In honor of National Coffee Day, Local LA Roaster and makers of family-crafted Don Francisco’s Coffee share three great coffee tips and some fun tidbits!
We tapped Lisette Gaviña Lopez, a fourth generation coffee roaster and marketing director for F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. the coffee roaster her grandfather founded over 50 years ago.
What makes a great cup of coffee?
Some don’t give a second thought to what goes into their daily cup of coffee. It’s enough to know that you just need a cup or two, or three, to get you through the day. But what goes into making a great cup of coffee? Lisette breaks it down to the basics:
“Coffee has two ingredients, coffee and water, so it’s important that these two main ingredients be high quality. You can’t take bad quality coffee and make it good. So be sure to use high quality coffees like those made with only 100% Arabica beans and also make sure that the water you use is free of visible impurities or any odors. For example, Don Francisco’s Coffees are all made with 100% premium Arabica coffee sourced from the world’s finest growing regions, including Latin America, East Africa and Southeast Asia from countries such as Colombia, Brazil, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Hawaii, Ethiopia and Indonesia among others.
Coffee is an agricultural product. It’s actually the seed of a cherry that is grown on a bush. It’s mostly picked by hand and goes through a fermentation process to remove the skin. But to develop the flavors and aromas of the coffee for brewing you have to roast it. At our zero-waste-to-landfill roasting and packing facility in LA, we produce more than 40 million pounds of coffee each year from the finest selection of 100% Arabica beans, each meticulously roasted to their peak flavor, and then packaged for consumers, foodservice partners and private-label customers. Attention to quality and consistency is also an important part of this process for us. But from a consumer perspective, your senses of smell and taste are also very important in identifying great coffee. Good coffee should be highly aromatic and smell sweet and floral, and even fruity, taste rich and flavorful with a good balance of strength, body and acidity.
What is the best way to store coffee?
Lisette says: “Keep it fresh and airtight.” This is a common question and many have their own take on it, but the best way to keep coffee fresh is in an airtight container and storing it in the freezer. But, if you’re drinking a few cups daily, you won’t have to worry about your coffee lingering around for too long. It’s also important to buy fresh coffee from the get go – whether at your local store or online retailer.
Another thing that people may not think much about is the role of packaging, which serves to protect the coffee, maintain its quality, and lock in freshness and flavor. Don Francisco’s Coffee bags are flushed with nitrogen and made with a foil barrier film and a built-in patented one-way valve system to limit any exposure to oxygen and keep our coffee fresh! For Don Francisco’s Coffee bags, the valve is that little button-like imprint with the castle on the front of the bag. Some may have noticed these little valves on the front of their coffee bags too. I’m proud to say that my family’s company, F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. pioneered the introduction of the one-way valve that is still used in every Don Francisco’s Coffee bag today. Pro tip: You can gently squeeze the bag and the valve releases the aroma to smell the coffee before you buy it.”
How do we preserve coffee for future generations?
In recent years there has been a growing interest related to coffee and sustainability and the fragile journey from seed to cup. It’s important to understand what sustainable practices are required to ensure that we never run out of coffee. After all, what is the world without coffee in it?
Lisette says: “If you care about coffee, you have to care about the environment. Caring for the environment is at the cornerstone of our family tradition and 150 coffee legacy – after all, the earth gives us coffee. Coffee is one of the most popular beverages in the world, with more than 450 million cups of coffee consumed daily just in the U.S. That’s a lot of coffee to be produced every year, and the only way to get more is by growing it.
As a family and a company, we are committed to great coffee from seed to cup, and beyond – sustainability plays a big role in that. We’ve operated a zero waste to landfill plant for years, but are always looking for ways to innovate to meet the changing needs and preferences of our customers, while looking for new ways to minimize environmental impact.
Our company’s Direct Impact™ Initiative was built on the belief that promoting sustainability practices in our business decisions has a direct impact on the lives our coffee touches. But our business and community initiatives aren’t enough on their own; the consumer is a critical part of this process. This is why we partnered with recycling company TerraCycle to recycle packaging from two F. Gaviña & Sons, Inc. brands, Don Francisco’s Coffee and Café La Llave which includes espresso capsules, single serve coffee pods (K-cup-style), and coffee bags.
Consumers can recycle bags and pods in four easy steps. To participate, register for the Coffee Bag and Pod Recycling Program at terracycle.com/gavina, collect your used bags and pods, print prepaid shipping labels, and mail in eligible items directly to TerraCycle for recycling. The Coffee Bag and Pod Recycling Program also gives participants the opportunity to donate to select charitable institutions based on points earned for recycling.
In addition to taking advantage of any recycling program, I encourage coffee lovers to find new ways to reduce, reuse, and recycle all coffee products. Cups, capsules, bags, cans, and coffee grounds can also be upcycled in a variety of ways. Used coffee grounds can be reused to create homemade body scrubs, and even added to the soil on flower beds. In fact, our cans of Don Francisco’s Coffee can be repurposed to make beautiful pots for plants. And, because the cans are made of steel, they can also be recycled through most municipal curbside recycling programs.”
Lisette Gaviña Lopez – Coffee Expert
I‘m sure we can all agree that 2020 & 2021 have been difficult. What made it a little easier for me was stumbling upon Ana Lilia’s online breathwork class. During lockdown, Ana’s Saturday morning class became the highlight of my week. Sometimes, Ana starts her class 10 minutes early, with an uplifting, freestyle dance session, and the moment I see her lovely, smiling face appear on my screen, I feel better. And the music! Ana’s thoughtful playlist is somehow always spot on. In fact, I get so much out of her class, that I asked if I could interview her for SoCal Magazine so that our readers can benefit from Ana‘s healing, too. Here is Ana Lilia‘s insight into breathwork and I highly recommend you give her class a try—you won’t regret it.
1. Why did you start doing breathwork and how long have you been doing it?
I came across a breathwork class 6 years ago during a time in my life where I was depressed, my anxiety was at an all time high and I was feeling lost. I attended a breathwork class, not knowing what it was. During the class, we focused on active breathing for 30 minutes. My body responded in ways I didn’t expect. Not only did my hands cramp up — I started crying. It was so strange to me because I’d never had that kind of reaction before. But it was just the kind of release that I needed. In what felt like an instant of clarity, everything looked and felt different to me. The world felt brighter and lighter. I felt more alive than I’d felt in a long time. Most importantly, I was filled with a sense of empowerment that hasn’t left me since. From that moment on, I knew that breathwork was going to save my life. Shortly after, I decided that I wanted to learn how to facilitate a breathwork session and introduce it to as many people as possible who live with anxiety and depression. I want the world to know about how powerful, transformative and healing breathwork is.
2. What is breathwork?
Breathwork is an active form of meditation where you manipulate your breath to change the way you feel. There are many different types of breathing techniques. And yes, our body knows how to breathe naturally, but a lot of times we aren’t breathing properly. This can create an imbalance in the oxygen and carbon dioxide exchange. That imbalance can contribute to anxiety, panic attacks, and fatigue. Have you noticed that when you’re anxious, you tend to take shallow, rapid breaths from your chest, and you may even start to hyperventilate? This increases your heart rate and creates muscle tension. Your sympathetic nervous system becomes activated, and there is a surge of adrenaline and cortisol alerting your body that it needs to protect itself.
The breathing technique I use is a two stage pranayama breathing pattern. You take a first inhale from your diaphragm, a second from your chest and then you exhale. It’s a circular breathing technique, where as soon as you exhale, you inhale right away. This breathing practice can help you release tension from your body, clear your mind, and you can also have a deep healing session. Breathwork helps you feel more in control of your emotions and grounded as we navigate these stressful times.
One of my specialities is working with people who suffer from anxiety. Many of my clients would share with me that they have panic attacks often or they have been suffering from anxiety for a long time. I created a program with guided breathing meditations to help them manage their anxiety. The biggest thing I help them with is getting to the core of why they are stressed out. This awareness gives them the power to respond instead of reactivating whey they are getting triggered. They feel like they are in control of their life again. And have practical tools they can use when they are feeling stressed out.
3. Can anyone join your breathwork classes?
Yes! Everyone is welcomed in my breathwork classes. I created Community Gathering
right at the start of the pandemic as a way to support my community through the fear and anxiety we were all experiencing due to Covid-19. The isolation was very triggering to many people, and having a safe place where we could meet virtually became something they could look forward to and be reminded that they are not alone in how they feel. Several people have told me that Community Gathering literally saved their life during the pandemic. It’s a diverse community where people from all over the world join to breathe. We have teenagers who breathe with their parents, our oldest community member is in her 90s and we have everything else in between.
4. How much is it?
As a way to make it accessible to most people, Community Gathering is a sliding scale ticket starting at $10 – $35.
5. How does music play into your class?
Music is a HUGE part of my breathwork classes. My playlists are intended to take my clients on a journey. Every song that I pick tells a story with the lyrics that will resonate with my clients. The song may have them remember an experience or it might encourage an emotion to express more easily. I let my intuition create the playlist. I tap into the energy of my client or the group, and know instinctively if the song is right or wrong for the group or the person. And sometimes, we move so much energy before we go into the active breathing that I’m playing DJ on the spot to better support them while they are breathing. You can find hundreds of my breathwork playlists on my Spotify and Apple Music profiles.
6. What experiences have your clients shared with you that touched you the most?
My clients have had deep transformational healings. After a short amount of time working with me they unpack trauma, disappointments, anxiety and other stressors. They are left feeling refreshed, renewed and empowered. And by doing this deep healing work, it also helps them manifest and get aligned with their goals. My clients have manifested their dream homes, new jobs, launched business, attracted a partner…and this is because they are more confident, they know their worth and are open to receive.
7. What is the most common reaction people have when doing your class?
They can’t believe how different they feel after breathing. The tension their body was holding onto is gone. They gain clarity on why they were stressed. It helps them gain awareness about their thoughts and how it affects their anxiety and overwhelm. That awareness helps them feel back in control. and they know they can change the way they feel by connecting with their breath.
8. What do you have coming up next?
I’m hosting a Fall Retreat the first weekend of November in Los Angeles. I also started hosting monthly in-person events at the beach. To learn more about my offerings you can visit my website www.analilia.net. If you are interested in meditations to help you manage anxiety you can find my 7-day program at www.feelcalmtoday.com And I’m also on Instagram @_ana_lilia
Coffee is an all-season drink that can be enjoyed year round with each season presents fitting recipes to indulge in. So while the summer season smolders on, maybe you want your cup of coffee to both pick you up and cool you down. If that‘s the case, here’s what to know about cold brews versus iced coffees.
While both are served cold, chilled over ice, their difference lies in the brewing method. For coffee connoisseurs, this makes all the difference.
The Cold Brew Truth
The name really says it all. Cold brew coffee begins its brewing process with steeping coffee grounds in cold water for twenty four hours. This process and time retains the solubles in the coffee, rather than dissolving them in heat or boiling water while also releasing qualities that attribute to the taste of the coffee with a more sweet and smooth finish and notably less bitter. It tends to be served with ice to balance the stronger flavor of the coffee.
Iced, Iced Coffee
There is far less mystery in an iced coffee. For this drink the coffee is brewed traditionally and served over ice. It is recommended to allow the coffee to cool down before it is mixed with ice to avoid watering it down or diluting the flavor. For iced coffee lovers who enjoy this drink at home, consider freezing your favorite coffee in ice cubes to use in your iced coffee in lieu of regular ice cubes.
Keep Cool with Your Cup
However you prefer to cool off with coffee, you can’t go wrong with either of these choices. Don Francisco’s Coffee, and its varieties of flavors and brews, are made only with 100% Arabica Coffee from some of the world’s best coffee-growing regions to ensure you are getting the best quality coffee in your cup. If you’re trying cold brew for the first time, try out this refreshing recipe below.
Cold Brew at Home
WHAT YOU NEED
- 1 Don Francisco’s Coffee Organic Cold Brew foil pouch (2 pitcher packs inside)
- 1 glass pitcher with lid
- 4 cups of cold filtered water (for steeping)
- 3 cups of cold filtered water (for diluting)
STEP 1: MIX
Open the foil pouch and gently place 2 pitcher packs into a glass pitcher. We recommend a large, wide, airtight pitcher with a lid.
STEP 2: ADD WATER AND STEEP
Pour 4 (8 fl oz) cups of cold filtered water into the pitcher and close tightly with the lid. (It’s normal for pitcher packs to float). Place your pitcher into the fridge for 24 hours.
STEP 3: REMOVE PITCHER PACKS
Grab the cold brew from the fridge and carefully remove the pitcher packs to avoid tearing. Add 3 (8 fl oz) cups of cold filtered water to the pitcher.
STEP 4: SERVE
Pour into a tall glass with ice, or skip the ice for a bolder taste. Enjoy!
Don Francisco’s Coffee Tip: Cold Brew stays fresh for up to seven days in the refrigerator. For a stronger brew, add less water in the final dilution step.
GIVEAWAY! — Let’s celebrate Summer & Coffee together.
Enter to win a special prize pack of Don Francisco’s Coffee.
1. Follow @donfranciscos
2. Share why you love and need coffee.
3. Tag a friend who shares your love for coffee.
*Only comments on this post that include a tag will be considered.
Giveaway closes on Sep 30th at 11:59 PM PST. We will randomly select a winner on Oct 1st 2021.
Valid only in the US.
And visit our Facebook Page to say hi too 🙂
OC PARKS PRESENTS THE 2021 SUMMER CONCERT SERIES AND SUNSET CINEMA FILM SERIES
Sick of being cooped up? Then come celebrate summertime outdoors with 10 free concerts + 13 free movie screenings at OC Parks June 18 – September 10
June & July bands and film titles announced, August & September details to be announced soon
(Orange County, Calif.) – The County of Orange and OC Parks are pleased to present the 2021 OC Parks Summer Concert Series and Sunset Cinema film series and announce details for the June and July dates. Details for the August and September dates will be announced soon. All events will include free parking with food and drink available for purchase. Spend summer evenings in a family-friendly environment with free live music and movie screenings at parks across Orange County.
OC Parks Summer Concert Series returns with free outdoor concerts on Thursday evenings beginning June 24 from 5 – 8 p.m. Enjoy live music under the summer sky at Craig Regional Park, Mason Regional Park and Irvine Regional Park.
The concert series kicks off with Flashback Heart Attack on June 24 at Craig Regional Park in Fullerton, followed by fan favorite local artists including Uptown Funk, Surf’s Up, The Fenians, Queen Nation, and Tijuana Dogs.
Additional concert event details for August 5 and 12 at Mile Square Regional Park and August 19 and 26 at Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach will be announced soon.
OC Parks Sunset Cinema film series brings family-friendly movies to the big screen at your favorite regional parks on Friday nights starting June 18. Grab a drink and a snack and get cozy for a screening under the stars at Craig Regional Park, Carbon Canyon Regional Park, Yorba Regional Park and Mason Regional Park. Guests of all ages are invited to enjoy recent favorites and popular classics throughout the summer. Event site opens at 6 p.m. and movie begins at approximately 8 p.m. after sundown.
Friday night films kick off on Friday, June 18 and include The NeverEnding Story (1984), How to Train Your Dragon (2010), Independence Day (1996), Dolittle (2020), The Sandlot (1993), Toy Story 4 (2019), and Willow (1988).
Additional movie night event details for August 6 and 13 at Irvine Regional Park, August 20 and 27 at Laguna Niguel Regional Park and September 3 and 10 at Bluff Park at Salt Creek Beach will be announced soon.
“The County of Orange and OC Parks are thrilled to present outdoor events to the community once again,” said Supervisor Andrew Do, Chairman of the Orange County Board of Supervisors. “Enjoying a free concert or movie with friends and family is a wonderful way to celebrate the summer and enjoy our parks across the County.”
OC Parks Summer Concert Series and OC Parks Sunset Cinema film series are entirely outdoors and will be held in accordance with the most current guidance from State and local health agencies. All events are open to the public of all ages and free to attend with free parking. Food trucks and booths will be available for delicious bites and beverages. Gather friends and family and enjoy free concerts and movie screenings this summer with OC Parks.
OC Parks Summer Concert Series
Thursday nights, 5 p.m. (Event starts at 5 p.m., live music begins at 6 p.m.)
Date: June 24
Concert: Flashback Heart Attack @ Craig Regional Park
Date: July 1
Concert: Uptown Funk @ Craig Regional Park
Date: July 8
Concert: Surf’s Up @ Mason Regional Park
Date: July 15
Concert: The Fenians @ Mason Regional Park
Date: July 22
Concert: Queen Nation @ Irvine Regional Park
Date: July 29
Concert: Tijuana Dogs @ Irvine Regional Park
August event details to be announced soon.
OC Parks Sunset Cinema Movie Series
Friday nights, 6 p.m. (Event starts at 6 p.m., movie begins at sunset)
Date: June 18
Movie: The NeverEnding Story (1984) @ Craig Regional Park
Date: June 25
Movie: How to Train Your Dragon (2010) @ Carbon Canyon Regional Park
Date: July 2
Movie: Independence Day (1996) @ Carbon Canyon Regional Park
Date: July 9
Movie: Dolittle (2020) @ Yorba Regional Park
Date: July 16
Movie: The Sandlot (1993) @ Yorba Regional Park
Date: July 23
Movie: Toy Story 4 (2019) @ Mason Regional Park
Date: July 30
Movie: Willow (1988) @ Mason Regional Park
August and September event details to be announced soon.
The statistics for chronic illness worldwide are going through the roof. Degenerative diseases are cropping up in younger and younger people and, at this point, nearly half of all Americans suffer from at least one chronic disease. On top of this, Covid-19 emerged and has us all thinking about our health. Now we all want to know how to boost our immune systems and get healthy. The problem is that the primary degenerative diseases are directly connected to malnutrition and toxins we take in by eating toxic foods, drinking toxic water and breathing toxic air. We released 84,000 synthetic new chemicals into the air in 2020 alone, and we’ve depleted our soil of vital microbes, bacteria and fungi by spraying chemicals and over farming. Okay, so now that we’ve contaminated our earth and our bodies are suffering, are we screwed? Sounds grim, doesn’t it
Well, here’s something you should know—actually everyone needs to know this: chronic disease can be reversed by eating the right food. Plus, your immune system gets a big boost when you eat the right food. Well, what is the right food?
The answers are discussed in the documentary, “Farmacy of Light”— A Quantum Leap in Healing. This film, by Ryan Wirick, is his follow up to the popular documentary “Need to Grow”. Farmacy of Light follows Erik Cutter as he introduces us to his high performance urban farm company, Alergria Farm and teaches us about regenerative soil and how incredibly important that is for not only our health, but for the health of our planet. The optimized soil biology results in superior nutrient dense vegetables, salad greens, fruit, flowers and medicinal herbs.
Erik Cutter, who has over 35 years experience growing food using natural, nutrient-dense techniques and is a leading pioneer in developing the use of hybrid food production technologies says it perfectly:
“We have to stop fighting nature and start working with her…and learn her.”
Luckily, I’m fortunate enough to know Erik personally, and when he offered to make me dinner, I jumped at the opportunity. Why? Because I know that at Erik’s house everything he serves is pure health. And true to form, Erik had a bowl full of freshly picked, nutritious “amazingness” standing ready when I arrived. The “amazingness” is a salad that includes Romaine lettuce, Fennel, Avocado, Yellow and Orange Calendula, Nasturtium, Lemon and more, all grown at Alergria Farms with regenerated soil and without any chemicals. Erik had also prepared a flower/herb tea blend tea that helps strengthen resilience and protects you from colds, flus and viruses. The freshly harvested ingredients include: Ginger and Turmeric root, ground black pepper, Indian blanket, Yellow and Orange Calendula, Yellow Cosmos, Nasturtium, Oregano, Parsley, Celery, Kale, Red-veined Sorrel, Garlic, Lemon and Lime—basically, an Elixir of Health.
Erik and the team from “Farmacy of Light” are committed to getting the word out that healthy soil equates to healthy plants, and healthy plants equates to healthy humans. Add to this that Climate change is upon us, so developing new urban food production systems to grow profitable urban farms using drought resistant farming techniques is imperative.
Another well respected, forward thinker featured in the Farmacy of Light is Dr. Zach Bush. “Plants are the delivery system for the sunshine,” says Dr. Zach Bush. “It is like eating light. We need the sun. Eating healthy plants is like eating sunlight.”
Indeed, while having my amazing salad at Erik’s home, I felt as if I was eating light and good health. My body was getting all the nutrients and minerals it needed to heal. Don‘t you want that, too?
You can visit Alegria Farm in Irvine at the Great Park, or sign up for a class, or boost your energy and improve your health by eating the cleanest, just-picked greens and vegetables from Alegría Fresh. If you’re not near Irvine, California, then make sure you watch “Farmacy of Light” when it is released in August 2021.
Instagram: @alegriafarms. @theneedtogrow
Pure and Potent Skincare.
In the summer of 2019, while in Madison, Wisconsin, Shona Gupta went swimming in a lake. Right after her swim, Shona developed an angry red rash on her face and quickly went in search of something to put on her skin to help calm it down. There weren’t many store options to choose from, and Shona landed up with some topical CBD oil. Although she says the oil smelled bad, the efficacy of the CBD oil blew her away. Of Indian heritage, and with a lineage of fabulous skin, Shona started thinking.“Since my grandmother and my mother had great skin, I wanted to include their skincare regime into Western culture. I wanted to put Indian Beauty on the map and make a unique combination of Indian wisdom and CBD science.”
And thus, by the summer of 2020, Shona had launched a new beauty brand—Maharindee. In Hindi, “Maha” means great and Indira (which Shona abbreviated to Indee) means beauty. Indee also represents an independent spirit.
When I came across The Change Maker, I was skeptical as I have sensitive skin with a tendency to Rosacea flare ups. I was worried this product might aggravate my skin. The very opposite happened. The Change Maker, which is an oil (and oil is recommended for Rosacea, so I only use oil to moisturize) made my skin feel silky soft and calmed down the red. I love it! Both products are non-comedogenic, and good for all skin types, probably because they’re made with centuries-old Indian skincare ingredients including amla fruit, argan kernel, bergamot, lemon, ylang ylang, fennel, and lavender, as well as natural plant-based super stars such as vitamins B5, B3, E and C. And to top it off, Maharindee products contain 100mg of broad-spectrum CBD which brings its extraordinary antioxidant properties and anti-inflammatory response. FREE of toxins, sulfates, parabens, mineral oils, phthalates, soy, gluten, SLS/SLES, Formaldehyde, aluminum, fragrance, and artificial dyes, the CBD is non GMO, grown without pesticides, and farmed with organic practices in Minnesota.
Sounds good to me.
THE CHANGE MAKER
Super Serum $70
Each transformative drop nourishes skin with a powerful blend of pure CBD oil and vitabotanicals to calm, correct, brighten, and balance.
For a limited time you can get all 3 products for $165 and SoCal Magazine readers can get a further 20% off. Use the code SoCal20 when ordering.
Maharindee also gives back and believes that beauty, business, and doing good, are not mutually exclusive. That’s why they donate a percentage of every purchase to organizations that advocate for girls and women. Maharindee currently supports Room to Read’s “Girl’s Education Program,” an organization that helps adolescent girls around the world stay in school by promoting girl-friendly learning environments.
Face Moisturizer $65
A super absorbant, anti-oxidant, rich blend of vitamins C, E, B5, B3 and pure CBD oil – magically plumps and hydrates, restoring a radiat youthful glow to the skin
In November 2019, beekeeper Ted McFall was horrified to discover that 60,000 of his honeybees had been had their heads severed and their hive wiped clean. He had no clue as to what kind of creature was behind the carnage, until a looming threat provided him the answer: the Asian Giant Hornet. This dangerous, new, and invasive species has made headlines across the nation since its arrival in the U.S., specifically the Pacific Northwest, where the first nest was discovered in Blaine, WA. The all-new feature documentary, ATTACK OF THE MURDER HORNETS, by filmmaker Michael Paul Stephenson (Best Worst Movie, The American Scream) launched on February 20 on discovery+. It centers on a concerned crew of beekeepers and scientists who must work together to protect their quiet Washington community from the threat of the Asian Giant Hornet, known famously today as the “Murder Hornet.” The documentary is part of Discovery’s UNDISCOVERED, the Discovery documentary strand that explores some of our greatest mysteries, potentially rewriting the history books along the way.
“Murder Hornets” use their enormous mandibles to behead every honeybee they catch; a single hornet can behead 20 bees a minute, and a small group of hornets can destroy a hive of 30,000 bees in just 90 minutes. The danger of the hornet in the U.S. threatens our fragile food supply, putting the livelihood of honeybees — the world’s most important pollinator of food crops — at risk. A threat to a honeybee is a threat to all of us.
Interview with SAMANTHA SMART – Editor of ATTACK OF THE MURDER HORNETS.
How did you come to work on this project?
I’ve been working with the director, Michael Paul Stephenson, for the better part of a decade now. He and I have such a great collaborative relationship, so when he asked me to move up to Washington to help him make a movie about murder hornets, I didn’t hesitate.
So you actually went on location for this shoot? Were you living with the crew?
I did move up to Bellingham, WA for this project which is somewhat unusual for an editor, or at least it is for me. Normally they would finish or get most of the way through the shoot before I come in, but with our original schedule being so tight, I began editing the first day they started shooting, so me being on location was crucial. I lived in a house that doubled as the post facility with two other crew members – John Lang, a producer on the film, and Rich Wong, the cinematographer. As an editor, I don’t always get to meet the crew. Rich, for example, I’ve been working with for years on many different projects, but I hadn’t met him in person until this project. I certainly didn’t expect our first meeting to be us living together for months, but it was incredibly fun. The whole crew was great and I’m really glad I got to spend time with them.
Did you ever get to see any actual murder hornets?
One day while I was working, the crew came by and called out, “we’re putting some hornets in the fridge so don’t bump the jar they’re in!”, then they left. I slowly snuck into the kitchen and opened the refrigerator and there they were! Two murder hornets just chilling in a jar. Not too many people can say they’ve had murder hornets in their fridge.
That sounds scary! Did anything else scary happen while you were there.
I wasn’t too scared of the murder hornets, but on night one in the new house there was the biggest spider I’d ever seen in my bedroom. It was my first time meeting John and Rich so I was pretty embarrassed that I immediately had to ask them to help me kill a spider. I think they thought I was being a baby, but when Rich came in he actually thought I was playing a prank on him and had bought a fake spider from a Halloween store. We tried vacuuming it up and it was literally stronger than the vacuum suction. It clung to the carpet for dear life but eventually the vacuum got it. And actually, over the course of this documentary I’ve come to appreciate and respect insects more, and I honestly regret killing that spider. But probably the scariest thing that happened while I was there, has to do with the podcast I host called Too Scary; Didn’t Watch. I love horror movies, so each week I watch one, then recap it for my co-hosts that are too scared to watch. Well, there were a few times that I was home alone when the rest of the crew was staying in Olympia for a shoot, and on one of the nights that I was home alone, I had to watch Paranormal Activity 2. In Los Angeles, I live in a tiny little apartment surrounded by other apartments, but now I was in this big empty, secluded house in the Pacific Northwest, and wouldn’t you know it, there was a thunderstorm that night. I don’t know if I’ve ever been so scared. I kept thinking, “Is this how regular people feel when they watch scary movies? This is horrible!”
Speaking of horror films, Attack of the Murder Hornets definitely has an element of horror to it, was that intentional?
– Yes, from the beginning we kind of imagined it as “a horror film meets Christopher Guest.” One of my favorite horror tropes is the killer’s POV shot, and we got some amazing hornet POV shots using a small drone. I think it’s a really fun device that adds suspense but also a bit of comedy. We also used a lot of horror movies as inspiration for the score. I used temp music from things like It Follows, Stranger Things and The Rental.
The music in this is great.
Our composer, Julian Cisneros, is INCREDIBLE. The first time I heard his finished score, I cried. I think he did such amazing work.
How did Covid impact the shoot?
We had to take weekly Covid tests, and of course there’s the fact that in a large percentage of the footage, people are wearing masks. That actually turned out to be kind of a blessing as an editor, as it’s a lot easier to cheat certain coverage if we need to.
How did you edit together footage when you had no idea what would be happening the next day?
It was certainly a challenge! Basically my process was to watch and log each day’s dailies, and keep thorough notes of what stood out to me as important story points, or good character moments. Part of the problem was that these characters were so compelling that there was an incredible amount of great footage. However, we realized pretty early on that the main driving story was going to be the hunt. So the million dollar question was – are they actually going to find a nest? We were always hopeful that they would, but at a certain point you have to start making backup plans and start asking – ok, how do we end this movie if they’re not successful? So you’re basically playing out various scenarios in your head and trying to plan as best you can for each (while hoping and praying for the one you want!) I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say I’m very happy with the way it all ultimately panned out.
What was your favorite scene that didn’t make the final cut?
Like I said, the people featured in the film were so awesome that there was definitely a surplus of great footage. There were many scenes that we ended up cutting, but a favorite of mine would be a scene at Sven’s home. He’s the Chief Entomologist and he showed us his insect collection, then his young daughter showed us hers as well. It was a very sweet and heartwarming scene, but as we started leaning further into the horror/suspense aspects of the film, it just felt out of place. And I should add, that was not a scene I edited. As we got deeper into the shoot, it became clear we needed a second editor and so we brought on a very talented editor, Eric Martin. So shout out to Eric for editing my favorite deleted scene!
Your editing helps the film move at an urgent pace and keeps viewers glued to the screen. Can you tell us more about that?
There were times when this felt almost like a heist movie. You’ve all these people each with specific roles – Chris Looney leading the charge, Vikram assisting with the tech, Ruthie Danielsen and all the citizen scientists helping them cover more ground. There is a real urgency to what they’re doing, and the stakes are incredibly high, not to mention it’s all happening under intense public scrutiny. We wanted the audience to feel that urgency and root for these dedicated individuals. Normally I edit at a much slower pace and give things room to breathe, but for this we wanted to keep it moving as quickly as possible and keep viewers on the edge of their seats.
How do you feel about the hornets after learning about them everyday?
I’m definitely less scared of them then I was before this project. That goes for insects in general. Seeing how these entomologists just love insects and spend all their time with insects made me feel less grossed out by bugs and more fascinated by them. And while I obviously think the murder hornet, a.k.a. Asian Giant Hornet, does not belong in North America and must be eradicated, I also don’t think we need to have nightmares about them swarming and killing humans. Unless you stomp on their nest, you probably have nothing to worry about.
You can watch the trailer here
PEN America stands at the intersection of literature and human rights to protect free expression in the United States and worldwide. PEN America champions the freedom to write, recognizing the power of the word to transform the world. Their mission is to unite writers and their allies to celebrate creative expression and defend the liberties that make it possible. Show your support by attending the PEN America Virtual Gala on Dec 8th and offering a donation. This promises to be a profound and power-packed event!
This year, the PEN America Gala will merge their annual New York Literary Gala and Los Angeles LitFest Gala into one national, virtual celebration on December 8. This digital program will be a crucial moment for the PEN community to stand together in recognition of the deserving honorees and to fortify PEN‘s mission at a time of extraordinary needs and demands. The fight for creative expression is so important, now more than ever and PEN hopes you can join for a unique, one-night-only event to toast to human rights and the power of words.
Featuring Patti Smith, Darnella Frazier, Marie Yovanovitch, Frank Bennack Jr., Spike Lee, Bono, Emma Thompson, Madeleine Albright, and JUST ANNOUNCED: former U.S. President Barack Obama. All registrants receive a free Audible credit.
Tuesday, December 8, 2020
6:30pm ET / 3:30pm PT: VIP Virtual Reception
7:00pm–8:00pm ET / 4:00pm–5:00pm PT: Gala Livestream
Register for the 2020 PEN America Virtual Gala
As part of this year’s virtual celebration, former U.S. President Barack Obama will receive PEN America’s Voice of Influence Award and sit down for an author-to-author interview with Ron Chernow.
100% of every dollar raised goes directly to support PEN America’s mission: to celebrate free expression and defend the liberties that make it possible.
Obama served as the 44th president of the United States…
Bennack Jr. is executive vice chairman of Hearst, one of the nation’s largest private companies. . .
Smith is a writer, performer, and visual artist. She gained recognition in the 1970s for her revolutionary merging of poetry and rock. . .
Xu, an established organizer and lawyer, has been an integral member of China’s most important civil rights movements over the last 20 years. . .
Yovanovitch is a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. A career member of the Senior Foreign Service. . .
Frazier is the quick-thinking and dauntless young woman who filmed the murder of George Floyd.
Madeleine Albright Joan Baez
Bono Ron Chernow
Steven J. Corwin Spike Lee
Soledad O’Brien Steve Swartz
Film executive, founder of The Black List, and PEN America Trustee
Penguin Random House • Frank A. Bennack Jr
Audible, Inc. • Pamela and Peter Barbey • Lawrence B. and Elyse Benenson
Roxanne Donovan and Tom Scarangello • Facebook • Elizabeth Hemmerdinger and Alix L.L. Ritchie • Margaret Munzer Loeb • The Muriel Pollia Foundation • Anya Salama and Albert I. Salama • Andrew Solomon and John Habich Solomon
Colette and Daniel Bennett • Kimberly Blank • Jill Braufman and Daniel Nir • Murat and Beth Bugdaycay • Bridget Colman • John Chao • Discovery, Inc. • Embrey Family Foundation • Sarah, Sheree, and Jerry Friedman • Google • Hachette Book Group • Holly Peterson Foundation • Tracy Higgins and James Leitner • Zachary Karabell • Sean and Mary Kelly • Sandra Leong • Alexandra Munroe • Gwyneth Paltrow and Brad Falchuk • Arnold & Porter • Aidan Donnelley Rowley • Seedlings Foundation • Katrina vanden Heuvel • Suzy Wahba • Robie Harris • Marvin & Keri Putnam • Latham & Watkins
Mila Atmos • Ted and Helen Boustrous • Amanda Bennett • Leslie Belzberg • Abigail E. Disney • Jeanmarie and William Fenrich • Patricia Fili-Krushel • Miranda Heller • Elizabeth R. Koch • Macmillan Publishers • The Marc Haas Foundation • Evangeline Morphos • The New Yorker • Katia and Christian Oberbeck • ReaderLink • Chip Rosenbloom • Simon & Schuster • Sydney and Stanley S. Shuman • WarnerMedia • Waterman Interests, LLC
Tom Healy and Fred P. Hochberg • Nancy Rubin • Scholastic, Inc. • TIME Magazine
Gala Committee Co-Chairs
Markus Dohle • Roxanne Donovan • Sean Kelly • Anya Salama • Jamie Wolf
Dennis Abboud • Mila Atmos • Pamela and Peter Barbey • Elyse and Lawrence B. Benenson • Colette and Daniel Bennett • Kimberly Morgan Blank • Jennifer Finney Boylan • Beth Bugdaycay • Bridget Colman • Aidan Donnelley Rowley • Patricia Duff • Jeanmarie Fenrich • Sheree and Jerry Friedman • Judith Greenberg • Miranda Heller • Elizabeth Hemmerdinger • Tracy Higgins • Zachary Karabell • Cindi Leive • Sandra Leong • Margaret Munzer Loeb • Yvonne Marsh • Jay McInerney • Alexandra Munroe •
Claire Paull • Holly Peterson • Michael Pietsch • Marvin Putnam • Theresa Rebeck • Alix L.L. Ritchie • Andrew Solomon • Katrina vanden Heuvel • Suzy Wahba • Jamie Wolf
THE QUEEN’S GAMBIT (L to R) MARCIN DOROCINSKI as VASILY BORGOV and ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON Credit: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020
The Queen’s Gambit, a Netflix TV mini-series, is a fictional story (adapted from Walter Tevis’ 1983 novel of the same name) that follows Beth Harmon (Anya Taylor-Joy), as she strives to become the world’s greatest chess player. Set in the mid-1950s through the 1960s, we start our journey with Beth at an orphanage, where, with the help of the janitor (Bill Camp), she discovers and develops her astonishing talent for chess. As her chess skills flourish, so does a growing dependency on the tranquilizers that are provided by the state to sedate the children. As a young adult, haunted by personal demons and grief, while burdened with the gift of genius, Beth navigates her social awkwardness amongst peers and her overconfident ego behind a chessboard. Fueled by a cocktail of narcotics and obsession, she evolves into an impressively skilled and glamorous outcast, determined to conquer the traditional boundaries in the male-dominated world of competitive chess.
The Queen’s Gambit is the newest binge pleasure that has everyone shouting out praise.
The New Yorker : “The Queen’s Gambit” Is the Most Satisfying Show on Television.”
USA Today: ‘One of the Best Shows of 2020’
Indie Wire: ‘Beyond an Impeccable Anya Taylor-Joy, Netflix’s Tricky Ploy Pays Off’
Chicago Tribune: Irresistible coming-of-age drama
And it deserves all the accolades because The Queen’s Gambit is simply stunning: the set design, the costumes, the lighting, the superb acting, the masterful direction, the detail – all the thought and care that went into making this series culminates into a richly, layered, authentic tone that leaves us wanting more. As Nora Dominick from BuzzFeed wrote: “Basically, I wish there was some way for me to erase The Queen’s Gambit from my mind and watch it all again because I don’t want it to be over“. I one hundred percent agree. This series is a pleasure-thrill to watch.
The Queen’s Gambit explores not only addiction, unresolved grief, and emotional suffering but also gender parity and sexism. We’ve had woman-power movies before, but what is unusual here is that Beth Harmon is attractive to the audience for her brainpower. We’re not rooting for her because she’s hot, or because she is saving the world for us, no, we find ourselves mesmerized and impressed by her sharp-witted, super-charged, neuron-firing brain. Given how America is embracing this show, could it mean that audiences are hungry for more substantial stories? Are viewers growing weary of the dumbing-down of America? Could the response to The Queen’s Gambit be a sign that we want mainstream media to clever-up? Smart is sexy, always has been – let’s bring brainy back. I feel inspired. And quick side-note, chessboard sales have sky-rocketed since the debut of The Queen’s Gambit.
ANYA TAYLOR-JOY as BETH HARMON Photo Credit. KEN WORONER/NETFLIX © 2020
The series is directed by Scott Frank, who also created the series with Allan Scott. And loud shout out to Gabriele Binder for costume design and Uli Hanisch for set production. Stunning work. The cast also features Thomas Brodie-Sangster, Moses Ingram, Harry Melling, Marielle Heller, Jacob Fortune-Lloyd, and Marcin Dorocinski.
Cover Photo Credit: PHIL BRAY/NETFLIX © 2020
The holidays are happening in Santa Monica
! Restaurants, retailers, and businesses are offering an array of festive, physically-distanced attractions and charitable food and clothing drives to give back to the community this season. From free holiday art installations at the iconic Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier, socially-distanced Santa Claus photos at Santa Monica Place and festive dining and shopping along holiday-trimmed streets like Main Street, Montana Avenue, and Pico Boulevard, Santa Monica continues
to shine through the holidays while keeping the community safe and healthy.
Self-guided holiday art installations will light up the Third Street Promenade and Santa Monica Pier for the season in partnership with the City of Santa Monica’s Cultural Affairs Art of Recovery initiative. The program is dedicated to funding projects by local artists and highlighting the important role arts and culture play in recovery efforts as they strengthen and connect Santa Monica. Both installations are free and open to the public.
Santa Monica Pier
will welcome another LA icon, the Bob Baker Marionette Theater
, and their precocious puppets for a one-of-a-kind retrospective. The “Windows of Wonderment” art installation will bring marionette magic to the historic merry go-round and celebrate the theater’s most memorable moments and charismatic characters in six puppet-packed windows from Wednesday, November 25 – Thursday, January 7. Visit SantaMonicaPier.org for more details.
Winterlit holiday art installations and festivities will light up Downtown Santa Monica
all season long Friday, November 27 – Sunday, January 3. Third Street Promenade will glow under tens of thousands of lights illuminating festive outdoor retail and dining, as well as eleven different holiday-inspired storefront art installations created by a variety of Los Angeles-based artists. The official City of Santa Monica 24-foot-tall tree and festive garland will deck the Promenade and a new holiday-inspired augmented reality experience will allow guests to transform physical structures, spaces, and trees along the Promenade into holiday elements and decor. For more information, visit DowntownSM.com
Miracle on Main Street returns this December with free festive tidings including two iconic holiday trees, roaming carolers and socially-distant visits from Santa with help from the Santa Monica Fire Department on select weekends in December. The world-famous 40-foot-tall Shopping Cart Tree featuring 84 shopping carts, 1,500 lightbulbs and held together with 4,000 tons of zip-ties will be lit up for the 26th-year in a row inside the Frank Gehry-designed Edgemar building and the beloved 13-foot tall Noble fir will stand tall over Main Street on the Heritage Museum lawn to welcome holiday shoppers and diners beginning December 5. For more details, visit MainStreetSM.com
Festive photo moments will be in full swing along the holiday-trimmed streets of Pico Boulevard and Montana Avenue. Shop, dine, and make a wish for the season at Pico Boulevard’s nine-foot-tall festively lit Wishing Tree on the corner of Virginia Avenue Park beginning Saturday, November 21 and the Pico Pop Up decked out in festive decor and a spectacular window display. On Montana Avenue, children can drop off a letter to the North Pole at one of Santa’s mailboxes along the street. For locations to submit a wishing card and more holiday experiences on Pico like free professional holiday ‘paw-traits’, visit PicoPassport.com
. For more details on Santa’s mailboxes, visit MontanaAve.com
For those looking to send holiday cheer this year within the community, Santa Monica has a number of different ways to give back or get involved with volunteer opportunities including food banks, clothing and blanket drives and more. The City of Santa Monica has joined forces with Santa Monica College and its foundation on a goal to give 1,000 Santa Monica families and college students struggling with food insecurity free Thanksgiving groceries. The City is also working to bring a happy and healthy season to community members in need through its Virginia Avenue Park holiday food pantry and provide holiday meals and food boxes for families this December. For a full round up of how to donate or get involved, visit SantaMonica.gov/coronavirus-volunteer
Restaurants and retailers throughout Santa Monica have implemented a number of convenient amenities including curbside, in-store pickup and takeaway dining options to make holiday meals and shopping easier than ever. Santa Monica remains committed to the health and wellness of the community and is taking extra precautions to ensure the community feels welcome and safe this holiday season and beyond. Face masks are required in all businesses and outdoor public places. The public is strongly encouraged to celebrate the holidays with household members and maintain six feet physical distance from non-household members.
For a complete list of all of the holiday happenings in Santa Monica, visit SantaMonicaShines.com.
Santa Monica Place will also offer an array of physically-distanced, festive activities for the whole family to enjoy. Santa Monica Place is dedicated to prioritizing visitor’s health and wellness and providing safe opportunities for shopping, dining and celebration. Santa is coming to Santa Monica Place December 4 and taking residence in Center Plaza through December 24. Guests can enjoy a contactless visit with Santa, share a wish list, and take home a keepsake photo. Visit SantaMonicaPlace.com/SantaPhotos for reservations.
Sing along to holiday classics and get in the holiday spirit with a House DJ mixing hip beats with traditional favorites for the perfect holiday vibe. Next, snap the perfect photo with Santa Monica Place’s iconic 50-foot tree returning to Center Plaza with thousands of sparkling lights and ornaments, along with candy cane stilt walkers, story book characters and the new 14-foot larger-than-life Snow Globe. Shop in-person and pick out meaningful gifts for loved ones this year. Take advantage of Shop Your Way amenities including curbside pickup, virtual queuing, in-store pickup and take-away dining options available from a variety of restaurants and retailers including Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s, Coach, Nike, Gourmandise, Tiffany & Co., True Food Kitchen, The Curious Palate, Sonoma Wine Garden, The Cheesecake Factory, and more. Two convenient curbside pickup locations will make holiday shopping at Santa Monica Place easier than ever. Location 1 is on 2nd Street between Colorado and Broadway and location 2 is on Broadway at 3rd Street Promenade. Santa Monica Place Concierge is available on-demand, during mall hours, to answer questions, make reservations, assist with curbside pickup and provide general holiday shopping recommendations. Simply text (310) 499-2928 to chat with our helpful Concierge.
So that guests will enjoy their visit and shop with peace of mind, Santa Monica Place is committed to promoting public health in the era of COVID-19 and has implemented intensified operating standards to ensure an optimal retail environment. Some of these measures include enhanced cleaning & sanitizing, queuing & designated paths of travel, increased Security to require mask use & promote social distancing, and placing hand sanitizer stations throughout the property.
For more information about holiday happenings, shopping and dining at Santa Monica Place, visit SantaMonicaPlace.com/Holiday.
Cover Photo credit: Mathew Tucciarone
Don’t miss out! Happening now! The Catalina Film Festival is the only competitive film festival in the world to have an Award sanctioned by the King of Horror – WES CRAVEN.
So Cal Locals are invited to join CFF for the world’s first-ever CARPOOL CINEMA with DRIVE-THRU Red Carpet in Long Beach, CA for Friday Fright Night on Sept. 25 for the Wes Craven Horror/Thriller block of short films in competition for the Craven Award, plus a bonus, FREE screening of A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET; and Saturday Social Club on Sept. 26 featuring indie shorts and THE BREAKFAST CLUB. www.catalinafilm.org
Movie lovers that can’t make the socially-distant event can STREAM any of the official selections via the Catalina Film Channel now through Sept 27th!
CATALINA FILM FEST 10TH ANNIVERSARY – CARPOOL CINEMA + DRIVE-THRU RED CARPET
LONG BEACH, SEPT 25-26
Catalina Film Festival celebrates 10 Years of Cinema with the world’s first-ever CARPOOL CINEMA and DRIVE-THRU RED CARPET, Friday & Saturday, September 25-26, at the Scottish Rite Event Center in Long Beach.
Doors open at 6 p.m. for a drive-thru RED CARPET experience with step-and-repeat paparazzi photos and park-and-watch films. Guests will have access to food vendors with official programming piped right into your car speakers, sponsored by FilmFestivalFlix.com.
ONLY $40 per car, including one person per seatbelt. LIMITED TICKETS!
CARPOOL CINEMA TICKETS CATALINA FILM FESTIVAL – WES CRAVEN HORROR BLOCK
WES CRAVEN FRIGHT NIGHT
Friday, Sept . 25th
Drive-Thru Red Carpet at 6pm
Wes Craven Horror/Thriller Block starts at sundown. Short films in competition for the coveted Wes Craven Award: Gaslight, In the Deathroom, Mask of Sanity, Milk Teeth, Mongrel, Need Anything, One Last Thing, & Overkill, followed by a FREE bonus screening of slasher film, A NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET.
LA SOCIAL CLUB
Saturday, Sept. 26th
Drive-Thru Red Carpet at 6pm
Toast to nostalgia. First a round of independent cinema in the L.A. Social Club Shorts Block featuring films: Balloon, In Hollywoodland, Liquid, Ride in Progress, Thank you Kindly, Un Hombre Debe Aprender, and The Roommates, followed by the 35th Anniversary of John Hughes iconic film, THE BREAKFAST CLUB, starring Molly Ringwald, Emilio Estevez, Judd Nelson, Ally Sheedy & Anthony Michael Hall. LA Social Club tickets
William H. Macy & Cassi Thomson attend last year’s Catalina Film Festival—photo credit Jerod Harris Catalina Film Festival