Sunday, September 18, 2005

Grass Valley Filmmaker
Looks at UFO Phenomenon

Steve Lantz
by Bob Montgomery

     Something happened in the skies above Phoenix on the night of March 13, 1997. Thousands of witnesses reported seeing a set of mysterious lights moving through the darkness.

     The official statement was that the lights were just flares, used by the military to light up the Barry Goldwater Firing Range at night. Grass Valley film producer Steve Lantz doesn’t buy it.

     "First of all, there were over 10,000 witnesses," said Lantz. "They were looking up to see the Hale-Bopp Comet that night, so that was the reason you had an extraordinary number of witnesses outside looking up. As they put it, it was like there was a whole parade [of lights] that went over the entire state. That kind of kills the flare theory because flares aren’t going to fly over an entire state."

     Lantz also points to a lab analysis of the lights that finds them unique. "We may not know what they are but what we do know is that they don't match any known light source," he said. "So it's a real mystery in that sense."

     Lantz has been interested in UFOs and the UFO phenomenon since he was 12 years old and first saw the movie "Close Encounters of the Third Kind." Ever since then he's been keenly interested in documentaries on the subject and believes the more you get into it, the more you can get past all the skepticism. "You start to see things that are really hard to deny," he said.

     What really convinced Lantz about the Phoenix Lights, however, was meeting Dr. Lynne Kitei. She saw the lights, then photographed and videotaped them. "She got a real close look at them and she said even after they disappeared she still had a sense that there was something there, watching."

     Lantz and Kitei decided this was a story that, although covered extensively by the media, had only been explored in a superficial way. They wanted the opportunity to delve deeper into the mystery. That was the genesis of their documentary film "The Phoenix Lights." Kitei wrote the script and interviewed the witnesses, while, working with practically no budget, Lantz shot the movie, edited it, did the special effects work, and even composed and played the music.

     "She and I paid for this out of our pockets because we felt it was just too important," said Lantz. "It needed to be told and also we were able to keep creative control over this because it was just the two of us."

     The movie played at the New York International Film and Video Festival where Steve was named Best Director and is also an official selection of the upcoming Los Angeles International Film and Video Festival.

     Lantz says the purpose of the film is not really to change people's minds. "I don’t expect to really convince anyone of anything," he said. "I think I just want people to open their eyes a little bit and rather than just dismiss it, look at it more seriously."

* Special Thanks To Christian Macé

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