Coronado Island Film Festival Prepares For 2019 Event - Coronado Eagle & Journal | Coronado News | Coronado Island News: Coronado Island News

Coronado Island Film Festival Prepares For 2019 Event

Font Size:
Default font size
Larger font size

Posted: Friday, June 21, 2019 10:50 am

What you need to know about new Coronado Island Film Festival Executive Director Merridee Book is she is in the perfect spot in her career to maximize the potential of the event that will be held November 8-11, 2019, over Veterans Day Weekend. From her first taste of show biz when she appeared in a public service announcement for the American Cancer Society with former Chargers Louie Kelcher and Rolf Benirschke, Book was hooked.

Book said, “I’ve always loved show business and going to the theater. I loved watching the trailers before the films started. The whole industry has been magic for me since childhood.”

A now humorous story occurred when Book had a film internship with Bob Eubanks (“The Newlywed Game”), which she described. “Bob and his son Corey were producing an independent film called “Payback.” I lost the keys to the grip truck and production stopped for the afternoon, which wasn’t good.”

Book has her own page on, which lists her roles as an actress in 1999’s “Bicentennial Man” and the television series “Partners.” She also appeared as an extra in two series produced by Stu Segall, “Silk Stalkings” and “Renegade.” Or as Book summarized her early acting days, “I was just an extra. If I was an attorney on a show, I got a screen credit. If I was a dead body, I didn’t.”

By 1998, Book was working for the Oakland Film Commission. She said of the experience, “That was really my introduction to the back end of the business. My job with the Commission was working with the Teamsters and working with the City of Oakland. I worked as the liaison with the unions, helped secure city permits, worked on security, location scouting and location services. I worked with local studios and casting agents. And I expanded the internship program with the UC Berkeley Film School. I worked there for 18 months before I got pregnant with our son Griffin. It was a real interesting transition period for the City of Oakland.”

Book held several media-related positions, including just over three years as Vice President of Development with the San Diego Film Foundation, (May 2015 to June 2018) which presents the San Diego International Film Festival. “That role encapsulated growing their donor base, major donors and supporters,” Book recalled. “And we all wore different hats there. I worked with anything that had to do with Celebrity Tributes; getting people to attend those events; cultivating the donor culture and experience; as well as the marketing, hospitality and fundraising hats.”

Book officially became CIFF Executive Director in mid-March 2019. And she is prepared to make additions and improvements to the festival itself, starting with pass sales. “We started our Festival Pass Renewal Program last week and we intentionally did a soft launch with a new ticketing system. We wanted to make sure we worked out the kinks. Our CIFF Insiders who signed up for information were the first to find out the passes were on sale. We have limited the number of Crown City Passes, with an eye toward insuring the festival experience is what we promised. Our goal is to reach a broader demographic including all of San Diego. We want to pull people from Downtown San Diego, which is only five minutes away.”

Early returns on the Festival Pass renewals are positive and reflect interest throughout the state of California. Although a large percentage of the purchases, 78 percent to be exact, are from Coronado, there have been purchases from Encino, Los Angeles, Woodside, Chula Vista, Atherton, Redwood City, San Diego and Seattle, Washington. That would seem to indicate there is a potential and definable financial benefit to the city, hotels and local businesses. Demographics of CIFF attendees, supplied by Book, indicate 56 percent of attendees are female and 44 percent male; 84 percent own their own home, with a median value of $1.8 million; Average household income is $143,000; 85 percent of attendees have a Bachelor’s degree or higher; 41 percent purchased a new car in the past 12 months; 67 percent have taken three or more trips outside of California in the past 12 months; and 46 percent have taken two or more trips outside the U.S. in the past 12 months.

Seemingly everyone coming into a position of responsibility has a wish list the bring with them and Book’s includes an upgrade to the Performing Arts Center at Coronado High School. For a relatively modest $116,000, new speakers, amplifiers, cables, mobile carts and racks, plus the labor to install all of the required equipment, can make the Performing Arts Center the largest entertainment venue in Coronado. Another $25,000 can completely upgrade the Black Box Theater and make it a viable room to display movies.

Book said, “Every city has a Performing Arts Center and that would elevate what we are able to do. We are constrained by the size of our venues. The City has been incredible to work with and generous with their venues. We value that partnership a great deal. The CIFF can be a tourism and revenue driver. We are a year ‘round event, but those four days bring filmmakers to Coronado from around the globe. But we can only build it so much. If we could get a Coronado Performing Arts Center, where we could screen a studio film, that would be wonderful. The upgrades would benefit the CIFF and any other cultural arts group in the city. That space would be utilized by a lot of different organizations. The CIFF already purchased a $6,000 screen, a sound system and the whole projection system. We have the potential to be a significant film festival destination. Coronado is such a unique place.”

Word of the festival is spreading and already film submissions have been received from distant lands including several from Spain, the United Kingdom, Italy, Japan, Australia and Kyrgyzstan.

Film buffs who would like to become involved with the Film Festival have a variety of ways they can participate including financially as a Benefactor, as a Volunteer which according to Book is a great way to be introduced to the festival. “Mary Sikes and Terry Zack are our Volunteer Directors,” Book said. “Terry came to the Film Festival for the first time last year and had such a great time. She came from Maryland and found it was a good way to meet people. And we have sponsorships and donors. I can be reached directly at We have a Volunteer tab on the website, and we have a limited number of student internships.”

In the meantime, more CIFF events are being created and refined. One goal is to make the Spreckels Center more of a hub for the event, which Book explained. “We’re working toward adding a lot of experiential activations like wine and food tastings, a makeup artist, Yoga and many other things. Our three Culinary Cinema presentations sold out last year and we will have three more this year. Those were very successful. It’s wonderful to have a center hub, a meet-up place to get together like the Spreckels Center. One of the things that is unique about the Coronado Film Festival is it is the only truly pedestrian Film Festival. The Newport Beach Film Festival is held in a shopping mall. Here people ride bikes and walk. We are still looking at a lot of new things that will simultaneously build the CIFF and give our attendees a much fuller experience and opportunity to take more of what the festival has to offer.”

For more information on CIFF 2019, to purchase tickets, make a donation or volunteer, go to

Rules of Conduct

  • 1 Keep it Clean. Please avoid obscene, vulgar, lewd, racist or sexually-oriented language.
  • 2 Don't Threaten or Abuse. Threats of harming another person will not be tolerated. AND PLEASE TURN OFF CAPS LOCK.
  • 3 Be Truthful. Don't knowingly lie about anyone or anything.
  • 4 Be Nice. No racism, sexism or any sort of -ism that is degrading to another person.
  • 5 Be Proactive. Use the 'Report' link on each comment to let us know of abusive posts.
  • 6 Share with Us. We'd love to hear eyewitness accounts, the history behind an article.

Welcome to the discussion.