SANTA BARBARA, Calif. - Last February's massive winter storm flooded the South Coast and sent mudflows down to the 101 freeway in Santa Barbara, shutting it down for several hours. The wild weather also disrupted plans for last year's Santa Barbara International Film Festival.
“I remember it fondly because we had to be flexible," SBIFF executive director Roger Durling said. "And we had to be nimble. A festival, you have to plan as much as you can, but also understand that changes are gonna have to happen.”
Last year, actor Viggo Mortensen was stuck on the other side of the closure when he was supposed to be in town to receive the American Riviera Award. Durling says someone with a private plane was able to fly Mortensen to Santa Barbara. Glenn Close's Maltin Modern Master Award event was moved to the following afternoon.
Durling says the festival's organizers always discuss contingency plans, but now are even more cautious when planning ahead.
“Last year, Viggo Mortensen was coming the day of,” Durling said. “Now, we request, if possible, they could come earlier. We’re not gonna have an issue with a Renée Zellweger because she’s already in town for tonight… that’s something that we learned from last year. Just having a ‘Plan B.’”
Durling also says rain, as long as it does not cause major travel issues, has helped festival attendance generally because it then does not have to compete with outdoor activities in the area.