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Film Stills by Merie Weismiller Wallace, SMPSP

In fall of 2004, the comedy-drama film Sideways debuted on screens around the country and directed a spotlight to the rural beauty of the Santa Ynez Valley. With this film, director Alexander Payne focused attention on the area’s flourishing wine and food industry and all of the local flavor. Ten years later, the “Sideways effect” continues as visitors follow in the footsteps of the movie’s characters and seek out specific local destinations and experiences.


To mark the 10th anniversary of the award-winning film, Elverhøj Museum of History and Art presents “Looking Back Sideways,” a photography exhibition opening October 4. The display features iconic images from the film and a look behind-the-scenes as captured by Merie Weismiller Wallace, member of the Society of Motion Picture Still Photographers.

The Opening Reception will be held on Saturday October 4 from 4 to 6 pm. The public is invited to join in the celebration of Wallace’s work which will coincide with the 10th anniversary of the film’s debut. There is no charge for admission.

The photographs on display include many Valley residents who found themselves in front of the camera alongside cast members Paul Giamatti, Thomas Haden Church, Virginia Madsen and Sandra Oh. Sideways director Alexander Payne, noted for frequently using actual people in roles of minor characters in his movies, enjoyed letting Valley residents help to authenticate the story and settings. Photographer Merie Wallace, working alongside Payne, observed: “The rural beauty of the Valley combined with the cast of local characters to become the unique canvas and context on which the absurd and hilarious tragedy of Sideways unfolded.”

On Saturday November 1, Photographer Merie W. Wallace will talk about her experiences on location with cast and crew. The public is invited to the free presentation of “Shooting Sideways” at 4 p.m. in the Museum Gallery. Wallace is widely known for her still photographic work in feature film production, but also contributes to various publications and gallery exhibits. She received her Master’s degree from USC Film School, and has since worked around the world with noted filmmakers including Clint Eastwood, James Cameron, Alexander Payne, Kathryn Bigelow, and Terrence Malick. A member of the Society for Motion Picture Still Photographers (SMPSP), she served as president for two years.

“Looking Back Sideways” will remain on exhibit through November 2.

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