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Napa Valley Film Festival

The 10th Napa Valley Film Festival takes place November 10-14, 2021 in the four walk-able villagesof Napa, Yountville, St. Helena, and Calistoga. Each year the festival features 125 new independent films, 300+ filmmakers and film industry guests, 150 wineries, 30 chefs, and an array of culinary demonstrations, wine tasting pavilions, and special events.

The Napa Valley Film Festival is produced by Cinema Napa Valley, a registered 501c3 non-profit organization headquartered in Napa, California. The festival's co-creators (and Cinema Napa Valley Founders) are Brenda and Marc Lhormer, producers and distributors of the feature film BOTTLE SHOCK, about the historic upset victory by Napa Valley wines over the French at the infamous 1976 wine-tasting competition in Paris. BOTTLE SHOCK premiered at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival before going on to international theatrical distribution. The husband-and-wife team also ran the successful Sonoma Valley Film Festival from 2001 through 2008. In addition to producing the annual Napa Valley Film Festival, Cinema Napa Valley presents special film programs throughout the year and provides support to student filmmaking programs in Napa Valley schools. To learn more, visit


Interview with Director Shayne Lightner for 'Get Bitchy' (2019)

Interview with Director Shayne Lightner for 'Get Bitchy' (2019) at NVFF

Interview with Director Shayne Lightner for 'Get Bitchy' (2019) at NVFF

Actors Iain Sandison and Sara Spadacene

Shayne Lightner is Director/Producer/Writer, Present Entertainment. Lightner most recently wrote, directed, and produced Get Bitchy, a female stoner detective comedy feature. Get Bitchy is a female stoner detective comedy about a female cannabis-loving private eye (Amber DeCallier) who's unwittingly used in the death of a woman and partners with the brother of the woman, a bitter former CIA officer (Dwayne Bailey), to uncover a conspiracy and bring down a larger-than-life, fallen dot-com queen (Cheryl Whitman) who’s trying to corner the real estate market in Belmont Shore/Long Beach and make her way back to the top of the financial world. 

Shayne’s projects in development include All Blood Runs Red, inspired by the life of Eugene Bullard, the world’s first black combat pilot. Previously, Lightner wrote and directed a pilot (What No One Tells The Bride), three documentaries (including Minding Swarthmore, Salt And Light and Iroquois Rising, which premiered at the Museum of Tolerance International Film Festival), and various shorts and commercials. Lightner began his career at Kings Road Entertainment and was Director of Programming for Nostalgia Network, Inc., where he oversaw program acquisitions, creative development of original programs, and budget supervision. He earned a BA in Economics from Swarthmore College. 


You wrote, directed and produced the film. How long did it take you to make?

SHAYNE: I started writing this script in May 2017 with the unrealistic hope of shooting in July.  However, we were fortunately able to start shooting in November 2017 and had a completed movie by August 2019. 


It seems most people have a hard time making films these days. Is it necessary to wear multiple hats to get the work done?

SHAYNE: It’s interesting because I’m not sure that the process of making a movie is any harder or any easier than it’s always been. Technology makes it somewhat more accessible, but the truth is to make a movie just takes a heck of a lot of hard work. Even if you’ve been through it (and I’ve made multiple projects now) you still don’t realize how much work it’ll be. And honestly that’s true whether you have a big budget or no budget. You really must be super passionate about the process, not the result, which we can’t control and may not work out, but the process. Because here’s the thing: The work of making a movie is all about dealing with the challenges and unexpected surprises that come up constantly, and from the places you least expect! To be able to adapt and adjust to that constantly is the job. Because they come up everywhere, at every step of the process.  In fact, I know I’m making a movie when I start to experience those challenges.

And as in prior times, I think wearing multiple hats is advantageous in getting the work done. It’s advantageous in two ways: One, you learn. And two, you learn that you don’t need to know in order to do something. As Robert Rodriguez has said, not knowing sparks amazing creativity. And he’s right! What’s interesting is if you look into film history and all the directors that are legends and we admire today, they all, in the beginning, had to wear multiple hats and in some cases, do everything. Ridley Scott made his first movie with his brother Tony when they were both in school and Ridley wrote it, ran the camera and directed the action and Tony starred in it riding his bike. Same with Martin Scorsese, James Cameron, Frances Ford Coppola, Steven Spielberg, Quentin Tarantino and of course, Robert Rodriguez and Steven Soderbergh. In all of their first attempts at filmmaking (and in some instances, continuing to today), they wore multiple hats. And that's a good thing because that’s how you learn. When you do that, you not only learn filmmaking, you learn if you have a true passion for the process. Because if you don’t have passion for finding a way to shoot a movie with a crew of 3, it’s probably worth asking yourself if this is really your thing. It’s worth asking yourself, “Am I in this to make money or to make a movie?” Because if it’s to make a movie, and the process is exciting to you, you’re a born filmmaker.


What inspired you to write this film?

SHAYNE: I’m blessed to have found my voice as a filmmaker that I developed through making documentaries, which is that the stories I’m telling have a kernel of truth in them based on the actual physical location or setting. In other words, wherever I’ve lived, I’ve always found some inherent drama or tension in the area. It could be between people moving in versus people who’ve been living there. It could be between wealthy people versus not so wealthy people. It could be between those who are progressive, i.e. the newbies, versus those who are conservative (those who have been there).  

In this instance, my wife and I lived in a little section of Long Beach called Belmont Shore. It’s a beach community that has tension between the homeowners, who tend to be retired, wealthier types, and small business owners that serve the community, who are blue collar. And there’s a tension about control and noise and how late businesses can stay open without bothering the homeowners, etc. In addition, the community has a bar scene that serves Cal State Long Beach (Spielberg’s alma mater), so you have a third dynamic here, which are drunk college students and a lot of partying. Lastly, a lot of movies and tv shows are shot in and around the area (like CSI: Miami, Dexter, etc.) because it’s so beautiful and cinematic, but nothing’s ever been made about the area itself.

So the idea of combining a familiar genre…a detective story…with a female lead character who’s also a stoner (thus making it a comedy in the vein of The Big Lebowski) set in this area with the tensions that already exist is what inspired the story. The movie’s called Get Bitchy and it’s a female Big Lebowski with a Chinatown-esque story, that’s also ultimately a female-empowerment story about our detective who, in taking down an even more powerful woman, finally comes into her own.


Where did you film and how did you go about financing it?

SHAYNE: As mentioned, we filmed in and around Long Beach and Belmont Shore (we call it Beaumont Shore in the movie). And the key thing with this project was this: I was determined to make it with available resources. That was the whole point of writing something based on where we were. If you can tell stories based where you are with the resources you have, you’ll always be able to make movies. 

In this instance, though the donated time of those who worked on the movie was priceless, I’m proud to say we only spent $3,500 of hard dollars to make the movie. That’s half the price that Robert Rodriguez spent on El Mariachi (although in all fairness, we don’t have much gunfire or explosions in our movie). We financed it ourselves and for my first full-length feature, I wanted to do that. I self-financed the first documentary I made, Iroquois Rising, and then after that was able to raise financing for additional docs. Thus, since this was my first full-length feature, I wanted to self-finance it and make it with available resources.  


Do you have any stories from filming (good or bad) that stick out the most?

SHAYNE: Two stories stick out:  1) We had a drunk college guy recurring character who continues to get caught doing stupid, college drunk things basically on the front porch of our female main character. In one scene he’s simulating sex outside her door with someone he’s hooking up with. Remember we’re in a neighborhood. After we shot that, with the loud moans, the neighbors were like “What is going on down there!?!”; 2) As mentioned, our main character is a female stoner detective and the lead actor, Sara Spadacene, had to simulate a lot of pot hits off a vape pipe. But occasionally she would accidentally take a real hit and during one later night of shooting, she actually got pretty high!  We all had a tough time keeping a straight face at that point.


Do you have any distribution plans yet?

SHAYNE: We are fortunate in that we’ve had an offer of distribution that we’re currently exploring and working through. The deal isn’t done but we’re working on it. We’re frankly grateful for the expression of interest and it would an honor to distribute through this company.


How important is it for filmmakers to attend international film festivals?

SHAYNE: I think it’s very important for filmmakers to attend as many film festivals as they can. To me, these are my people! It’s the most natural thing in the world for me to talk about movies and the process and that’s what film festivals are! I say attend what you can.


How was your experience at NVFF?

SHAYNE: I think Napa Valley Film Festival is onto something terrific. It has two pillars that very few others have: An amazing location and all that wine and spectacular food. Combine that with the third pillar that all film festivals have…the movies…and it’s very powerful. It’s a relatively young festival that I think can be very impactful going forward.


How have audiences reacted to the film?

SHAYNE: As I mentioned, I don’t rely on outcomes but rather just do everything I’m capable of to make the best movie possible. I feel fortunate I was able to do that on this movie and I feel even more fortunate that we seem to have a movie that works. Audiences seem to like the movie. I know as well as anyone that to have that happen is a result of a lot of circumstances coming together in ways that are out of my control!  Thus, I’m grateful. And I’m glad we’ve created something people enjoy.


What will you be directing next?

SHAYNE: A female teen coming of age body-sharing comedy. It’s an empowerment story for a 17-year old girl!


Shayne’s site:


Interview by Vanessa McMahon

Here’s the trailer:


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