December 18, 1998 at 05:00 AM EST

INDIE JONES
You make a raucous ultralow-budget comedy set on a college campus. You cause a stir at Sundance and get serious nibbles from distributors, but a deal is never nailed down. Sowhat do you do? In the case of 1997’s Puddle Cruiser, the filmmakers are hitting the highway, carting the movie from campus to campus this winter with the Broken Lizard College Rodeo, a Winnebago road show that also promises stand-up comedy and panel discussions. ”It’s an alternative way of getting our film out to its core audience,” says producer Rich Perello. ”The schools are responsive to the fact that we haven’t been picked up.” With indie films vying for attention, Perello believes that similar guerrilla convoys — like 1997’s FUEL Tour — offer a solution to the glut. ”There are a lot of really good films that are just disappearing,” he says, ”and it’s unfortunate.”

THE LOST WALTZ
Apparently Captain Picard’s rousing ”Make it so!” doesn’t always carry weight outside the Enterprise. Patrick Stewart’s currently exploring in Star Trek: Insurrection, but a movie he made four years ago seems to have gotten sucked into another galaxy. Back in 1994, Eleanor Bergstein — best known for having written Dirty Dancing — made her directorial debut with Let It Be Me, a $20 million ballroom-dancing romance starring Stewart, Campbell Scott, and Jennifer Beals. But when the movie’s producer, Rysher Entertainment, closed its film division, the flick vanished with it. ”It’s very hard to get my hands on the film,” Bergstein says. ”I couldn’t even find anybody who could tell me how I could get the negatives back.” Rysher CEO Timothy Helfet says that the company nixed a U.S. theatrical release in favor of distribution to TV outlets worldwide. ”With all the best intentions,” he says, ”the film did not turn out as we had hoped.” Now and then Bergstein gets word that a truncated version has popped up in Europe or Asia. ”I get checks in the mail,” she says. ”That’s another way I find out where it’s showing.”

Additional reporting by Daniel Fierman.

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