'Olompali: A California Story' Documentary in the Works

Maura McCoy, eldest daughter of former hippie benefactor Don McCoy, has announced that she will produce a feature-length documentary about Olompali State Historic Park, site of the commune established by her father in 1967. “Olompali: A California Story” will be directed by Gregg Gibbs, whose documentary “The Treasures of Long Gone John” premiered at the SXSW Film Festival in 2005.

The film will recount the colorful history of the former Rancho Olompali, located 3 miles north of Novato in Marin County. Olompali has been called home by a fascinating cast of characters, from the Coast Miwok Indians to Victorian aristocrats to the Grateful Dead, who lived there in 1966 and used it as a backdrop for the iconic photograph on the back cover of their album Aoxomoxoa. They were soon followed by Don McCoy, scion of a wealthy Pasadena family, who dropped out in the 1960s after being introduced to marijuana and LSD by friends in the entertainment industry. McCoy discovered Olompali while looking for a place where he and his friends and their families could live together, and found the large estate with its 26-room mansion, swimming pool, and horse stables to be an ideal location for what would eventually be called the Chosen Family commune. His vision was to create a place of peace and spirituality, and he used his money to finance the venture with the hope that others would view Olompali as a model for similar collectives around the Bay Area and the country. But what started as a utopian dream soon unraveled into a series of tragedies that were to leave an indelible mark on Olompali and its rich legacy.

Despite being slated for closure, Olompali continues to survive and remains an important part of California's past, present and future. McCoy and Gibbs hope that their film will shed light on Olompali’s indispensible role in the state’s history and help to ensure that it remains open for future generations to enjoy. They are currently raising financing for the film through crowdfunding site KickStarter, and hope to premiere the film in early-2014. The trailer for the film can be viewed by going to http://www.kickstarter.com/projects/2089875458/olompali-a-california-story.

Producer Maura McCoy, who appears in the Aoxomoxoa album photo and was 10-years-old when she lived at Olompali, said, "This project is a labor of love; a daughter's love for her father, and a community's love for a treasured historical landmark. This film is my way of remembering my father, who passed away in 2004. It is also a tribute to a place that holds a special significance in my memory and in my heart, and which has an incredible story of its own."

 

UPDATE:  Peter Coyote has been tapped to narrate the movie!

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