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Calling it a “love letter to Sedona,” Mackenzie Phillips and Glenn Scarpelli talked about the joys and challenges of making a new movie that debuted at the Sedona International Film Festival.

The film, “Sacred Journeys,” premiered on Thursday, Feb. 25, at the Sedona Performing Arts Center with a second showing [which is sold out] set for Saturday, Feb. 27. It was shot entirely in Sedona in less than a week.


“We are really, really proud of this movie,” Scarpelli said to members of the media, noting the first time he and Phillips saw the finished product was over milk and a plate of cookies while sitting on her bed.

The two starred together on the television show “One Day at a Time” and have been close friends ever since.

Scarpelli said the film is the story of his character Marco, a Jeep tour driver who is depressed. That is until one day when his old friend Tiff [Phillips] shows up with his 13-year-old son Luke [Matthew Kosto]. Some surprises occur and Marco finds himself waking up to a new start and transforming his life in a new relationship with love.

The film is directed by Tracy Boyd, who served as a co-producer and second unit director on such films as “The Descendants” and “Sideways.” It also co-stars Stephen Wallem, one of the stars of the TV show “Nurse Jackie.”

Being that they knew going in that they were making a short film [it’s 45 minutes long] they treated it almost like an episode for television, which takes about a week to complete.

“We did a week of rehearsing in L.A. before we started because we knew we would only get one or two takes per scene,” he said.

Being that they were on a tight budget, Scarpelli said he called in favors from his friends and businesses not only in Sedona but Los Angeles in order to get this project finished. They filmed everything on private property including several scenes at his own house. And since they were not able to get permits to film on U.S. Forest Service land, they improvised. There is a scene where his character is showing visitors petroglyphs at Palatki Ruins. In reality, that was filmed on a friend’s property off Lower Loop Road in which the petroglyphs were drawn on rocks by friends of his.

“People talk about something being a labor of love — this truly was a labor of love,” Phillips said, smiling.

The fact that it is just 45 minutes wasn’t by accident. The film is not only being picked up for mass distribution but is also being shopped around Hollywood as a potential television pilot. Both said they’d be interested in doing a series. However, Phillips said she isn’t ready or willing to give up her day job as a substance abuse counselor in California, but added that she’s sure she could juggle both.

Both said that there needs to be more outlets, like the SIFF, for independent filmmakers in this day and age where $100 million film budgets have become the norm.

“It gives truly talented people an opportunity,” Scarpelli said. “People seeing independent films has grown so much in recent years. They [independent filmmakers] can tell these wonderful stories that may not have been told if they were made by the studios.”

Phillips agreed and added, “Plus, it’s an opportunity for people to build careers and a body of work.”

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