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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April 6, 2010

Meet the Cast: Kathleen Quinlan

Kathleen Quilan on set with WIlliam Hurt in "The River Why".

Kathleen Quinlan plays Zach Gilford’s mother in The River Why.  Ms. Quinlan made her film debut in George Lucas’ 1973 nostalgic look at the early sixties, American Graffiti. She has appeared in over 50 films, but is best known for her roles as Deborah in  I Never Promised You a Rose Garden for which she earned a Golden Globe nomination for Best Actress, and for her Golden Globe and Oscar nominated role as Marilyn Lovell in 1995′s Apollo 13.

Kathleen plans to join us for the World Premiere of The River Why at the Dallas International Film Festival April 14, 2010.

You can also catch Kathleen’s performance in The River Why on:

We’ll announce more screenings as the confirmations arrive.  Thanks for all the support!

April 5, 2010

First Review: “‘The River Why’ is lovely, under-stated filmmaking”

April 5, 2010–The Easter Bunny delivered some “egg-cellent” news yesterday!  Our first write up by the Ashland Mail Tribune.

Journalist Bill Varble wrote:

It’s heartening to see the overall quality of the work being done by independent filmmakers around the world. That quality will be on display in our little corner of the world, as the annual Ashland Independent Film Festival gets under way Thursday.

The big little indie fest this year again boasts some extraordinary films among its 81 entries. And almost everything is at least worth seeing. Contrast this with a typical week’s crop of Hollywood commercial fare, which often leaves you scratching for a movie worth seeing.

Here are some thumbnail reflections…

“The River Why,” feature, 101 minutes

Producer Kristi Denton Cohen waited 20 years to make a beautiful film based on David James Duncan’s iconic coming-of-age fishing novel set in Oregon, and the wait was worth it. Gus Orviston, 20, leaves his fishing, bickering parents’ home to live in a cabin on the river and order his life so that he can fish 141/2 hours a day.

Gotta be bliss, right? Wrong. He’s soon frustrated and lost. But the right guides turn up at just the right moments as Gus moves toward awareness.

This is lovely, understated filmmaking. Director Matthew Leutwyler wisely lets his camera and his actors, including the eye-popping Wilson River near Portland, (this is one of those stories in which the environment is a character) tell the story. When it looks this easy, you know it was hard work indeed.

Although the cinematography is stunning, the producer says it’s still a work in progress, and she allowed it to be shown as a thank-you to Oregon. The final version will reportedly be yet more beautiful.

To read the rest of Varble’s reviews, please click here.

Also appearing at the Ashland Independent Film Festival is “Greenlit”, the behind-the-scenes documentary of The River Why‘s attempt to “green” the film production. The 12:00 noon April 10th showing of “Greenlit” will be followed by a panel discussion including “Greenlit” director Bailey and “River Why” green consultant Lauren Selman. Bill Vabler suggests “The ideal would be to see ‘[The] River Why,’ then see ‘Greenlit,’ then stay for the discussion.” We agree, Bill!

You can catch The River Why at 12:00noon on April 9th and 6:00pm April 10th. Get your tickets here.

The Ashland Independent Film Festival runs Thursday, April 8, through Monday, April 12, at the Varsity Theatre and other Ashland locations with 81 films, plus parties, awards and special events. Most showings are $10. See for more information.

UPDATE: While you’re at the AIFF, here are a few other events you may enjoy:

  • “Reel Women” Panel with Producer Kristi Denton Cohen: 10:30am, April 10, 2010.
  • “It Ain’t Easy Being Green” Panel, following the screening of “Greenlit“, which documents The River Why’s attempt to “green” its film production: Screening starts at 12:00noon, April 10, 2010

Both events listed here:

We’re coming to Athens, Ohio

This just in:The River Why will screen on April 23, 2010 at the Athens International Film and Video Festival. The screening is currently scheduled for 5:00pm.  More information, including how to purchase tickets, coming soon.

Not in Ohio? No problem. You can catch The River Why‘s

April 2, 2010

Who said fishermen don’t have a sense of humor?

I saw a vast array of April Fool’s jokes played out on Facebook and Twitter yesterday–married friends changing their status to “single”, then being caught by their wives; HootSuite announcing that is was going to start beta testing a 3D version–but one of my favorites was a blog post by Tom Chandler on The Trout Underground: Fly Fishing’s Independent Voice. Chandler seemed to take a page out of The Onion on April 1, 2010 when he wrote “Underground Breaking News: Even Trout Think Fly Fishing’s Whole ‘How To’ Genre Way, Way Overdone“.

The seemingly endless desire on the part of fly fishermen for detailed “how-to” fly fishing articles has riled the world’s trout, whose contempt for anglers has reached a boiling point.

“You’d think that sooner or later they’d get it, and just get their *sses out the door and go fly fishing,” said one Rainbow Trout, who refused to identify his location out of fear that “every noob with a bobbicator would show up and start setting the hook at the end of each drift – just like they’d read”…

Chandler goes on to “interview” more trout, but a Westslope Cutthroat trout sums it up best when he said,  “Do you sad, pathetic losers really need an article outlining strategies for untangling your leader?… I’m surprised Dr. Seuss isn’t fly fishing’s leading writer,” before getting distracted by something shiny and swimming off.

To read more of Chandler’s post, please visit The Trout Underground.

And while you’re in the fishing mood, be sure you get your tickets to The River Why:

April 1, 2010

Behind-the-Scenes of “The River Why” Green Program

The River Why was managed and produced by Steel Head Films, based out of Marin County, California. Shot on location in Portland, Oregon, the filming took place in areas surrounding Portland, Wilson River and neighboring communities over a 1-month period from June – July 2008.

The River Why was a small size production of approximately 100 people incorporating small crews, cast, extras and other resources including Location & Unit Crews, Production Office, Transport and Logistics, Special Effects, Art and Construction and Catering Services.

The producers of the film made a commitment towards sustainable production practices, so throughout the project, Steel Head Films and Ambush Entertainment granted Reel Green Media consultants access to key departments, shooting locations, waste management monitoring and water management. The outcomes of the green filmmaking program are detailed in a Green Report.

The green program concentrated all departments with an emphasis on water systems and recycling management. Improvements for reducing, reusing and recycling waste types and quantities were recommended for having a smaller carbon and waste footprint. Key changes included:

  • using a film-less digital camera
  • using Biodiesel, bikes and carpooling for transportation
  • serving local/organic food and sharing the leftovers at the end of the day
  • scouting fewer locations
  • and, occasionally, encouraging the crew to camp on location when possible!

As a result, there was approximately a daily 40-50% diversion rate of solid waste throughout the production of The River Why.

The quest to “green” the production of The River Why is portrayed in GREENLIT, 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). Check out 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 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.



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