Rich Copley: Creator of Lexington's Harry Dean Stanton Fest credits The Kentucky for igniting a passion for film

rcopley@herald-leader.comJune 6, 2014 

Lucy Jones has been active in numerous area film endeavors including the Lexington Film League, Friends of the Kentucky Theatre, and founding the Harry Dean Stanton Film Festival, which will have its fourth edition June 13-15, 2014. She was photographed in the Kentucky Theatre on June 3, 2014. Photo by Rich Copley | staff.

RICH COPLEY — Lexington Herald-Leader Buy Photo

  • IF YOU GO

    Harry Dean Stanton Fest

    What: Fourth annual film festival celebrating the West Irvine native and celebrated actor.

    When: June 13-15

    Where: Various venues

    Learn more: Harrydeanstantonfest.org

    SCHEDULE

    Cool Hand Luke (1967). Starring Paul Newman. Part of Fountain Films on Friday. Dusk June 13. Triangle Park, Broadway and Main St. Free.

    Repo Man (1984). Co-starring Emilio Estevez. 12:01 a.m. June 14. Kentucky Theater, 214 E. Main St. $6.

    Christine (1983). Based on Stephen King's novel, directed by John Carpenter, who grew up in Bowling Green. 2 p.m. June 14. Central Library Farish Theatre, 140 E. Main St. Free.

    Escape From New York (1981). Co-starring Kurt Russell, directed by Carpenter. 7 p.m. June 14. Farish Theatre. Free.

    Escape will be followed by a party featuring a salute to the 1970s and '80s CBGBs scene in New York performed by Palisades. About 9 p.m. June 14. The Green Lantern, 497 W. Third St. $5.

    The Missouri Breaks (1976). Starring Jack Nicholson and Marlon Brando. 2 p.m. June 15. Farish Theatre. Free.

    Dillinger (1973). 7 p.m. June 15. Kentucky Theater. $7.

    ■ After the screening, Stanton and Michelle Phillips will discuss the film, their 40-year friendship and their careers.

    ■ Tickets to an afterparty at The Bar Complex, $60, are available at the festival website.

It all started here for Lucy Jones.

Settled into a seat near the front of The Kentucky Theatre, Jones recalls that her early years as a film fan took shape in the historic Main Street movie house.

"When the theater reopened, it hit me at that exact, right, formative age," Jones, 37, says recalling the theater's return in 1992 after suffering extensive fire damage. "I was 15, and I started to come to everything, here. I remember seeing Repo Man earlyas a midnight movie. I remember seeing every single screening of Roadside Prophets the week that it ran. I just remember becoming obsessed with film via The Kentucky Theatre."

For a few years, Jones thought she would parlay that obsession into a career in the movies. She studied film at Emory University in Atlanta and then worked for a film publicity and marketing firm there. After a few years, she moved to Los Angeles and tried to break into film production.

But that is where she made a discovery.

"I realized that really wasn't what I wanted to do, that my interest in film was more as a spectator," Jones says. "I didn't really want to see how the sausage was being made.

"I didn't want to be part of the process. I just wanted to appreciate the magic."

When she came back to Lexington in 2009, she quickly found there was a lot of stuff for a film enthusiast to do beyond just buying tickets.

Jones, whose occupation is running an online vintage clothing shop, got involved in the Lexington Film League, drawn in by founders Sarah Wylie VanMeter and Kiley Lane. She soon created an event that is solidifying its place as a Lexington perennial: the Harry Dean Stanton Fest, celebrating the West Irvine native, University of Kentucky graduate and celebrated film actor.

The event's fourth edition next weekend marks a huge milestone: It's the first one that will be attended by Stanton himself.

Jones credits the event's other celebrity guest, actress and musician Michelle Phillips, with talking Stanton into attending. Since the first fest in 2011, Stanton, 87, maintained that he was flattered by the event but no longer liked to travel.

So, the event has had other guests who performed with Stanton, including actor Crispin Glover. Jones says persuading those featured guests to come has not been difficult because Stanton is widely loved by his collaborators.

Through her work with the festival, Jones has built a relationship with Stanton, always reporting to him how it has gone, but she had given up on him actually coming.

Replying to news of this year's festival and Phillips' attendance, Jones says Stanton called her and said, "I'll put it on the back burner," which is what she says he has told her every year.

"But I guess Michelle followed up and told him she would love to have him here, and he moved it to the front burner," Jones said.

Stanton and Phillips will attend Sunday night's screening of the 1973 film Dillinger, which starred Muhlenberg County native Warren Oates in the title role. Phillips played Dillinger moll Billie Frechette, and Stanton was his associate Homer Van Meter. Stanton and Phillips will participate in a question-and-answer session after the screening and attend an after-party at The Bar Complex.

Jones says a number of venues, particularly the Farish Theatre at the Central Library, have been instrumental in the festival's success. But The Kentucky Theatre is always the site of the weekend's big event

This year, Jones will get to show Stanton and Phillips the newly renovated Kentucky that she had a hand in supporting as part of the Friends of the Kentucky Theatre.

"She gets things done," Kentucky Theatre manager Fred Mills says of Jones. "I think she's seen how things are done in places like L.A. and wants to make things a little more cosmopolitan here."

Jones, the daughter of former Kentucky Gov. Brereton Jones, says she was asked to work with Friends of the Kentucky by one of its members, former Vice Mayor Isabel Yates, but is reluctant to take much credit.

"We haven't had to ask for much," she says, sitting in the new theater chair that has Stanton's name on it. "People have come to us wanting to help."

Love of The Kentucky Theatre is something Jones shares with a lot of Central Kentuckians.

Rich Copley: (859) 231-3217. Email: rcopley@herald-leader.com. Twitter: @copiousnotes.

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