Happy Birthday Donnie

December 7 would have been Donnie’s 67th birthday. In honor of his memory, here’s the first ever publically-released clip from the finished doc.

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The World Premiere!

My first job out of college was running a record store in Charlottesville in the early 70s. Already a big movie buff, I spent many hours at the Vinegar Hill Theatre.

In 1988, when I was reviewing for CBS-6, I went to Cville to cover the FIRST Virginia Film Festival. It was especially gratifying to have my movie premiere at Vinegar Hill on 11/3/18 for the 31st annual festival.

A healthy crowd enthusiastically enjoyed themselves (and the movie). One of the most gratifying reactions for me was from 3 youngish attendees who knew nothing about Dirtwoman before and were impressed with the film and Donnie’s story.

SPIDER MITES has been entered in a number of additional festivals all over the country with the hometown premiere at the Richmond International Film Festival in April 2019.

Photo by my longtime Cville friend Bill Emory at billemory.com











Q&A with moderator Joe Fab.


With Rita McClenney (President/CEO, Virginia Tourism) & Kirk Schroder (Schroder Brooks PLC and the projects legal advisor).

Producer Virginia Bertholet

Longtime friend Ken Clements, who came down from NYC for the screening.

First interview

I visited my old friend Don Harrison to record an interview about the doc. It’ll be broadcast Friday 10/26 on WRIR’s OpenSourceRVA. If you missed it, click on the site and you can hear a replay. That’s producer Krysti Albus below and yes, I had that Dirtwoman T-shirt made for the premiere!

I’ll be doing another interview Monday morning 11/18, 9am on Boomtown Richmond with Robyn Bentley and Jeff McKee (who’s also interviewed in the doc talking about the Song for Richmond).

BTW, tickets are still available for the Saturday 11/3 premiere at the Virginia Film Festival (click here for tickets). The show’s at 9pm at Vinegar Hill, so you could actually drive up and be home before midnite.

World Premiere!

The 31st Annual Virginia Film Festival will host the first public showing:

Saturday, November 3, 9pm

The Vinegar Hill Theatre (where I saw many great films when I lived in C’ville).

Interestingly, I was reviewing for CBS-6 when the FIRST festival happened in 1987 and covered it (complete with a Sissy Spacek interview, which I don’t still have).

Tickets go on sale Monday 10/8 at noon. I’ll be there for Q&A after the screening, so come on up!

First private screenings

A year ago today, Donnie left us for the big Hamaganza in the sky. Some of his friends and family recently had a chance to see a preview of the completed documentary.

Aimee and Alex Martin hosted some of the key crew for a lovely dinner and showing in their screening room. Thanks for their generous hospitality.

On 9/24, there was a private show for people who were featured in interviews, plus people who contributed their skills and talent or provided invaluable photos or video. Thanks to Ethan Ochis and Movieland at Boulevard Square for hosting us (and Kenny Bendheim’s yummy desserts).

Dean Owen, Debra Corker, Tammy Harris, Chris Dovi (me in the back in my Dirtwoman Tshirt).

The doc now goes to film festivals and the official RVA premiere will be announced soon.



Donnie’s own song

How many documentaries have their own theme song? Dirtwoman does!

I wanted “Oregon Hill” by the Cowboy Junkies to play under the neighborhood montage, but that didn’t work out. I was considering how to accompany several segments in the doc where I needed a song, so I proposed the idea to Barry Fitzgerald, my longtime friend and collaborator (we created 4 bands together in the 70s). A few days later, he sent me “Roses & Garlic.”

In collaboration with his band, Thing2, they created the finished arrangement. In addition to Barry on keys, it’s Johnny Hott on percussion and Jeremiah Shriver on bass.

We went to Sound of Music to record. They generously hosted the Dirtwoman Toast in 2017, so John Morand was thrilled to be involved with the project a year later! He did a great job of mixing the song (that’s him at work above).

This excerpt goes under the RVA montage early in the doc. There are additional verses for Oregon Hill and Grace Street, plus a full-length version under the closing credits (featuring Donnie dancing!).

Jeremiah Shriver

Barry Fitzgerald

Johnny Hott

Keeping Donnie on my toes!

I just got these custom socks today! Can’t wait to wear them to the premiere!

Speaking of: The first edit is done and I’m waiting for Matt Lively’s illustrations and the audio elements (sweetening, score and title song) to be completed. Hope to have all that done by August 1.