The Coast News Group
From left to right: Michael Callihan, Ruby Callihan, and Paul McCormick, Vice President and general manager of the La Costa Resort and Spa, stand together by the resort’s pool and golf course near where the Callihans hope to host outdoor movie screening as part of their film festival in October. Photo by Rachel Stine

Couple launches film festival

CARLSBAD — Michael and Ruby Callihan are concerned about the lack of family values found in film today. 

The Carlsbad couple fondly remembers that when they were growing up, the silver screen was filled with stars including Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and Sophia Loren.

“I grew up watching those movies and, you know, they always had a positive spin to them,” recalled Ruby.

“To me, the older Hollywood, since I’m older myself, it was a time when everything was a little more romantic. It was like when a family went to the movie, you didn’t have to worry about what movie (was playing),” said Michael.

The parents of two young teenagers said that movies today have lost their romantic sheen and sense of morality.

“You can’t take the kids to the movies,” Ruby said.

So with the hopes of encouraging more refinement in today’s film industry, the Callihans are in the midst of launching the first annual La Costa Film Festival, which will be held at the La Costa Resort and Spa from October 24-27 this year.

Though neither of them have any background in the film industry (they both have worked in the mortgage business for decades), the two have relied on the encouragement from friends and acquaintances as well as the film festival experts they have hired. So far, the duo has spent months and an unspecified amount of their own money on bringing the festival to life.

“It definitely takes a village to make this happen, but we’re not worried about it because we keep getting people that want to be a part of it,” said Ruby, detailing how attorneys have offered their services pro bono and students throughout Southern California have expressed interest in volunteering.

The Callihans aspire to make their festival destination-oriented, using the old Hollywood history and luxuriousness of the La Costa Resort and Spa to attract movers and shakers from the film industry in Los Angeles and locally.

“A lot of people all around La Costa are connected to the film industry. You know it’s just amazing. There are directors, producers around here… And once you mention film festival, it’s like they were all coming out of the woodwork,” Michael said.

In doing so they hope to offer opportunities for students and budding filmmakers to learn and network from professionals in the business.

Aside from categories for international documentaries, narrative features and short films, the festival will also include a contest for films made by high school students and offer prize money for the winning students’ school film program.

Furthermore, all net proceeds from the film festival will go towards the Boys and Girls Club of Carlsbad.

Entries for the festival are now being accepted online via Without A Box, a film submission website. The Callihans said they have already received about six submissions in the first week and a half, and hope that before the June 15 deadline, they will have dozens of entries from all over the world.

“There’s going to be ups and downs because we are building this from the ground, from scratch,” said Ruby.

And any concerns the Callihans may have about successfully founding an international film festival are overshadowed by their dreams of bringing “something new and dynamic to North County.”

“We’re trying to bring a community together to embrace something,” Ruby said.

More information can be found at