Interview: Adam Saunders, producer and CEO of Footprint Features

Oct 17 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
Your site is open for people who want to submit a script. Do you have a quota of filling one of your two or three movies from there vs some from traditional agencies, or are you really looking for whoever seems best at the time? The general rule in all this stuff is that the talent wins the day. The best idea wins. Always. If all the ideas come from one agent and those are the best scripts we’ve gotten that year, then we’ll make those. If the  best idea came through our website, fine. We’re just trying to make the very best movies we can make. What kind of movies, genre-wise, are you looking for? You have said you’re looking for “Character-driven” films, but that’s not really a genre. Fair point. Our natural attraction or predilection or whatever is for comedies and dramas and thrillers. Those are the three genres that we most respond to. I mean, of those three comedies and thrillers are easier to sell, but dramas often time attract big casts and then we can sell with casts. I love all three kinds. If someone came to you with a character-driven script for an action movie or a horror movie, would you be open to that? We’re trying to establish a brand, so that people know the kind of movies we make. If you brought me script for The Sixth Sense, which is considered to be a horror movie, would we make it? Sure, if we could afford it. It’s a great script. But in general, we’re trying to stay on message. Movies like Little Miss Sunshine, Juno, The Way Way Back, and 50/50 are in the Footprint wheelhouse, and that’s what we want people to know a Footprint movie is. With an exceptional script in another genre, sure, but most likely that script would go to another company that tends to make those kinds of movies anyway.   How do you define success, financially, critically, commercially, etc.? Each thing is compared to its own standards. For investors, you want to get them a return on their investment. From an artistic standpoint, we want to have a movie that we’re proud of, so with the director and me feeling that it’s the movie we set out to make, and from an audience standpoint, in a perfect world people would like it. You don’t want to base your definition of success on what other people say, but we’re in the business of entertaining people, so the more people that respond to the film the better, just by definition. How hands on are you during pre-production and production? Very. From the moment we acquire the script to the moment the film comes out in theaters, we are very, very hands on. In terms of pre-production, when we’re putting together the cast and crew, those are decisions made between the me and the director. When we’re in production, I’m there every day on set. Every time we shoot a scene I’m sitting right there. I’m very hands on. As for the script, it depends. If it’s fully formed, there’s a short development time and I don’t do much. Other times it takes much longer and I give lots of script notes. It varies from project to project. How do you choose directors and other parts of the crew? Each project is different. With directors, we look to see that their body of work fits. You really want to find someone that’s passionate about the project, and if you feel like they have a vision for it and you want to hear that and see what they’re looking for. That’s the process for that. For the crew, the director will obviously be a huge part of that. The Director of Photography is the director’s choice, and the designer is largely chosen by the director as well, because they have to execute that vision on screen. What is your role between the delivery and official release? Well it’s interesting, because my role is kind of the same throughout. I always play the role of the general manager of the football team. I’m overseeing the process and making sure everything’s on track and putting out fires as they go. But hopefully if things are on track then I’m just overseeing and not doing a lot. But I step in if there’s a problem. Once it’s finished and it’s been sold to a distributor, I’m in contact with the distributor, talking about the marketing materials, talking about the trailer and the press opportunites and which cities it comes out in. Just sort of making sure that everything is fine from our end. Even as they prepare the marketing and the release strategy. Long term, would you team up with other production companies to make things that are more expensive than the $8 million films you work on now? Sure, absolutely. We’re actually already partnering with companies. We’re open to that and working with bigger budget ranges for sure. That’s definitely something we want to do. Was the $4-$8 million limit arbitrary? Where did you get from? We want to make movies that feel like movies and have production value of a certain quality. At the same time, based on revenue streams and various comparable films, we want to be profitable. It depends, but there’s a market for a $1 million film and a $3-5 million film, and a $7-10 million film. Those three ranges are the areas that we work in. That’s what we get ad that’s the money our business model has dictated. I know you were involved in theater for a long time. What do you see as the most benefit of film as opposed to theater? Wider reach. We make a trailer and it gets a million page views. A million people. You go to a play, and I’ve got a friend who is an incredible broadway producer, but to get a million people to see a broadway show would take years. It’s harder to reach so many people, and that reach matters. Speaking of reach, your most recent film, About Alex, released theatrically and on VOD simultaneously. Is that the future of distribution? To some extent, we’re really figuring out how it’s all gonna go. My hope is that the theatrical release of About Alex will drive awareness and people will see it there, but by having it on VOD, you can get it into 85 million homes or something with access to it. I think there’s a value for having that many eyeballs, but I think there’s something really powerful about the screen experience. I would like for us to have our movies come out in theaters and then on all the ancillary streams. That’s the ideal scenario, but I’m aware that the world is changing. We have to make sure that we can get the best return. Makes sense. Any last thoughts? What we really want is for people to know what we are and what we do. We make these movies under $10 million, they’re character driven comedies, dramas, and thrillers. If we’re clear about that, we’ll get really good material and we have been getting really good material. It’s like going to a restaurant for me. If I go to a restaurant that’s selling pizza and egg rolls, I don’t eat there. I think “I don’t know what these guys are doing.” If I go somewhere that claims to have the best spaghetti in town, I eat there, because I know that that’s what they do. We want be that with Footprint. We want to be a specific brand that people know, and we want to do a really good job of making these kinds of movies so that people will be excited. We don’t want to be anything other than that. Awesome! Thanks so much for talking to me. Thank you!
Adam Saunders Interview photo
So... what exactly does a producer do?
The role of a producer has always been kind of opaque to me. I just fundamentally get what directors do, cinematographers do, writers, etc., but "Producer" is such a broad term and encompasses so many things. For that reasons...

NYCC: Thoughts on Disney's Tomorrowland panel

Oct 10 // Nick Valdez
Big Hero 6 was also a headliner during the panel, but unfortunately there's still not enough present to make me believe that's it going to be more than its recent glut of trailers. While the newest trailer focuses on someone other than Baymax for once (adorable as the squishy robot is, there is a limit), it's certainly telling that we were really waiting for all of the Tomorrowland details to kick in. At the panel, we were shown Tomorrowland's first teaser (found here), but after a surprise appearance from George Clooney (who's made his first comic-con appearance ever) we got an even better look at his character. Through the clip, he seems to be an ornery old man named Frank who seems to know a lot more about this "other world." He lives in a booby trapped house (the clip showed his many traps and fighting robot abilities. Yes there are robots), Casey (the girl in the trailer) is alluded to be a fugitive (as gentleman in black suits come to Frank's house to find her), his bathtub is a rocket ship, and sorry I couldn't remember the clip in greater detail. Basically, I'm not sure what to expect from Tomorrowland. The tone seems to work okay (as in, everything is serious without seeming overtly dark), Brad Bird seems to be excited from the project, and George Clooney even showed up to prove how much he's invested in one of the, what he dubs, larger projects he's been a part of (although he stated Batman & Robin turned him off completely) At least we won't be draped in mystery for long as Tomorrowland releases May 22, 2015.
NYCC Disney photo
More like George Swooney
Yesterday morning was the official start of 2014's New York Comic Con. What was originally a press day was opened to the public thanks to the other three days filling up so quickly. We'll have smaller impressions up throughout the weekend, but for now, I'm going to dish out some details regarding the big opening panel: Disney's Tomorrowland.

Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Michael Pena, America Ferrera, Gabriel Mann (Cesar Chavez)

Mar 28 // Nick Valdez
There's quite a bit of pressure on this because Latinos don't really get a lot of representation, and the fact that Cesar Chavez finally has a movie is a big deal. How was it taking part in this film knowing everything was going to be heavily critiqued? America Ferrera (AF): I would urge especially someone who has a vested interest in Latino stories being told. I think the other point of view is to say "This is the film about this story being made" which is shocking, and it shouldn't be the first and it shouldn't be the only. The hope is that a story this big with this many perspectives, characters, and events, and issues would need so many stories, movies, TV shows, books to really get the scope of it. Diego is incredibly brave by being the first because as you say, one way to look at it is there is an enormous amount of criticism on the first to be all things to everyone and it's just impossible to expect one film to be all of those things, so what we hope more than anything is our own community, the Latino community, shows up to support this film because it's the only way more films like it are going to be made. It doesn't have to be the last word, it's just the beginning of the conversation. Michael Pena (MP): You're just opening up the book on this one. It's funny, in a perfect world there's got to be someone that steps out and takes a stance. Diego Luna was one of them. In a perfect world this would be a 30 to 40 million dollar movie, and we would have way more days, way more extras, and it would be a three hour movie. Gandhi was a three hour movie. You need to know where the person started from and how he got there. We're taking diagonally the last ten years of what he did. I think it's great to have a movie like this out.  Gabriel Mann (GM): I think also when you approach a project, you can never approach it from a place of fear. I think if you were to approach from the fact that "Oh there's so much pressure on everyone to get the story right" then it would never get made. Honestly those are the things that start to come into play more now, and maybe that was the case for Diego and the people who pulled all of this together.  Speaking of fear, knowing you're going to play the "villain," do you have to get into a certain mindset?  GM: What was great about this movie and Diego's approach as a storyteller was that nothing was black and white. There were a lot of subtleties. When I looked at it, I wasn't looking at him as villain. These people felt justified, the grape growers and business owners, and the behavior they were involved with. That's the way I approached it, and when it all came together, it all became clear who was on the right side and who was on the wrong side of history.  So Michael, I know you've done comedic stuff on the side, but you're able to come back to the drama quite well. What influences your dramatic work?  MP: Everybody has humor, but when I started looking at my own life, when I was living in shit, in the ghetto, that's one of the best times I ever had. We didn't know we lived in the ghetto or that life was hard, that was just our life. And I had great parents. Cesar had the same kind of mentality. He had a great partner in Helen. He tried to make the best of what it was, and this story has a lot to deal with that. Yeah you're doing something that's going to be beneficial and it's going to change America, but you're still trying to enjoy life because if not, why do it? This guy was courageous, a reluctant hero. I'm just glad his story's being told.  Do you have to have a certain mindset in order to rally, to shout "Huelga!" MP: For me it's always good to work in present time. My brother got fired from a bank, I used to work at a bank. I caught some heavy resentment toward these guys who were giving themselves bonuses when they got a bailout. It was really shitty, to be honest with you. You know, you scuk at your job, the country's suffering for it, you go bankrupt, and then you give yourself and your colleagues bonuses? I thought that was straight bullshit. And I think it's kind of what Chavez thought at the time. It's unjust, unfair, unnecessary, and somebody's taking advantage of whatever loopholes they can. I think that's what happened. When you deal with it in front of your face, mistreated in front of you, that's when you have to speak up. Somebody has to, and thank god Cesar did.  How were you [to Michael] first approached for the role of Cesar Chavez? MP: When I was first emailed about Cesar Chavez, I was like "Whoa, wait, is Cesar Chavez the boxer or civil rights activist? Cause if it's the boxer, they should get someone Mexican. And thank god it was the civil rights activist because I had heard about him. But I didn't really know his story until I started doing the research and figured that's a great reason to do the movie. And I like it because it's almost like voting where you say "my voice doesn't matter," but if one person in every town voted that didn't think their voice was important, then it would make a difference in every election.  AF: And that's especially true in the Latino community today. There are a lot of issues that Latinos care about in the same way Americans do: healthcare, access to education. But we don't show up to represent ourselves. If we don't vote or educate our communities then the things we care about are not going to be put on the table. And as we've seen in recent years, just the tiniest notch up of Latinos showing up at the polls created an entire conversation around immigration reform. So in order for the things we care about to be on a political agenda, we have to show up for ourselves politically. Was Cesar was fighting for then was engagement, show up, stand up for yourselves is the same message that we should be sharing with our communities today. 
Cesar Chavez Interview photo
Yes we can...talk about Cesar Chavez!
My final interview of SXSW was a three on one with Michael Pena, America Ferrera, and Gabriel Mann. I had just seen the screening for Cesar Chavez the night before, and we were all kind of pumped to talk about the movie. Just...

Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Tom Savini, Alexander O. Phillipe (Doc of the Dead)

Mar 20 // Nick Valdez
Because we're talking about a zombie movie, I guess we'll just start off with, "What's your favorite type of zombie?" Tom Savini (TS): Favorite type? Usually they ask us what would be the scariest zombie. The answer to that is when they get together and herd, come at you thirty at a time, that's the scary one. But favorite? I don't know there's been, like even in Dawn of the Dead we had the nun and the baseball player, and in the remake we had the Jay Leno zombie. But favorite? You know what, it's hard to pick a favorite because they're all my children. You can't pick a favorite child.  Alexander O. Phillipe (AOP): Yeah, I feel the same way. I would say if I had to pick one, I would probably go with Bob in Day of the Dead. I think he's a really interesting zombie. I like the kind of remnant of humanity, but yeah I'm definitely more of a slow, classic zombie type of guy.  TS: I haven't thought about that in Dawn. Yeah, David Emge [Stephen in Dawn of the Dead], to me, that was a zombie performance. As an actor in the movie who turns into a zombie, you got the guy who got bitten in the neck. He's one of my favorites. For his performance, for the way he walked. Even though he was a dead person brought back to life, he incorporated that shot in the leg, and the bite in the neck... AOP: Yeah! Yeah, yeah, yeah, right! TS: He incorporated that stuff into his performance.  Speaking of performances and zombies, you know how The Walking Dead enroll the extras in a "school" to teach them how to act a certain way, do you think it advances performances in the zombie field?  TS: It doesn't, it doesn't. It all boils down to "just walk slow." In the previous interview we were talking about, when I did Night of the Living Dead, we hired a "movement instructor" who conducted classes. Telling people that, "You're no longer in your body, your body was left hanging someplace. Something took it over, and is making it move. You know, something that perhaps never moved a human body before. So how would they know how to walk?" Then the people were doing incredibly hilarious [makes awesome gestures] crap. So we stopped it. We stopped and said, just walk slow. That got the best performances  [laughs] But, but in World War Z! Speaking of zombie performances, those were zombie performances.  AOP: That was freaky stuff, yeah.  TS: they were crazy, individual performances of zombies. So I love that. It wasn't just some guy with make up on, walking slow, there were performances.  So there's a personality behind the death?  TS: Personality as perceived by what you put together when you meet somebody. Their look, based on how they speak, or how they move. These are all things that come together maybe in your mind differently. So personality wise, you only get what you get. All you got from that one guy was (chatters teeth), and that's all you needed. You were afraid. You were afraid of him. So Mr. Phillippe, what exactly do you want people to take away from Doc of the Dead?  AOP: Well you know, here's the thing. What we worked really really hard on is to make sure that this is a film that was obviously going to appeal to zombie fans. So I think even the most hardcore zombie fans are going to find things and discover things that they may not be aware of, or at the very least, have a very, very large amount of fan service. I think it's a lot of fun for zombie fans. But I also wanted to make a film that is very accessible to people who, you know, may be just wondering what is going on right now, what is happening in culture. Maybe they stumbled upon a zombie walk and asked "What is this all about?" So I think people who have no understanding or no knowledge, or zombies will also get a lot from that. So, that's the hope.  TS: I like what you said in there, you're appealing to the nerds and greeks.  AOP. Greeks?  [laughs] TS: Being nerds and geeks ourselves, just imagine. I haven't seen the film, but you know what it's about, imagine the theater filled with the nerds and the geeks drooling, loving the fact that there's something about all aspects of zombies.  AOP: Absolutely, I think zombies are going to love it. You know we've been interviewed already by a few publications that are zombie centric and they seemed to have loved the film, so that's a good sign.  TS: Zombie centric? I like that (laughs). You know Pittsburgh is zombie centric.  AOP: Of yeah, of course.  There have been some complaints, on the internet... TS: You mean "The Asylum"? [laughs]...that there is, maybe an oversaturation of zombie culture. And a film like Doc of the Dead may be adding on to that. Do you have any response to that? AOP: I totally disagree with that. I think Doc of the Dead is exactly, and I'm very passionate about pop culture, so I will defend that time and time again. This idea that pop culture is very important and needs to be documented. So if there is too much of zombies out there, then now's the time to document it because, you know 20 or 30 years down the road, we are going to look back at some point and say "What was happening then?" And I also disagree that there's too much, the fact that there's so many zombies out there is awesome! TS: I think it's impossible. It's impossible to say there's an oversaturation because the movie's talking about what's already been out there. It's not creating a whole new wave, a new zombie movie. So if you think what's already out there is oversaturation, are you kidding? The nerds and the geeks will never get enough. Never get enough.  AOP: I'm never gonna get enough. You know I want to watch more zombie movies. I feel it's exciting in this day and age, when it seems like everything has been done, and yet people still come up with new stuff. That's what's exciting to me.  TS: Like World War Z.  Now that World War Z has advanced the idea of a moving herd, what's your best guess of the next evolution of the zombie?  TS: You know you're asking the question that a bunch of creative, brainstorming people who get together for the next zombie movie try to come up with. So that's a good one. I don't know, maybe they all speak in British accents.  [laughs]  But I have, there's a possible movie that I'm involved in called Death Island, where all the zombies are black. And they're covered in mud and scars, which sort of makes them look camoflauged, and they kind of blend into the scenery. There's a great scene where the director's talking to a woman, there's an uncomfortable pause as you're looking at the trees. And the 18 zombies that have been standing there the whole time, come forward. It shows you, this is a suspense gimmick, okay? In the daytime you won't be able to see them. So, that's a unique thing. Also, I want to incorporate a zombie point of view. In Night of the Living Dead I wasn't allowed to show a zombie point of view. I wanted a decrepit, kind of black and white, weird, myopic point of view. And George Romero said, no because that would give life into them. Yeah, but they're walking into each other. They're not walking into buildings. They clearly they can see. And my reason to do it would be as a suspense gimmick. Like if we're sitting here talking, and you see a zombie point of view of us from 30 feet away, as soon as you cut back to us the scare has started. Because you know they're in proximity. The best scares come from suspense. So that hasn't been done yet, so don't steal it, don't use it, it's in my god damn movie. [laughs] AOP: I think what we're going to see more of, and we're already seeing it, is the zombie comedies, zombie romantic comedies, PG-13 zombie movies, kids. TS: Oh there's books, there's children's books now. Zombie Squirts is one. It's a book against bullying, using zombie kids as the metaphor. But when you think about it, these are dead kids there. that's horrible! (laughs) You took Greg Nicotero under your wing a while back, did you expect him to blow up into the big artist he is today?  TS: To be the King of Zombies? No, not back then. The best zombies that exist today are things he's creating on The Walking Dead. And he's giving homages constantly to my zombies. There's been a Bub zombie in the Walking Dead, the David Emge zombie, and maybe I should talk about it because it hasn't happened yet, but there's a few more homages coming up.  AOP: There's a screwdriver zombie too, isn't there? The one who gets it in the eye?   Yeah, there's one that gets it in the eye.  TS: But I've known Greg since he was 14. I'm just so proud of him. So proud of what he's doing.  One final question to go out on. If an apocalypse were to break out right now, how prepared are you?  TS: Very. I don't know about him. AOP: Not at all. Not all all.  TS: All the windows of my house have bars on them, not because of zombies! Because of people! I'm afraid of people!  I have quite the huge gun collection, lots of ammo, so I'm ready.  AOP: And you know why I'm not, right? Cause it's not gonna happen.  TS: It's in the movies, but there are people that are preparing. And believing that there really is going to be an apocalypse. But these are the people that believe in wrestling.  [laughs] 
Doc of the Dead Interview photo
Talking zombies with two zombie gurus
For those of you who don't know Tom Savini, he's a big idol of mine. A special effect mastermind who's created some of the best creatures in the business. You might remember him from his stints in Knightriders, From Dusk Till...


Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Hugh Sullivan and Hannah Marshall (The Infinite Man)

Time travel, love and Australia with Infinite Man director Hugh Sullivan and star Hannah Marshall
Mar 12
// Matthew Razak
Coming out of the still ongoing SXSW film festival The Infinite Man was easily the biggest surprise. I expected very little and got a whole lot, including what's probably the best comedy of the festival. I was intrigued ...

Interview: Drinking Buddies (Cast and Director)

Aug 21 // Geoff Henao
I had a video interview maybe half an hour ago. It was the first time I had makeup on. It’s weird. Anna Kendrick: Do you feel like you’re wearing a mask? No, not really. It’s very subtle, so I think she just touched up my natural beauty. I’m just kidding. AK: You’re glowing. Am I? Yeah. It’s beautiful. Jake Johnson: It’s probably a pregnancy. To be honest, I didn’t even know it was going to be set in Chicago. That’s my hometown, born and raised. How important was that to you [Joe Swanberg] to have it set in Chicago? And Revolution [Brewing], too, of all breweries. That’s actually a really amazing brewery. Joe Swanberg: It was really important, and [was] actually one of the things that Jake and I talked about at the very beginning. The possibility came up of maybe shooting it somewhere else. It was almost like if we don’t do it in Chicago, we might as well not make the movie. JJ: The financiers wanted us to go do it in Boston, and everything got very real. Joe and I had this talk where, “Okay, it works in Boston, and here’s how.” It just doesn’t. It’s a Chicago movie. JS: When I thought about the idea… It’s the first film I made where I was location-specific in that way, and I had ideas in mind. In the beginning, I wanted them drinking at the Empty Bottle; I wanted them playing pool in that specific pool room. How I pictured shooting it, and once I went in that direction, then it was fun to go all the way there and really make it a Chicago movie. But also, hopefully not in that kind of celebratory inside baseball way that I’ve seen in some films sometimes, where it’s like, “Alright, we get it! It’s Chicago!” But if you live in Chicago, it feels right to you. It’s the kinds of places these characters live. JJ: It doesn’t feel like it’s on a sound stage at CBS where they’re like, “We love Chicago!” JS: Let’s stick up [Chicago] Cubs stickers everywhere. That’s how I felt. It felt really natural to me, but still has that appeal to people who don’t live in the city, or aren’t aware of the city. They’ll understand, “Oh, a big brewery! A really nice bar/venue place, pool table, very distinct.” What was the… poop, I’m brain farting right now. AK: Did you just say poop instead of shit? Yeah. AK: Awesome. Sorry. What was the influence for the film? What inspired you to direct it? JS: A couple of things. Definitely craft beer. Just being, for about five years now, I’ve sort of been immersing myself in that world, and just really discovering it, just figuring out that there were such a thing as a craft brewery, and feeling like those companies were pushing the envelope. Also, there’s kind of a David and Goliath thing going on in craft beer right now anyway because the macro breweries control something like 92% of the market, and every craft brewery combined is the other 8%. It’s tough for them to get shelf space, it’s tough for them to convince people, especially in a bad economy, to spend extra money on a product that they could get for really cheap. All that stuff was interesting to me to think about, characters working in that world. I have friends that I went to high school with and friends that I’ve met since that work at breweries around Chicago, so I kind of starting to learn a little about that. I also wanted to make a movie… I just wanted the films to kind of grow up with me and sort of always reflect where I was at certain points in my life. As I look around at people that are going from their late-20s into their early-30s now, I’m seeing a lot of friends of mine really getting serious about the marriage question, and the idea of settling down. People have different responses to it: some people are really excited to make that commitment and do that, and other people really freak out and buck against it. I just wanted to throw a bunch of characters into that point in a relationship. The ending itself is kind of muted. That last scene is very silent, and it’s not the way more films like that would conclude. Did you have any other ideas? Did you shoot any other endings? JS: We thought about taking it a little… The additional ending wouldn’t have changed anything, but it was one of those instances where in the editing room, it became abundantly clear to me that that other scene wasn’t going to add anything to the movie. I’m really trying to think about that lately, making each scene important and valuable. And also, a lot of the influence from other movies I’m taking and thinking about lately have to do with having a somewhat satisfying ending, which is nice to finish a movie and walk out with a smile on your face. I think some part of me used to think that was really lame, and these days, I’m actually really excited about that. Ron Livingston: Well Joseph, you’re getting older. You got a son now. You got to think of the future. JS: I think you can get away with more. If you let the audience walk out with a smile on their face, they’ll forget that you rubbed their face in shit, maybe, for 90 minutes. I think it buys you a little bit with those people. That scene at the table, which was initially the second to last scene, as soon as I put it into the cut, I was like, “Okay, we’re done telling that story.” How do you guys feel about your characters? Jake, your character, I think, was probably the most innocent in that he never really crossed over that boundary, but was still tiptoeing that line a lot. How do you feel about your character’s guilt? JJ: I think that’s interesting. Olivia [Wilde] and I were talking about that, but I think that, and Anna and I had a discussion on this, but I think that Luke is pretty guilty. I think the lines are blurred. I don’t think there are necessarily good guys or bad guys in this movie, and it’s what I like about it. I think it’s a realistic look of people… I don’t think Luke is ready to get married. I think he’s very scared of that, but I don’t think he’s ready to lose Jill, so he’s in that tough spot that I think a lot of people get into. It’s like, “I’ve been in this long-term relationship. I don’t want to lose it, but I’m not ready to grow up and get married and take that last step.” This is his last kind of tango with this fantasy girl where everything falls into a perfect line of his fiancée, or soon-to-be fiancée is gone, here’s this other girl coming on hard, and then in the movie, he gets beaten up, cut up, and then he realizes he wants to go home. I feel that he’s guilty, and what he did, he shouldn’t be proud of, but in this movie, everybody’s got blood on their hands. Even Ron’s character, when I was re-watching, I’ve seen the movie three times… That’s a good segue, by the way. JJ: He’s a snake, too! They were on that hike, and I didn’t realize it in the first sitting, but he was planting these seeds of, “Oh, he’s making moves on her from the beginning!” There were a lot of laughs in the audience when you pulled out the wine. JS: I was so happy. When you say, “Had I met someone like her, you…” Obviously, when we were shooting it, [the reaction] was exactly what I was looking for. It’s so difficult to know whether that’s going to play. And it played so well. It hit well. It hit really well. JS: And everybody was instantly, “Ooooh!” JJ: Well, I missed it watching it. JS: Yeah, that’s what I mean. JJ: And when I saw it up there [at its premiere], I thought he was just like… I really like that thing of I missed it before. AK: I think I was worried, in that moment, it would feel just [controversial], and I could feel the audience going, “What’s her face doing?! What’s happening, what’s happening?! What is this moment?!” JS: I’m sorry to detour a little bit, but that’s why movies always still need to be shown in movie theaters. It’s great that people can order it and download it and watch it on their laptops, but you do not catch moments like that as well on your laptop. You just don’t. JJ: Well, I missed it until last night, because that whole thing you [Livingston] were saying about the whole, “15 years ago, if I would have…” I just thought Chris is just kind of thinking, and talking out loud, and getting into character. I didn’t realize he was making a play right then until the audience laughed, and I went like, “..what? Oh my god, this fucking snake’s at it!” When Anna did the move of, “I’m feeling nervous right now,” when I saw that, she’s taking the reins, so this is on Jill, but really from the beginning, when [Chris said], “Oh, you’re a teacher? That’s really impressive,” I was sitting there like, “Oh, he was making plays from the start!” Yeah, she was feeding off of his lines. And what you [Swanberg] were saying, too, about the crowd participation, you definitely miss that if you’re at home, in your dark room, on your laptop. AK: Also on your cell phone. JS: And checking your email occasionally. AK: Like just opening a window. I won’t miss anything important. JS: I can still hear it. Going off of what Jake said with your reactions. Your character is very awkward sometimes, and I really like that, because… I don’t know, you play that well. AK: Awkward? Thanks... yeah. I didn’t mean anything negative about that, sorry. Your character was very nervous, but she was innocent, too, except for that one moment. JJ: I get the feeling you were late with that part. AK: I mean, yeah. When we were making it, and then even, which surprised me, when I was watching it, I kept thinking like, “I should just say something. Just say something.” And I wasn’t sure what Joe was going to end up using, and I knew if he didn’t like it, he wouldn’t use it. But even so, I was like, “Oh Anna, you are fucking it up. Say something!” But I think that’s who she is. She’s comfortable with silence. I don’t think it’s as much that she’s nervous. I mean, there are certainly plenty of moments where she’s nervous, because she’s in uncharted territory a little bit sometimes, but I think for the most part, she knows who she is, and that’s based on a person I know whom I’m very impressed with. I just wanted her to be comfortable just listening because she’s cool and she knows who she is and she doesn’t have to constantly chatter, which I have a tendency to do. What I meant with the awkwardness thing, your facial expressions, that’s what I meant. You play them off, like especially in that scene where Ron’s character starts spitting game at you, laying down that line. AK: Yeah, I think she is a little unsure of what to do with that… RL: Spitting game? JJ: The subtitle of this is going to be, “Ron Livingston is spitting game.” Sorry, that’s my hometown vernacular coming out. JJ: It’s perfect. He was. I’m a professional, guys. I’m wearing a tie! JJ: I didn’t realize he was spitting fucking game. AK: This is a girl who has been in a relationship since she was 21 and has just been comfortable with that and hasn’t really noticed other guys that much. And then it’s like, “Something… what is happening?” I think she’s a little in uncharted territory, and then she does decide to go for it, it’s not like she’s a victim. But I think that’s exciting that she’s like, “Oh, is something… is something happening?” JS: I think she’s so brave, too, to tell him… It’s something that I’m taking from Kris [Williams Swanberg], my wife. She’s so good at just talking to me and telling me things, whereas for me, any kind of indiscretion or thing I’m embarrassed about or anything, I’m just like, “That’ll get bottled up and never see the light of day.” That stuff starts to eat at you a little bit. Over the course of your entire life, all of the things you should have told somebody, but didn’t… those aren’t necessarily good to just live inside of you. I think that’s such a hard, brave thing to do to look at somebody you love and acknowledge to them that you hurt them or did something wrong to them. But then that’s how people heal and get over things. If everybody in a relationship was just, “Well, I did that thing, but I’m big enough to live with it. I don’t need to bother them with it. I don’t want to hurt them.” You’re just collecting scars over time. I really wanted that character… I think it’s just so admirable. It’s really important to me that that confession happen. And that he [Johnson’s character, Luke] doesn’t confess. He’s just like, “Oh, it’s fine. You’re forgiven.” What he’s really saying is, “I did it, too, but I’m not big enough to acknowledge it to you. I can’t reciprocate right now.” RL: I think that character is the one who, of all of them, is the most able to… She lives and dies by naming the elephant in the room, whether it’s, “We have to talk. The marriage thing is the big elephant in the room.” This kiss thing is the elephant in the room. I feel like, in a way, she kind of teaches everybody else, like you guys, you [Johnson] and Olivia, spend the whole movie getting to that scene in the end where it just hits you in the stomach where Olivia is like, “I’m single,” and it’s like [Luke goes], “Don’t go there, don’t go there, don’t go there.” But you finally need to go there and name what is this thing. And I actually like the fact that, I think Chris kind of gets from interacting with Anna, he actually becomes able to name the thing in the room saying like, “I’m too old for you. This doesn’t make any sense. I don’t know what we’re doing.” I don’t think he’s going to do any better. I think he’s probably either go do the same shit until he’s just old and dead, or find somebody his own age, but I don’t think he’ll ever be able to manage that. But that elephant in the room thing is big in this movie. I agree. Just like a little sidebar back to what you [Kendrick] were saying, you kind of implied that there was some ad-libbing and improvising. Did you stay as close to the script as possible? Everyone: There was no script. Oh really? Oh wow. AK: There was no script. There was no paper. JJ: There was an outline, so we knew what was happening. We knew what the story was, we knew what the scene was, and everything was blocked out, but all of the dialogue was improvised. The story was in place, but the dialogue was improvised. So the chemistry amongst you guys was real then. AK: Things got really weird. RL: It’s funny, because that goes a long way. We get to that first apartment, and you look around and it’s like, “Well, I guess I’m playing a guy who lives here. I guess he’s persnickety because this place is persnickety.” And then he says, “You need to put a drink on a coaster,” and it’s like, “Who puts Olivia Wilde’s drink on a coaster?” And it’s like, “Well, he’s that guy.” It’s like more constricting than having a bunch of lines. That’s true. That’s also how Chicago is. Every neighborhood is segregated, it’s a different a lifestyle, there’s different people. The area fits. Okay, final question: Beers. Do you guys have favorite beers? Especially considering [the film]. JS: I could talk five hours about it. Yeah, right now, if I had to take one beer to an island, it would be Three Floyds Zombie Dust. It’s an IPA. But that changes all the time. That’s just my “right now” beer. What about you guys? Any particulars? AK: I just tried a beer from my hometown called Allagash Curieux. It’s really nice. Jake? JJ: I’ll take a Stoli on ice. Ron? RL: Yeah, I’m going to demure on this one. Alright, thanks guys. That was awesome. 
Drinking Buddies Inter. photo
Anna Kendrick, Ron Livingston, Joe Swanberg, and Jake Johnson walk into a bar...
On an early afternoon in Austin, TX, I had a chance to sit down with the cast and director of Drinking Buddies, which consisted of Anna Kendrick (End of Watch), Jake Johnson (Safety Not Guaranteed), Ron Livingston (Office Spa...

Flixclusive Interview: Cutie and the Boxer

Aug 19 // Hubert Vigilla
One of the most striking things about Cutie and the Boxer is the verite, fly-on-the-wall feel of the film. A narrative forms simply through observation and editing, and yet there's a naturalism to the footage, whether it involves Ushio and Noriko at home or showing their work for galleries. To achieve this with without succumbing to the observer effect (i.e., people change their behavior when a camera is present), trust needs to develop between a documentary filmmaker and the subjects. This grew over the course of the five-year shoot, but in some ways it wasn't too much of a change for either Ushio or Noriko. "They've both been documented, and Ushio especially," Zach explained. "He loves the camera, he encourages people to film him." Ushio was already a famous artist in Japan before moving to New York. "Cameras would just come and film my private life, so it's nothing that would affect me," he said. "When I was being filmed by Japanese crews [in New York], one of my favorite things to do was go out drinking with the crew without Noriko." Ushio recalled that the Japanese crews would bring lots of money to spend while following Ushio around. "I really enjoyed the whole process a lot. So when Zach came and filmed, it was no detriment to anything." "Except we didn't go out drinking afterwards," Zach laughed. "Zach used to stay until 12:00 AM or 1:00 AM," Noriko added. "[Basically] until he became tired and went home. At first he didn't drink so much, not at the time. Now I can see he can drink a whole bottle of wine," she laughed. While Noriko generally concurred with Ushio given that artists are used to a certain kind of creative exhibitionism, she said that she still had to get used to Zach's presence. By the end of the shooting process, she thought of Zach as a natural part of their home, like a coffee cup. One part of this extensive documentation comes from an older documentary on Ushio that looks like it was made in the early 1970s. We watch Ushio gather cardboard to create his massive sculptures--Harleys, dinosaurs--and then go to work on his actions paintings, which are done with paint-soaked boxing gloves. It all helps provide context for his place in the art world when he came to the city. But there's also the self-documentation that Ushio and Noriko have engaged in over the years. It's not just the autobiographic Cutie series that Noriko has been working on either. In the living room, in this work space, there are countless photo albums and home videos which provide intimate looks into their lives as a family and as two artists. When Ushio is boxing with a canvas during the opening credits, there's Noriko snapping photos. Their vast collection of home movies and photographs was logged, sorted, and translated by a small team as part of the making of Cutie and the Boxer. "More than a hundred hours, right?" Noriko asked. "Now it's organized!" Zach laughed. "Because of you!" Some of this previous documentation and self-documentation is revelatory. One video in particular shows Ushio among friends getting more and more drunk, and then venting his frustrations about being an acclaimed yet struggling artist. Just sitting across from him, I still a sensed great pride and seriousness about his work. And yet some of the home video footage is revealing simply for being mundane. "Their trips to Bermuda would just be Ushio filming a plant like for 10 minutes," Zach laughed. "And then he would find a lizard and film that. And then Noriko you would see occasionally when he would pan, and we'd be like, 'Oh! A shot of Noriko!' and maybe something would come out of it." Those lingering shots makes sense in a lot of ways. Though Ushio admitted he doesn't always rewatch the videos since it's mostly a hobby, he took hours of footage as possible inspiration for his work. Noriko just popping into frame also makes some sense in the context of the film and  their relationship. Noriko had always been in Ushio's shadow to some degree. Some of that is due to their culture and their age difference (Ushio turned 81 this year, Noriko 60), though some of it was also Ushio's own pride. My digital recorder unfortunately conked out for a bit so I can't provide Ushio's exact words, but I recall him admitting that he was surprised by how prominent a role Noriko had in Cutie and the Boxer. He'd assumed the documentary would mostly be about him. Cutie and the Boxer is still a movie about Ushio as much as it is about Noriko. Watching the film, I got a sense that it was Noriko who's kept Ushio going. Without her, it's hard to say where he'd be. Noriko described artists in a relationship as two flowers sharing the same pot. Ushio may be a flower that needs some form of symbiosis to thrive, though he may be unwilling to admit it. And yet Ushio did say, without reservation, how much he enjoyed the way the documentary showed Noriko come into her own as an artist. He's genuinely proud of her, and he's not too proud to admit that. Ushio and Noriko's son Alex is a kind of third flower who pops up in the film every now and then. While his role in the film isn't prominent, his presence in the documentary is still crucial for exploring Ushio and Noriko's long relationship. "Alex was one of the so-called 'SoHo loft kids,'" Ushio said. "He was the son of artists, and there were those kinds of families there back then. He grew up in that kind of community so he had no kind of exposure to the family life of a lawyer, a politician, or a professor, and that sort. He was in a distinct position to become an artist, because that was the only kind of life that he knows and would see." "For him, art is easy, but after he graduated, he saw the reality," Noriko said. "It's difficult to show your work in a gallery and to sell. It was a different world. So he saw the reality, and he started struggling in life after he graduated. As part of the struggle, he became an alcoholic." She added, "When Zach was filming us, that was probably the most difficult time for Alex. Now Alex is becoming a serious artist." There will be a gallery show for the three artists of the Shinohara family in Japan to coincide with the Japanese release of Cutie and the Boxer. Alex's new work may be the centerpiece of the show. "Luckily he inherited Norkio's and my talent," Ushio said. "There could be a separate film just about Alex," Zach said, "but in this film, we wanted his role to be tied into the sacrifices Ushio and Noriko made to have this sort of artist lifestyle. It can cause a lot of chaos and issues with raising a kid." When Alex does appear in the film, he seems a bit withdrawn, which is part of the struggles he was facing at the time. They even address his drinking outright over dinner. There's also footage of Alex as a kid growing up, and while the circumstances of life in an artist's home must have been different and possibly more stressful than the life of a suburban kid, it has its many lighter moments. "There's actually one particular episode [in junior high]," Ushio began. "Alex was taking a French class and he stopped going. The teacher said, 'It's okay, you're more concentrated in your art, but if you want to pass this class, make a sculpture of a fruit basket. If you do that, I'll let you pass.' So then I helped him make the fruit basket. He passed the class." This contrast of ups and downs in an artist's life (and an artists' child's life) is one of those key parts of Cutie and the Boxer. It's a fundamental question about what makes great art. "There's always this question in the film: 'Is it worth it?'" Zach said. "Is what Noriko went through with Ushio worth the art that she has today, or is the lifestyle that they lived worth the work that they've produced. It's important to see all of the aspect; all the scars and the wounds, the highs and the lows." That brought me back to the nature of history, which is in one respect a chronicle of cause and effect relationship and the marks that different events leave behind. The New York of the 1960s and 1970s is the idea of New York in most artists' minds. Over time, more and more transplants (myself included) have come to the city to make it as painters, actors, sculptors, writers, and filmmakers. But despite the starry-eyed romance of everyone new to the city, the New York of the 1970s is gone, and it's become prohibitively expensive to live in SoHo or even Alphabet City, which in the 70s and 80s was a wasteland of dope fiends, rubble piles, and dead ends. (Really, it's too expensive to live in New York in general, yet these are the trade-offs for fewer tenement fires and greater safety.) "Back then, New York was the center of American pop culture and pop art," Ushio reminisced about the cultural scene of the time. "But now there's a more international influence." "New York is a product of these immigrants coming from all over and doing new and interesting things," Zach said, himself a young transplant to the city. "Ushio and Norkio were both a part of that in that glory period, and they were living in the part of the city that represents what people think about when you think about the New York art world. It's the reason people come today." Noriko had her own memories of New York in its mythic glory period. "Sometimes we'd sneak out of our SoHo loft [when we still lived there] and go to bars. At that time, many artists--dancers, writers, musicians, artists--were working as waiters or waitresses. Back then, the third drink was always free! We don't hear this anymore. That's what I miss. "In June we went to Italy," she added. "Milan. And we found some outdoor local bar. I liked it there, so we went back, and the manager was so impressed. Third time we went there, it was free! That's where I find the old spirit!" "I think if you go back to SoHo, you can't find that spirit anymore," Zach said. "It's harder and harder to find it. Maybe it's in Bushwick. Having something then and having something now that retains that spirit is so rare, I think, and it's one of the things I find so fascinating about both Ushio and Noriko." "You can go to Sunnyside in Queens," Noriko replied. "My friend said that happy hour at a bar is like 35 cents or 50 cents, something like that. In 1975, happy hour was like 35 cents and there was food! Free bar food!" Ushio began to speak to Noriko in Japanese, and though I couldn't understand, I think he was asking her for a chance to respond. Noriko smiled and nodded and let Ushio have a turn. I sensed that in this brief exchange was the heart of their relationship, which has held together, a constant, since the early 1970s: they share, sometimes Noriko more than Ushio, but they share. "Twenty-seven years ago I came to DUMBO, and back then there was no one around here," Ushio remembered. "But since then, there's been a lot of changes. I feel lucky that I moved here and got this space." Cutie and The Boxer is now playing in limited release.
Cutie & Boxer Interview photo
Zachary Heinzerling and artists Ushio & Noriko Shinohara talk about art and the spirit of New York
I might have missed Ushio and Noriko Shinohara's apartment if it wasn't for the doorbell and the little handwritten sign above it. Now it seems so obvious. Around their home there's a bridal shop, some nice places for lunch, ...

The Raid 2 info photo
Hell yeah.
Did you know that The Raid: Redemption director Gareth Evans co-directed a short for the upcoming V/H/S/2? It's true, and it's freaking awesome. It's by far the best part of either V/H/S film, so I was extremely excited when ...

Flixclusive Interview: Jason Blum (producer of The Purge)

Jun 05 // Sean Walsh
Sean - So how are you doing today? Jason Blum - Very good, very good, lot's of chatting. Yes, I imagine so, hopefully I'll ask you some questions you haven't heard a dozen, two dozen times today. Oh good, I'm ready for that. Alright, so, we'll get right to it. What was it that drew you to The Purge? We really, you know Paranormal Activity, Sinister, Insidious, if you're a director sitting in my office, you're saying what are we looking for? We're looking for movies that can be told inexpensively so we hold on to creative control and that are high concept movies. So The Purge is the perfect, you know, the perfect Blum House movie in my mind because it's a big huge concept that's made up of this idea of this going on only 12 hours out of the year. And it's told, instead of trying to tell a lot of stories that are out in the world, it's told from one family’s very specific perspective so it's very intimate. That allows you to do it for a price. So it really, it's my dream movie. They don't happen often, but when I heard it I was like 'Oh my God we have to make that movie.' So having, you know obviously spent a lot of time with The Purge, have you given any thought to what you would do during the Purge, given the chance? I would lock my door and put my head under my pillow. (laughs) That's a fair answer. So what led to you becoming a Producer? You know, producers are one of those kind of amorphous blobs when people think about roles in film-making and obviously you've produced a lot of stuff, so could you give us some insight into kind of that whole process of becoming a producer and what a Producer  does besides throw money at things? I've always kind of grew up with creative people and in college my friends were mostly actors so I've always liked them. What a Producer does really is takes ideas and tries to convert them into whatever you're producing, you know in my case being movies and TV shows. And so in the case of The Purge, we identified the script and put the budget and schedule together, worked on getting the right actors, work on giving  our story advice along the way and then, obviously raising the money first and then spending the money second. Making sure that with each movie we spend the amount that we've raised and then that's kind of the first half of the job. And the second half of the job is what I'm doing with you now, kind of getting the finished movie out there in the world. That's what a producer does. And I got into it because I've always wanted to do it, I majored in film and economics in school and I've always loved movies and TV shows and never had any desire to write or direct so this was a way I could get involved with the medium I loved using the skill set that I think I have as opposed to what I don't which would be directing. So, looking at your IMDb page, you've worked with Ethan Hawke on a small handful of movies now, is he as awesome in real life as I imagine he is? He really is, he's one of my best friends and he's great actor. It's so fun to work with someone, you know, we've had a twenty year friendship and it's so fun to work with someone who I'm so close to. We have such a short hand and we have great you know, creative conversations about the movies and what we're doing and what we're doing with our lives and the decisions we make career wise and everything else. It's just really fun to have a collaborator like that. I can definitely see the perks to that. Yeah. Now, Insidious and Sinister. To me, Insidious was kind of the rebirth of true horror films and, you know, its a PG-13 movie that scared the bejesus out of me and you know, and then Sinister came along and it was a very hard R and it got right under my skin. Out of all of these movies you've produced, out of all of these horror films, does any one particularly stand above the others as your favorite? Oh my God, I can never pick favorites. They're like my children! You know, you never think of it that way. I remember different things, different aspects, and Sinister was so fun because Ethan did it, Insidious was fun because it was like 'What are you going to do after Paranormal Activity?'. But I definitely can't pick favorites. That's fair, I'm sure you get that question a lot. Now, speaking of Paranormal Activity, can  you give us any insight into the fifth installment of this franchise? The fifth, no that's top secret but it's going to be fun and different for sure but that is very top secret you know that's in a vault underneath Paramount. You gotta ask. Of course, of course! Of course, I appreciate the question. Now as far as the other, hopefully, less top-secret films like Ghosts [now known as Jessabelle - ed] and Not Safe for Work, are there any of the other movies coming out, and you've got a slew coming out in the next year or two, that you can talk about? Well we have Insidious 2 next and then Paranormal 5 and then Ghosts, those are the next kind of big releases coming up and you know, I'm psyched. I'm psyched about all of these movies for different reasons. I mean, I really feel like The Purge, I mean obviously I'm excited because it's the next one but also because it's like, it's original and it's based on an original idea by James and kind of like I said before it really kind of fits. Like, it's exactly the kind of movie we're looking for so you know I'm really proud of it. Awesome. I work at a movie theater so I've seen all the trailers and the poster came in for The Purge and I said, 'What is this?'. And since I work at the theater, I try not to see the trailers on the small screen, I like to see them for the first time on the big screen and Evil Dead had The Purge… I can't tell you how excited I am to see this. You know that's why my Editor and Chief said, 'Sean you've got to do this phone interview'. Oh good! You've produced a lot of movies over a lot of different genres but is there anything in particular about horror that really draws you to it? You know, it's so fun to see people, to see an actual reaction to a movie. When you make horror movies, you really know when they work and you really know when they don't work. You don't have to wonder and ask people what they thought after the screening and that's like a big thrill to actually get a physical reaction when the movie's working. I suppose that happens in comedies too. We don't do comedies, but that's really fun. And I think there's a real art to scaring people. I've learned a lot from the directors I've worked with. I've learned a lot from James and the actual scare is kind of the easier part and the hard part is kind of what happens in between the scare and that's really what makes the scares work or not. And I think there's a real craft to getting that right as opposed to making them, you know, just gratuitous in which case they don't work, and that's a real thrill too. It's fun to watch. I've had a great time working with directors who really know the genre better then I do and watch them do it and learn from them and that's been cool. I would imagine, especially in a producer’s stand point, seeing these films come to life must be a real treat for you. Yeah, it's really fun. We kind of make them off the grid, you know we make them outside the system. We work in the system to get them out, to get them released and for me that's the ideal way to make movies. No one can make movies better then the studios. But it's very hard to make lower budget movies with the studios, but we have a great arrangement with Universal where they allow us to do what we want and then they, as soon as there's something to look at, they really kind of get behind it and that's very cool. As far as the Paranormal Activity series goes, I love the third one because I was like, 'How are they going to pull this off in the 80s?' you know, things were so bulky and expensive, and they did, they pulled it off and it was amazing. And, the forth one, I had a few issues with the forth one but as far as- The forth one went off the rails a little bit, we're trying to get it back for the fifth. Well, that I'm looking forward to! Do you know anything about the Hispanic-centric spin-off? Yeah I'm producing that too. Is it going to be good? Yeah, well, it's very different and I think it's going to be really cool. Chris [Landon] directed it and he was a writer on the second, third and fourth movies so he really knows the franchise really well. I think he really did some cool stuff with it. That's awesome, because I saw the after credit scene of the fourth one numerous times because I had to usher around the weekend it came out, so we'd always walk in and catch it and I'd always tell people 'Make sure you sit through and watch until the end!' and people would always ask me, 'What the heck is this?' and I'd tell them, 'Hey, there's gonna be a spin off!' so I've been pounding the pavement for you. Nice, nice I like it, I like it. Now, I'm looking at your IMDB page, and there's so many awesome movies coming out now. And I asked some of my friends if they had any questions for you and one friend wanted to know, what could you tell us about Area 51? Area 51…we're still working on it. That was Oren's second effort  as a director and it's a found footage movie. And, you know, Paranormal Activity took three years from the time the first cut of it was finished when I got involved, it was three years from that point to getting it out. So when you work on found footage movies they, you know they really cause more problems then they solve, I generally think that's true. People come to me and say 'Should I do this found footage or regular?' and I say to them, if you can tell it traditionally I always encourage people to do that because I think, it's easier production-wise but it's harder story-telling wise. So that's a really long winded way of saying we're still working on the movie. But one of these days we'll get it out there into the big bad world. That's awesome. A lot of these are just kind of little bullets on the page on IMDB, and I didn't even know it (Area 51) was found footage. I'm a sucker for found footage and a lot of people were critical for The Devil Inside for not having an ending, it just ends suddenly and it's like, ‘It's found footage! Didn't you guys see The Blair Witch? Didn't you see Cannibal Holocaust?” These movies, you know they're going to end abruptly. It's found footage for a reason, it's not 'Hey we produced this film, watch it' footage! That's right, you're right about that and people don't like that. They usually end up  in a bad place by the end of the movie, and I'm sure Area 51 is not going to end with a bunch of shiny, happy people singing Kumbaya. But, I looked at Ghosts and I thought, “Hmm, that writer’s name sounds really familiar…” and it's Robert Ben Garant of The State and Reno 911! What was it like working with a comedy writer on a horror film? It was funny, it was weird…we're developing something else with him. He loves horror movies, he writes great scary movies, I think he's got a long career of it. And when that movie comes out, I think we have a great date on that movie and I think Ben's going to do a lot more. It's funny, there's actually a lot more similarities between horror and comedy than most people think. You know, a scare and a joke are both about timing and set up and being emotionally invested in the characters. There's more similarities than one would imagine between the two genres. I think that's one of the reasons why he's probably good at it, and he loves horror movies too. He directed a kind of horror/comedy that was at Sundance this year, I don't know if you saw it, called Ghost Town [listed on IMDb as Hell Baby - ed]? I have not heard of that one but I'll have to track it down. So, outside of the movies you've produced, are there any movies you've seen recently that you really thought 'Wow, that was an awesome movie!'? I just saw a documentary called Buck about a horse whisperer and it was amazing. It's so offbeat and bizarre. I saw it a couple of weeks ago and I thought it was a spectacular documentary. I liked Oblivion a lot, I thought Oblivion was cool. Did you see it in IMAX? I did not see it in IMAX, I did see it in the theater where they have the Academy Awards and the sound was amazing, so that was really cool. That's cool! Yeah, really! We got the IMAX in our theater just as the Prometheus run came to an end and I didn't see that in IMAX (having seen it twice before the IMAX opened) but seeing Oblivion in IMAX with that IMAX sound, is just really cool. That's cool, where is your theater? In Danbury. Oh, Danbury! I went to school in Watertown. Really? Yeah. How about that?! Yeah, very close. Small world. So I guess we'll wrap it up with one last question. Sure. What would you like our readers to take away from this interview about The Purge? I'd like them to take away two things. That I'm really proud of it, I stand behind it, you know we're showing it well in advance of it's release because I'm proud of the work that James did on the movie so I think that's really important and that's why I'm having these conversations now and everything else. I just think that James pulled off the second thing, which I think they should know is, a great, scary, entertaining movie with a lot more to it than what you know. There's some politics smuggled into the movie as well which I think is also kind of cool. Awesome. I'll sneak one more question in, I meant to ask it earlier: Since you said it's obviously very contained, it's one family's story in this world, is there a possibility of there being other installments, expanded universe stories, set in the Purge universe? I'd never say never but my mind is very focused on this current movie right now. Fair enough! I'm sure it'll be a hit, we're all looking forward to it! Cool, cool, cool. Well, are you seeing the movie soon? Oh, I'll be seeing it as soon as humanly possible. I'm on pins and needles. Good, good, good. I'm psyched, it's a good one. Well, thank you for taking the time out of your very busy schedule to talk with me. It was an absolute pleasure and hopefully we'll be talking again soon. My pleasure, I look forward to it. Alright, thanks a lot! Thanks a lot, bye. ------------------- The Purge comes out this Friday, June 7th.
Jason Blum Interview photo
Things get spooky in my interview with the Blumhouse founder
This job has a lot of perks. One of those perks is getting to interview some really awesome people. Case in point, I had the privledge of getting to talk with founder of Blumhouse Productions; producer of the Paranormal Activ...

Interview: Jesse Eisenberg (Now You See Me)

May 31 // Matthew Razak
Were you interested in magic before the film? If not how did you get into it? It's pretty quick to become interested in magic because its the kind of thing that if you know a little about you want to know a lot more. A lot of these tricks are based on misdirection and similar principles so its easy to become obsessed with knowing how things are done. Before the movie started I really wasn't that interested in magic. I was mostly interested in my character from a performers stance because my character is a great stage performer and I want to be a great stage performer so this let me live out the fantasy of fulfilling that.  Then once is tarted studying magic I became really interested in it and learned some basic hand tricks and how some of the broader tricks are accomplished.  So if I whipped out a deck of cards you could just do a trick now? Yea, you got a deck of cards? (The rep went out to grab some cards) Do you do any magic? I use to as a kid. Why did you stop? I grew up, I guess. I think that's pretty common. A lot of kids do it and then grow out of it somehow. My character would have been practicing for 25 years every day to get as good as he is. I didn't have the kind of time though. (The rep hands him an official Now You See Me card deck) Where did you get this? Can I have one to give to my mom? Does your mom still dig getting stuff from your movies?  Oh my god. My mom will be so thrilled to get these. I just finished a play last week and gave them a poster to put up in their house, and she was like, "What room should we put it in?" I said I don't know, wherever it is out of your way. She said, "I don't want it to be out of my way." It was so sweet. (He then went on to perform the magic trick. I chose a card from the deck and put it back in and he made it move to the top of the deck. He picked the wrong card on top then did a really quick flip that turned it into the right card.) Wow. (Ed.: I seriously sound like a five year old in the recording.) Yea. That took about four weeks to master, especially the last part. It's called the snap change. I was doing it for everyone on set and then everyone on set decided to learn it. There were like 100 crew members walking around doing snap changes at each other.  The film has a really big ensemble cast with big name actors. Yea, it was great to work with other actors who take their job seriously. I think it's easy in a movie like this with such a complicated plot to kind of forget about your role and just be running around. When you're surrounded by these great actors it's easier to focus. Even though the film takes place around the world and there are crazy locations my job is to really think about what my character would be thinking in these situations. When you're surrounded by other people doing the same it makes it easier to do that.  Why do we love heist movies, do you think? I think they simultaneously make you feel smart and stupid. In this kind of movie you're trying to figure out what is going on, and you feel smart if you think you're the one who did figure it out. Then you realize at the end that you're probably wrong and it makes you feel stupid, but in a fun way. Then, because the movie is about magicians pulling off these heists, we're using our magic to be elusive. It's an extra layer of impressiveness. Your character changes tonally when he's on stage versus off. Did you like playing that bigger than life part? It was so much fun being able to do that. I just finished doing a play in New York and was terrified to go out on stage every night even though I was only playing for 200 people. I immediately went from that play to doing this movie where my character feels more at home on stage. It was kind of a relief to be able to play a character who loves being on stage after spending five months with a guy, by which I mean myself, who was terrified of it.  Who was the magician you most tried to emulate? It was hard to find an exact person. I first looked at David Blane and wanted to play it like that. I at first wanted to do it casually and wear a hoodie and approach people on the street. (Director) Louis (Leterrier) had a different idea. He wanted us to be flashy and have attitude so I looked at David Copperfield who kind of has that attitude. I tried to do both of those guys. A kind of guy who can perform on the street like David Blane, but with the intensity of David Copperfield, which is probably better for the movie because it ramped up the excitment and tension.
Eisenberg Magic photo
Confirmed: Jesse Eisenberg can do magic
Upon sitting down with Jesse Eisenberg he started asking me questions, which is the opposite of how an interview is supposed to go, but totally awesome of him. That pretty much sums him up so our conversation about magic led ...

Flixclusive Interview: Malcom McDowell (A Green Story)

May 24 // Matthew Razak
Let's start off by talking a bit about A Green Story.  I had just did one day on it and I did it because I think we should all be aware of our environment and be responsible. I love the story of this guy who came from Greece with nothing and made this incredible company that did these incredible things that were totally green. It made such a difference. I think making a movie is a great well to tell a fun story and it’s a very interesting journey that he has. I was happy to be a part of it. This isn't your only project at the time. In fact you seem to be in everything, always. How do you survive such a crowded working schedule?  As they say in AA, one day at a time. It’s no good looking too far ahead; you’ll freak out. I just learn what I have to learn, get that right and worry about the other stuff tomorrow. It must be daunting taking on so much. I don’t take everything I’m offered, but I do love what I do. It’s great to keep working. I wouldn’t do it unless I really loved it. Besides the fact that I have three small boys that I have to put through college. That’s the best incentive to work. Just ask any father.  Have you had to miss out on roles or performances? Any regrets? There really isn’t anything I’ve missed. I’ll tell you why. I don’t think it’s worth having the emotion of resentment. If I was to hanker after a role that wasn’t offered to me that would be wasting my emotions. What it is it is. I’m very positive of the things that I am offered and I don’t worry about the things that I’m not. You've voiced a lot of superhero characters in cartoons. Any chance of seeing you in an actual movie as a villain maybe? I love those films. I wish you were producing one I’d say yes immediately. I love those films. Iron Man and the Marvel comic heroes are fantastic. Which role would you like to take on? In Batman there’s the Joker, but Jack did that rather well (Ed: Only person I've spoken with that brought up Jack Nicholson before Heath Ledger). That’s a great part to play. There were rumors that your recent eye surgery actually had to do with that famous scene from A Clockwork Orange. Is that true? If I could claim the eye surgery off of something that happened that long ago that would be a medical first. I’d be in every medical book in the history of medicine. Just a 40 year delay on the injury. It had nothing to do with it, but my eye, thank god, at the moment is fine. Well, that makes my next question a little moot, but in light of the possible risk is there a line you wouldn't cross for a role? A line you'd recommend other actors not cross. I guess it’s up to the individual actor. I pretty much have done everything in my career. I tend to think if the writers come up with a  scenario and it works for the character than it works with the character. Me as Malcom has nothing to do with that otherwise you’d never play a murderer. You know emotionally how could you as a person count on that. When you’re a character there are no limits or there should be no limits. You do a lot of game acting as well and started pretty early before it was even a thing with Wing Commander. What got you into that? I love it because it’s the kids that plays these games pretty much, although not always. I think everyone loves to play them now. The first one I did was called Wing Commander and it was so popular all over the world and I was amazed at the kids that became fans because of it. I always thought it was always good to give the youth something back and I’ve been very aware of that. Are you working on a game now? Yes I am. I’ll tell you what it’s called (pauses to think of the name) The Elder Scrolls: Online. I haven’t done it yet, but I’m starting it in July. It’s just fun. And with such great characters. I did the Presidnet in Killzone. That was very popular too. Then we did the on camera stuff and they shoot you with 360 cameras all over a cage with little dots on.  Is it hard to work in this day and age where you find yourself on a stage of nothing with dots all over you for many projects? It’s the same. It’s technique, but you just bury yourself in it. You’re fine and you’re away. For an actor with so much recognition and work I'm was surprised to see that you'd never directed. Do you want to? I really don’t want to direct. I don’t want to stay for the same project for two years. I don’t have the concentration to do it or the patience. Are there any movies you're going to be in that you're excited about? I will be when we get the money to do Monster Butler. We’re still looking to do it and it’s a wonderful script. I’ll take it as it comes. I’m also just off to Russia to do a movie about the KGB from the Russian side where the KGB are the heroes not the CIA or MI6. It’s a Russian film. Do you like doing international films? I love doing them. I’m very happy that I get to travel a lot and work in exotic places. I’ll be in St. Petersburg and London. Do you enjoy them more than your TV work in the states? No I don’t love them more, but I’m very happy I have a European career side of my life. It’s nice to have that and it’s nice to be sort of over there as well as here. I do a lot of television here and people know me because of that here. As someone who has been in the industry for a good amount of time how do you see movies and TV growing? The think that changed the most is that cable television has set the bar so high. It’s not just that they look like movies they are beautifully written -- you get great actors and great performances. Basically it’s the death of the independent movie because they’re all really on cable as TV series. The standard of TV in America now is second to none. It’s the best it’s ever been. It’s all because of cable. HBO started everything. So will you be retiring any time? No. Actors don’t retire. They just fade away.
Malcom McDowell photo
Talking being a legend with a legend
Malcom McDowell is in everything. I mean it. Check his IMDB. He's in everything. One of those everythings he is in is a new film called A Green Story, which tells the true life tale of Van Vlahakis, who created Earth Friendly...

Tribeca Interview: The makers of Lil Bub & Friendz

Apr 22 // Hubert Vigilla
Can you talk about how the documentary started? Juliette Eisner: So I heard about the first ever Internet Cat Video Festival being held in Minneapolis, and I thought it was hilarious that a museum was going to have a festival dedicated to cat videos. I pitched this idea to Andy, who's a senior producer at Vice, and he came along. We actually invited Bub with us to be our token celebrity cat. [laughs] So you have some celebrity cred. Juliette Eisner: Exactly! Right? But after going to the festival and only expecting like 300 or 400 people to turn up and instead seeing 10,000 people there, we realized that this was a big deal. And then on top of that, Bub was just an inspirational creature, and we loved her story and got along really well with Mike. Andy Capper: [Bub] just looked great on camera, and the story behind her was really compelling. It was like emotional depth in it, so we thought, "Let's do this." Juliette Eisner: I think it was a combination of the festival, on top of so many people who wanted to share this cat video experience and realizing how how big of a deal it was to them, and then Bub-- [Editor's note: We all looked over at Lil Bub getting photographed and started giggling.] It was a golden ticket right there. Since it started with the Internet Cat Video Festival, how did you decide what direction to take the rest of the film? Andy Capper: We saw Bub and realized how special she was, looking-wise and acting-wise, and the story of how she was found was fascinating -- a little girl found her in the woods of Bloomington in the middle of nowhere, and like saved her from coyotes. There's an element of drama there already. Juliette Eisner: Yeah. Yeah. Andy Capper: Natural drama. And Bub's health problems, and how important she is to Mike, and what it means to loads of other people, there was tons of different elements. Juliette Eisner: I mean, this cat has a lot of [health issues] -- she's a special-needs cat. She has a lot of deformities and has gone above and beyond it and has become a celebrity in her own right. It's very much a story about being the underdog and coming out on top as well. In terms of shooting, how much did you hang out with Mike to get Lil Bub on camera and everything? Andy Capper: At Vice we do a lot of immersive journalism, so you live with a person. You kind of have to-- It was easy to befriend Mike because he's such a good guy and we came from the same background, so you become friends during the process of the movie. This is how you get intimate moments. I end up staying friends with most subjects as well; such a weird, large selection of friends. Juliette Eisner: We speak to Mike everyday. Andy Capper: Interesting people like Mike. It's one of the perks of the job. Juliette Eisner: And the same thing goes for Tabatha, Grumpy Cat's owner. She was such a pleasure to work with, and we wanted to stay in touch with her as well. Everybody in the cat community fairly friendly. There was an interesting moment in the doc where it talked about the internet as the dog park for cats. Had either of you had that impression before? Juliette Eisner: Ummm... Andy Capper: I hadn't thought about it. Juliette Eisner: I think with the Internet Cat Video Festival, that was the big eye-opening moment when we realized that so many people had come out to watch these. There are so many people sitting behind their computer online who are looking at cat videos, and they want to share this with the rest of the cat lovers. I mean, 10,000 people were at this event. Andy Capper: It's kind of really simple, this secret to the success of cat videos: people's lives are really complex, stressful, dramatic. You enter into different situations and usually you turn out a loser. [laughs] [laughs] Andy Capper: If you go on the internet and look at a cat video, usually 99% of the time you come out a winner. It's made you laugh or it's made you go "aww." It's a reliable go-to thing that people like. It's really simple. Could you talk about editing and shaping your documentary once you had all your footage? Juliette Eisner: I think the editing process started with post-it notes-- Andy Capper: The post-it note method. Pioneering it. [laughs] Juliette Eisner: Andy and I just sat together and decided how we wanted it to look, and then we brought Devin Yuceil on board, our editor. He's actually from the UK. Andy Capper: And Danilo [Parra], the main DP, he also edited some sequences together. Juliette Eisner: And it was a very tight-knit group going back and forth everyday talking about what we wanted the project to look like, and everyone was just laughing the entire time. Could you talk about the experience you had at the big cat rescue center? That was a sequence I didn't expect. [Editor's note: About this time is where Mike and Lil Bub joined the conversation in progress.] Andy Capper: I wanted to make a wildlife movie after that, just being so close to them. [laughs] Andy Capper: Next to those tigers. I snuck in a bit that you weren't meant to be in, and had like the gnarliest tigers in the whole thing. Six of them around me, and I'm filming them like this, "Oooooh fuck!" And one of them roared behind me. The noises and everything, just amazing. Juliette Eisner: But that too was just a whole new perspective on people who love cats. This person, Joe Taft, who owned this center, he just dedicated his whole life to rescuing these larger cats. Andy Capper: The lengths people go to. Juliette Eisner: He, like Mike, is a very good caretaker for these animals. Andy Capper: It's more of a movie about why people love cats rather than trying to explain modern internet politics. I have no interest in the second subject. Other people do, but... Juliette Eisner: I think we do touch on how this is a big, culturally relevant thing on the internet. Andy Capper: That's in there if you want to hear about that, but mainly it's supposed to be like an E.T. Vibe or something -- do you know what I'm saying? It's like there's these wonderful little creatures and people are all about them. Actually, Mike, could you talk about the experience of being the subject of a documentary along with Lil Bub? Mike Bridavsky: Yeah, it came out of nowhere really. I never planned on this happening, so it's all been sort of a crazy ride. She got famous from a photo, and things started blowing up real fast. We never sought out any of these opportunities, we just do things as they come. You know, at any point I was waiting ready for [the internet sensation] to wind down and I could go back to my regular life, but it keeps getting more intense. Part of that is this documentary, and working with Andy and Juliette's been great. I feel really fortunate that the people who decided to make this documentary about my cat are now my pals, you know? I'm not sure if it always works out that way. [laughs] Juliette Eisner: [laughs] Andy Capper: [laughs] [laughs] Whoop. Let me just wait for this plane to pass by. [Editor's note: A plane passes overhead.] Mike Bridavsky: [looks up at the plane then down at Lil Bub] They're not coming for you, Bub! [laughs] So are you all looking forward to the drive-in tonight? Juliette Eisner: Yeah. It's funny because this is essentially like our own Cat Video festival. [laughs] [laughs] Juliette Eisner: Except it's our movie instead of like 60 other videos. Andy Capper: I think they're going to show our film at the next [Internet Cat Video Festival] they have in Minneapolis, right? Really? Juliette Eisner: Oh. Umm, maybe. Mike Bridavsky: Are they going to show [Lil Bub & Friendz] at the New York one? Juliette Eisner: Maybe. [laughs] To be determined. We'll see. There's a New York Cat Video Festival? Mike Bridavsky: Yeah. Andy Capper: We should just franchise and make Lil Bub concerts. [laughs] Juliette Eisner: This is going to be fun, like-- Andy Capper: We'd become like, who knows-- Like Lil Bubchella. [Editor's note: I should have said "Bubaroo."] Juliette Eisner: Yeah. Mike Bridavsky: Or Rocky Horror. Like people with cat food just throwing it at the screen. [laughs] Andy Capper: [laughs] Juliette Eisner: [laughs] But I think this is what it's all about! Getting people to come together and laugh about cats. There's no better place to do it than an outdoor free festival. Andy Capper: I want to take it on the road, actually. Promoters need to get in touch with Juliette! Mike Bridavsky: I wonder if the crazy cat person term will disappear and won't be crazy anymore. Like it's crazy not to like cats. Juliette Eisner: I mean, I think it already has to a certain extent. There are people with like 80 cats at home who are definitely not socially accepted. I think being a cat person, as Grant Mayland would say in our film, is cool. Urban Outfitters sells t-shirts with cats, you know? It's like you're a cat enthusiast rather than a crazy cat person. Mike Bridavsky: Yeah. It's fashionable to like them. [embed]215449:39992:0[/embed]
Lil Bub Interview photo
Talking with Juliette Eisner, Andy Capper, and Lil Bub's owner Mike Bridavsky
Juliette Eisner and Andy Capper delve into the odd and adorable world of cat memes in their film Lil Bub & Friendz. The documentary provides an overview of the internet cat phenomenon, with special focus on Mike Brid...

Interview: Henry Alex Rubin (Disconnect)

Apr 09 // Matthew Razak
The first question that instantly jumps to mind is if you're a regular user of all the gadgets and social networks that you cover in the film. If you do how did you handle the contradiction of using it and making a film that's digging into it? Henry Alex Rubin: I like everyone I know, and everyone who is reading this interview, have become very connected to my electronics. They're both incredibly useful in my life as well as a distraction. But the movie itself is much more about the way people are communicating to one another or trying to do that. Judging from the film it seems that you believe it makes it harder to communicate. HAR: No, no. I don't believe that. Of course not. I mean I'm talking to you right now over a phone. There is, baked into the movie, the question mark as to whether or not the only way to communicate to people openly and honestly is face to face, but really you can be open and honest through electronics as well. I think Disconnect for me was much less the primary meaning of the word, which is disconnect from the technology, and much more the secondary meaning, which is people that are disconnected from each other. You follow each one of those stories, and it's about lonely people trying to communicate with each other.  You left the ending open as to how we really handle this disconnect that's occurring. HAR: Yea, I'm not sure I had a pat thing at the end that I wanted to express. The writer and I wanted to make sure we brought all the actions into conflict and leave you with a suite of emotions. We wanted each story to leave you with a different feeling. I think it's very forgettable when films don't leave you with a lot of different emotions. The only way I can really honestly answer that is that as a filmmaker I wanted to slow down and the moments at the end of conflict. I wanted to see and feel what the conflict was emotionally, not just intellectually. That's the most important thing to me: to build and track the emotions and have an effect on the viewer. Nothing would make me happier than to describe this movie as an emotional thriller because I worked hard on making all the characters emotions feel real and intense. Your site describes the film as an "easeddropped naturalism," which is actually a great little bit of jargon. Can you talk about shooting it in the style you did? HAR: That was really because I'd never made a film before, and coming from documentaries I shot it the way I shoot everything I shoot. I shot it and constructed it like a documentary, which means long lenses and being farther away from the subjects. It means letting them be and breathe with no aggressive camera movies and the camera no in their face. It's all very... well, easedropped.  I did the same thing with that actors. Having never directed actors before I treated them like a subject. In a documentary you never want to get to close to your subject because they will then feel the presence of the mic and camera and act different. It was the only thing I knew how to do so I moved the film making apparatus away from the actors and a I mic them and got the booms out their faces. They could just do take after take and forget, or try to forget, that we were anywhere near them. We just let them be because the hardest thing to do is get actors to just be. If you give them freedom of movement then they'll be more likely to give you natural performances more quickly.  What made you want to switch over to narrative film? HAR: That's a great question. I have avoided making movies for many years. I just loved staying in documentaries and I'm blessed with a fantastic commercial career. I just read hundred of scripts and this script felt very real to me. This story also felt like it had been ripped from the headlines so to me it seemed like I could make documentaries about these stories so I knew how to do that and that's why I was attracted to the film. I researched the hell out of it and in all cases I found real live people who have gone through the same things in the movie. Then I shot and I basically tried to make three little documentaries, but with actors. Then I sat down with the editor and we wound them together.  Was it challenging to interview the stories together? HAR: It's actually a great technique because as soon as you want to change the mood or change the subject you can go to the next story. It's what we did in Murderball. I actually felt very comfortable cutting them together because I'd done it in Murderball. As long as all the stories are good you can actually make something that is bigger than one story. So has this kindled a passion for narrative film or are you going back to documentary after this movie? HAR: It really depends. I'm curious to see the reaction to this movie. I really don't know how it will be received. It's very easy to dismiss this movie as a film about how the Internet is bad. That's a very superficial, first-lever reading of the movie and I'm hoping that isn't the general response. I hope people pick up on the things we were trying to do. If the reaction is good I wouldn't mind making another fiction movie. If I get smacked down I may just go back to what I feel very comfortable doing, which is making documentaries. But I really enjoyed the process. In the same way I tried to give Murderball fiction film touches and elements I went reverse to give this fiction film elements of documentary realism. It's that hybrid I love a lot.
Making the jump from documentary to narrative and other challenges
Anyone who has seen Murderball knows that Henry Alex Rubin is fantastic at weaving disparate stories together. The documentary director has decided to take that skill and apply it to narrative film with this Friday's rel...

Flixclusive Interview: Shane Carruth (Upstream Color)

Apr 03 // Hubert Vigilla
[Editor's note: Some of the questions and answers have been altered in order to prevent spoilers.] How did the screening go last night? I'm feeling pretty fortunate. I mean, look, the film has a different ambition. Whether it's a good version of that ambition or a bad version, that's not for me to decide. But I think when something is a bit different, it's necessarily going to be divisive because there are people who are going to key into what it's trying to do immediately, and they'll judge it based on that merit, and there's going to be people that feel it's not going to quite meet their expectations because they weren't lined up properly. And that probably is not going to go well sometimes. I always expected that there would be some level of divisiveness, but to be honest, I really think it's been, given that, pretty positive. I'll say this: I've seen it twice -- at a press screening last night and at SXSW -- and Upstream Color is going to be in my top five films of the year. It blew me the hell away. [Editor's note: I've now seen it three times.] That's so wonderful. That's so wonderful to hear. It really was like the first time I saw Eraserhead or the first time I saw The Prisoner-- The old TV show The Prisoner? Yeah. Wow. You like the show too? Oh yes! Hell yeah! It's a great show! Yeah, that's-- That's-- You know what? I just thought of that. I did this list of influences and I should have put that. Yeah, I love that show. I guess that kind of keys into one thing in the movie: I noticed issues of control, even asserting self-control. Could you speak to how that played into your creation of the movie? Well, yeah. I mean... I can tell you where the story started. It's an exploration of identity and personal narrative. I knew that I wanted a story where that was going to be stripped away; I was going to a central character or characters and they were somehow going to have everything that they knew about themselves go away, and they would have to regrow that based on whatever they had around themselves. So that was the core, and the machinery for how to get them there was this sort of weird life cycle that was created around them. And I needed to satisfy certain criteria to be balanced in a way in my head, and I guess we can get into all that. But the bottom line is she [Editor's note: Kris, played by Amy Seimetz] had to be put through a process of some kind to have it stripped away. That's where the control comes from. So much of the film is about these central characters being affected at a distance by things they can't speak to or even speak about. I guess that's where anything about control would come from: they will be pushed around, they will have to be pushed around, because there isn't any other way to explore this idea. I mean maybe because we all have a feeling of being pushed around. The film feels intensely autobiographical, if not in actual lived events then at least emotionally. Did you find that seeping in as you were crafting the film? I mean, it must be only because it started as this thought experiment -- what if you were to strip away a person's ethical beliefs, or political beliefs -- and it got bigger, and bigger, and bigger to a point of stripping everything that they are; everything, the way that they view themselves and what they deserve, how they view the world and their relationships, and the emotionality of that. Taking all of that away and leaving a person vacant seems so horrific and so emotional. I couldn't point to any kind of personal experience I've had. I mean, who knows: I could probably make something up or connect some dots, but it'd be armchair psychology or something like that, I'm sure. [embed]214823:39685:0[/embed] [laughs] But I know that I key into that, and I don't know if I'm alone in that. Did you go into the movie knowing sort of what the score would sound like? You scored Upstream Color yourself like you did with Primer. Well, I wrote it while I was writing the script. Interesting. But it's weird because it comes out of necessity for me. If I've got something playing out in my head, I need to have some level of confidence that we're going to be able to execute that. I know visually what I'm capable of with cinematography, I know what I'm capable of with writing; if I can create a piece of music that accompanies this and mix all those things together, I can sort of know, "Great, we can get to this moment. So now let's build on that." So it started off as a confidence-building tool to know that we can do this, and then after a while, it becomes a part of the language; and then the writing is reacting to the music, and the cinematography is reacting to both, and it becomes so integrated in my head that I could-- It would have been a failed idea to try to enlist somebody else to write music, because all I would have done is say, "Make it like that. Make it more like that." It just would have been frustrating. So at that level, I'm two steps into the room and now I'm just committed -- now I'm in that room. I ended up having to change the music at the end as we got closer and closer to the production.. I threw out about half of it because I had made a mistake of... Well... The easiest way is to say it's a mistake. I think the reality is that once the visual language became more and more honed, that spoke to something about the script and that spoke to the music. And the bottom line is that I had music that was trying to frame the audience's experience and not convey the emotional experience of the characters; and when so much of this film is non-verbal, I needed every tool in the arsenal to convey their experience. I needed to throw out anything that was too artificial or orchestrated and only use things that would suggest where she was in that moment. How did you key into what music was character based and what was, I guess, manipulative to the audience? Was it something intuitive? Well, I don't know, I think that's what I'm saying. I think I wrote some music in error that was manipulative. I guess I feel like you can do one of two things with music. I wouldn't put this judgment on anybody else, but for me personally and where I am now, I only understand music in one of two ways: one is conveying the experience of a character that's on screen in a subjective way; and two is subverting that. I'm very interested in using music to telegraph something that is actually fighting, 180 degrees, with what's on screen, or the text of what's happening. The film has a resolution where everything is playing one way; everything about the cinematography, the performance, the music, the setting, all of that is saying one thing. Yeah. But I think if people spend any more time with this and look at it bluntly, the text of what is happening is not that at all. [Editor's note: At this point he discussed the end of the film. While I'm not including what Carruth said here, I'll go into it in some general detail in an analysis of Upstream Color that will go up Friday night.] That was a long way to get to music, but yeah. [laughs] [laughs] Can you talk about working with Amy on this? Did she contribute anything to the script, or was the script locked and she was adding to it in her performance? Yeah, it's really tough because it's something between the two, because the script is the script. I mean, it is the story. What she brought to it... The authenticity she brought meant that you can sort of lay off all the other tools and step back a bit. When she's nailing every scene that she's in, I can step back from the other ways to convey information. I'm trying to balance things out. I don't want to overdo it, I don't want to underdo it. So in that sense, she does change it. I mean, the thing is I know there's a thousand things that changed because of her being involved, but it's so difficult to come up with an actual anecdote. Someone like her, who's so good at what she does... Well, two things. She gets narrative so well that it eliminates a lot of [actor-director] conversation that we would have to have. Because she just gets it. From day one. We had conversations, she read the script, and it was just easy -- she got what we were doing and how lyrical it would be. The other thing is that her performance is so bulletproof as an actress that it gives me a lot of confidence. There's isn't a lot of improvisation in the film, but when we get to that part in the film, there's that three-minute sequence of shared memories. [embed]215203:39904:0[/embed] Yeah. This is domestic bliss. This should be the end, but it isn't, and we need to take this idea -- shared memories, this inability to know where one person ends and the other begins -- and I want to take it, in a very quickly paced way, I want to take it from something that's light and fun and maybe even a little bit romantic to something that's infuriating and agitating. "Where am I if you're here with me? Where are we separate? Where can I be my own [person]?" I wanted all of that, and she got that. Once we knew what the conversations would sound like and what they would be about, it was easy to go with her and say, "We're at this location now. We know we want to play through our emotional spectrum, what's most fitting for this moment?" She definitely informs that. By that time we had known each other a bit better, it didn't even seem like anything. It seemed liked, "Yeah, of course this is the way we're going to do it. Let's just go figure it out" She was very integral to that. That entire sequence, like the rest of the film, is edited in a way that's disorienting but has an emotional tether. When I saw the movie at South By, I was like, "I don't know what's happening, but I feel what's going on here." The second time, "I'm still seeing shapes and clouds, so I still don't know completely, but I'm getting it more and more." Could you talk about the editing and how you got that off-kilter sort of feel? Well, I mean, it had to be approached before editing, really. The conversations I would have with [editor] David Lowery... I mean, I knew what it needed to be, he knew what it needed to be, Amy knew what it needed to be, Bongani [Mlambo] who was operating the camera knew what it needed to be. David was very ingenious in the way that he made the decisions to put certain scenes up against each other, but that was truly collaborative [and something] that could only result when the filmmakers have so well internalized the story and intent. I think that if anybody was off-page or if we weren't on the same page... At that point I had reached such a level of confidence with everyone involved that we could start to make decisions that were a little bit more lyrical or improvisational but know full well that these choices are going to feed into the theme in a unified way; we're not just doing this for fun, it's because we know this piece of music so well that we can take a minute or two to go down a different avenue and do different variations on a theme and it will still be informative of the bigger whole. What question are you getting asked the most about the film? The number one question I've gotten is "Where did the idea come from for the story?" It's very strange, because it's such a good, earnest question, and I'm glad to be asked it. It's the one I've answered the most and I find myself hating my answers and my words, simply because I've said them so much. But I'm lucky to be answering them. You do a lot of stuff on your own -- writing, directing, cinematography, score. Same with Primer. What prompted you to take this DIY approach to filmmaking? I have just religious fervor when it comes to narrative and what it's for and how it's meant to be used. I don't know -- it's like there's two ways to go here. I can talk about why it's not a studio thing, but I think we all sort of know that. [laughs] [laughs] Or I could talk about why I'm sort of a control freak who has my hands in everything. And that's sort of like I said about doing the music early on. That times 20 is how it end up working. I get consumed with little ideas and I want to see if they can be executed, and then before long I've stepped so far into that department that it's difficult to hand it off to somebody else. And then when money is an issue, more times than not it seems like, "Well, why don't I just spend another couple days and just solve this myself instead of trying to spend those same days trying to find the right person and frustrate them to death about trying to make them do the thing that I want them to?" It's not a perfect solution. The script that I'm finishing now that I hope to be shooting very soon, we have to raise some money. We have to replace sleepless nights and stress with money. Seriously. [laughs] That's what needs to happen now. I'm committed to being a control freak now: I'm doing music, I am going to do cinematography, I'm writing, I'm directing. Those things I'm not going to give up. But what I do need is to be able to hire a camera department, you know. So that when shots are set up, these things are magically happening: rigs being assembled, lights being set up according to schematics. I just need to learn to delegate better. Is this next film you're talking about A Topiary or is it another project? It's called The Modern Ocean. It's set against shipping routes all over the world. It's basically, at its core, a truly tragic romance, but it's in a world full of pirates and privateers, and ships at war at sea. Awesome! [a beat] That makes me think about something interesting about Upstream Color. There's all this news and scooping on the internet about stuff but you were able to keep things sort of low key on this film. Is that part of being an insular production and non-studio thing? Yeah, but it was also-- It was purposeful. Here's the thing. I know I'm nobody from nowhere basically, but I was trying to do that project called A Topiary, and in the midst of it, the script got out online. Friends were emailing me reviews that people had done of a script that wasn't even the script. It was like this big, long production document that was like 240 pages, I think. That's not the script, that's the bible for production, and it was being reviewed as if that was the story! I don't care that much, but I had some anxiety from that-- Understandably. And didn't really want that out there. So when I came to this story, "Okay, we don't have to go to California for this. Everything's going to happen right here, so there's certainly no reason why we have to begin with the anxiety or stress of people online deciding what it is." So if there is a way to keep them quiet, that's what we're going to do. It's like a wonderful problem to have. It's wonderful that you have to be secretive to keep things off the internet! I mean, most people would kill for that. It means that people are paying attention, which is the best thing. [laughs] Exactly, exactly. I feel very fortunate that's even the case, even on that small level. It's hard to me to want to center in on the movie and just ask you, "What does x-thing mean?" because I'd hate to do that to you. Right. But since they play a big role in the story, how did you decide on using pigs? It's one of these things where it's got five different answers. It started with physiology being so similar between pigs and us, and there's already so many diseases that can be transferred between the two. Then there's so many instances of pigs in literature, whether it's Jesus casting demons into a herd of pigs, or whether it's Orwell's Animal Farm, or a bunch of other things. They're sort of these weird little beasts that are stand in for us sometimes, and I think it's maybe because we have an aesthetic beauty to us and the way that we are and the way that we move, while they are disgusting. Yeah, they are... swine. Exactly. So for them to be stand-ins for us, there's some real subversion and irony to that that I think people have keyed into in literature, so this carries that forward. But there's also the practical sense of it. I've got this guy. I want to see him shopping around for an emotional experience in this sort of meditative state. So these beasts that do nothing but sit there and eat all day seemed to fit the bill in a way that if they were snakes or monkeys or insects, maybe it wouldn't be so useful. These are discrete little animals, so they satisfied the bill, I guess. Inevitably there are going to be many interpretations of Upstream Color and there's never going to be a definitive one. How do you feel about creating a work that is going to be interpreted endlessly? You know what? I think... I hope... The conversation is on track for a consensus to center around, roughly, one broad interpretation. I think that's already happening and I think the same thing happened with Primer, although they're completely different and they both have completely different things on their mind. The meaning has coalesced, and I think it will on this too. If I've done my job right, and I think this is born out a little bit in some of the reviews, there's only one way to view this that satisfies all of the potential questions. I think it's happening. I think it's becoming known that this is an exploration of personal narrative, and unfortunately I've said that out loud, so I hope I'm not tainting that conversation. [laughs] But I think that's being communicated. It makes sense too, because while watching Upstream Color the second time, I really keyed into some lines. Kris says "It's not my fault when things go wrong," and then Jeff says back, "It is." And that implies that the negative is true: that when things go right, it's also Kris that's responsible.It seemed like one of the entry points to understanding what the movie was kind of getting at. Yeah, I think so. There's a lot of... [stuff like that]. I hope it all... So, we'll see. What's been the best part an the toughest part about self-distributing Upstream Color so far? The best part is that I feel so great about everything that's out there. The trailers, the poster, everything that people can know about it, are earnestly serving the film; they are properly contextualizing it, and it really is an extension of storytelling. I feel really wonderful about that, and I always want to be able to do that. It's such a gift. I'll just say I love that the press notes for Upstream Color have the cast and crew, a synopsis, and that's that. It is what it is. [Editor's note: Usually press notes come with a director's statement and lots of other material about the filmmaking process, the themes of the film, and so on.] That's right, that's right. Yeah! And, you know, the poster could have been pigs and worms and stuff. And nope. It's, it's-- More intimate. But that is the core of the movie. Exactly. Exactly. And so that's the thing: the choice to not necessarily make every last dollar become every last person in a seat. It's to be honest. It's like, "Look, this is what's on the film's mind. If this is something that's compelling for you, maybe the film will be as well. But if not, let's talk in a few years, maybe." [laughs] Yeah, so that's the best part. And the worst... It is exhausting. It's a lot of work, and it's a scrappy little campaign, so things are busy a lot. It's just work.
Shane Carruth Interview photo
The writer/director of Primer and Upstream Color talks narrative, control, music, and subversion
Shane Carruth had a cult hit on his hands with Primer back in 2004. His second film, Upstream Color, is more ambitious, more enigmatic, and much more emotionally charged. It was met with raves as well as confusion at the Sund...

SXSW Flixclusive Interview: Junya Sakino (Sake-Bomb)

Mar 20 // Geoff Henao
What was the inspiration behind the film? Why did you want to tell this story? Junya Sakino: I am from Japan, and I have lived in the States for 13 years. When I came over here, I had no knowledge of Asian-Americans. I wanted to make a film. I came here for film school. In California, there are a lot of Asian-Americans, so I befriended a lot of them. I wanted to tell a personal story about myself and my friends around me, and I thought, “Why not make a buddy comedy about these two [people], one from Japan, one from the US?” That’s the beginning. How we came to this story was the fact that I was shocked to see a sake-bomb. They don’t exist in Japan; it’s American. I never saw one myself, either, until this film. JS: When I saw a sake-bomb at a sushi restaurant, I was blown away. “What the hell is this thing? That’s freaking ridiculous.” Then I thought about it, “Oh, that’s actually a pretty good idea for a perfect title. It’s a great idea for two cultural differences mixing altogether.” We made a story out of [that]. The story started from the title. This is a bit of an aside, but your [Eugene Kim] character, Sebastian: Do you know if he was first-generation Asian-American? Eugene Kim: That’s a tricky question, because I think… His father is an immigrant coming here, so that would make [Sebastian] second-generation. [He] was born and raised in the United States, but my father immigrated to the States, so that would make [him] second-generation. I think in some cultures, [he’s] first-generation, but it would be second-generation. How about yourself personally? EK: I am the same. Do you feel that Sebastian’s story mimicked what you saw when you were growing up? EK: My family system is the antithesis of what Sebastian went through. My mother and father are some of the most loving people. I was sheltered from any kind of harm or anything. They were very amazing, amazing parents. I have a wonderful sister who’s fantastic. They’re all so selfless and supportive. Sebastian didn’t have such a supportive life. He lost his mother at a very, very young age, and his father… He had a traumatic childhood growing up, which is why he had so much fear and self-loathing and anger and why he was so cynical about the world and why he couldn’t trust people and couldn’t love himself. It’s pretty extreme in Sebastian’s case, but I hope people can identify with the idea with not loving yourself and that human journey of finding out how to love yourself. For Sebastian, it’s more of an extreme case, and it took his cousin flying out from Japan to make him realize how to love himself. [It also took] that character Joslyn to put his own shit in front of his face and say, “This is what it’s like to treat people like they’re just objects.” That’s what he did, he labeled everyone, and whether he thought he was defending his own race, he was ashamed. He was racist against them, and it took somebody so loving and caring like Naoto to come to the States to make him realize that love he was missing for so long. I like to think when Sebastian was driving on that freeway that he’s starting to realize how to love himself. He kind of knows, and it’s kind of unsaid, but I hope the audience can see that. I asked about your history because my Mom’s Filipino. She’s from the Philippines and moved here, so I’m first-generation in our family, and I don’t really see that [racism]. I classify myself as Filipino, but you can’t really tell, so I don’t really have that sort of racial stigma [against] me. I wanted to see if you had to pull anything from your history. EK: We did homework to justify it. For me, in my own imagination, Takinori [Sebastian’s father]… I imagined him getting beat up during the race riots in LA, so somebody kicking him and calling him a Jap and showing Sebastian at a very young age that he’s different, and that somebody that’s supposed to be your hero [got] beaten up for being Asian… There’s this thing that happens to Sebastian [that causes him to be] ashamed. He knows that he’s different, and he feels that he has to defend it, but at the same time, he’s ashamed of it. There’s a lot of depth in Sebastian’s pain and his anger. Another big theme that the film follows are the stereotypes that follow Asian-Americans. But not just that, [Sakino] went to how there are stereotypes of Americans and their treatment, or in some case fascination, of Japanese culture. Can you expand on that? JS: There were a lot of things I wanted to do, but obviously using Asian-Americans… Sebastian labeled Asian-American stereotypes, like you’d say jokes about [them], and they’d go, “Ahahaha. Funny funny.” But sometimes, it’s not really funny for Asian-Americans, or at least people get offended by that, right? So I’m like, “Okay, that’s kind of interesting, because sometimes that’s true.” Because they’re so sensitive about that, some people really don’t want to take that seriously, but some people do take it seriously. I wanted to play with that joke. In Sebastian’s case, it was a kind of extreme version. That was something I wanted to do. EK: I love Junya’s and [writer] Jeff [Mizushima]’s vision of the yin and the yang of Naoto and Sebastian. Naoto is just content, you can feel his love, but you can feel Sebastian’s rage. To have the comparing and the contrasting of these two characters, I think is kind of a brilliant thing ot have, especially when people our age or our generation are trying to assimilate into the culture of being American. Regardless of if you’re Asian, it’s not just an Asian film. It’s something that I hope a lot of different cultures can understand of wanting to be accepting, or regardless of whether we want to be treated equally, at the same time, we make ourselves different; we force ourselves to be different because we label ourselves. JS: That’s why I think having these two extreme characters together and putting them into one… EK: The sake and the beer. JS: I call that “Asian West meets Asian East.” They have common [traits], but they’re separate. That was the whole concept behind this film. Before I even watched the film, I was thinking how the title Sake-Bomb worked, and when you explained it as the metaphor, I was like, “Wow! That’s amazing! That’s a really good metaphor.” Well, for Naoto’s character… well, I guess for you two also: How do you think his life would be following his visit to LA [after] finding out the truth about the girl he loves and having that pain? How do you think that would affect his character, his personality? Gaku Hamada [through a narrator]: It’s kind of like a Japanese way of thinking. Whether or not you answer things, he thinks [Naoto] went back to Japan to make sake and not think about her. JS: The Japanese way of thinking is that they don’t conclude things. They don’t make that final judgment. They don’t make that clear. He just accepts the fact and moves on. EK: Like Takinori [said], he wishes he had tried to see Hilary. He only made the effort. JS: That’s kind of the Japanese way of thinking from the actor living in Japan for a long time, he thinks the way the film ends [is the difference] from the American [endings]. EK: We’re a little bit more romantic. We’re a little bit more lingering, kind of dwell. [For the] Japanese, it’s like, “Okay. Moving on.” Do you feel that [Sebastian] would have moved on, too? EK: I absolutely think so. I think he is moving on. Whereas he felt he had to fight for Tomiko, only because he was so dependent on her, I feel like having all of these things happen, having this adventure with Naoto, he’s adapted that Japanese way of thinking, of moving forward, [and] learning how to love himself. “I’ve got to work on me now.” JS: The smile at the end with Naoto, I think that really tells a lot about the film in the end. Like I said, I had a different ending, but I feel the way the movie should end after I did it was of [Naoto] smiling. He started his journey, and now he concluded his own. And Sebastian looking over at the empty seat, this emptiness is still there, but these two young guys experienced something new. That was somewhat hopeful, that was somewhat ambiguous, but that was my intention. Another big part of the film was Sebastian’s reliance on the vlogs, how that was his way of expressing himself. Do you feel that there could have been a way to express that? JS: You know mean if Sebastian could have done that differently? Yeah. Do you think there could have been a different outlet? JS: That was one of the things… not so many people actually know, well some people do, but not many, but the fact that Asian-Americans have been a big hit on YouTube. EK: It’s kind of a current, relevant thing happening now. JS: If you search YouTube celebrities, there are a lot of Asian-Americans, and that’s because they found their own media. Once they have a following, it’s easier to express themselves on YouTube. And they have channels, right? Sebastian is the kind of guy who wants to get all this attention, he wants to get recognized just by the way he acts. He thinks that’s a cool way to attract people, but he’s just doing it wrong. He makes his own vlog in hopes he’ll get more subscribers, but it was ironic that he got all of these extra views because it was Naoto [who shot the popular video]. The reason why I picked the vlog was because I wanted to make a relevant case of there [being] so many Asian YouTube stuff and Sebastian wanting to be one of them. EK: And there’s that stereotype of Asians being quiet and meek and submissive. We want to be heard, and I think that’s something Sebastian is desperately looking for, is to be heard and for people to care. That moment, that climax of Sebastian’s arc is when he apologizes to Naoto, and Naoto has this unconditional love for him regardless of what an ass Sebastian has been to him. He’s like, “We’re still family. I care about you.” Sebastian’s like, “Nobody wants to hear from me. Why would they?” That’s really what he feels: “Why would anybody want to hear what I have to say?” Even though he has all these video logs, he has this delusional thing that people want to hear him, he doesn’t believe that. You really, in that scene, find the core of Sebastian. That was the turn. EK: That was the turn of his character, and that’s when [Naoto] was like, “You want a hug?” And it’s this American thing, and Sebastian still has a chip on his shoulder and is like, “No, I don’t want a fucking hug,” but he kind of does. He already had this emotional hug. That’s kind of the turn of it, of Sebastian’s core. It’s a beautiful, subtle way that Junya and Jeff wrote in the script, and it was one of my favorite parts when I read the script. I really fell in love with Sebastian because he’s this guy that’s kind of unlikable, but hopefully people can see the heart of who Sebastian is through that moment. Do you have any films coming up next? JS: I have three projects. I have one documentary called Finding Okinoshima, which is the island that was erased during World War II where they were making chemical weapons in Japan. We’re researching on that and hoping to make a documentary about it. I have one project with Jeff called Transience. That’s actually something we wrote even before Sake-Bomb. It’s about four women with Buddhism. There’s another one called Orizuru, my adaptation of a short film I shot a couple of years ago. Like origami, but it means “paper planes.” It’s about World War II. I’m from Hiroshima, so I have sort of a story to tell about what happened [there]. That’s an epic story, so I don’t know when it’ll happen, but we’ve been writing the script. Do you feel if you do follow another feature film kind of in a lighter tone like Sake-Bomb, do you feel like you’ve said what you wanted to say on the subject of Asian-American culture, or do you feel like you can expand in a serious, more dramatic tone? JS: I’m actually more of a drama guy. I chose this comedy, but there’s a lot of drama in it, too. If I find any project that appeals to me, I would expand to any… I mean, it doesn’t have to be Asian-American, it can be anything. These are some things that are personal, but I’m always looking for a good project, something that would really mean something. Hopefully, I’ll get to make more of those… you know, something that means something to the world.
Sake-Bomb Interview photo
Junya Sakino, Gaku Hamada, and Eugene Kim walk into a bar...
[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!] While...

Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Grow Up, Tony Phillips

Mar 19 // Geoff Henao
The first thing I wanted to ask was [about] the costume design. Who decided the costumes? Emily Hagins: We had two people. One built the dragon and the robot and everything. She was very thorough. Her name was Allison Murphy. I guess we had a lot of conversations about this very homemade film, like Tony didn’t have a million dollars to go out and build these amazing costumes. Tony Vespe: Like they should be cool, but realistically cool. EH: He’s still in high school, like we shot [Vespe] sewing, and he’s like, “I want to practice sewing!” and I’m like, “No, you’re not. You’re a teenage boy, and this is going to be how you sew. On the first take, that’s going to be your experience.” So yeah, he starts sewing and is like, “Yeah, I got this.” You can even tell his hand’s [shaking] like, “Uh oh.” So Allison, keep in mind, these costumes are being built by a teenage boy, but she was very thorough. Even on the robot, what she wrote in binary code was “Tony Phillips” or something. Oh really? That’s pretty awesome. EH: Last night [at the film’s premiere], she wore a dress where she painted the robot costume on it. Katie Folger: She’s awesome. EH: It was amazing! Misty Tavares did the rest of our costumes, and she was extremely thorough. She paralleled character themes with what they were wearing. Like, even on the couch scene with Devin [Bonnee] and AJ [Bowen], kind of the whole movie, you’re thinking Tony’s [character is] going to be AJ, but really Devin’s [character is] kind of AJ, and he points it out to him. Even in that couch scene, they’re both wearing yellow sleeves. She was very conscious of everything like that. When Katie’s [character] at the party and she’s not being herself, it’s the only time she’s wearing green in the movie. Everything else is fall colors. Our whole art department was very conscious of the color scheme because they’re shooting in Austin. Everything did not look like fall, and everything was brown and orange and black. When characters weren’t being themselves, or when something had to be a little off, Misty was super conscious how to best represent that in a subtle way with the costumes. AJ Bowen: I think that’s something when you’re doing press or interviews for movies, that falls pretty much on the directors and actors, we oftentimes don’t talk, or it can come across as not an important component of the gig. EH: Like we’re taking credit for it. AB: It’s not fair that the focus of this process seems to be primarily on these two departments, because yeah, they get the attention. KF: It’s the whole team. AB: The collaborative nature of film. I can tell you, several conversations everyday, I’ve had with Misty, we discussed a lot. I spent hours talking to Misty, going back and forth about, “Well, what do we think about this?” A proper costume designer has a lot of input for an actor about building character, because the other thing they’re doing is they’re getting an omniscient eye at it, and we’re dealing in the world of internalized ego with this character. “Oh, this is supposed to look cool for this person.” And she’s like, “Oh yeah, but just remember where you’re going to be sitting. It has to fit in with this, and these colors make people feel a certain way.” And it has to also work, it has to mesh visually with the aesthetic of the overall film, so it doesn’t really matter if we’re really vibing something. If it’s not going to work, it’s not a cheat to say, “Well, that’s the wrong color palette.” So when you get a good costume designer like Misty, you talk about colors and what those mean because then, it’s iconographic in a bigger picture sense of the word, like what do these things represent. And similarly with the camera department, you know, you are there with the camera guys. I also have a huge relationship on any film is with sound. That’s half the performance. EH: The scene in the jeep, there was all lit, and the sound… well, I guess you can’t really light it, but everything we did to make that scene was the way that it was recorded that day. We didn’t go back and add in an ADR or anything. It was like the sound people MacGyver’d that jeep to make everyone audible. AB: That’s what I mean. When you’ve got that, you know the actors in the car know where the mic is, or you know that, for example, we’re on the trampoline. We know that we’re near an airport and we’re starting to become aware like, “We’ve got about seven minutes.” And you start feeling the sun move, and if you know where the camera is placed and you know where the sound guys are, those are hurdles that really don’t do anything but inform character choices that helps the performance, because it forces you to go, “Oh there’s a spill here, so if I back up this far, I’m in a better picture for this and it’ll also define intimacy in a different way.” So like in that jeep, it very much impacted the intimacy of what we were saying, how and when you say it. KF: And in the scene where Tony and I, I confront Tony after the dance, we had our school that we had rented [had] like 15 more minutes, then it would lock on us. TV: It would set an alarm, so we had like 20 minutes to shoot that scene. KF: Yeah, we took very minimal takes on that scene because we were like, “Oh, we’ve got to do this! We’ve got to do this!” EH: Well, it’s important to note about that whole day and how collaborative we were as AJ was saying was that you’d want to shoot five or six pages max, maybe, in a day. On that day, we had to shoot nine pages, all these extras, and there was that emotional scene, and if we didn’t leave, the police would come. It became very stressful, but in that situation, everyone knew we were going into that, and if something was like, “I’ve got to run over there and do this,” somebody would grab whatever that person was holding and take over, because it was like everyone was working on the same wavelength. It was incredible, and I had never had a moment in my life until this movie where I felt like when I went on to set and then when I left and went home that day, I felt like a different person. I felt older, like I “Grew Up, Tony Phillips.” The team just worked so hard, and I’ve never been competitive, but I love people, so doing something [where] you can see how hard people are working is so inspirational for me, and I was just glad that we had assembled this group of people that respected each other, worked hard, and were just so talented. Sounds like a very DIY collaborative team effort. I liked that. EH: Sometimes we told the behind the scenes people to stop filming, like “We don’t want you to see how we’re doing this.” TV: Not necessarily, but… EH: It’s just magic. Movie magic. Why a dragon and robot? Were there any deeper meanings behind them? Why specifically dragon and robot and not ninja or pirate or zombie? EH: It did have deeper meaning at one point! There was a flashback scene cut out of the movie, which will be out on the DVD eventually, with young Tony, young Craig, young Elle, and young Pete, and you kind of saw where these characters were coming from. We cut it because, tonally, it was a little different from the rest of the movie, and we really thought that opening with the couch scene would be much stronger, and the opening credits sequence setting up the actual tone of the movie. Alone, the scene works okay, but young Tony is a ninja in that scene, and he and Craig talk about inviting Elle over to watch movies after trick or treating, and Craig says, “Girls don’t like monsters. We can’t watch monster movies with her.” And so later, when he’s dressed up as a monster when he’s with her, it meant something. TV Girls totally like monsters! KF: That’s cute. EH: But not in the actual film. There’s a little sneak peek at the DVD extras that you’ll be seeing in 2014. That’s pretty cool. So, I had a question about Tony’s growth at the end of the film, this is more narrative-based. Will he stop dressing up for Halloween, or is he extra comfortable with it because he finally has the support from his friends that he didn’t really have at the beginning of the film? TV: I think for sure, I think he’s done trick or treating, but dressing up, he’ll always dress up. I think that’s what it kind of implies at the end of the movie is that, and that’s kind of the big moral of the movie, you can grow up without “growing up,” losing what makes all of that fun. He’s just moving from getting the candy to giving out the candy. You can still have a lot of fun doing that. You can dress up. He’ll probably still take Mikey trick or treating, maybe not in the most extravagant costume in the world, but Halloween will always be a big thing for him. That’s what it seemed like to me. He didn’t grew out of Halloween; he grew out of being the kid who gets the candy. EH: I think you answered that. You can tell he’s very kind and accommodating towards the kids. TV: About 10 minutes before the end of the movie, he’s done. There’s the moment where he’s like, “You know what? I’m done. Mikey is embarrassed. I’m done.” And there’s the big moment where the doorbell rings and he’s like, “Whatever.” That’s kind of a big moment, but a throwaway moment to see people. Normally, he’d be bounding for the door, but he’s just like, “Whatever, I’m just going to watch TV.” EH: Well, Tony Phillips has never handed out candy. He would be out there asking for the candy, so this is all new to him, and he’s figuring out what it means. AB: It’s sort of understanding the value of both the fantasy and the value of being behind the curtain and seeing the reality, seeing the machine that makes it work. A big part of that is understanding there’s equal value in both. I think that’s why a lot of people experience that when they have children. We call it nostalgia, we put different names on it, but they get to live in a pure fashion, re-live these experiences, by providing them for people. Like what you guys were talking about, he might not trick or treat, but he understands by the end that that doesn’t take away the depth of meaning. It just becomes about where do you fit in this? What’s your responsibility now? It just paints a bigger picture about life in general, about getting older, about growing up is understanding when you’re the student and when you’re the mentor, when you’re actively living, and accepting that slot as it comes to you. Like he’s sharing his past experiences. AB: Absolutely. TV: He’s going to live vicariously through the trick or treaters. He’s going to see their costumes… Well, that’s what he says earlier in the movie, he inspires people to make cool costumes. He’s still going to do that, and I figure he’s still going to make costumes and hand out candy. He could grow up to be a costume designer. TV: He could! AB: I think Tony becomes one of the main characters in The American Scream. He could be one of the guys who spends his whole life building… TV: Maybe Tony makes the best haunted house on the street. EH: It’s all about the joy of other people. TV: It’s his legacy. For my final question, what have been your best costumes, or your dream costume ideas? TV: AJ, what was your favorite costume growing up? AB: Katie, what was your favorite costume? KF: My favorite experience… me and my best friends dressed up as Geishas, and we had a whole skit where we went door to door with every house, and it was this weird thing. They would bring the family out to watch us do it. Was that every year? KF: We did that one year. I think that was the last time I trick or treated, but it was really freaking fun. You set the bar too high. KF: Yeah, it’s like, “We can’t top this. This woman just got her whole family out to watch us. There’s no way we can do it again.” TV: I feel like my favorite costume I ever did… I’ve been asked this question a couple of times by my friends, because it’s apparently such a normal question to ask. I give a different question every time because I always think of another one because I’m very proud of all of my costumes. The one I had the most fun was being a reaper from Blade II. Remember that movie? The ones with the chins opening up. I had just seen that movie, and it was the coolest thing in the world to me. Me and my brother’s girlfriend at the time, this was years ago, I was like 12, she made this hoodie and made it look just like the movie. I covered my face in blood and had this prosthetic thing, and I went all out. That was my first Halloween where I went really all out with prosthetics and fake ears and stuff. That’s pretty serious. TV: I was really serious. I freaked people out because nobody knew where I was from. Most 12 year olds hadn’t seen Blade II, so I was some really creepy guy in a bald cap running around. It was embarrassing looking back now. AB: Things were different in the 80s, man. I was a California Raisin one year. That was an intense commitment at the time. You had to get the garbage bag and cinch it up, but still get your legs through it, and put a bunch of rolled up newspapers inside the garbage bag around your body. I don’t know if you guys experienced this, but they used to… Do you remember, [PR Coordinator] Brandy [Fons]… Brandy Fons: Because I’m old, too? AB: It’s been a whole ten minutes since I made an old as shit reference. But there was this company, this brand that did these costumes. You could be the pumpkin, this or that. I remember distinctly the smell of the paint you could put on your face, because you couldn’t breathe. It was like a lead paint. It was like the early 80s, and it would crack off of your face. TV: Oh yeah, they still had that in the 90s. AB: It would also stain your face once the paint cracked off. BF: I don’t remember the brand name. TV: I don’t remember the brand, either, but yeah. AB: I distinctly remember that, and you really ended up not looking like anything. TV: It was like that kind of paint, but the smell of really bad latex masks. That’s the spirit of Halloween to me, that smell of… AB: That’s sketchy. TV: You know what I’m talking about, though. Being Michael Myers for Halloween [once], it stunk. It smelled like latex all night, or rubber or whatever it was. EH: My favorites were the Pink Power Ranger. TV: I was the White Power Ranger. EH: Oh yeah, I think we talked about that. [The other was] Sailor Moon. Oh nice. Did you have the meatball ponytails? EH: Uh huh! I had longer hair, too, but I also looked really weird when I was a kid. My pupils were really big. I looked like an alien. So you looked like anime then. TV: Yeah, you looked anime. EH: Kind of, yeah. I really want to do She-Ra. In two years, we’re going to do that. Me and Tony are going to do that. TV: Yeah, we’re talking about this. I don’t think I could really pull it off, you know, but I’ll beef up. Just for Halloween. TV: I could get a Prince Valiant haircut. EH: This morning, Tony, you looked in my mirror and you went, “Look at my arms.” TV: I was wearing the Jack Burton wifebeater. AB: The Workshop Express. You’re on your way there. You’ve got… seven months? TV: I’m halfway there. I could do it in seven months. Whatever.
Grow Up, Tony Phillips photo
Emily Hagins, Tony Vespe, AJ Bowen, and Katie Folger walk into a bar...
[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!] Grow ...

Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Swim Little Fish Swim

Mar 18 // Geoff Henao
The music, obviously, was very important to the film. [It had] a very distinct sound. How did the music inform the film? Did you guys write the film to go along with how the music plays, or did the music inform the film itself? Ruben Amar: We were inspired by [the] musician at the very beginning of the writing process. Lola Bessis: Yeah, we saw a show in Brooklyn and they were that zany musician playing with a lot of crazy instruments, and we started to imagine [what] his life could be. His girlfriend was attending the show. RA: We began to figure out what could be his life. LB: Yeah, and that made the story, but all the scenes where [it’s] pretty written and organized, we knew there would be a party at the beginning, and music playing at this point, and then he’s going to record his album, and playing with musician friends. RA: We wanted to put as much as possible the music from the character because it’s really a apart of what it is inside. It was easier to show it with music. LB: We had no idea what music it would be. We knew we wanted it to be naïve in a way, kind of childish, but we found the musicians [The Toys and Tiny Instruments] last minute. We were so lucky because they were so close [to] the character. They made so [much] great music… I mean themselves, their work. They understood what we were looking for and [who] the character was, and they wrote really good songs. Another thing you mentioned a bit during the [post-screening] Q&A was that there are three separate stories, three separate journeys that they all went on. Whose journey do you feel was, not necessarily the most compelling, but… Would you say Lilas’ journey was the main one, so to speak? LB: No, we wouldn’t say that. Brooke Bloom: Oh, because I’m standing here? RA: She’s more like an observer. She [Bloom’s character, Mary] is the one who maybe suffered the most in the situation during the movie. LB: Since the beginning, we saw Lilas as an observer, because she’s a video artist and makes film, so she’s observing all the time. RA: That was the main purpose of her work in the movie, watching everybody. LB: She’s the stranger in this family, in New York in general, so she’s less into the story, but more observing from the outside. BB: It seems to me, if I can say, this is just my observational thing from watching the movie, is that the world that gets created is New York and Brooklyn through her eyes, and the thing that kind of crashes into it is the realism of the relationship that she’s walking into and things like that. There is this… the world exists in a sort of elevated place, visually, and her experience of it just sensually, and that is from [Bessis’] character’s perspective. LB: The most important storyline for us was the one of Mary and Leeward. We wanted to show how the variable of Lilas ended in that family would, at the same time, be kind of a problem, but at the same time, help them move forward. It’s a bit thanks to her that Leeward is recording his music. She’s like the impetus, the driving force. LB: Yeah, exactly. BB: She’s the inciting incident. How much of a backstory did you give Leeward and Mary’s characters? LB: A tiny bit. RA: We spent the beginning observing why they are together. LB: We imagine how they met. BB: I guess it’s hard… I remember a challenge being for those two characters is to somehow make it, and I don’t know if I achieved it, but that you see why they were together ever at some point. You can see that they’ve grown in this way. That was important to me, but I’m not sure if I got it across. LB: Yeah, you did very well. Yeah, that was very important for us, too, because when you jump into that story and you see that they’re so different, you see a very hardworking nurse waiting to have a perfect life, a nice life with her family. In the other side, you see this zany musician not willing to work, like a New Age visionary trying to change the world, but doesn’t do anything for that. You don’t really understand how they could have loved each other, but that was important for us to have that in the background. BB: I think she [Rainbow/Maggie] achieved that. She was the glue that held them. LB: They both really love their daughter, and they do everything they can for their daughter. She’s the proof of love between them. LB: They both really love their daughter, and they do everything they can for their daughter. She’s the proof of love between them. There were moments where it seemed, at times, he would choose his artistic creativity over his love and responsibility to the film… well, [towards] Mary. But in the end, you realize with the song he recorded, there was a true love there. Do you guys feel that, in general, there’s a conflict between love and creativity? BB: Good question for you two! Sorry to put you on the spot! LB: Well, we work together, and sometimes it’s difficult, but I know, it’s more important to us, but I think we can mix love and creativity and do something good with that put together. It’s like the right recipe. Let’s say if you guys were to have flipped the setting, and this took place in France with Americans over there, how different do you think the film would have been? Or maybe as a separate film? BB: That’s interesting. RA: That is. I’m excited to do that. LB: If we had directed that film, I think it wouldn’t have been good because we really wanted to shoot New York. RA: It’s very exciting shooting American actors in Paris, because I don’t like shooting in Paris… LB: Yes, but let’s have an American director to do it. RA: That would bring the point of view on Paris. I think it would be very interesting. LB: For us, we don’t see the magic of Paris anymore because we’ve been living there for so long. BB: But you guys made us feel the magic. It was… Refreshing, right? BB: Yeah, because I feel like there’s a very, not recycled, but clear way that Americans experience New York, and it was different than what you guys brought, which was very special. LB: Thanks. RA: She’s a very good interviewer. Is there anything you wanted to add, too? BB: I think I’ve said enough. I think I’ll start interviewing you in a minute. The cinematography was really good, too. Who shot it? Did you guys share the camera? LB: No, we had a great DP. His name was Brett Jutkiewicz and he shot the Safdie Brothers’ movies [The Pleasure of Being Robbed and Daddy Longlegs] and also Lena Dunham’s first movie [Creative Nonfiction] and lots of music videos and some commercials, some short films. RA: We worked very close to him during the work shoots. We tried to stay very close to the film look. LB: We wanted to take several takes, but we didn’t have the budget to shoot film. We shot [with] Brett because we just saw a movie before writing this one, which was The Dish & the Spoon and [he] was [operating the camera] for the film. RA: He was also working very hard [as] the DP. LB: The image is so great in that, and so close to film. He used a lot of filters. RA: We tried different combinations and we found the right balance. LB: Yeah, we needed the right balance between the Canon 7D and Canon 5D. RA: There was a minimum of light. There was only one light bulb for the whole movie. LB: We told him there was no budget, and he had to find a way to light the scene. That’s hard, but it still looked very good. There was a very distinct tone. LB: I would also like to say that the color corrector, the guy who did color operation, his name is Nat Jancks. He’s been recommended by Brett, and he’s really amazing. RA: He’s the guy who color operated all the movies from [Steven] Soderbergh and Michel Gondry. LB: Because the Canon 7D and 5D are known to be hard to color correct. There’s nothing you can do, and he did a great job on the film. There are some scenes towards the end of the film when Lilas returns to the boyfriend [at an art gallery/studio] and [other artists] are hanging naked. Is that from something you guys have experienced? LB: No. I don’t know where it comes from. Yeah, we were like crazy artists in Paris, but that’s another life. RA: We were trying to look for something very strong, and we were looking for it for a long time. Like something very avant-garde. LB: The place where that scene happened, it’s an actual place where artists live. They’re not naked, but we went there for a party, there was a concert there, and we really like the place. We wanted to use it in the film. RA: But I think there’s also a lot of this foreign point of view we have, because we saw so many weird things for us in New York. LB: We worked with a guy in France for the sound mixing, and he told us, “Oh that’s crazy, because my neighbor is doing the same thing as a photographer, and I always see from my window crazy naked people, and that looks exactly the same.” I know this might be a little early, but have you guys been able to find distribution for the film? LB: No, not yet. RA: A lot of distributors were in the [screening]. BB: It’s been a half-hour [since the film premiered]. Hahaha, that’s true. LB: We have a great sales rep from Paradigm. We met some distributors from France, so they’re considering it.
Swim Little Fish Swim photo
Writers and directors Lola Bessis and Ruben Amar and star Brooke Bloom
[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!] Direc...

Flixclusive SXSW Interview: Good Night

Mar 11 // Geoff Henao
Sean, you wrote and directed the film, right? Sean Gallagher: I did. What was the inspiration behind Good Night? SG: I suppose the inspiration was wanting to create a scenario where you would find out something really serious about your friend and, in this case, that they might have a terminal illness, and to be confronted with what that means. And have this night dealing with your friend’s troubles and your own troubles. So the night was supposed to be her last night to truly live and for them to celebrate life and her life, right? SG: I don’t know if I would see it that way, but that is a reading that I would be open to. I tried to create it so that there would be multiple readings that you could look at it and come away thinking what you said, and also [so] you could have different readings of what you saw. There were a lot of subplots, and a big theme I noticed were these relationship strains between all of the different couples. Do you feel that that kind of aided the main plot? SG: Well, I think the idea was as soon as she drops the bomb, so to speak, that the friends and the social structure begins to weaken, or braces against this impact of this news. Everyone begins to cope with it in a way that they know how to, or that it’s natural to them, and some of those coping mechanisms are positive, and some are negative, and some go straight against each other. From, “I want to get out of here,” to “Why won’t you stay,” or in any kind of variety, like “I’m going to get out of this by making a lot of jokes, or just drink so much that I won’t remember anything, anyway.” I mean, I think each one of the characters has a different way of dealing with life. A big thing I noticed was your [Alex Karpovsky] character’s wife, she was kind of the sourpuss of the group, so to speak. Do you feel that that was a reaction to the news or her character’s disposition? Alex Karpovsky: I think it’s largely motivated by Jake’s strange, peculiar, and idiosyncratic way of coping, and it’s definitely agitating tensions, which were already in place, in their relationship. She’s probably the first in the group to kind of… When you call her a sourpuss, I think that’s definitely just Jake pushing buttons that, I feel, he knows he’s pushing as a way to cope. I think  a lot of people cope in a way that’s unhealthy and counterproductive, or misdirected, or perverse, and one of the ways Jake copes is kind of way letting go of his wife, forcing her to leave. Do you see that more as him supporting his friend or acting negatively towards his wife? AK: Both? You [Gallagher] take this one. SG: Yeah, I would say it is both. I think there’s an idea in it, and I don’t know how much it comes across, but his wife is actually the one he most wants to talk to. Yet, their relationship is strained for various reasons, and she doesn’t really want to stay and talk with him. His friends would like to hang out with him, and so it’s frustrating to him what happens, and I think when you’re frustrated, when you’re tired, when you’ve had a few drinks, you don’t always respond honorably. I don’t know that it’s… we tried to make it more organic where it wasn’t quite so formulated; his character’s kind of reacting to what’s going on. SG: He wants her to stay, and one of the reasons he loses his cool is because she doesn’t want to. He’s saying, “I like you. Please stay and help me deal with this. Loosen up a bit, as well.” Because she doesn’t, he gets mad at her, but it’s because he likes her, because he wants her to be around. You just mentioned an organic reaction. Was the film improvised in any way, or were you guys going straight off a script? SG: It was a mix. The script was pretty polished, but it was always intended that improv would be a part of it, if even for best practices in terms of acting. This is my trying to get inside their head, but they would say this much more eloquently than me, but when you know the other actor may not… the next line may or may not come from the script, you have to be there, you have to be listening. That’s why they seem to really be with each other in those moments. Especially since they’re reacting to such huge news, too. SG: But I think, yeah, pure improv stuff is annoying to me in that it doesn’t really seem to go anywhere. That’s true. You got to stay on the rails. SG: Yeah, you’re theoretically telling a story. There’s awesome improv stuff that I’ve seen that’s very verite, and I love it, but there is this temptation to just riff [and] put together a best hits edit, and then be like, “Ha! Isn’t it funny?” I think if you are going to put so much effort into something, you should really think of the structure of it ahead of time and be willing to throw it all away to help the actors out, if you can, and to help the editor out, too. Jonny, your character, Winston, he’s the lead role. He has to deal with not only the huge news that’s affecting her life, but also affecting his life. There are moments in the film where it seems like… he was very supportive of her, but he also held this [against] her, so to speak. Do you feel that there’s a true love between them, or it’s gotten to that point where he’s just gotten tired of it? Jonny Mars: I think that’s real life. I think if you give to someone for long enough, you’re going to want something in return. I think that, yes, the impetus of this film, between these two characters, is an act of love. But I do think, also, that it is real life. Even Mother Teresa had issues with her position. You can only give so much, and at some point, you might snap, right? We are humans; we are not robots. I don’t find it unbelievable to think that someone who gives all of his time and money to ease someone’s suffering, and ultimately can not, would snap. That to me is real life. I’ve had enough girlfriends to prove that. Another question for you and Sean: That ending was kind of… I would say it was a little confusing. Could you explain that a little bit? It seemed like there were two different lines going on. SG: Yeah, it’s a deviation from what occurs before, trying to get at what the whole thing’s been leading to. I like the confusion that’s created because, and it’s all very intentional, I want there to be confusion, and I want the audience to decide for themselves what to think. I don’t want it to be obvious; I want very smart people to argue with each other about what they saw, and I think you have to be willing to say, “I’m going to show you something, but I’m not going to hold your hand while you watch it, and you’re welcome to take what you want from it.” There’s not some sort of message that I need you to get where it’s like, “Okay, I want you to realize that friendship matters,” something trite like that. It’s intentional, so my hands are kind of tied in the sense that I don’t want to tell you what to think about it, or what it even is. I would much rather hear what other people think about it. I don’t know Jonny’s thoughts about it. JM: I agree with Sean. I feel like, in playing the role, it’s about an act of love, and you can run with that however you want. I felt like, for Adriene [Mishler] and I to play the roles, we always talked about it being an unconditional act of love, and it’s not supposed to provide an answer. What are prescripted drugs? What are they doing? Are they an answer? How do you alleviate pain, you know? What’s the answer? I don’t know.

[From March 9th - 17th, Flixist will be providing coverage from South by Southwest 2013 in Austin, TX.  Prepare yourselves for reviews, interviews, features, photos, videos, and all types of shenanigans!] In an...

Interview: Im Sang-Soo (Director, The Taste of Money)

Feb 11 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
The idea of the corrupting power of money is pretty common in America and American cinema, but it's usually a much bigger affair. Keeping everything so confined both in terms of set and characters gives The Taste of Money a very distinct (and perhaps more Korean) flavor. What made you decide to so heavily personalize a story that has such broad implications? Money is power, and power always tends to corrupt. This fact is not at all new to us. Rather than that, I wanted to focus on describing the ironic history of the relationship of a couple.  In the eulogy by Madam Baek during Chairman Yoon's funeral, the couple's early days are being described. Their beautiful love soon turns into relationship of betrayal, and after few turnovers (such as the death of Eva), it ends up with the suicide, the "declaration of defeat" of Chairman Yoon. However, what is ironic about this is that Chairman Yoon is smiling peacefully in his coffin, but in front of it, Madam Baek is crying sorrowfully. In the center of this failed relationship, there is 'money.' Wouldn't the fact that they all were slaves of money be the reason of the failure? It's pity that the couple that is just beginning seems to follow in the old couple's footsteps, but I am just hoping that the youngsters could learn something from the mistakes of the elders. There is large reliance on English in the film. Could you talk a little bit about why you chose to do that and how it played out on set and in the film itself? Around this weird family, there are two observers. One is the American businessman who looks them down from above, and the other one is the Philippine maid who dies while looking up at them from below. Nowadays, most of Korea's societal issues of Korean society are not limited to Korea itself, but linked to something worldwide, so, it was necessary to have English dialogue. As a Korean director, writing English dialogue and controlling it to the end was not easy, but it was a very fun experience. Would you ever consider doing a primarily English-language film like what other Korean directors such as Kim Jee-Woon, Bong Joon-Ho, and Park Chan-Wook have been doing recently? What do you think about this recent trend in general? I look forward to seeing those films by three ambitious Korean directors. Of course, it's not important where they are from but the film itself. One thing that is interesting is that only the film by Bong Joon-ho has an Asian (Korean) character. (As far as I know, since I haven't watched them yet.) Let’s see... how about Ang Lee and John Woo? Did they prefer to have Asian characters in their films? In most American markets, a download release of The Taste of Money preceded any sort of wide theatrical release. What do you think about the spread of Video On Demand and its ability to get your work out to a much wider audience, albeit on an individually smaller scale (I watched The Housemaid on a 7-inch tablet screen, for example)? Not as much as US, but the VOD business in Korea is growing bigger. As one of the traditional movie-goers, though, I won't ever give up watching film on a big screen without having popcorn with my girlfriend. The film has some strange nods to your previous film, The Housemaid (which is excellent, I might add), such as the carry-over of the name "Na-Mi" and Na-Mi's rather explicit reference in The Taste of Money to the end of The Housemaid, that seem to place it in the same universe. But it also shows the actors in The Taste of Money watching The Housemaid, which makes that impossible. What was the rationale behind all that? Kids observe everything we do, understand in their own ways, and they become grownups like that. How would little Nami from The Housemaid turn out? Also, what kind of childhood did Nami from The Taste of Money had that resulted in her becoming as she is in the film? How would the little girl from The Taste of Money, another observer in the film, turn out? After all, aren't we all just the result of heredity?
Im Sang-Soo Interview photo

Director Im Sang-Soo has a very interesting filmography. From the political black-comedy The President's Last Bang to the Palm D'or nominated erotic thriller The Housemaid, he has carved out a specific niche, one fueled ...


Flixclusive: Why Henson shelved Del Toro's Pinocchio

An inside source reveals the reasoning behind the Jim Henson Company's decision
Feb 01
// Hubert Vigilla
We just reported that Guillermo del Toro's Pinocchio has been put on the back burner by the Jim Henson Company. The film's co-writer, Gris Grimly, tweeted that the box office numbers on Frankenweenie were partially to blame f...

Flixclusive Clip: Sleep Tight

Jan 07 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
I hate cliffhangers...
Way back at Fantastic Fest 2011, we reviewed a Spanish horror/thriller called Sleep Tight. It sounded pretty interesting, but the lack of a big release/marketing push meant that I kind of totally forgot about ...

Flixclusive Interview: Jeremy Regimbal (In Their Skin)

Nov 13 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
First question: Why do you like home invasion movies? To be honest... this is a weird question for me. I can’t say that I’m a huge home invasion lover or encyclopedia by any means. It actually was a film that started as more a family-relationship going through a really intense moment, and it kind of morphed into a home invasion film. Obviously there are films we referenced like With a Friend like Harry, which is a French film which is a borderline home-invasion kind of thing, but yeah. It’s weird. I can’t say that I’m a huge fan. I don’t have anything against them. I think they’re great, and I think one of the cool things about them is being forced to be stuck in an environment and deal with a situation is always interesting, I think. A little bit about the process. So it started as a family drama. At what point did it become these people are going to steal these identities (or try anyway)? When we were first developing it, we knew the kind of area that we wanted to explore, which was a family going through an intense situation which forces them to deal with their problems. And then we were driving through Oregon, and there were some really small towns that we went through on this big road trip, the three of us that wrote the story for it. And we just saw some really weird families that kind of looked like at you so strange, and we made some jokes: “That guy looks like he wants to steal your life.” [laughs] Joking around about just how far you could take identity theft and the different ways, and that’s kind of what morphed into it, and naturally the social inequality kind of morphed towards the, “Oh, you know, they have this beautiful house, beautiful car,” and then a family shows up and tries to take that from them. There’s nothing particularly funny about the movie, and I saw that a lot of people compared it to Funny Games... but it’s a lot more serious than Funny Games. It was really unpleasant to be in the theater watching it. It was so tense and there was no letting up. Was there ever a question of putting any kind of comedy in it to lighten the mood? I think we kind of knew what we were getting ourselves into, given that it starts in a really dark place. One of the things that kind of surprised me was actually how many laughs... there was a lot of awkward “I don’t want to be here” laughter in a good way, but it was surprising at some of the moments that was brought by James D’Arcy, who brought such an interesting element to the lead villain. He was so quirky and [laughs] over nice, I guess. Why the name change? We were kind of going back and forth with it. Replicas sounded a little too sci-fi, like Blade Runner, and we just got a lot of different kind of feedback, and In Their Skin was one of the titles we’d been playing around with for a long time, and it was just like, when things were about to get real and come, we were forced to weigh all of the options. That was the one that everyone liked and wanted to go with.  One thing I thought was particularly effective was the use of slow and quiet. There were just so many pauses. Did the script have a bunch of ellipses in it? Josh [Close] is an amazing writer, and his strongest suit, if I had to pick one, would be writing dialogue in general. A lot of those pauses in the mimicking came from the rehearsal, and James did such a great job. I remember when we were rehearsing... when we weren’t even rehearsing, he was just sort of hanging out and going through these activities, he would constantly be copying Josh, and it was driving Josh Crazy. But that was the whole point. We would throw it in, and we wouldn’t tell anyone else he was going to do it. When Mark pushes in a chair, Bobby copies him, and I think he was trying to learn the whole demeanor and voice. That’s why he talked so slow. He was trying to switch his voice to sound like Mark. I think that’s where a lot of it came from. We definitely knew from the script and into shooting that we wanted to have as little editing as possible and have as many awkward moments. We didn’t have a studio or anyone stopping us, but we definitely had to fight to keep the silence. There was even less music in some of the first ones, and I wanted it even more silent. But there was some feedback that we needed a bit more... but I love the silent awkwardness of it all. There are even times when you question why it takes so long to do that, but we wanted the audience to feel like Mark and Mary did. The use of off-camera work, where you hear all of the sounds but can’t see the action. Did you have version of some of those scenes where you saw things and decided that it didn’t work as well, or did you know from the outset that the audience wouldn’t be seeing it? [Specific example] We knew we were never going to shoot anything else from that. I love that kind of stuff, when you leave it to people’s imagination. They’ll probably think of something even crazier and scarier than you could ever shoot. I just like sparse editing in general. We wanted to avoid any, your-line your-line, your-line your-line. That kind of TV style editing. Most of the times when it was a long shot, we just stuck with it. Were there any big things you ended up cutting? Nothing really comes to mind... there was a scene at the beginning that we shot and ended up getting rid of. Other than that, it wasn’t necessary. It wasn’t that the scene didn’t work out or anything, but it was a pacing thing and setting the film up to be a thriller. Other than that, everything turned out great. In many cases, better than we could have imagined. We only had 16 days to shoot it, so it was a pretty rushed process, and we were pretty happy with how things turned out looking. I’m hoping it doesn’t look like things were rushed. Other than that scene, no. Mind telling me what was in that one scene? There originally was a scene at the hospital which was right after their daughter died. It was a short scene setting up more of what happened. It was kind of a little more backstory to the family which was kind of unnecessary. Looking back, we laughed and said that that was just a rehearsal to get the characters into it. It’s perfect that we did it, because Selma [Blair] and Josh had to go through that moment and it was actually one of the most intense moments of the [laughs] film, but it ended up not working where it was. It was basically a little backstory, and it was unnecessary once we had the film all together. How much time was spent rehearsing? Did those 16 days include rehearsals or just once the camera had started rolling? Sixteen days of actual on-set shooting. Rehearsing we had almost everyone there; the kids were only there for a day or two, but the leads we had about a week to a week and half. There were a lot of other things, like fittings, going on in that time. Prep and stuff. But we had about a week and a half where everyone was in the city, and we tried to have a little rehearsal session every day. Where was that house? In British Columbia. There was a suburb of Vancouver, which we were so lucky to get that place. It was way out of range for our budget, and we were very lucky that we got it. We fought really hard, because a lot of the houses around that area were log cabins and the last thing we wanted was that. We wanted it to feel like it could be anywhere and have that kind of European, really high-class kind of feel. You mentioned social inequality earlier. How important was that to the entire concept? I think it was really important. That was Bobby’s whole motivation. He had been kind of shit on his whole life and have all these bad things happen in the past to his family. He was so... I think that was the message. No matter what class you are, you’re always looking up, and there’s always something to look up to that you’re so enamored by and want to be a part of. Part of it is realizing that you’re never perfect and will never reach this class level that you really want. With the economy the way it is and politics, it was kind of a current message that we wanted to play around with. What are you working on next? We have about... how our company works is there’s a magazine and film production company and there’s three of us: Josh, the writer and lead [of In Their Skin]; Justin, who was the producer; and me. And we work in a collective, so we have about five or six different scripts that are in development. One of them is, believe it or not, a dark comedy instead of a thriller. You know, we’re kind of dabbling in all areas, and we’re hoping to shoot something early spring and summer of next year. But it’s kind of all over the place. We have a dark dramatic love story, and a couple of others that are thrillers. More like Fincher kind of crime mystery thrillers rather than closer to like a... there won’t be any more home invasion movies I don’t think. It’s kind of all over the place, but there’s the collective of the three of us who are going to be putting films together over the next year. Sounds fun. You don’t feel constrained by genre then? No, I love dark stories in general [laughs]. I tend to watch a lot of thrillers, but the whole collective, we’re all very different people, and we’re into anything that’s a great story. The next one that I’m hoping to get together to direct is a dark comedy with a little bit of action elements and that. I kind of would prefer to jump around and not be peg-holed into one thing, which I think is hard in the film industry, because everyone is like, “Oh no no no, you’re the thriller guy. You did this, so that’s all you can do.” I would love to fight that whole way of thinking [laughs]. Was In Their Skin completely independently funded? Was it just you guys, or was there some outside help? I wish I had that much money, but I’m lucky enough that I’m a Canadian citizen, and the government there, by the end of it through government grants and TV licenses and different things we were able to tap into by being in Canada and shooting in Canada, almost half the money came from that. Then there was a private investor who we found through the magazine [The Lab Magazine, which Jeremy co-founded] that we became really good friends with. Really young talented creative guy himself. He just really believed in it, and he was the one who put up the real money to make the rest of it happen. Do you think getting money in the future will be easier because you have In Their Skin under your belt? Oh yeah... I mean, I haven’t done it yet, so I don’t want to jinx myself, but getting any film together, no matter who you are. You heard stories about big time directors who have been around forever where it’s still tough. But your first film is the hardest thing ever. I didn’t really have even a short film or anything. This was kind of my short film. I had commercials and music videos, and I had done a lot of editing and stuff, so I think it’s a hard battle to convince someone to believe in you when you don’t have another film to show them. Now that we have this, it will make it a lot easier for people to trust us. How different is the Canadian film industry from the American film industry? A lot of the stuff in Canada comes from American companies coming up there. Vancouver in particular is like that. But it’s a really healthy kind of independent scene. I think the best way for Canadian films to thrive in that is just giving the films a worldly feel, and not necessarily tying to be from any certain place. I don’t know. I think that the biggest different is that we’re so lucky, and I hope it continues this way, that there are things like Telefilm and The Harold Greenberg Fund, these funds that allowed us to get 50% of our budget from the government and government sources. I’m so grateful that that’s even an option. I also think that in the States, investors and production companies are a little bit more willing to take risks, so in some ways it balances itself out. I can’t say this for all of them, but in meetings the idea of a low budget film in the States isn’t the same as a low budget in Canada. You know, we say, “Yeah we shot it for a low budget.” They say, “What, $7, $8 million?” And we’re like, “... No” [laughs]. There’s definitely a different outlook on how they sell their films or market their films. The entire world looks to the States when it comes to marketing and things like that, so it has a big effect. How do you feel about the different distribution platforms the film is getting? It’s on VOD, theatrical release, etc. It’s cool. I’m just so excited to finally get it out there. This is my first film, but I think it’s a really interesting concept that IFC is doing with the pre-release on VOD. We’ve been getting lots of good word of mouth through that. Then there’s the release theatrically. I feel blessed. It’s been in 12 really cool festivals, I get to go to Paris next month. I thank whoever allowed me to do this every time it happens. To even get a film done is so hard, [laughs] and then to get a cool distributor like IFC we are so happy with. It’s just nice to get it out there. How do you feel about watching things on a small screen vs. watching things on a big screen? It’s kind of sad, to be honest. It’s funny. We were in a meeting with a production company a week or two ago, and they were giving us these crazy stats that they had this movie, the last movie where you’d expect to see people 40 or older, and they said 70% of the crowd was of the Baby Boomer generation. The younger generation... and I’m not that old by any means [laughs], the younger generation doesn’t seem to bother with theaters much. And maybe it’s because they’re not used to it, and it’s just becoming easier. I hate the idea of everyone wanting to watch it on an iPhone, but at the same time, it’s kind of like what the music industry have done. It’s made films hugely accessible and available. Obviously I’d prefer everyone watch it in a theater, and I prefer to watch films in the theater as well. Was In Their Skin shot digitally or on film? It was shot on a RED [MX] camera, so digitally. We did our best to take the edge off. We shot it at really high ISO so it had a grainy look. I remember when we got to the post place; they thought we had screwed up. They were like, “You guys!” [laughs]. We’re like, “No, we want it to look like that.” How do you feel about digital vs. film in general? I definitely on future films would love to shoot on film. It was something we looked into, shooting on Super 16 or 35... there’s something about film. Same with photos. It’s a feeling of not knowing what you’re capturing. With this, we were able to use the paint box or whatever it’s called and set up the looks in the camera, and we’re looking at full-res HD on a big, badass HD monitor while you’re shooting, and you can see the color effects and the change of... it’s a different experience, and I think there’s something really special about film. Even when you’re on set shooting, because you can never really tell what it’s capturing. It forces everyone to focus more on the performance and the aesthetic and different things. I will absolutely do my best to shoot stuff on film in the future, but I also think that if it was film or nothing, this film maybe never would have happened. I’m grateful that there are things coming out that are making it so anybody can shoot a film. People are shooting films for $40 or $50,000 because they have [Canon] 5Ds. I love film in general. We run a magazine called “The Lab Magazine” and we try to shoot every photo for it on film, which I don’t think a lot of magazines are doing. We’re all film lovers. [PR PERSON] Last question  Damn... that puts a lot of pressure on me, doesn’t it?  [laughs] [Awkwardly long pause] What’s your favorite movie ever? ... Woah. Favorite movie ever... That’s hard. I like movies in all different genres, so it’s hard. But one that I watch a lot of is Michael Clayton. I love that movie. I’ve watched it so many times. I love any Nicolas Winding Refn films and David Fincher... I’m kind of all over the map, but Michael Clayton is definitely one that Josh and I and Justin have watched many times. Cool. Thanks so much for talking to me! Thank you!
His middle name is Power. Also, he's Canadian
A long, long time ago, we here at Flixist did some rocking coverage of the Tribeca film festival. It was an interesting festival, and there was some pretty good films amidst quite a lot of not so good. The best film of the bu...

In Their Skin director wants to make a dark comedy

Oct 19 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
What are you working on next? We have about… how our company works is there’s a magazine and film production company and there’s three of us: Josh, the writer and lead [of In Their Skin]; Justin, who was the producer; and me. And we work in a collective, so we have about five or six different scripts that are in development. One of them is, believe it or not, a dark comedy instead of a thriller. You know, we’re kind of dabbling in all areas, and we’re hoping to shoot something early spring and summer of next year. But it’s kind of all over the place. We have a dark dramatic love story, and a couple of others that are thrillers. More like Fincher kind of crime mystery thrillers rather than closer to like a… there won’t be any more home invasion movies I don’t think. It’s kind of all over the place, but there’s the collective of the three of us who are going to be putting films together over the next year. You don’t feel constrained by genre then? No, I love dark stories in general [laughs]. I tend to watch a lot of thrillers, but the whole collective, we’re all very different people, and we’re into anything that’s a great story. The next one that I’m hoping to get together to direct is a dark comedy with a little bit of action elements and that. I kind of would prefer to jump around and not be peg-holed into one thing, which I think is hard in the film industry, because everyone is like, “Oh no no no, you’re the thriller guy. You did this, so that’s all you can do.” I would love to fight that whole way of thinking [laughs].  
Probably won't involve home invasions
Earlier in the year, a wonderful little home invasion film called Replicas won the Best Feature Film Award from the Tribeca Film Festival. Fast forward to now, and the film has a fresh coat of paint (rebranding it as In ...

Flixclusive Interview: Bond producer Barbara Broccoli

Oct 09 // Matthew Razak
Not to start off with an omission, but I noticed the documentary discussed every Bond film, but the Peter Seller's Casino Royale. Do you know why that was omitted? There was the television play with Barry Nelson, which was talked about, but you're talking about the 1968 version. Yes.  You know it's such a long history and they made decisions about what to take out and what to leave in. I guess there wasn't really a lot to say about that film. You know it's there in the canon of Bond films, but we certainly didn't have anything to do with and I'm not sure what the decision was to leave it out. It wasn't as if we said it couldn't be part of the film. I just re-watched it recently and that stuck out a bit. It is a hoot, isn't it? It is. I'm not sure you see too many films falling apart on the screen. It's interesting. It reflects that psychedelic time, definitely. It's a spoof, and I suppose when you look at it now, you know, having had the benefit of the Austin Powers films it's quite funny to look back at it as a spoof. Talk a bit about picking up the Bond mantle after you father passed. Was it a big decision for you? Well, I grew up around Bond my whole life, and it was such an integral part of my life. I had the benefit of working with my father for so many years, and I learned so much from him about how to make movies and James Bond. His passion for it was extraordinary and very contagious. It was hard to go on without him, but I feel like his mark on the series is so indelible, and everything he has imbued on the series and the what he gave to Michael (Wilson, co-producer of the Bond series) and me is so strong that he's reflected in everything we do. I feel like he's with me. You took over back in the early 90s with the relaunch of Bond and GoldenEye. Back then everyone was saying that Bond is dead since the Cold War had ended. How nerve wracking was it for you to be bringing Bond back in a world that might not want him? It was difficult. It was after the lawsuit so there hadn't been a Bond film on screen for six years. We we're introducing a new actor in Brosnan, and everyone was saying that Bond wasn't relevant anymore because the Cold War was over. There was a lot going on at the time. A lot of cause for concern. But, you know, we just did what we were use to doing, which was putting our heads down and trying to make the best film possible. It turned out pretty good. We had a great director Martin Campbell and Pierce was a sensational Bond. I think we proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that the world still needs James Bond. One of the aspects that makes Bond endure like he has it that whenever the series seems to get too big you bring it back down to earth. Was that something that your father and you tried to do? Yes. Absolutely. These films very much reflect the times we're in and it also a reflection of the actor that portrays Bond at the time. I think in certain cases -- certainly when it came to Moonraker -- we went pretty far out there. It's a terrific movie and well appreciated, but I think there was then a desire to go back to a more realistic Bond. My father always use to say, "Whenever you get stuck go back to Fleming." That's a pretty good rule of thumb and that's what we do. You know after Die Another Day, an extremely successful film, after 9/11 it seemed inappropriate to make light of Bond's ambition to save the world. So we went back to the books. We got Casino Royale, which had eluded Cubby and Harry (Saltzman) initially, and we went back to tell the original story. I think it was very appropriate for our times and I think Daniel Craig has made an astounding Bond, who is very appropriate for the 21st century. Speaking of Craig, I was one of the naysayers when he was announced as Bond, but you were behind him all the way. What made you believe in him as Bond? He's a great actor. I saw him do a lot of different varied performances, and you can't take your eyes off him when he's on the screen. He just captures you and he invades every character that he takes on, and he made a real commitment to re-finding James Bond and bringing the character humanity that I think is crucial to the Bond of now. Looking back Craig's new Bond really cast Dalton's films in a new light. You see people looking back and saying that they see what was happening there.  Absolutely. Tim very much wanted to go back to the Fleming origins and I think he was right. I think he was ahead of his time. Those films really stand up. He's an extraordinary actor and a very important part to the history of Bond. He gave it another dimension and a new insight.  Obviously the Bond actors are important, but the thing that makes a great Bond film is a great villain. How do you go about casting villains and how important is that? I think the villains are essential because they're the counter point to James Bond. The better the villain, the better the Bond movie as far as we're concerned. I think with Javier Bardem we hit a real home run. He's a spectacular actor and he created such an extraordinary character. The combination of him and Daniel is just extraordinary. To watch them on the set is a real privileged. Have you seen the completed Skyfall? Oh, yes. We've seen it and it's pretty great. I'm really relieved because it was very, very important to us, particularly for the 50th anniversary, that we made a film that would stand up to the high benchmark that was created by all the original filmmakers. I'm very, very proud of it. We just hope that the fans will love it as much as we've enjoyed making it. In Skyfall the evil Quantum organization story line has been pushed to the side. Why was that? Was it tough to do after the last two movies built it up? We thought that after what Bond had been through on Casino Royale we felt we really need to complete that story line. So Quantum is very much about revenge on the Quantum organization for Vesper's death. I think we successfully put that story line to bed and we felt we could start with another story. It's a new chapter with Bond getting back to being Bond.  And Blofeld? Will he ever be returning? [laughs] Blofeld has obviously been an important part of the history of Bond, and as much as we love him we're focusing on trying to create new villains. Certainly when you see Javier Bardem you'll see that he serves up a pretty dangerous cocktail for Bond. I think that he's a new version of the lethal adversary that Blofeld has been in the past. There doesn't seem to be any stopping Bond now. The last hurdle -- the Cold War ending -- was defeated and he seems to have an obvious place in cinema. Is Bond eternal now? I think Bond is a classical hero and I think as long as there is villainy out there there is a place for James Bond. I imagine villainy will continue so... I think there will always be a need for James Bond. In terms of the films we'll keep making them as long as audiences want to go see them. I just hope that Skyfall lives up to what everyone believes it can. We make these movies for the audience and they are the ones that keep us going. I'm not sure how involved you are with the gaming aspect of Bond, but how important are the videogames to the Bond franchise? Well, I think when GoldenEye came out it certainly brought a whole new audience to the Bond films and you can't underestimate its impact. We try to make the games with as much style and panache as the films. All the time I hear people telling me how good they are and how impressed they are with them, so I think they've been very helpful. I'm not really a gamer myself so I can't speak with any great authority other than that we seem to have the best designers in the business creating them, and they're doing very well.  
Talking Bond with the woman who keeps him alive
As you probably guessed from my rampant writing on the subject, I'm a very, very big Bond fan. Like to a stupid degree. This past week I've basically been doing nothing but watch Bond movies back to back. It's been amazing. S...

Interview: Jason Dohring (Searching for Sonny)

Aug 28 // Maxwell Roahrig
Flixist: How did you first get involved with the project? Jason Dohring: Well, I got the script from Andrew [Disney; the director]. Read through it, and it was very refreshing. I was laughing out loud as I was reading it. I could see the way it was going to be edited. Later I found out through a trailer that the finished thing was as funny as I thought it would be. Very Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, very dark. I just got very interested in the project. Then when I met Andrew, he was a really fun and refreshing guy. This is Disney's first feature project. How was it working with a first time director? Yeah, he did a few shorts before that I saw. But I gotta say, for a first time director, this was one of the best first movies that I've ever seen out of a director. I think he knew in his mind just what he wanted, and he was able to pull the whole thing together without a lot of guess work. Everything just worked out before hand. I mean, that's everything you want out of a director, first time or no. It's great he was able to bring this together right off the bat. Yeah man! You want the strong vision obviously, but you don't want to be too serious, you know? Like, you can't be all "We don't allow for any input at all." You have to have that, and he was very open to our input. I take it you'd love to work with him again, but does Disney have any other projects lined up? He's always got stuff lined up. Not really sure what he's going to do. I think one of them involves cowboys in space. I mean, with Andrew, you don't always know what to expect. I'd love to play a cowboy. Do you know of any plans for a Veronica Mars movie or reunion of sorts? Gosh, I've been hearing things up and down over the years, even recently. I really don't know. We've always had a strong fan support for the show. I guess we'll have to wait and see. It's a lot to do with the fan support. It really all comes down to Rob Thomas [show creator] and what other productions he has going on. We're all still really good friends, all of the cast, and see each other pretty frequently. If we could all get together and do something, it'd be great. I saw you were doing voice work for the Kingdom Hearts games as Terra. Any plans to do more voice over work for animated films or other games? Yeah! I was just up for a Pixar movie recently. They're doing a new one, so I'm seeing if that plays out at all. I love voice over. As an actor, I always get too involved and doing voice work frees you from working with your body. Is there anything you can say regarding that Pixar movie? Well, I was up for a role in one. We'll have to wait and see how that plays out. I don't know, really. They're starting to get the cast together for that. I don't know how much I can say about it, I put an NDA down and everything. It was super fun, though. The entire process was so great. I've never actually been to an audition like it. It was so creative, so well prepared, really got a long with everyone. And it's really only a movie that Pixar could do. What's next for you? Where can we see you next? I'll probably be doing some more TV soon. I've got something lined up, but it's not completely worked out yet. But I'm also interested in getting into more films like Sonny down the line.

Many of you remember Jason Dohring from the cult TV-show Veronica Mars. As the lovable bad-boy Logan, Dohring showcased and honed his talents to a great degree. Now that the show is off the air, Dohring has bee...

Flixclusive Interview: Kenn Viselman (Oogieloves)

Aug 15 // Matthew Razak
[embed]212423:38718[/embed] The movie sounds like almost more of experience than a movie in that you're trying to have the children involved with the film instead of simply watching it. Kenn Viselman: Definitely. We didn't set out to make a Pixar movie. A whole series of things happened while we were contemplating what we wanted to do with this film. Things like childhood diabetes and obesity and other health risks. For us it was much more about active versus passive viewing and we tried to make an experience that is normally a passive one and turn it into an active one. As a result you end up with something that is more than a film. So it is a film and there is a story that has a beginning and middle and end. In fact it has several beginning, middles and ends, which is how we keep the youngest child involved. Then the over arching storyline keeps the older child and caregiver involved. It was designed to be a get up and dance, scream and yell thing. I've been saying if you take Pee Wee's Playhouse and combine it with Rocky Horror Picture Show then you get The Oogieloves. Talk about keeping that youngest kid involved. When I go to children's films I always notice that the really young children lose interest in about ten minutes. They're just gone. Kenn Viselman: That's because we don't make movies for kids. We make movies for adults and we market them to kids. That's not my business. The idea was to be as honest as possible. When I decided to come back to work I wanted to do something as real as possible. If we're going to make something for kids it's going to be for kids. I don't have any problem with the idea of making a lot of money and making great stuff, I just think you should be honest about it. To make a movie for eleven-year-olds and make toys for four-year-olds when you know that the base entertainment has nothing to do with them is not right. This film was designed to include the youngest of possible viewers as well as their siblings and their adults. So what do you see in the theater from the interaction point of the children? Kenn Viselman: We have patents on both visual and auditory cues that occur on the screen. What we do is we give the child the option. If they want to sit like an adult in the movie they can. If they want to get up and be a kid than go on. We give them lots of opportunities. We have butterflies that come across the screen and tell kids to stand up and turtles that come across to tell them to sit down. Then the characters are on the screen breaking the fourth wall and telling the kids to come dance and sing and help. It's every three minutes or so and we find that kids of all ages are pretty cool with it. The kids are entirely engaged throughout the film. We've had children who can't sit through a film be able to enjoy the entire movie. So what are the benefits of a movie getting kids to interact? Kenn Viselman: Active participation is so important. The average child gets 11 minutes of outdoor play per week, but gets 54.3 hourse of screen time for that same period. If we don't find a way to take the screen and make it an active experience we're screwed. This is the first time in history that this generation is expected to have a shorter lifespan than the generation before. We're dealing with obesity on a grand scale. It's because of the sugar intake that kids get and the lack of physical entertainment. We have to take the initiative to get kids to get up and moving. The movie also has a variety of different musical sounds. And schools are removing music programs all over the place so I wanted to stress that too. The two most important things to aid a child's education are physical education and music appreciation and its ridiculous that we are removing them. We wanted this film to be embedded in that. One of the goals then was to have children actually playing in the theater? Ken Viselman: When we got involved with the Teletubbies I wanted to make sure caregivers had a choice. At that time something like 98 percent of all kids two and up were watching an hour of television a day but there actually was no television show aged appropriate for them. With the Teletubbies we were saying if you want to give your children television here's something age appropriate for your children. In the case of Oogieloves what I wanted to do was give children the opportunity to do what children wanted to do. It's their choice to run around and have fun. Before this movie there was never a film that was designed to allow children to be children in the movie theater. It's quite an experience. How about moving forward? Could this interactivity be moved into films for adults? Kenn Viselman: Interesting. If you think about Rocky Horror Picture Show or even sing-alongs now people go to them. There's something about reliving their childhood as an adult. People do like interacting. I go to all the Madea movies and I'm very entertained when the audience talks to the screen. Or in a horror film when people shout at the screen. The interaction is there. I haven't thought about what my adult interactive film would be like, but it's there. As adults we close down a lot of doors so it would make it harder to interact like that. You might want to serve a few drinks beforehand. Kenn Viselman: (laughs) Yea, something like a rock concert comes to mind. You might want a few drinks to break down those walls. There are ways, though. I think you could do it.   Talk a bit about the tech behind the film. Kenn Viselman: What's unique about this film is that we took a lot of things that aren't generally done and merged them into a new medium. It's the way that we create the icons and the way we found a way to utilize everything. The idea of interactivity isn't new, but the idea of interactivity in a theater is. It's about how we created that experience.   You mentioned Pixar earlier. What do you think about children's cinema currently? Kenn Viselman: To be honest I'm kind of revolted by it, which is what got me back into working. I was pretty happy just hanging in the house watch Jerry Springer (laughs). I saw a preview the other day for an animated movie that's doing well in the box office; one character slaps another and everybody laughs. I thought, "What's wrong with our society?" We're dealing with bullying and all these issues. Don't the creators know that a child is going to see this action in a movie theater, hear everybody laugh, and go out to the park the next a slap someone. Then everybody's going to scratch their head and wonder why that happened? We don't understand that children mimic adults in their lives. We don't understand impact that negative images have on children. We don't understand why shootings happen in movie theaters. We don't understand why we have these crazy events going on in the world. It's because we aren't taking any responsibility for them as adults. It infuriates me. The other day I'm on a panel and the guy next to me, a lovely guy, makes a comment about how brilliant Pixar is for children in particular. I think the Pixar people are brilliant, but he makes a comment about how Pixar is great for children because good always wins over evil in the end, and the audience applauds him. I'm sitting there going, "What's wrong with all of you idiots?" Doesn't anybody understand that we don't need to show evil in the first place. Why can't we show children at an early age that love is love for love's sake. Be good because good is good. We don't tell need to tell you to be good because if you don't you'll fall into a trap and be eaten by an alligator. We don't need to show them the negative responses, we just need to show them the positive responses of positive behavior. It really upset me. The Oogieloves -- whether you like the movie or you don't like the movie, I don't care -- children like the movie and I made this for them. And I made it for their parents so that they can have an opportunity to hang out in the same space having the same shared experience. The thing you will see at this movie is that you can have drama, you can have consequence without having bad. I wanted to show that you don't need to have evil to in your movie to make your movie work for kids. If you look you've got Madagascar, you've got Brave, you've got Ice Age. Every one of those movies has a scene that is too scary for young children and it's completely unnecessary. It doesn't move the story forward, it's not a necessary component to the film we just do it so we can up the rating to a PG or a PG-13 and get an older audience in there. Knowing, full well, that the caregiver of young children are going to bring their young children to the movie because there is no other movie offered for those children. It's infuriating to me. If you take our movie and back date it to when the last wide release G movie was it was 130 days before the Oogieloves came out. It was a movie called Chimpanzee, which was a lovely documentary, but it wasn't a children's movie. If you back that up you've got The Arctic, which was on IMAX and a limited number of screens. And if you back it up to then you've got Beauty and the Beast in 3D. There hasn't been one original story, done for kids, that's G-rated this entire year. I think that's revolting. Wow. I actually went to a screening of ParaNorman last week, which I thoroughly enjoyed as a 20-something, but I was thinking that parents would bring kids... Kenn Viselman: It's appalling to me. They're marketing their movie to children. If you look at how violent the trailer for that movie is. That's what were offering children? And we want to know why we have this extraordinary violence in this country? We breed it at a young age and we desensitize our children to it. Instead of trying to find a way to extend childhood we decide to create monsters. I think it's revolting and I am revolting it. I am starting a revolution to try to make some sense of the world that we live in. So where do you think the age cut off is for children to see movies like this? The one point I've always made is never telling a caregiver what age to do something. You're the caregiver and you know your child. There are very young children who are very capable of dealing with cause and effect and consequences ... there's some nuance depending on the child. However, with that said, I don't see any kid under 13 or 14 going to ParaNorman and getting it. I haven't seen the movie, I just know the bits that I've seen of it and I've been like, "Really?" You know the movies like Up, which did a crazy amount of business. Look at Up. We've got a miscarriage and then a death, and then the bad guy with rifles shooting at people. Pets getting shot at, nasty scary dogs. If that movie wasn't animated what would it have been rated? R? But we say that somehow because it's animation children don't perceive it the same way and I disagree ... You just believe when you're a child. You know, you've got a crazy guy shooting at your dog and we give that a PG because it's animation. We should treat animation the same way we treat live action and give it the same rating.

You read that right. This is an interview with the man who created and produced a movie called The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure. Yea, I wasn't that excited to conduct the interview either. The movie, which prompts ...


Flixclusive Clip: Wild Horse, Wild Ride

Aug 10
// Alec Kubas-Meyer
One time, long ago, I tried to ride a horse. It was on those of those controlled family wilderness excursion things somewhere in Colorado. The only thing I remember is my horse going off the path and standing in a field. It ...

Interview: Directors of Ultimate Christian Wrestling

Aug 09 // Hubert Vigilla
[Editor's note: A few questions and responses were altered to avoid spoilers.] One of the things I noticed about Ultimate Christian Wrestling is that it would be easy to take an initially condescending or mocking look at the people involved in this independent wrestling promotion, but there's a lot of sympathy given to everyone in the movie. Tara Autovino: Yeah, that was our intention once we got down there to meet them. We set up time with them and their families. For us it was about finding the connections between us (who are seemingly unlike them) and them (who do this crazy thing), as opposed to finding the differences, because [finding the differences] seems to be done a lot in documentary film. We were more interested in finding the points of connection. Jae-Ho Chang: Yeah, we definitely didn't want to make the movie into a reality show. It's too easy of a subject to make fun of and go that direction. And us trying to be serious filmmakers, we wanted to make a film that tried to change people's perception. It changed our perceptions too. We basically had the same reaction to [UCW] in the beginning, and throughout filming we realized that there's more to what we see to them. That was kind of the strategy we used as well when we put the film together. We sort of start out that way, and then slowly, almost like peeling an onion, see what's inside these people. How did you first find out about Ultimate Christian Wrestling? JC: Yeah. [laughs] It's just-- It was on the radio, pretty much. It was like a joke. It was the sports section and they mentioned there was this group that wrestled for Jesus, and that was pretty much all they said. I thought that was pretty bizarre concept because it was a violent sport with Christianity. This was when Tara and I were in grad school at NYU. I mentioned it to her because we both have this fascination with Americana culture. And then Tara did a little more research on it. TA: Oh yeah! There's a few groups that wrestle with a Christian theme in the country. They're all in the south, or in the Bible Belt. There's one that's sort of slick looking, and there's one that's very amateurish. These Ultimate Christian Wrestling guys are somewhere in the middle. When I called Rob [Adonis], who is the founder of UCW, we was just like, "Yeah, come down, see what we do." Wow. TA: And so we went down there and were very surprised with what we found, and how welcoming they were. They're not really interested in pushing their agenda on anybody. They're just interested in expressing their faith in the way that they do. They never once asked us if we were religious or Christian or anything like that, which was really refreshing. Yeah, that's one of those things that was really striking about the film: they just seemed like normal guys who were just expressing something that was meaningful, which is beautiful. TA: Yeah. JC: I think it's a pretty smart concept, what they're trying to do. Because they're trying to attract people -- the younger crowd, or people who think church is really boring. So they use wrestling as a vehicle, because wrestling is really big in the south. They kind of use that to attract people, and when you go to their shows, it's like a sporting event. It's very high intensity, there's a lot of emotions involved. It's almost like they use that to kind of convert and spread the message of Christianity. Were either of you wrestling fans growing up, or even now? TA: I wasn't. My brother and my sister were really into it when I was a kid, like when WWF was still WWF. I watched it a lot because it was on, and I couldn't really understand what was going on. I definitely appreciate now the theatrics of it. It's so much more theater than sports, and that's what I couldn't understand when I was a kid. JC: For me, I was a huge wrestling fan in the 80s -- the WWF with Koko B. Ware and Ultimate Warrior and Andre the Giant. I was so in to it. I would get so upset when people said it was fake! TA: [laughs] [laughs] How many of the UCW events did you go to? You have a lot of fascinating footage, especially when they're cutting promos and everything. TA: Wow... What would you say, Jae-Ho? Would you say like 10? I don't even-- JC: Yeah. TA: Because sometimes they were doing them once a week, but then there were other long stretches [without events], and then we were at some indie wrestling shows with them that weren't related to UCW. JC: Alabama. Athens. It was all over Georgia. So about 10. TA: Yeah, I'd say probably about 10. How did you decide what wrestling footage to include in the film? Because the film's about the lives these men lead, but there's also some great moments that give you a feel of what a UCW event is like. TA: Well, you know, some of it had to do with what cut best together. And then there were other issues of using really recognizable music, that filtered some of it out. Jae-Ho? JC: Yeah, for instance there was a great skit that they incorporated "Eye of the Tiger" into. [laughs] TA: Oh man, that was so good! JC: [It was something that we] really wanted to use. We felt like that kind of represented who they were, and how they incorporated pop culture into their skits. But we figured if we ended up using that, it was going to cost a lot for the rights to the music. What happened in "Eye of the Tiger" skit? TA: Oh man. I think it centered around Billy Jack and his son Kody, if I recall correctly. I haven't seen that footage in a couple years. But it was Billy Jack and his son. The theme of the skits are generally about making choices; choices that sort of follow, for lack of a better description, a non-Christian set of morals. Something that emphasizes greed or acting out of fear versus making choices that are sort of moving straight into fear and trusting their faith -- that their understanding of God will take them through it. And just everybody in the ring, it was so great! I'm a dancer, so there's a lot of choreography in there that really moved me. And the song was great. That's brilliant. JC: Yeah, just having the choreography to the music, to the beat. TA: Yeah, they're so good with the rhythm and stuff. On the note of music, are you guys going to keep the Godspeed You! Black Emperor song in the film? TA: Oooh! JC: Nice! You recognized it! That's from one of my favorite Godspeed songs! JC: [laughs] Nice. TA: The music stuff is really tricky with documentaries. People have used stuff in the past and it hasn't been an issue, and especially with Godspeed, they're very non-commercial. Yeah. TA: But I don't know. Film is very-- We're both very into music, and it's hard to make the kind of movies we want to make without using the music that moves the scene the way that we think it should. So that's still up in the air. JC: Yeah, it's unfortunate because we have such a personal relationship with music, as corny as that sounds. And I think because this film is a personal film, I think using this music that we have an emotional attachment to kind of adds to the scene in our eyes. TA: Mmhmm. JC: It would be great if we could use that piece because it's so patriotic and hopeful. But... TA: For now it's in. [laughs] [laughs] JC: Yeah, for now. I hope it stays in. When that song crescendos, it's everything hopeful about these people. TA: Exactly. JC: We had something else initially by a different artist, and it was such a downer! [laughs] [laughs] JC: The music is amazing how it can portray a scene that way. You know, there was that feeling that this moment could be really depressing with different music. But again, that choice to put that song there really underlies who these people are. TA: Mmhmm. JC: I think also including Kody kind of foreshadows the next generation of Ultimate Christian Wrestler. TA: Yeah, and Kody's actually wrestling a lot these days! He's doing the indie circuit. Wow. TA: Billy's still wrestling too, but Kody is moving up. JC: Mmhmm. How old is he now? And when did you start filming and how much time has elapsed since? TA: Let's see. We started shooting in 2006, and we shot all between 2006 and 2009. So at that time, Kody was a year older than my daughter. So he must be like 16 or 17 now. JC: Yeah. TA: But I think that's his path. JC: Yup. Have you kept in touch with Rob and Justin and Billy Jack? JC: I'm Facebook friends with Billy Jack and Kody, and Todd, the director who does all the skits. Yes, it's not like direct contact, but you get to see their updates and what they're doing. For instance, Justin is married now. Oh, that's great. JC: He lives in San Diego. He travels a lot now, and it's great. I think when we were filming him, he never left the state of Georgia. So he met his wife [since shooting], and she's a British lady. Billy Jack -- he retired at one point, and then became a nurse, and then he started dirt car racing, and I think he's back wrestling again. TA: Yeah, I saw some stuff on Facebook the other day. I think he had a show. JC: Do they wrestle together, Kody and Billy? TA: Well, I'm not sure if they do at times, but Kody is definitely doing his own thing. I didn't look too closely on what the show was about, so I'm not entirely sure. I read somewhere that this film had to cross a couple of hurdles to get into the festival circuit. Could you talk about what the process was like? [a pause] TA: Jae-Ho, you wanna...? JC: Uhh, why don't you go ahead! [laughs] TA: [laughs] [laughs] TA: You know, it's tricky. I think we've gone from hopeful to bitter to accepting. Sort of all over the place. I'm very proud of this film, and we've both been to a number of festivals with other things. I think this is the best work I've done to date. The people who've seen it really like it, and yet the response from a lot of the festival programmers is-- You know, I've gotten emails from bigger festivals saying, "Your film almost made it. We really love it, we know it's going to have a great run on the festivals circuit, it's just that we can't fit it into our programming." And we've gotten that email from a number of programmers. You get enough of those and it's like, "What the hell." JC: Yeah. It's like, "Good, but not good enough," I guess. TA: You know, but the thing is in terms of festival programming, a lot of times (not all festivals) festivals are looking for a topic that hasn't been done in documentary film. When we were in the middle of shooting ours, there was a trend of religious documentaries that had come out, and I think when you get thousands of submissions, people think, "Oh, it's another documentary about Christianity -- we've done that." Or about some sort of extreme fighting or whatever. "We've done that." And then they pass. Because there are a lot of good films out there, so if there are two films that are equally good and one is of a subject matter that they haven't covered before, it tends to be... So, we've been rejected a lot. JC: Yeah, and also, I think that the landscape of documentaries has changed a lot. And with people watching a lot of reality shows, I think they need to be stimulated much more. I feel like our film is a very subtle character piece, while a lot of documentaries nowadays are very extreme, pushing the envelope, there has to be a political agenda. It kind of gets lost in the shuffle when you go head to head with those kinds of films. TA: Yeah. It is a much quieter movie. Both of you as filmmakers do stand back and allow these people to be people. TA: Yeah, we didn't make any decisions about who they were. We tried to stay away from editorializing their lives in any way, because they're not our lives. And we're very grateful that they allowed us such a close look, and that we were able to establish trust between them. I think the last thing Jae-Ho and I wanted to do is destroy that bond that took a long time to build. JC: Yeah. TA: And so representing them-- I mean, this is not fiction filmmaking. We're following people's lives. However they turn out, that's how thy turn out. We tried to stay as true to that as we could. JC: Yeah, and I think because of that approach, it took us three-plus years to film it. You've got to wait for things to unfold throughout people's lives. Just being observant and shooting a cinema verite-type documentary, I think in order to get a story or a story arc, it just takes that long. How much access did you have into their lives? It seems like you were just hanging out with everyone at key moments. Like Thanksgiving at Billy Jack's place. That's such a heartbreaking glimpse at what's going on with his family. TA: We had a lot of access. At first we were kind of guarded, they were kind of guarded. We didn't know each other very well. And just over time, we just proved to them that we were there for them. That they were helping us and the film wasn't to make any kind of point about them other than trying to understand what they do. By that point, we had talked to them and had gotten to know them really well. We spent a lot of holidays with them -- we spent multiple Thanksgivings with them, we spent Christmases with them. They were very welcoming. And we know a lot of their families. It was really nice to be part of that. JC: Yeah, and I think that's the key. Showing up without the camera and just hanging out with them as friends and talking. Eating together. I think that's key to getting access to people's lives, and I think once that was established, they no longer saw us as people with cameras. They just sort of see us as their friends. Have any of them seen the documentary? Both: Not yet. TA: We're trying to give them a proper screening. I wonder if maybe we can... Well, I can't say that yet, Jae-Ho. JC: What? TA: About the-- We are going to a festival, but I don't think it's been announced yet. JC: Oh yeah. But I don't think they're going to make it-- TA: It's too far. Yeah. JC: But I did look into some places and some screening rooms there that are reasonably priced. So I think we should have a private screening. That'd be cool. TA: It would be nice for them to see it on the big screen as opposed to us just mailing them a DVD. Exactly. JC: Yeah. And during the festival when it showed in New York, I think someone said it'd be nice to have a camera of their reaction. TA: [laughs] [laughs] I'm really bummed that I missed this when it played at the Korean American Film Festival New York. How did it go over at that festival? JC: It went really well. Really, really well. We were very surprised how much people really connected to he characters. And I think by hearing compliments like that, I feel like we achieved what we wanted to. For instance, people would say that at first they weren't sure who these people were, they were kind of judging them inside. And then, slowly, towards the end of the film, they started rooting for them. Just by hearing comments like that we've achieved what we wanted to do. You both met at NYU. Can you talk about what you studied and how you started working together? JC: We both went to NYU Tisch film grad school together. So we're the same year, so what they do is pair you up alphabetically by last name. [laughs] JC: Out of like five or six people. TA: Yeah. JC: "Autovino" starts with "A" and I'm "C," so we were in the same groups since day one. And what they have you do is collaborate on each other's projects, so through that process we got close and then we started leaning that we share the same interests and aesthetics. That's why when I heard about the whole Christian wrestling idea, I knew that Autovino would be the right person to run it by because of the similar interests and similar background, and I knew that we worked well together. You mentioned earlier about music being really big with both of you. Have you ever considered doing a music documentary? TA: I haven't. I'm in a band right now, and I do music stuff. And dance is the same thing -- music is the place that I start and I sort of branch out creatively from that. I haven't really thought about doing a documentary on music -- I'd rather just make it. [laughs] [laughs] JC: I don't know. I'm not going to say no to it. I guess if there's a different angle to that music documentary, yeah possibly. TA: And I think the other thing with documentary is I don't think either one of us set out to be a documentary filmmaker. If the topic or the person or the group sort of presents itself to me, that's when I would grab the opportunity. I'm not sitting around thinking, "What can I make a new documentary about?" JC: Yeah. Were both of you working on narrative film at grad school? JC: Yes. We studied narrative filmmaking. This just happened to come about as a side project while we were in film school making narrative films. It's our first feature, and it kind of tends to lean us toward documentary filmmaking. But to me it's all storytelling, in a way. Yeah. JC: And I think what Autovino and I want to do is tell good stories. This just happened to come along and took this long. TA: And I think for me, I always had-- The NYU grad film program is a narrative-based program. I don't know if it [still] is, we've been out for a little bit, but when we were there it was narrative based. I hated working with actors. There was just something about... I just could connect to their humanity. It was difficult for me. So when I was doing narrative stuff, I was using my daughter and my sister -- just non-actors when I was making stuff. I shoot in a documentary-style to begin with, so it wasn't a huge crossover for me. JC: That's a good point. I feel like when I make narrative films too I don't want to use actors who are really good looking. It kind of takes me out of them film when I use actors like that. TA: Right. JC: Yeah, I totally agree with you, Autovino. It's just that realism approach that I think we both want to achieve in our narrative filmmaking. Are there are filmmaking influences that were big for you in grad school, or just growing up, that still influence your work today? TA: Umm. I always never have an answer for that. It's like the favorite book question. TA: I mean, I have my stock movies that I say are my favorite movies. I really love How to Get Ahead in Advertising, I love True Stories. I really like the work of Errol Morris. I mean, I was really into him before I was into documentary filmmaking at all. He just does stuff that is just about people for the most part, and the people are amazing -- their quirks and stuff. I love that kind of stuff. JC: I really liked Lars von Trier at one point, and then... kind of... I think he changed in his style now. [laughs] TA: [laughs] [laughs] JC: I really like The Thin Red Line, it's always been my favorite film. And then Michael Haneke films or Bruno Dumont films, where they're kind of minimalist, not much happens, it's like a slow burn -- almost boring films -- is what I lean towards. [Editor's note: I resisted the urge of bringing up my love of Bela Tarr. In retrospect, maybe I should have brought him up.] What are you both working on right now? TA: [laughs and then sighs] Actually, I'm taking a break from film for at least a little bit. I'm in a dance company and I'm in a band, so I'm kind of focusing on that for right now. And I'm telling myself I'll never go back to film, but I've said that before. So I think I'm just taking a break for right now. JC: You're keeping on being creative still. TA: Yeah, yeah, definitely. JC: I did a short film and am in post-production at the moment. Is there are chance that it'll hit the festival circuit pretty soon? JC: Yeah, I think that's the goal -- to get to festivals. [Ultimate Christian Wrestling will be playing at the Korean Cultural Center in Los Angeles at 7:30 PM on Saturday, August 11th.]

[This week, we will be covering the the First Annual Korean American Film Festival Los Angeles, which will be taking place at the Korean Cultural Center LA from August 9th through the 11th. For all of our coverage, head here....

Flixclusive Interview: Yeun Sang-ho, The King of Pigs

Jul 12 // Alec Kubas-Meyer
What is the current of state of South Korean animation? Honestly, there is not really an animation market in South Korea. Usually there are TV series or 3D movies for children, and sometimes, very rarely, a theatrical release of a feature. Last year we had fortunately, we were able to have quite a few theatrical features, but that’s really rare. Why did you want to start making animated movies? I like animation to begin with. Ever since I was young, I liked animation, especially Japanese animation, and naturally I just started making animation. I began with shorts, made quite a lot of shorts for about ten years. They’re mostly for grownups. How did it feel to Korean animation invited to Cannes? I actually heard about the news when I was at the Busan International Film Festival, and there are many Japanese animation directors that I admire, especially Kon Satoshi, known for Perfect Blue. I admired their style, and I tried to make a film that’s similar to their style, and Kon Satoshi has gone to Venice with Paprika, and I always wanted to follow their path and try to become an animation director like them. So I was really glad to hear that I was able to go to Cannes. Honestly, I kind of was shooting for going to Cannes with this film, and I’m really glad that it happened. So the film was at least in part based on your own experiences? Yeah, it’s based on my experience in school. What I saw, what I heard, and it’s the kind of experience that most of the boys in general would go through in South Korea. [To the translator, who was a young guy who grew up in South Korea] Is that what you went through? Oh yeah. Really? Pretty much, yeah. [Back to Yeun Sang-ho] Are any of the characters in The King of Pigs based on you? Mostly the three main characters. I especially focused on Jong-suk, and at the ending, I focused very much on portraying this character based on myself, and also what I would have wished something like that would actually be put in this character when I was young. When you initially had the idea, was it based on your own experiences or was it from a desire to make a movie about class inequality? Initially, I had a dream while I doing military service, and the dream was about three friends (including myself) taking revenge on someone by committing suicide, and the dream was about that, but it didn’t go so well. When I woke up, it was horrifying, and I wrote a note about it, and eventually it became this movie. And then, by the time I was going to write a feature, I found this note. I initially wanted to make this feature about social class, and based on this note that I found, I thought that I would be able to extend this and make it into this film. How many people worked on the film? Fifteen or sixteen people. How personally involved were you in the animation process? For the background, I drew about half of the film. For the picture, actually animating characters and the movement, I drew about 10,000 out of 30,000. What are you working on next? After The King of Pigs, I made a short that’s about 30 minutes long about my army experience… or about the army. And the next feature I will be working on [is roughly translated to] mean “fake religion” or “cultic religion,” and it’s going to be released early next year. I’m working on that right now. What’s that about? In Korea, there are many cultic religions, primarily based on Methodist Christianity, actually. Something that would derive from Christianity, not really a dominant thing, more cultic. And [the film] will take place in this village that is going to sink, meaning by the national plan for a reservoir. So they would actually sink the whole area for the reservoir. So the village is going to get sunk, so the story takes place in that village. So the cultic religion is in that village? So the religion gets involved in the village. It’s an apocalyptic village, and fake religion gets into that village. Would you ever make a live action movie? Not yet. I was offered a few times to make live action films, but mostly the conditions that I would like to have were not really met. If I get sufficient conditions, then yeah I will. Would you ever make a comedy? I actually made a short called Love is Fourteen, and that was a comedy. But for a feature, it’s not planned yet. I would definitely like to produce a lot of comedy, though, because I like comedy, especially slapstick. Do you try to put autobiographical elements in everything you make? Not really. The short I made called Hell was kind of a fantastical horror short film, and Love is Fourteen was a comedy. I would say that The King of Pigs is the first film that is based on my experience. [The implication that none of his experiences have ever been comedic makes me sad – Ed.] If you were ever given the chance to work with a Japanese animation team, would you? I am actually quite familiar with the Japanese staff from Mad House, which is an animation studio, but I noticed there are some systematical differences between Japanese animation and Korean animation, and in order to work with them, I think there would need to be some kind of system change beforehand. That’s all my time. Thanks so much! 

[For the month of July, we will be covering the New York Asian Film Festival and the (also New York-based) Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF...

Flixclusive Interview: Director Chung Chang-Wha

Jul 10 // Hubert Vigilla
[embed]211130:38539[/embed] How was yesterday's screening of Five Fingers of Death? [Editor's note: At the screening, Chung Chang-Wha was given a Star Asia Lifetime Achievement Award.] It was so touching, because in France the audience reaction was really good, but here, in NYC-- New York is a very international city, very big and metropolitan, so it was so touching that the audience was so passionate and asked questions. What was the Korean film industry like in the 1950s and 1960s when you started making films? It was a real difficult time because the whole production system was very poor, and we didn't have that many studios there. Also, investments were really poor, so only the directors had all the responsibilities and capabilities for making films. Before you went to Hong Kong, what Korean films that you made were you especially proud of? I love my film Sunny Field, which there are no original prints of now, which is very sad and tragic. But actually it was my first action film and it became a turning point in my career. It's a very significant film for me. I was actually wondering if any of those early films are available. I know there's the Korean Film Archive. Have they made any attempts to locate, restore, or preserve those movies? They recently found the film Dolmuji in Taiwan -- by "they" I mean the Korean Film Archive, they found it. They're trying to recover it, but it's so damaged, so it's not really 100% recovered. [Editor's note: During the Q & A for The Swift Knight, Chung Chang-Wha received a similar question about his pre-Shaw Brothers films. After a wry smile and laugh, he mentioned that it always sort of hurts to get those questions. (Sorry!) Roughly 70% of his pre-Hong Kong films are missing, damaged, or lost. In the past, rather than sending duplicate prints of Korean films to other countries, original prints were sent. If anything, it means that these lost films could still be out there, though it's anyone's guess where they are.] I read somewhere that you trained in music. Did that inform you as a director? It really important! [laughs] [laughs] My experiences with my music education affected my understanding of tempo and rhythm. I think the cinema is all about tempos and rhythms as an art form. It helps me think off how to control films, like what should be slow and what should be fast and what should be strong. Do you find that different genres have different rhythms? Like is there an action rhythm, a melodrama rhythm, a comedy rhythm? Of course. Could you discuss what you feel those rhythms are? [laughs] That's a real tricky question. [a beat] I guess first of all, I'm proud to have made action films in Korea when I did because at that time, in the late 1950s and 1960s, everyone else was making literature films and home dramas, which are both kind of slow. I think those genres, though, are less a matter of tempos since they're more about storytelling. So at that time, Korean audiences were going to Hollywood movies for that reason -- [the literature films and home dramas] were so slow. That's why I’m proud to have been part of that first generation of action films from Korea. What I don't like about home dramas is that the dialogue is the really important part of the genre while I personally think that the movies should be more about the mise en scene. It's contrary to my views, so I don't care for that genre. In addition to that, in Korean home dramas -- not like French films -- the dialogue lacks it own aesthetics, so they just make the dialogue into whole conversations. That's another reason why I think Korean audiences didn't care for those home drama films. Actually, you know, I was also wondering if you've ever composed music or written your own music. No, I haven't composed any music for my movies, but since I have the musical background I discussed the music selections with the music directors, and I think that's what helps make my films really outstanding. Were you the first person to use trampolines and powder in an action movie? Yes, I was the first one to start using those techniques. When I started filming Five Fingers of Death in Hong Kong, I felt like I needed to make a distinction between that film and the films being made by Cantonese directors. And Five Fingers of Death is all about power moves, so I needed to think of a way to exaggerate the power and energy in the film. What did you feel about the Cantonese action movies before Five Fingers of Death? Before I started making Five Fingers of Death, wuxia films were the main focus of Hong Kong films. But I felt that there were too many wuxia films at the time, so the audience might get tired of watching these kinds of movies. So I wanted to set the time period somewhere between the wuxia movies and a more modern time in China. It was another way to make a distinct mark from other films and filmmakers of the time. There's a screening of The Swift Knight at NYAFF as well. How do you feel about The Swift Knight? I wrote the story of The Swift Knight because I wanted to make something new in wuxia films. I wanted to bring some uplifting bits into the films, and actually there are two police officers in the movie. They're there for comic relief at certain points so that the audience can feel comfortable watching these movies. How do you feel about contemporary Korean cinema, especially since it's been exploding so much over the years? I know that so many of the recent movies are so advanced in terms of technology, technique, and every aspect, and I also know that young directors are trying really hard these days, but one thing I don't like about recent movies in Korea is that there's too much violence. Sometimes it's all about just violence. I'd like to see some more humanism and humanity and emotions in there. That's my only wish. Are there any filmmakers in Korea today who are meeting your wishes? Of course there a lot of really great young directors these days, but I especially like Bong Joon-Ho's style. Have you thought about getting behind the camera again? Of course! [laughs] [laughs] Are you developing anything or is there a dream project you'd like to work on? After coming to New York City and observing people living here, it seems like I could make some more human dramas here because of how diverse people are, and people live in their own diverse ways. I think that's real interesting, and I just got that idea as I came here. Have you jotted anything down yet or are you just in the process of observing and accumulating? I was always thinking of the underlying human dramas all the time, but since New York City is so diverse, I think that it would be really good to draw out the stories. Do you have a favorite scene you've shot or even a favorite film that you've made? You know, actually I think Five Fingers of Death and The Swift Knight are my best and favorite films. What do you think makes those two movies your favorite? What I like about those two films is that the storytelling is pretty unique, I think, and it's also kind of mysterious as I say that. Another thing I like about those two films is that they are kind of contrary. Five Fingers of Death represents a lot of power and energy while The Swift Knight is all about narrative, and I really liked the narrative in that film. But still, I still find some flaws as I rewatch those films, so I still feel like I could do better if I were to make those films nowadays.

[For the month of July, we will be covering the New York Asian Film Festival and the (also New York-based) Japan Cuts Film Festival, which together form one of the largest showcases of Asian cinema in the world. For our NYAFF...

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