New Film Title and Other Important Updates

"Ride to Heaven" from Bible Storyland, drawing by Bruce BushmanHello friends! We’re long overdue for an update for Ride to Heaven. In 2016, the creative team behind the film changed its title from Bible Storyland to Ride to Heaven: An Existential Theme Park Mystery to reach a wider audience and better encapsulate what the documentary is about.

Time Warner Cable On Demand

As of April 1, 2016, a special one-hour version of Ride to Heaven is available through On Demand from Time Warner Cable. The full length DVD, with extras, is also available for sale on our website.

Rest In Peace

Since our last update, Harvey and Stephanie have said good-bye to several important participants in the film. As it turns out, it was very fortunate that Harvey set out on his quest when he did. It would have been impossible to make the same film today, as several people Harvey interviewed, who provided essential information about Bible Storyland, have since passed on. Rev Trustan A. Hart and wife Jean, featured in "Ride to Heaven"

In 2013, Rev. Trustan A. Hart embarked on the actual Ride to Heaven. Rev. Hart was the only living participant in the Bible Storyland story whom Harvey found to interview. (He’s pictured in this photo with his wife, Jean.)

Mimi the Pig, star of "Ride to Heaven" (formerly "Bible Storyland")In December, 2013, Harvey, Debi, and their son River said goodbye to their beloved pet Mimi, one of the stars of Ride to Heaven and Harvey’s main foil. Mimi had been a gift from Debi’s good friend and fellow voice-over actress E.G. Daily in 1998. (E.G. had received Mimi when she played the role of “Babe” in Babe: Pig in the City.) Here, Mimi is looking feisty, featured on a Tokipoki trading card.

In February, 2015, Rev. Canon Malcolm Boyd also passed through the Pearly Gates. Before becoming an Episcopal priest, Rev. Boyd had been a young Hollywood movie producer who partnered with legendary actress Mary Pickford.  Stephanie Hubbard with Rev. Malcolm Boyd, featured on "Ride to Heaven"As a minister, he supported the American civil rights movement by marching with Martin Luther King and the Freedom Fighters. In the 1970’s, Rev. Boyd became one of the first openly gay priests in the United States and an activist for gay rights. He was also a best-selling author who wrote over 30 books. Harvey felt fortunate to be able to hang out with Rev. Boyd (pictured here with Stephanie) for a few hours in 2010 during his interview for Ride to Heaven.

Harvey Jordan with actor Dick Valentine, featured in "Ride to Heaven"Finally, actor Dick Valentine (pictured here with Harvey) passed away in March, 2016. Valentine had been a neighbor and good friend of Nat Winecoff, the visionary and producer behind Bible Storyland. We like to think that these dear friends have been reunited at last.

More Screenings

Since our Los Angeles premiere in 2012, audiences for Ride to Heaven have continued to grow. The filmmakers were very honored when Ride to Heaven was selected by the organizers of the 2013 Honolulu International Film Festival to receive a Silver Lei Award In April, 2013!

Honolulu Film Festival Award for "Ride to Heaven" (previously "Bible Storyland")In April, 2013, Ride to Heaven also had a screening at the United Film Festival in Los Angeles. Harvey and Stephanie were joined at the festival by Howard Simpson (first from left, below), the graphic artist whose striking black and white illustrations of the park and its creators were featured throughout the film.

United Film Festival: attendees Howard SImpson, Stephanie Hubbard, and Harvey Jordan from "Ride to Heaven" (previously "Bible Storyland")In June, 2013, Ride to Heaven was screened at the Interrobang Film Festival in Des Moines, Iowa, and in September it was named an official selection at the Burbank International Film Festival in Southern California.

 Our First Museum Exhibit

"Never Built Los Angeles" exhibit catalog from A+D Museum  ("Ride to Heaven")Bruce Bushman’s concept artwork for Bible Storyland was featured in the “Never Built: Los Angeles” exhibit at the A+D Museum (also known as the Architecture and Design Museum) in Los Angeles from July to October of 2013. This photo shows the catalog cover for this popular exhibit.

In September, 2013, the museum held a special screening of Ride to Heaven. This picture, taken at the exhibit premiere, features Stephanie, Harvey, and two wonderful fans who had flags and a T-shirt made for the event. Stephanie Hubbard, Harvey Jordan, and two Bible Storyland fans at A+D Museum ("Ride to Heaven")(Notice the fans’ T-shirt says, “I survived Jonah’s Whale, Bible Storyland” and Harvey is wearing a pig tie.)

2012 Film Festivals Recap: Part Two

Director Stephanie Hubbard, "Ride to Heaven" (formerly "Bible Storyland")In mid-October, 2012 we received a warm reception from the audiences and organizers of the Golden Door International Film Festival in Jersey City, N.J. The president of the festival, Bill Sorvino, reported that we had a great screening with very few empty seats. Bill also said his seven-year-old daughter is one of our fans! We’ve been delighted to learn that children are enjoying the film. They seem to especially enjoy the theme park concept artwork, animation, film and TV clips, and scenes with River Jordan (Harvey’s son) and Mimi (the family pig).

The following month we expressed our grateful admiration for the determined and fearless organizers of the 2012 Crown Heights Film Festival in Brooklyn, NY, who bravely held their festival (and our New York City Premiere screening) as planned on November 3, although Hurricane Sandy had ravaged the city less than one week before. Harvey had planned to attend but his flights were cancelled twice during the chaotic aftermath of the storm, so he had to skip this one.

The third annual Crown Heights Film Festival showcased a curated selection of feature length and short narratives, animations, documentaries, transmedia and family films, all held at intimate galleries and performance spaces in Brooklyn (FiveMyles, Free Candy and The Candy Rush). Some of the films were followed by live music performances.

Of all of the press we’ve received at film festivals (TV, radio, newspapers and online), we were the most honored and surprised when Bible Storyland was featured in the Brooklyn Daily Eagle on November 1, because Hurricane Sandy had devastated the city several days prior (the Brooklyn neighborhood in particular) and our screening was held three days prior to the Presidential election.

We’re grateful to all of our fans in Southern California who attended our West Coast Premiere at the 2012 Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival (HRIFF) in December, 2012! Thanks to you we had our largest screening to date at Quentin Tarantino’s New Beverly Cinema in Hollywood. To make it even sweeter, Bible Storyland won the Best Documentary Award at the festival! The HRIFF featured over 70 films from emerging filmmakers and accomplished Hollywood names (including Ron Howard) and boasted “the best in new and classic independent cinema”.

We were delighted that, at last, our film would play on the big screen in our home town (Los Angeles) so local fans, friends and family could attend! Our guests included Harvey’s wife, Debi Derryberry, a prolific voice actress who had a very entertaining and integral role in our film. Forty people stayed for the rollicking after party next door at Cayenne Cafe. Among them were the co-curators of the upcoming Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum exhibit, Never Built: Los Angeles, which will feature Bible Storyland this summer (more information to come).

A friend of our director Stephanie (who had previously seen our film on the small screen) observed that Bible Storyland works very well on the big screen, as a more immersive experience. Our documentary has the feel of a theatrical film, which is not true for all documentaries. Harvey and Stephanie fielded some great questions during the Q&A. Afterwards, Stephanie observed that our film seems to be strongly aligned with the sensibility of people in Los Angeles, perhaps more so than in other parts of the country. It was also great to have a screening so close to the intended site for the theme park in Rancho Cucamonga, CA.

Two days later Stephanie accepted our Best Documentary Award in front of two hundred people. She thanked the HRIFF for recognizing our film about a light-hearted subject (since often documentary films with heavier topics win the top prize). Stephanie also thanked Harvey for being a great collaborator and allowing her creative space as a director. She paid tribute to her father who had died the week before. As a journalist, Stephanie’s dad taught her to ask a lot of questions. His sense of amusement, humor and curiosity were reflected throughout the film.

By the date of our Southern CA premiere, Harvey and Stephanie had participated in seven radio interviews (including four on public radio). However their live, thirty-minute interview on KPFK (90.7FM, Pacifica Radio, Los Angeles) in late November was special, as it was the first time they were joined by Charles Phoenix (the retro pop culture humorist featured in our film). Charles wasn’t able to come to the studio, as he was hosting a tree lighting ceremony in Pasadena that evening, so he called in to join the interview.

Another fun fact: In between promoting Bible Storyland at film festivals, Harvey served on the judging committee for the 2012 International Documentary Association (IDA) awards, which required him to watch over 50 documentary films during the summer months. At the IDA awards ceremony in December, Harvey was fortunate enough to meet one of his heroes, Ken Burns (the Academy Award nominated, Emmy Award winning documentarian who created the popular “Ken Burns Effect” technique), whose “Central Park Five” was up for Best Film.

And that brings us up to date! Be sure to watch our Facebook page, follow us on Twitter and check out the Screenings page of our website for information about future festival screenings and other events. Thank you, as always, for your support, and for helping us to spread the word about Bible Storyland!

2012 Film Festivals Recap: Part One

Bible Storyland publicist Sheila Huettl here! It’s January, 2013, and we’re still on a high after our West Coast Premiere and Best Documentary Award at the Hollywood Reel Independent Film Festival in December.

This week I spoke with Stephanie Hubbard (our award-winning director) and Harvey Jordan (the subject of our film) to ask about their personal highlights from our ongoing film festival tour. If you read the recap of our World Premiere in San Antonio, TX (June 2012), perhaps you’re wondering: What’s happened since then?

September 2012 began with our East Coast Premiere at the Kingston NY Film Festival. Kingston is nestled in upstate New York at the gateway to the Catskills. The festival, in its inaugural year, was organized by three highly creative founders who wanted to feature “fiercely independent films” in a wide variety of formats. Harvey learned about the festival from its executive director, Asha Astrid Cybele, a friend he met while traveling with a group to India in 2009.

The festival staff reported our screening was well attended and audience members found Bible Storyland “very enlightening and educating”. Fun fact: In her early 20’s, Stephanie lived just ten miles away from Kingston in Woodstock, NY. She worked for the famous photographer Howard Greenberg, cataloging the estate of sculptor Alexander Archipenko at the behest his widow, the sculptor Frances Archipenko Gray.

The following week, Stephanie and Harvey had a wonderful adventure attending DOCUTAH 2012, Southern Utah’s International Documentary Film Festival. Located between Grand Canyon National Park and Zion National Park and known for its breathtaking red rock views, DOCUTAH was included in PBS’ list of the Top 12 Best Small-Town Documentary Festivals of 2012. Some lucky films were even screened outdoors in front of the red rock background!

Harvey’s account of traveling to DOCUTAH was reminiscent of Jack Kerouac. He began his 1,500 mile road trip from Los Angeles with a six-day stay at Burning Man in Northern Nevada. His destination was St. George in southern Utah, a small festival town where filmgoers were gracious and enthusiastic and treated him like a celebrity. During the festival, Harvey took another drive to see the magnificent views at Bruce Canyon National Park.

Accompanied by her husband and son, Stephanie headed to Zion National Park where they took fantastic photos of ancient hieroglyphs (ironically, the photos were later lost due to a modern technological glitch). Stephanie says the red rock landscapes seemed strangely familiar to her, and then she realized they reminded her of the Roadrunner and Wile E. Coyote cartoons from her childhood. She expected to hear “Beep, beep!” at any moment.  (Note: Although I wasn’t able to join Harvey and Stephanie at DOCUTAH, that weekend I found myself surrounded by the spectacular red rock landscapes of the Cars Land attraction at Disney’s California Adventure. I wished Harvey and Stephanie good luck at the festival and appreciated the coincidence that I was adjacent to Disneyland, the very park Bible Storyland was intended to rival.)

Back at the festival, Stephanie participated as a panelist in the DOCUTAH Filmmaker’s Panel for emerging filmmakers and Harvey fielded questions at the Q&A session after our second screening. The DOCUTAH executive director told Stephanie and Harvey they should meet the director of another terrific film. He introduced them to Kyle Tekiela, the director of A Sister’s Call, which later won the Best in Festival Award. Harvey and Stephanie also met the subject of Kinderblock 66: Return to Buchenwald. Alex Moskovic was a concentration-camp survivor who later became an Emmy-award winning editor while working on ABC’s Wide World of Sports and The Olympics on ABC.

After calling in for a live interview on Nevada Public Radio, Stephanie and Harvey shared a lively in-studio interview in St. George with fun-loving film critics Adam Mast and Bruce Bennett on their radio show Film Fanatics (KTIM, 95.3FM). Stephanie remarked it was wonderful to be interviewed by two enthusiastic radio hosts who had watched our entire film and loved it. Harvey also recorded a great TV interview with reporter Ladd Egan from CBS Channel 2 News in Salt Lake City. We wished CBS had been able to air Harvey’s interview in its entirety but, as we were competing with other DOCUTAH films for airtime, we felt fortunate to be one of the few films included.

At the end of September, Bible Storyland was featured by the 25th Annual Dallas Video Festival held at the Dallas Museum of Art. The Dallas Video Festival focuses on independent, experimental, and short films, as well as alternative documentaries, animation, and more. We were honored to be affiliated with such a prestigious art museum and we look forward to a similar situation this summer when Bible Storyland will be featured in an exhibit at the Architecture and Design (A+D) Museum in Los Angeles (more info coming soon!).

The Dallas Video Festival was a wonderful surprise for us, as we hadn’t submitted Bible Storyland for entry. The festival’s Artistic Director knew Stephanie through a community of documentary film directors. He saw our trailer and wanted to include Bible Storyland in the Dallas festival, although their schedule was already full. Fortunately for us, one of the scheduled films withdrew and Bible Storyland was voted in to replace it. Harvey was happy to have a second screening in Texas, the state where he was born.

Check back soon for our next blog post: 2012 Film Festivals Recap: Part Two!

Remembering Huell Howser

As we prepared a recap of our film festival tour in 2012, we thought it was important to first acknowledge and honor Huell Howser, the Producer and host of “California’s Gold” on PBS for 18 years, who passed away on January 7. Huell was known for his boundless enthusiasm for the people and history of California, for his extremely likeable, sincere personality, and for his dedication to historical preservation.

Harvey always knew Huell would be an important person to speak with about Bible Storyland, first to determine if Huell knew about the park and could provide more information, and, if not, to tell him about it. So when Harvey saw Huell seven years ago in the lobby at a live theatrical performance in Westwood, he declared to his wife Debi, “I have to ask if he knows about Bible Storyland!” True to his television persona, Huell was gracious and sincerely interested. He said it was the first time he had heard of the theme park but he’d like to learn more, and asked Harvey to send information about it.

After reviewing the package of materials from Harvey, Huell confirmed, “This is amazing. And I’ve never heard of it.” Harvey suggested they produce an episode of “California’s Gold” (PBS) about Bible Storyland. Huell’s producers felt that since the park was never built there wouldn’t be enough for Huell to show and do on camera, even if he visited the site in Rancho Cucamonga which was intended for the park.

One evening in early 2012, soon after the documentary “Bible Storyland” was completed, Harvey received a call from Huell, seemingly out of the blue. Huell had watched our DVD and tracked down Harvey’s phone number. Harvey and Huell spoke on the phone for 45 minutes about Bible Storyland and a variety of topics. Huell told Harvey he strongly disliked how technology was pulling people away from their families.

During their conversation, Harvey asked Huell for a quote about “Bible Storyland”. Huell asked why anyone would care what he thought about the film. Such a humble man he was! Harvey assured Huell that his quote would be helpful to future audiences, and Huell provided the following:

“‘Bible Storyland’ is a wonderful look at an honest to goodness chapter in California’s folk history. They really wanted to create a Bible theme park in the ’60’s and Harvey Jordan has researched it all in this documentary that is not only thorough, but respectful. It’s a real investigative eye-opener and fun to watch!”

Huell Howser will be honored at a public memorial today (January 15, 2013) at the Griffith Park Observatory in Los Angeles. At 5pm, several honored guests will speak about his life, including Charles Phoenix who is featured in our film.

You can read more about Harvey’s conversation with Huell in the “Los Angeles Times” Article “Huell Howser: ‘The real deal,’ on and off camera” (1/8/13) written by Paul Thornton.

World Premiere in San Antonio, Part Two

On Friday, we tried to ignore that we had been out till 2am at festival parties the night before as we arrived at 7:30am at the San Antonio College campus for our anticipated interview with the fun, laid back radio host James “Hot Mustard” Velton. “Hot Mustard” is a student D.J. at the San Antonio College radio station (KSYM 90.1FM).

Next we put on our Bible Storyland Shirts and headed to Texas ComiCon to hand out screening invitations to folks in line.  (That was quite an experience!)  We noticed many ComiCon attendees were more interested in Darth Vader than in Noah and Moses.

Meanwhile, our pre-recorded interviews ran all day on the local news radio station, 1200AM WOAI.

We went to a screening with a new friend we made, Andrew, whose stop-motion animated film Say Yes to Me totally blew us away. We scooped Andrew up after his screening and brought him along to ours, where we also met the editor and sound guy for Trailer Park Jesus, as well as folks who’d heard about us from all the press interviews!

Finally it was time for our WORLD PREMIERE at the Palladium!  We were very lucky to have the amazing PR person for the Festival, Kacie LaCombe, conducting our Q&A. At first it was just me (Stephanie) so we had a whole conversation about directing the film, and it was great! Based on the audience’s detailed questions it was obvious they took in all that we were conveying. And when Kacie asked me about the impact the film had on me personally, I got kind of emotional.

Next Harvey joined me up front and we began a very fun trivia game in which the audience asked questions about the film, and we handed out our incredibly rare (and beautiful) Bible Storyland T-shirts.

After the screening we took pictures on the step and repeat (an industry term for the red carpet and backdrop), and you can see where my mascara was smeared from crying. Then we headed to the NEXT PARTY!!!

On Saturday we relaxed a little more. We went to the only vegan restaurant in San Antonio, Vegeria, and we loved it. We also found another great restaurant called The Cove.

I went to see a narrative film about Editors called Supporting Characters, which was great. I felt the quality of all the films I saw at the festival was fantastic.  That evening there was a BIG RED CARPET for all the filmmakers. We were interviewed a lot and it was REALLY fun to see all the other filmmakers in a compressed space. Here is a picture from the red carpet of Harvey with Jesus (from Trailer Park Jesus).

We went out to dinner that night with folks from three films: Trailer Park Jesus, Shea Butler (Trial of Ben Barry) and Scott Edinson (Misplaced).  It was great: we ate community style and the food kept coming non-stop. Then it was onto the next party where this picture of me (holding our postcard) was taken.

Sunday was our last screening. The audience was a little different, the theater was larger, and we didn’t have Kacie. This time it was a very fun Q&A with Harvey and I fielding questions together. Again, we gave out great T-shirts.  One of the other filmmakers became a strong proponent of the film – he is a Christian – and so we were really pleased that he LOVED the film so much!

James Conant, our cinematographer came to join us for the screening. It was the first time the three of us were all together for a screening in front of an audience, so it was very special. We took James to The Cove to celebrate!

That night we returned for the Jury Awards and were disappointed there wasn’t a documentary category. A documentary about local veterans had been a natural choice for the Audience Award.  Even though we didn’t win an award our first time out, we knew we were held in high esteem among the SA Festival Team and had won respect at an event where all the films were terrific!

As we left, we felt grateful to have had an amazing World Premiere and a lot of fun! Thank you San Antonio, especially Adam and Kacie, you’ll always be our first!!!

World Premiere in San Antonio: Part One

Bible Storyland director Stephanie Hubbard here!

It’s been a few weeks since we came back from our WORLD Premiere at the San Antonio Film Festival. After arriving back home in LA, we hit the ground running prepping for our upcoming festivals but I wanted to share about our experiences in San Antonio while the memories are still fresh!

Day One: After landing in San Antonio we went straight to the Festival Headquarters – we picked up our badges and posed for pictures on the RED CARPET.

You can see how excited we are to have BADGES that say FILMMAKER.  It’s a testament to: 1) how long and hard it can be to make a film and 2) how long and hard it can be to prepare for a festival that we were so incredibly EXCITED to have our badges and finally be on the red carpet!

After taking pictures we met the head of the festival ADAM ROCHA – he was looking cool in an off-white suit – and his personality did not disappoint!  First off, he let us know how much he liked our film (THAT WAS VERY NICE) then he gave us tips for whom to contact the following day for more press coverage – I took notes!  Then we got to meet a star I recognized from my childhood – he was also an LA transplant – Jesse Borrego whom I LOVED in the FAME TV show.  He was great, and had just moved to San Antonio from Los Angeles.  Jesse is the second Fame cast member I have met, the first being Valerie Landsburg.

Day Two: We dressed in our TV interview clothes for an early morning interview at the local FOX station. The 7:30am call time is not so bad UNLESS there’s a two-hour time difference – there’s nothing like being on TV after waking up at 4:30am your time – thank goodness for ADRENALINE!

The interview with Monica at Fox was great!  It was a total love fest – and this photo is proof we were there. As we left, their next guest, Lou Ferrigno (from ANOTHER 80’s show The HULK) was arriving for his appearance to promote ComiCon TX which gave us an idea….

But first, we hightailed it over to the local NPR station (Texas Public Radio) where we met the inimitable Nathan Cone.  He had watched the beginning of our film and was ready to ask us lots of questions. There was such a different vibe being on NPR – we talked a lot more about the psychology and socio-historical aspects of the film. Thank goodness we have all that in there! Again, we had a great time with Nathan and an awesome interview.

Then we called Enrique, film and music editor at SA Current, the weekly alternative paper (we’d been calling before, but this time he called us back). We went straight to the SA Current office with our DVD (thanks for the tip, Adam!) Enrique sat down to talk to us and recorded the conversation, which was published later that week in the SA Current.

Next we headed downtown to take a DVD of our film to the San Antonio Express-News. They had already posted this piece about us.

Then we were ready to explore San Antonio a little. We walked along the legendary Canals and even saw the historical ALAMO (I didn’t know the story) where we found the strangest, most manic tour guide EVER, but we survived (unlike the historic brave defenders of the ALAMO).

We made it back to the hotel in time to rest before our first festival party, but Harvey could not be contained: He had to go find the site of the house where his family lived when he was born (above).

And he also found this pig house, which reminded us of Harvey’s pig Mimi, one of the stars in our film. That night, we went to our first party at the festival – it was fun to meet so many people who were already into our film! The amazing thing about SA Film Festival parties is that fans of the films attend also, so we were able to personally invite festival pass holders to our premiere screening the next day.

Check back soon our our next blog post: World Premiere in San Antonio: Part Two