Santa Cruz Good Times

Nov 24th
Text size
  • Increase font size
  • Default font size
  • Decrease font size

Sundance Kid

ae_DougMuellerMonterey Bay Area filmmaker makes it to Sundance
You don’t have to live in Hollywood to make it in the film industry. Just ask Douglas Mueller, who’s on his way to Park City, Utah, this week for the renowned Sundance Film Festival, where the feature-length movie he co-produced, Prairie Love, will debut.

Mueller, a California State University Monterey Bay (CSUMB) alumni, and local resident, is among the respected, small cadre of filmmakers whose work will be shown at Sundance this year. The festival, founded by actor Robert Redford, can turn the names of relatively unknown films, producers, directors and actors, into movie magic. Think top contender Winter’s Bone and Jennifer Lawrence from last year’s festival.

Prairie Love is being featured in a category of films that were made for under $500,000. “The film is about three eccentric characters who are trying to find companionship in a desolate situation,” Mueller says. “A vagrant comes across a man who is ill and nurses him to health. In the process he discovers that the man was on his way to meet his pen pal girlfriend, and he reads his letters. The vagrant kills the other fellow, takes up his identity and goes to pick up his convict girlfriend.”

Prairie Love has a running time of 80 minutes and is directed by Mueller’s friend, Dusty Bias. It stars Jeremy Clark, Holly Lynn Ellis and Garth Blomberg. The story is set and was filmed in North Dakota, where Mueller went to high school. Even so, Mueller plans to film future projects in the Monterey area, where he learned the fundamentals to filmmaking at CSUMB.

“CSUMB was great for me,” Mueller says of his alma mater, where he graduated from in 2003. “At the time, there were only about 70-90 kids in the department and that meant … in every class you could pitch a project and shoot it. … My buddy went to NYU (New York University) and when we compared schools, he said that I had more production experience than he did, and I think there’s something to that.”

ae-2Clearly there is, since competition to get into Sundance is painfully stiff for filmmakers. According to the Sundance website, nearly 200 films will be screened, and that number has been whittled down from more than 10,000 entries. Securing a slot at Sundance is a highly coveted accomplishment.

“The goal is for a distributor to pick it up (buy it) … and they’ll do what they like with it,” Mueller says. “Once sold, the ideal situation is for them to release it in some theaters and then roll out a DVD and pay-per-view afterwards.”

He goes on to explain that because the film is being screened at Sundance, his team of filmmakers also has the opportunity to generate attention from people who finance, produce and distribute films, which could prove helpful with any future movies they create.

“As a filmmaker from Monterey, it’s also important to me to get the word out locally for people who love film and the arts, and want to be a part of a film made in the area,” Mueller says.

Mueller received his degree from CSUMB in teledramatic arts and technology. He works a day job as a production manager for the Carmel Bach Festival, but he has full intentions to stay in the area and invest his time in developing films locally.

“I would love to shoot a feature film in Monterey,” Mueller says. “I love it here for the climate, topography and lush scenery. It’s so photogenic to me and I relish in the opportunity to show it off. I have a Western that I’ve written for the redwood valleys and foggy hills. I’d also really like to make a film in Salinas Valley—the fields are so beautiful and the workers so inspiring. I’d also really be interested in shooting a documentary about making music at the Carmel Bach Festival.”

Mueller adds, “I feel like I can make a living in Monterey as a filmmaker. People will invest in me for my brain, not my zip code. I’m living where I want and making a living doing what I want. It has been the goal since I graduated, and Sundance is one major push in that direction.”

From Monterey to Sundance, this is one filmmaker to keep an eye on. And meanwhile, he’ll be keeping his lens zoomed in on us.

To learn more about the film, Prairie Love, visit The movie debuts at the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah this week, and will be shown Jan. 23, 25, 27, 28. For more information about the film’s co-producer, visit

Comments (0)Add Comment

Write comment
smaller | bigger


Share this on your social networks

Bookmark and Share

Share this

Bookmark and Share


Santa Cruz Gives

A look at the organizations we’re asking you to support in our new holiday giving campaign


Simplicity Preparing for Thanksgiving

When we study and apply astrology in our daily lives, we are anchoring new Aquarian thinking. Study, application and use of astrology, understanding its language, builds the new world, the new culture and civilization. Astrologers are able to plan right timing and right action. Next week is Thanksgiving (Thursday, Nov. 26). It’s good to understand the energies influencing us in the days leading up to Thanksgiving. When we know these things we are able to make Right Choices, have Right Action. We link heaven and Earth, our minds with the starry energies that influence us. Let us consider the following influences. The North Node (point in space where sun and moon meet, representing humanity’s present/future pathway) has just entered Virgo. Virgo is about food, purity, cleanliness, service, detail, order and organization. What can we learn from this? Because these energies are available to us we, too, can have intentions and a rhythm of order and organization, purity and cleanliness. Sunday, the sun enters Sag, joining Mercury (we have high ideals, many goals). Tuesday, Mercury/Saturn (structured disciplined thinking) squares Neptune (thoughts, ideas, goals dissolve away). Wednesday is 3 degree Sagittarius solar festival (full moon). Sag’s keynote is, “We see a goal, we achieve that goal, and then we see another.” We might have many plans and goals for Thanksgiving. However, on Thanksgiving those goals may be dashed. Saturn (structure) squares Neptune. All structures and plans dissolve and fall away. What is our response to this? We simplify all that we do. We plan on everything changing. We don’t fret. We adapt instead. Adaptation is the behavior of the Disciple. Sagittarius is the sign of the Disciple. 


The New Tech Nexus

Community leaders in science and technology unite to form web-based networking program


Film, Times & Events: Week of November 20

Santa Cruz area movie theaters >
Sign up for Good Times weekly newsletter
Get the latest news, events

RSS Feed Burner

 Subscribe in a reader

Latest Comments


If you could be someone else for one month, who would it be?

President Obama, so I could change a lot of laws that pertain to people in jail for drug possession and other minor crimes. Raouf Ben Farhat, Petaluma, Self-Employed



Blanc De Blanc Sparkling Wine is best shared with the one you love


Rainy Refuge

Kelly’s offers killer sliders and pumpkin pie, plus dining pet peeves and wine of the week


If you won the lottery, what would be the first three things you did?

Build a restaurant, buy a house for my mom and donate a quarter of the money to the Boys and Girls Club. Jevon Martin, Santa Cruz, Chef