City of White Gold
  • Sample Reel

  • Interviews:

  • Flood
  • Fracchia
  • Anders
  • Lynch
  • Cherny
  • Young
  • Makley
  • James
Meet the Characters
  • Ralston
  • Sharon
  • Sutro
  • The Bonanza Kings

They came for gold, but got rich from silver. This is a tale of the American Dream realized.

Financial panics. Stock market crashes. Greedy business practices... events much like today. Yet this true story took place 150 years ago, when the West was still being won. It is the tale of those who built the West on Comstock silver.

City of White Gold digs deep into timeless themes of money, ambition, and the duality of human nature. While our exuberance, determination, and optimism allow us to build magnificence for the benefit of humankind, our animalistic tendencies drive us to tear each other down for personal gain.

William Chapman Ralston

Visionary, banker, and risk-taker. "The Man Who Built San Francisco." He was the ultimate tragic figure. Beloved by all, he propelled San Francisco forward with his ideals of a West Coast Mecca.

Ralston's entourage was a group of insiders known as the Bank Crowd. With their aid, he used the riches of the Comstock to create both an opulent private life and an opulent San Francisco. But he also had a manic side. Unable to control his gambling on the stock market and his extravagant spending, he went too far. Taken by his own game, he met with tragedy before the city he imagined came to full fruition.

William Sharon

Gambler, schemer, ruthless "King of the Comstock." He was Ralston's right hand man, his agent in Nevada's Virginia City. He was also the devil on Ralston's shoulder.

Sharon understood the game of monopoly, and used it to take absolute control of Comstock activities. He controlled the San Francisco stock market as well. Sharon's actions affected the lives of thousands of people on the West Coast. Some argue that he betrayed Ralston.

He went on to be one of the richest men in the nation.

Adolph Sutro

Maverick, entrepreneur, "Man of the People." In the 1860s, Ralston and Sharon were busy building a monopoly over the Comstock silver mines. Nobody stood in the way, except for Adolph Sutro. He had a vision of his own: to dig a 4-mile tunnel laterally to the Comstock's heart.

He proved a threat to the Bank Crowd's monopoly, and he and Sharon became arch enemies. Through sheer perseverance, however, he finally raised the money to dig his tunnel. It was fought every step of the way. He finished his tunnel, 10 years later, but it was too late.

The Bonanza Kings

Upstarts, capitalists, dream makers. A group of four Irishmen, they all came from humble origins. They were determined to destroy the arrogance of Sharon and the Bank Crowd.

John Mackay and Jim Fair knew how to work the mines. James Flood and William O'Brien knew how to work the stock market. Together, they made a formidable team who schemed craftily and diligently to take control of the Comstock.

They went on to hit the richest silver strike in US history, known as the Big Bonanza.

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Meet the Crew
  • Geordie Lynch
  • Marc Shaffer
  • David Brown
  • George Kelly
  • Ben Ferrer
  • Robin Lee

Producer/Director. Geordie is a filmmaker who comes primarily from a post-production background. He has been motion graphics designer, production assistant, and assistant editor with various production and post-production companies, including for the award-winning television series 'More Than Entertainment' for Frame By Frame Productions. He most recently created, directed, co-produced, and co-wrote a half-hour sketch comedy for cable television.

With a passion for history and the film arts, he is now answering the call to blend the two spheres together.

Consulting Producer. For more than two decades, Marc Shaffer has produced, directed and written critically acclaimed documentary films. He wrote and directed the historical documentary American Jerusalem: Jews and the Making of San Francisco, which aired nationally on PBS, enjoyed a sold out run at the SF Jewish Film Festival, and was named one of the top ten films of 2013 by the San Francisco Chronicle. Shaffer's many documentaries have been watched around the world by tens of millions of viewers on PBS, National Geographic, Al Jazeera, online and in theaters. He has been nominated for three national Emmy awards and is the recipient of more than two-dozen professional filmmaking and journalism honors.

Co-Producer. David L. Brown is an Emmy Award-winning San Francisco documentary filmmaker who has produced, written and directed over 80 productions and 11 broadcast documentaries. His films have received over 85 international awards, include three Emmy Awards, have been broadcast nationally on PBS and in sixteen countries, and have been profiled in major magazines and on national radio and television.

His most recent works have earned Emmy Awards for Outstanding Achievement and Best Graphics & Animation, and an Emmy nomination for Best Documentary.

Line Producer. A third-generation cameraman, George B. Kelly studied Film, Theater and Television at UCLA and Film at NYU Grad. George later used his expertise to open CineSpecial Productions, specializing in Line Production, 1st Assistant Directing and 2nd Unit Directing for independent features in Los Angeles, New York and San Francisco. He was also a founding member and President of Reel Live Crew, a below-the-line production service company.

George recently was a Producer/Director at Transvideo Studios, a high-end production studio.

Director of Photography. Ben is a freelance Director of Photography in San Francisco since 1996. His interest in visual communication started at the age of ten while making super 8 movies. While working towards his Bachelor of Arts in Media & Communications at Sacramento State, he earned the Kelly Broadcasting Scholarship, twice, and interned at the NBC affiliate KCRA-TV. Ben specializes in docs, corporate, and short narratives, including the documentary Crime After Crime.

Ben is enjoying the success of shooting a short film for the San Francisco 48 Hour Film competition.

Editor. Robin Lee has been working as a film editor for over twenty-five years. Most recently he edited The Practice of the Wild, a documentary about poet Gary Snyder that screened on KQED, at the San Francisco Int'l Film Festival, and around the world. His editing credits include numerous other documentaries and feature films, such as Love Interrupted for the Canadian National Broadcast system, and Haiku Tunnel, distributed by Sony Pictures.

Robin is also experienced in film writing, directing, and music editing, with music editor credits including major motion pictures such as Quills and Duma.

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October 28, 2019 Update

Director Geordie Lynch will give a brand new presentation on the Irish Bonanza Kings at San Francisco's first annual Hinterland festival. November 8th, 4pm!! Click on the image below to learn more!


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Program is funded in part by the Nevada Humanities