Pursuing an Independent Track

When he realized he wasn’t going to play professional baseball, Gary Lundgren ’93 began pursuing his other dream: writing, directing and producing independent films.

Recruited as a baseball player, Gary found a new passion at Westmont: English classes.

“I loved reading books, writing papers, and learning to think for myself,” he explains. He also discovered theater and wrote a play that his roommate, Chip MacEnulty ’93, directed.

Although he was a longtime movie fanatic who made crazy videos for school assignments and church projects, Gary had never thought about film as a career. But by the time he graduated from Westmont, he had decided to go to film school at Art Center School of Design in Pasadena, Calif. He married Anne Malmberg ’95, a Westmont volleyball player, and moved south.

“I learned a lot in a year at Art Center, but it was an expensive program, and I thought I could get more experience by putting my money into making a film,” he explains. Gary and Anne returned to Santa Barbara and started saving money.

In 1995, they made a full-length feature film. “Lithium” tells the story of a young woman suffering from manic-depression, which reflects the serious subjects Gary wants to explore. He wrote the screenplay and directed the 16-millimeter movie; Anne produced it. Marketing the movie was difficult. Eventually, Showtime in Australia bought the film, and it appeared on television there.

“It was a great learning experience,” Gary said. “I decided to do it myself rather than wait for someone to give me an opportunity. I guess that’s the athlete in me. But getting a film released theatrically is very difficult without a high-profile cast.”

Making “Lithium” allowed Gary to work in Hollywood. Commuting from Santa Barbara, he became an assistant editor for a children’s television show, where he got experience behind the camera and directed several episodes. Then he turned to editing, working on the film “Without Limits” and spending a day recording dialogue with John Travolta for the film “Mad City.” But the daily drive was too much, and he decided to focus on his own film and video work in Santa Barbara. Meanwhile, Anne became director of project management at Openwave Systems in Santa Barbara. “She loves this job — it’s the producer in her,” Gary laughs.

Gary has started a small company, Broken Sky Productions. He recently directed a music video for Buellton, a band featuring Westmont alumni Tad Wagner ’94, John Nygren ’94, and Eric Herzog ’93. The video appears on the Web sites filmguerro.com (a record label run by Scott Douglas ’94 and John Askew, son of Westmont art Professor Tony Askew and his wife, Barbara) and BrokenSkyProductions.com.

Gary’s most recent screenplay finished in the top 30 (out of 1,200) in the 2000 Slamdance Screenplay Competition, and he continues to write. “I feel my scripts are improving,” he notes.

Gary will be shooting an ambitious short film later this year and still dreams of another feature in 2002. “I want to tell unusual and inspiring stories. Films that examine the human condition with honesty and a sense of humor. Hopefully the next feature will be in a theater near you.”

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