<em>A Man’s Place</em>

A Man’s Place

A Man’s Place

Director Russ Spencer

This heart-warming short doc by longtime Santa Barbara filmmaker Russ Spencer is set in Willie’s Barbershop on Figueroa Street, but is really about complicated father-son relationships. See  

Why did you decide to focus on this barbershop?

There are a lot of people who just kind of hang out at Willie’s because they need a place to be safe, and Willie offers them that refuge. I got to know one of them because I would walk by there a lot on my way to the French Press Cafe. Her name was Annie and she always came out to say hi and give me a hug and tell me what she was up to and see if I had an extra buck or two. After a while, we got to know each other pretty well and when she found out I was a filmmaker, she made me promise to make a film about the barbershop. So I did. 

Did you go into this knowing that it would be a father-son story?

I didn’t want to make a film about what a cool barbershop it was. I find those kinds of films boring. So I sat down with Gilbert one day and talk to him for a while. Eventually a story came out that I really wanted to tell, about he and his dad, a universal story about fathers and sons. And it just so happened that it was set in this masculine, visually rich place. 

What do you think makes a good father? What makes a good barber?

A good father, that’s impossible to say. There are a million kinds of good fathers. A good barber is one who knows that the haircut is only about 10 percent of the service he’s providing. 

Do you get your hair cut there?

I didn’t get my hair cut there before but, yes, Gilbert is now my barber. 

To submit a comment on this article, email or visit our Facebook page. To submit information to a reporter, email

Be succinct, constructive, and relevant to the story. Leaving a comment means you agree to our Discussion Guidelines. We like civilized discourse. We don't like spam, lying, profanity, harassment or personal attacks.

comments powered by Disqus
event calendar sponsored by:

News Commentary: Ribbon Cutting Is Not as Easy as It Looks

Grand opening for new Eastside bridge conveys a tingle of progress.

Santa Barbara Rental Prices Have Skyrocketed Over the Last Five Years

The average rent for a South Coast studio is $1,553.

Trio Stops the Show at Board of Education

More than a dozen appeal to Santa Barbara Unified School District to maintain music classes and programs.

Santa Barbara District Attorney Endorses Villaraigosa for Governor

Joyce Dudley preferred the former Los Angeles mayor’s positions on crime and education.

San Marcos Principal Files Suit Against Santa Barbara Unified School District

Ed Behrens charges emotional and physical distress due to demotion.