Peloton, Ambush and Stoptime present the river why
The River Why Movie
You can fish all your life never knowing
it's not fish you're after ...  
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March 31, 2010

Is it possible to make a film “green”?

Even before production began on The River Why, Producer Kristi Denton Cohen had a vision to make the film as socially responsible and “green” as possible.  Every year thousands of films are produced in the United States, but each production requires transportation, catering, wardrobe, set construction, and lots and lots of paperwork. The California Film Commission wrote the Green Resource Guide to give filmmakers some tips on how to “green” their productions, but few have tried to implement a green policy on set…until now.

Ms. Denton Cohen wanted The River Why, the coming of age the story of Gus Orviston, the “Mozart of fly fishing”, who leaves home to find himself –and fishing bliss–along the banks of a wild river, to be different.

“Every attempt to be as ‘green’ as possible was made during production – which means sustainable production practices were incorporated as much as possible,” she writes. “This doesn’t mean it was easy, but it does mean nearly 6000 plastic water bottles were eliminated from use and there was approximately a daily 40-50% diversion rate of solid waste.” For more information on their Green Report, visit: http://

Kristi’s quest to “green” the production of The River Why is portrayed in a documentary also screening at the Ashland Independent Film Festival and the Dallas International Film Festival. Directed by Miranda Bailey (Executive Producer on THE SQUID AND THE WHALE), GREENLIT follows the production of The River Why as the filmmakers attempt to keep an environmentally friendly set, thanks to the supervision of a “green” consultant. What starts off with great enthusiasm quickly devolves in this insightful and hilarious film about the difficulties of living up to good intentions. View the trailer here.

You can purchase tickets to the World Premiere of The River Why at the Dallas International Film Festival on April 14th at 7:30pm and April 15th at 7:00pm.

You can also catch a Special Preview “Thank you, Oregon” screening of The River Why at the Ashland Independent Film Festival on April 9th at 12:00noon and April 10th at 6:oopm.

March 30, 2010

Meet the Cast: Amber Heard

Eddy, played by Amber Heard, on set of "The River Why".

Amber Heard plays “Eddy”, the feisty fish-loving girl that catches the eye of Gus (played by Zach Gilford) in The River Why.  Ms. Heard is a rising star who played the lead role (and title character) in All the Boys Love Mandy Lane, which debuted at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2006.  Ms. Heard is also the female lead in Pineapple Express, opposite Seth Rogen and James Franco, and The Informers, with Billy Bob Thornton and Wynona Ryder.  She is currently starring with Johnny Depp in The Rum Diaries and with Nicholas Cage in Angry Driver.

You can catch the The River Why at the Dallas International Film Festival (April 14 & 15, 2010) or the Newport Beach Film Festival (April 23, 2010). There are two Special Preview “Thank You, Oregon” Screenings at the Ashland Independent Film Festival (April 9-10).

Stay tuned for more festival and screening announcements!

March 29, 2010

Meet the Director: Matthew Leutwyler

Director Matthew Leutwyler directs the camera on the set of "The River Why".

Matthew Leutwyler was born in San Francisco where he studied film at the San Francisco Art Institute. Leutwyler’s first feature film was the black comedy Road Kill, produced on a $180,000 budget. The Daily Variety called Road Kill “A breezy entertaining ride… A jaunty trip with a good balance of dark comedy and legitimate drama.˝ The San Francisco Metropolitan called it ˝Clever˝ and the London newspaper, The Mirror, called it ˝A Four Star Classic!˝ Road Kill premiered at the Santa Barbara International Film Festival where it won the Audience Choice Award for best feature film. As his follow-up, Leutwyler wrote, directed and edited the more personal romantic comedy This Space Between Us. The film˝s ensemble cast included Jeremy Sisto, Poppy Montgomery, Alex Kingston, Vanessa Marcil, Taylor Negron, Erik Palladino and Garry Marshall.

Leaving The Bay Area and moving to Los Angeles, Leutwyler co-founded the production company Ambush Entertainment. His first film for the company was the award winning comedy-horror-musical Dead & Breakfast starring Jeremy Sisto, Erik Palladino, Portia DiRossi, Jeffrey Dean Morgan and Ever Carradine. Since then Ambush has executive produced The Academy Award nominated drama The Squid & The Whale, and produced the sexually charged comedy The Oh In Ohio starring Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, and Danny DeVito, the horror sci-fi Unearthed (also directed by Leutwyler), and the Matthew Broderick drama Wonderful World. Most recently Leutwyler has produced the comedy Lower Learning with Eva Longoria Parker, Jason Biggs, and Rob Corddry and directed the adaptation of the acclaimed novel The River Why starring Zach Gilford, Amber Heard, and William Hurt.  He is currently directing Answers to Nothing, starring Dane Cook and Elizabeth Mitchell.

Outside of his career as a filmmaker, Leutwyler has worked as a mentor with the Los Angeles based non-profit The Fulfillment Fund and as an industry professional volunteer working with East Los Angeles youths on short film productions for the Youth Employment Internship Program (YEIP).

Matthew Leutwyler on set with Zach Gilford and William Hurt.

Directors Statement:

Upon high school graduation I left on a trek to Australia and took along with me a softcover copy of The River Why. It was my constant companion on an adventure that included working on a dairy farm and fishing the various rivers and streams of Victoria’s high country. I must have read the book four or five times over the course of my journey, identifying closely with Gus’s departure from his home in pursuit of happiness in the wilderness. The book remained a favorite of mine over the years since I returned so naturally when the opportunity came to direct the film version it was a dream come true.

March 26, 2010

April 23 Screening at Newport Beach Film Fest

The Newport Beach Film Festival announced our screening time for The River Why.  So far we have one screening scheduled for Friday, April 23 at 6:00pm.  For more information, including how to purchase tickets, please visit their web site.

That’s three film festivals and counting!  Please leave comments for where you’d like to see The River Why next and we’ll do our best to add it to our festival submissions list. Thanks!

What’s your Favorite River?

Zach Gilford and Amber Heard fish on location in Oregon.

I recently read an article in the Oregonian that chronicled the simple pleasures of a Winter afternoon on the Nehalem River, in Northwestern Oregon.

It made me think about the many rivers I grew up playing in and fishing in—I grew up just north of Tillamook, OR (a.k.a. “The Land of Many Waters”) so I had lots to choose from—and it made me curious to hear what your favorite rivers are.

My younger sister went fishing last June with her then-boyfriend and came back engaged.  It’s not every day a girl finds a diamond ring in a tackle box, so I’m pretty sure the Lewis River racked up some serious points in her book!

You don’t need to give away any family secrets, but I’m curious: What is your favorite river and why is it special?

Please add your comments to the blog and feel free to add a picture to our Facebook Fan Page.



World Premiere at Dallas Int’l Film Festival

We are pleased to announce that The River Why will premiere at the 2010 Dallas International Film Festival. Screenings are currently scheduled on April 14th and 15th at 7:00pm. For festival, schedule and ticket information, please visit the DIFF website.

We look forward to seeing you there!

March 25, 2010

Fly or Worm?

Zach Gilford on set of "The River Why".

“The difference between fly fishers and worm dunkers is the quality of their excuses.”


Fly or Worm?  It’s an age-old debate and one that may not be resolved any time soon.

“Fly fishing is possibly one of the oldest fishing techniques, the first reports date back to the early 1700′s,” Marcel Bernard writes, and “many fishers consider fly fishing as an art.”

“There is a big difference between casting a line with traditional fishing techniques and fly fishing techniques,” Bernard continues. “With traditional fishing the weight of the bait or lure leads the line in the water. The fly fishing fly is too light to lead the line into the water and it needs to be done a different way. The line is thrown onto the water and the stream sends the fly to the exact place where the angler wants it to be.”

This debate is personal for Gus, the main character and narrator of The River Why. His parents, while deeply loyal to each other, are polar opposites:  his father is a famous fly fisherman and his mother is a down-to-earth plunker of worms.  Their opposing views on how to catch a fish are the source of turmoil and hold the secret to a family myth about the famous catching of Najinsky.

Gus tries to keep peace in the family by becoming an expert at both forms of fishing, but throughout the film he becomes “the Mozart of fly-fishing.”

So where do you fall on the fly vs. worm debate? Leave us your comments. We look forward to reading them.


March 24, 2010

Special Preview “Thank You, Oregon” screenings in Ashland

As a special thank you to the state of Oregon, the producer of The River Why is offering two Special Preview “Thank You, Oregon” screenings at the 2010 Ashland Independent Film Festival. The screenings are scheduled for:

  • Friday, April 9 at 12noon
  • Saturday, April 10 at 6:00pm

For screening and ticket information, please visit the Ashland Independent Film Festival website.

Thank you, Oregon!

Meet the Cast: Zach Gilford

Over a montage of rivers and water, Gus Orviston, the hero and narrator of the The River Why, is born with this observation:  “The surface of the earth is 30% land and 70% water.  A newborn baby is composed of 70% water and 30% everything else.  I guess this means that life and water are inseparable.”

Zach Gilford fishing on "The River Why".

This observation is re-enforced by his upbringing.  His parents, while deeply loyal to each other, are polar opposites:  his father is a famous fly fisherman and his mother is a down-to-earth plunker of worms.  Gus tries to keep peace in the family by becoming an expert at both forms of fishing.  He becomes not only the Mozart of fly-fishing, but he also saves a small trout struggling in a polluted stream with the thread from an old coat.

Gus, played by Zach Gilford, on set of "The River Why".

Zach Gilford plays “Gus Orviston”.  Mr. Gilford stars as Matt Saracen, the backup quarterback turned football hero, in NBC’s critically acclaimed drama, Friday Night Lights.  He appears in the soon to be released: Post Grad Survival Guide starring opposite Alexis Bledel, Michael Keaton and Carol Burnett directed by Vicky Jenson (Shrek) for Fox Atomic. Mr. Gilford recently completed Dare with Emmy Rossum and Alan Cumming.  He has also appeared on Law & Order: SVU.  Zach graduated from Northwestern University and spends his free time leading backpacking, ice climbing and diving expeditions in Alaska, New Zealand and Australia.

March 23, 2010

The River Why

The River Why is the story of a Gus Orviston, the Mozart of fishing, who leaves his big city home in rebellion from his family to live in a secluded cabin on the banks of a wild river.  Instead of finding fishing bliss, his desolation drives him on a reluctant quest for self-discovery.  Most of all, The River Why is a love story: the love of a man for the wilderness, and for the beautiful woman who comes to share it with him.

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  Contact: Kristi Denton Cohen c/o Peloton Productions
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