart.

Now we move on to post, the miracles just keep on coming. As I stood in the drizzle on night 21 I was troubled as to where I was going to find the $30K I'd need for post when my phone rang and God provided for that too! Do you suppose He's rewarding us for not taking that tainted $12M? More fun to come, Sandy