"Using 'Sideways' to Get Ahead"
by Mark Abramson, The Lompoc Record, 27 January 2005

Lompoc has joined the area film commission in trying to cash in on the hoopla generated in recent weeks by the critically acclaimed motion picture "Sideways."

"Sideways," which was filmed at locations throughout North County, including Solvang, Buellton and, in Lompoc, the Farmer's Market, Ocean Lanes, and a Cabrillo High School classroom, has won Golden Globe Awards for best motion picture for a musical or comedy and best screenplay for a motion picture. Its seven nominations topped all films.

The movie, about a pair of middle-aged men's journey through northern Santa Barbara County's wine country during one of the character's last days of bachelorhood, garnered even more attention this week when the Academy Award nominations were announced.

It was nominated for best picture; best screenplay, Alexander Payne and Jim Taylor; best director, Alexander Payne; and best supporting actor and actress, Thomas Haden Church and Virginia Madsen.

"It brings more attention and exposure to the area," said Kathleen Griffith, the city's economic development coordinator. "It makes people realize we are an incredible venue for locations. The more visibility that "Sideways" gets, the more visibility Lompoc and the surrounding areas will have."

The city of Lompoc has jumped on the "Sideways" buzz bandwagon by co-sponsoring this year's Santa Barbara International Film Festival, which runs from Friday to Sunday, Feb. 6.

Lompoc will use the film festival in an attempt lure more film crews to the Valley of Flowers. A full-page color ad in the festival program guide reads "Sideways came to Lompoc! How about you?"

But Griffith has more than just shooting in mind when it comes to making Lompoc a draw for the film industry. She envisions the city with its emerging broadband wireless Internet technology and fiber optics a few years from now becoming a place where filmmakers can shoot and edit their movies.

The city has joined forces with the Santa Barbara Conference & Visitors Bureau and Film Commission, which has already done some marketing of its own since the film was released, to showcase the area. The Film Commission's effort includes a map that traces the route the film's characters took with references to the restaurants and wineries they stopped at.

Restaurants and other businesses that appeared in the film say they have seen a 5 percent increase in businesses from the film and map, said Shannon Brooks, the communications manager for the film commission. The map is on the Internet at www.santabarbaraca.com.

"The film has brought the Santa Barbara Wine Country to a huge audience," Brooks said. "Wineries have had a huge increase in sales. The consumption of Pinot Noir has gone up. The award exposure is really helping to bring the film to other people's attention."

The Film Commission has also entered negotiations with Fox Searchlight Pictures to plug the area when the "Sideways" DVD is released. Other marketing includes trip packages with area hotels, wineries the characters visited and other Santa Barbara County sights. And prizes that include trips to the area are being offered to overseas entrants for the film's European release this week.

"It's an opportunity that doesn't come along very often, so we would like to make the most of it," Brooks said. "The film is essentially a postcard for the area."

©2005 The Lompoc Record

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