Pasadena contributions trickle down

Beginning its fourth year in Pasadena, the Method Fest may be undergoing growing pains, and exec director Don Franken said the event may be looking for a new home soon.

Organizers of the film festival, which celebrates breakout acting performances in independent movies, said it did not get a warm welcome from the city of Pasadena this year, having received no funding from the office of cultural affairs and only $5,000 from the development fund.

“This year after the festival, we’re going to think long and hard, and unless the city and local businesses come up with real money, then we’re going to go wherever it makes sense,” Franken said.

City contributions such as those received by California fests in Newport Beach, Palm Springs and Santa Barbara are not necessarily feasible in Pasadena, which does not bank on tourism dollars in the same way.

According to Jonathon Glus, executive director for the arts in Pasadena’s office of cultural affairs, the city donated $187,000 to the arts last year, a total that includes funding for arts education, individual artists and events like Method Fest.

“We simply can’t meet what (Franken) wants as quickly as he needs it. He’s an entrepreneur that has a great product that’s growing very quickly. He’s trying to scramble to keep it going, and it’s tough,” Glus said. “On the other hand, we really want the project here. It is exactly the type of project that this office, cultural affairs, has been really targeting.”

Franken expects attendance to double this year. At the opening-night preem of “Man of the Year,” cast and crew barely fit in the theater at the Laemmle Playhouse 7.

Fest patrons sat on the steps in the box theater as the two larger screens at the venue played Friday night runs of “Y tu mama tambien” and “Human Nature.”

“They usually move us Saturday or Sunday into the big theater once they see how their other films are doing. We always outsell just about everything else they’re showing,” said program director Elaine Wood at the after-party at the Metivier Estate.

Local patrons Christina and Roland Metivier greeted guests at the entrance as gracious hosts of Method Fest’s opening-night festivities for the third year running.

The future of the fest is still up in the air.

“We love being in Pasadena, but the bottom line is that a film festival is a very expensive event to put on,” Franken said. “Unless you have six figures in sponsorship, unless you have city support, there’s no way you can make it.”

Franken is mulling over his options. West L.A., Santa Monica, Hollywood and the Fairfax District were mentioned as possible locations for the fest.

Method Fest closed Friday with an awards ceremony at 8 p.m. at Travis Auditorium at Fuller Seminary College in Pasadena. Actor Rod Steiger was to behonored with a lifetime achievement award while casting director Mali Finn was to receive the fest’s first Heart of Performance kudos. Ceremony was to be followed by a wrap party at the El Portal Restaurant.

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