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Leading Ladies 

Flick Chick

Got movie ideas? Peter Beckwith could be the man to make them happen. While still a Rutland ski bum and bartender in 1988, he became a partner in David Giancola's Edgewood Studios, which turns out action-adventure movies for TV and video markets. Their association lasted 15 years, even after Beckwith relocated to his wife's home state of California in 1998.

Since leaving Edgewood, however, he has launched a new producing venture with colleague Joe Cappelletti: "I need some great ideas for upcoming pitch meetings," Beckwith says. That's insider talk for the Hollywood method of suggesting potential motion picture plots in a few sentences.

Beckwith is hunting for proposals that center on a contemporary female protagonist between 18 and 27 who is "sexy, smart, stands on her own, not saved by a knight in shining armor." Any genre except horror is OK.

Through his sideline as a life coach, 38-year-old Beckwith has made connections with prominent television executives. "I'm dealing with ABC Family and the Disney Channel," he says. "Disney may also be interested in a more kid-oriented premise."

Send no more than one paragraph to mailto:coaching@pbeckwith.com and a copy to mailto:joe@thefinalword.com, or leave a brief message at 818-842-2814. If the moguls are impressed, there's definitely something in it for you money-wise -- perhaps even a lucrative screenwriting contract.

It's baaaack. But don't look for the Arnold oeuvre in "The Spirit of Cinema" series that returns this week to the Queen City's Firehouse Center for the Visual Arts. "We prefer high-quality classics," says Ted Fisher, the marketing and public-relations guy at sponsoring Burlington City Arts.

With movies showing at 7:30 p.m. on the first and third Thursday of each month, the schedule begins July 21 with The Swimmer. The 1968 drama is based on a John Cheever short story about a man (Burt Lancaster) on an existential quest that takes him to his suburban neighborhood's pools. On August 4: Two-Lane Blacktop (1971), with James Taylor and Beach Boy Dennis Wilson as drag-racing drifters. August 18: Rockers (1978), about struggling reggae musicians (including Peter Tosh) who seek revenge against a crime syndicate. September 1: Barton Fink (1991), the Coen brothers' tale of an idealistic writer battling Tinsel Town realities. On September 15: Frank Capra's You Can't Take It With You (1938), with Jimmy Stewart, about a family of happy eccentrics. Call 865-5355 for more information.

The Future of Food is a documentary by Deborah Koons Garcia, who also happens to be the widow of the Grateful Dead's Jerry. Her 2004 expose investigates commercial tinkering with the hereditary characteristics of edible crops.

"We're concerned about our role as guinea pigs in this massive, uncontrolled experiment," says Jim Moulton of the Brattleboro-based Genetic Engineering Action Group, which invited Garcia and her film to Vermont for screenings from July 26 through 31 at various locations. (Check the Seven Days calendar for details).

Garcia, who lives near San Francisco, has directed or worked in other capacities on several previous nonfiction films -- including Grateful Dawg, about her late husband's collaboration with mandolin wizard David Grisman. On tour with The Future of Food in New Zealand last week, she emailed that the current project evolved when "I started hearing about the new biotech, which you cannot escape or 'drop out' from -- it comes to get you."

Garcia's dread of genetic engineering was initially sparked by her prize-winning science-fair experiment at age 15. "I mutated plants using a chemical and radiation," she explains, adding that her subsequent desire to avoid eating mutations prompted lifelong scrutiny of advances in plant genetics. "So, I have wanted for many years to make a film about agriculture versus agribusiness."

That opportunity came after a personal tragedy. "I worked as co-executor on my husband's estate for over seven years," Garcia writes. "When that closed, I received my inheritance and put it into the film."

A long, strange trip indeed.

Does she have another doc on tap? "Perhaps something about the soil," Garcia muses.

Two notable July 20 events in Burlington: For anyone interested in turning the waterfront's Moran Plant into a film production facility, Dennis McMahon has organized a 5 p.m. meeting at the Fletcher Free Library . . . At City Hall Auditorium, the Twelve Tribes will host a 7 p.m. screening of their documentary about the State of Vermont's 1984 Island Pond raid. A question-and-answer session with members of the Christian group will include some children -- now grown -- seized by the authorities that fateful day.

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