By Jeffrey V. Smith
An upcoming film festival at the Georgetown Heritage Center may have Greg Markle’s name on it, but the event is more of a nostalgic look back at Clear Creek County and its residents of the past 35 years. More than 500 locals can be seen playing various roles in Markle’s self-described “amateur” movies that will be screened in two segments, Nov. 18 from 1-5 p.m. and 7-11 p.m. Seven different projects will be shown chronologically with commentary from Markle and other participants in attendance. Admission to the Greg Markle Film Festival is by donation, and DVDs will be sold to benefit KYGT radio.
Prepare to “laugh and be well informed” as the local actors fill the big screen in “stories that capture the history of our mountain towns with humor and imagination,” according to event organizers. “People should expect what they are: funny, low budget amateur movies, but with locals for actors who they might know from 35 years ago,” Markle said. “None of the movies cost more than $1,000, except the last one we did, ‘Idahoe’ , about George Jackson and the discovery of gold in Idaho Springs, to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the discovery.”
Markle wants to be sure everyone’s expectations are at the right level. “I really don’t know much about making movies other than I watch a lot of them. If I had to list any influences it would be the Three Stooges, Mel Brooks and my Aunt Vera who always encouraged me to use my imagination,” he said. He never even set out to make movies; it was more of an off-hand suggestion. The film festival ideas wasn’t even his. He credits Ruth Rosenfeld, Sue Purchase and Doug Glidden for the idea.
“Thirty-five years ago, myself and a lot of friends worked for the BLM in Georgetown and we would take a helicopter and work along the divide, so we took a lot of photos. I would put together a slide show at the end of the year,” Markle explained. “I was talking about this with my friend Al Porter, and he offered his Beta Max video camera—a big deal at the time—and asked, ‘Why don’t you make a movie instead?’
“Rasta Man Surveyor” became Markle’s first film in 1982. “It was so much fun I caught the bug and Al gave me a true story from a 1902 newspaper in Idaho Springs with the title ‘She Loves Chink.’ It was a great story about love and prejudice at the turn of the century,” he said. “This led to three more movies, a TV show sponsored by the county and eventually KGOAT, the radio station.” Each project took about a year and a half to make, costumes were made or rented and Dave Harvey was editor.
Start the festival at the beginning, from 1-4 p.m., with screenings of “Rasta Man Surveyor” , “She Loves Chink”  and “Quivira” , a metaphysical comedy about Coronado’s quest for the Seven Cities of Gold. The “Clear Creek Magazine”  show will also be included.
Continue in the evening from 7-11 p.m. with “Shadows” , the story of Silver Plume’s Clifford Griffin and “Idahoe” . A series of “hilarious,” short Idaho Springs documentaries on geology and the old schools of Idaho Springs completed this year are also included in the evening segment.
Organizers are asking anyone who knows to come dressed as their favorite character in a Markle film.
Markle is also one of the founders of KYGT Radio and is the General Manager of Clear Creek Radio, Inc., which formed in 1994. He has operated his business, Clear Creek Surveying, since 1987.
The Georgetown Heritage Center, in the restored 1874 Georgetown school, is a place to celebrate our past, exhibit and learn traditional and fine arts, enjoy live concerts and performances, attend lectures, and hold meetings and conferences. It is located at 809 Taos St. in Georgetown. Visit georgetowntrust.org or call 303-569-0289 for more information.
Originally published in the November 2017 issue of the MMAC Monthly