Vail Film Fest: A big name in a small film |

Vail Film Fest: A big name in a small film

Charlie Owen
Vail Daily Correspondent
Vail, CO Colorado
Special to the Vail DailyVail Film Fest: Film and TV actor Bill Cobbs preps for a scene in the student film "Steadfast" directed by Colorado resident Nathan Schneider and produced by Daniel Ford. "Steadfast" is premiering at this year's Vail Film Festival on Saturday.

VAIL , Colorado –Bill Cobbs has been acting for more than 30 years and has appeared in big Hollywood productions like “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “That Thing You Do,” and “Night At The Museum” and television shows like “Lost.” So what’s he doing starring in a small-time student film called “Steadfast” being shown in the Vail Film Festival this year?

“It was an interesting little script and I work with young people whenever I can because when I got started people had to work with me … I had people help me so I never really thought much about not doing it,” Cobbs, 75, said during a phone interview from his home in California.

But he admits his reasons for being in the film weren’t entirely unselfish.

“I like coming up to Colorado a lot because I’ve had good experiences up there … I just enjoy being up there,” Cobbs said.

“Steadfast” producer Daniel Ford cast Cobbs for the role.

His film school teacher suggested Cobbs for the role of John in the film and though Ford said it was a lot of leg work to get him on board, it eventually paid off.

“It was incredible to get him out here,” Ford said. “Bill Cobbs is just an amazing person and we spoke with him about coming out and we told him we would fly him out and pay for his hotel and pay for his food but we didn’t have any money to pay for his time,” Ford said.

Cobbs even waved his Screen Actors Guild fees to participate in the project, Ford said.

“I personally think that you’re not at your best when it’s all about money,” Cobbs said. “It’s not always about money.”

Ford lives with Nathan Schneider, the film’s director and writer, in Aurora, Colo.though he grew up in Grand Junction. The two made the movie while attending the Colorado Film School and Ford said getting their movie screened at the Vail Film Festival is an “incredible feeling.”

“When I read (the script) I just knew it was something we could shoot. It was incredibly vivid, effective and original and unique and fun. It was PG, there’s no cussing, no violence but at the same time it’s got a captivating story,” Ford said. “It’s all around appeal is what drew me to the project.”

Cobbs agreed.

“I thought it was very well written,” Cobbs said. “It was a very interesting piece, very imaginative and very simple. I enjoy things that are simple and to the point and not over stated.”

“Steadfast” was shot on Ford’s friend’s property near Lamar, near the southeast corner of the state, in just three days. The film is Ford’s first job producing and his first work to be screened at a film festival.

Ford said “Steadfast” is about faith – but not religion – and the basic human struggle of trying to do the right thing. In the film a man named Calvin (MJ Pate) drops into purgatory where an old man named John (Cobbs) sits in a chair and answers questions about how he got there and what he’s now supposed to do. Calvin must work his way out of purgatory by figuring out how to put others first.

A maxim Cobbs is obviously familiar with, and for which the young filmmakers remain eternally grateful.

Cobbs is thankful for the experience, too.

“I walked away with some new friends,” he said. “I experienced a new writer’s work and saw some new possibilities in terms of communicating, which is what we do. I go there being the older guy and people treat you with the presumption that you’re the teacher, but that’s not always the truth … and I learned something too.”

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