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BACK FORK: Josh Stewart To Shine A Light On Opioid Epidemic With Upcoming Film

BACK FORK: Josh Stewart To Shine A Light On Opioid Epidemic With Upcoming Film

Josh Stewart – Photo by James Acomb

Through the years, Josh Stewart has become a familiar face to audiences around the globe. His journey began as a young actor on the stage of the Landmark Theatre in Sutton, West Virginia. His path would soon lead him to New York City where he studied at the T. Schreiber Studios and became a company member of the 13th Street Repertory Theatre. He continued his theater work in Los Angeles where he performed in Light Bulb and Beacon alongside industry legends such as Robert Forster and Brooke Shields. A multifaceted actor, his talents didn’t go unnoticed and he quickly branched out to other mediums. Stewart made his studio feature film debut in David Fincher’s “The Curious Case of Benjamin Button” in 2008. His other film credits include two directed by Christopher Nolan—“Interstellar” and “The Dark Night Rises” (as Barsad, right-hand man to Tom Hardy’s malevolent Bane), “Transcendence” with Johnny Depp and co-starring roles in “The Collector” and “Beneath The Dark” (opposite Jamie-Lynn Sigler). 

On television, he has played a series of wide-ranging roles: Holt McLaren in the FX series “Dirt,” Detective William LaMontagne, Jr. in “Criminal Minds” and Benjamin Finney in the final season of the NBC series “Third Watch,” along with appearances in such shows as “CSI,” “Grimm,” “The Mentalist,” “Southland” and “The Walking Dead: Cold Storage,” a series of webisodes based on “The Walking Dead.” His passion for creation led to his directorial and writing debut, “The Hunted,” in which he also stars and co-produced. In this “found footage” film, two fame seeking hunters trek into the secluded woods of West Virginia armed with only bows, a camera and their desire to grab some big-time media attention… only to find themselves the prey of savage supernatural forces. The film, which screened at TIFF, was been picked up by eOne Entertainment for North American distribution. 

In 2017, Josh Stewart’s journey has led him back home to West Virginia. He has just launched a crowdfunding campaign to bring his new film, “Back Fork,” to life. With the project, Stewart hopes to shine a light on the prescription opioid epidemic that has ravaged his home state and continues to impact people from all walks of life around the nation. “Back Fork” is the story of an everyman, Waylon, struggling to hold his life and family together after a heartbreaking tragedy. He and his wife, Nida, barely recognize themselves. Their inability to continue on and to heal, leaves them hopeless. With the growing burden of the unanswered questions of why, and a heavy dose of self-blame, it’s only a matter of time before Waylon turns to the magic of the pills to make the problems disappear. He finds a kindred spirit in his sister, Raylene, as he sleepwalks through life with addiction. It’s only a matter of time until Waylon finds himself at a crossroads. He learns that he’s been asking the wrong question all along. The question isn’t why, rather, where do I go from here? He’s then able to see that we’re all wounded animals. Sometimes we die, but sometimes we live. 

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Josh Stewart for quick Q&A to discuss his journey as an actor, the lessons he has learned along the way and the challenges he faces in bringing his creative vision for “Back Fork” to life.  

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get involved with the creative arts early on in life?

To be honest, I didn’t find acting until I was in college. I grew up playing sports. A teacher of mine from high school worked in a community theater company and got me in a play and that was it. I was hooked. I finally had found something that made sense.

You got started on stage at the Landmark Theatre in Sutton, West Virginia. What are your fondest memories of cutting your teeth and performing there?

You know, it was just this crazy time of finally having that thing in my life that I knew I had to do. At the risk of sounding cliché, I had found my way. We all wait for that moment when we know what we want to do with our life. That, and also working across the street at this Italian place called Café Cimino. Their meatballs were amazing.

When did you realize a career in the entertainment industry was something you wanted to pursue?

Pretty much straight away from theater. I was 21-22 when I started. So I finished school then after a brief stop in North Carolina, I moved to NYC to study acting.

Did you have any reservations about taking the plunge?

Into acting? Not at all. I knew what I was supposed to do. It just made sense to me. there was no looking back at that moment.

Who were your biggest influences as a performer?
Terrence Malick and Chris Nolan. There are so many actors but two that I worked with, Tom Hardy and Casey Affleck. I have a huge amount of respect for what those two can do.

Were there any mentors along the way who gave you an extra push when you needed it?

Yeah. I mean, we all have those figures over the course of our lives that are always there to give you that nudge or kind word when you need it. There have been many that have helped me along the way. Some that I’m still very close to. All of them will be forever cherished.

Josh Stewart

The entertainment industry is a tough business to be a part of. Where do you find yourself looking for inspiration?

Creating. It’s so easy to become stagnant with the B.S. this business lays. It’s a constant struggle. Writing. It’s something I don’t need anyone else’s help to do. That’s really the unfortunate thing about film making, if you’re not playing by their rules with their money, good luck getting a film made. Unless, of course, you’re wealthy and can do it yourself. [laughs]

You have been a part of a lot of awesome projects in the past. Which of them have had the biggest impact on you?

Oh man. “Beneath the Dark” is special, “The Collector,” “Third Watch,” “Batman” and “Benjamin Buttons.” They’ve all been fulfilling but “The Hunted” I made. That’s my baby.

Let’s talk about “The Hunted.” What inspired the story?

Well, I had a ghost screaming at me and my roommate in West Virginia for about 6 months. [laughs] Pick up the DVD, the full story is in the extras!

What was it about the project that made this the right feature to explore the world behind the camera?

I think the simplicity of what I wrote with the intention of making it on a budget on accelerated schedule. It’s really hard getting anyone to take that shot on you, give you the money to go make a movie. So, writing something in a way that would minimize that risk, was essential.

You have a new project called “Back Fork.” This is a film very close to your heart. What can you tell us about it and the impact of the epidemic it highlights?

“Back Fork” is a story about life, love, loss, and the prescription opioid epidemic. It’s a simple story at heart and I think that’s where a lot of these stories live. Everyday people in everyday situations and life turns on its head. And it’s crazy how quickly that it happens and we’re all left to pick up the pieces. I think the takeaway is, we’re all wounded animals in some capacity, you know? None of us are perfect and we’re all just doing the best we can given the circumstance and that’s all we can do. So, this story highlights addiction on the personal level. On a family level, and it wonders slightly into the community as well.

You grew up in West Virginia and your heart seems to bring you back there quite often. What inspires you about this area of our country?

West Virginia is just an amazing place. Cinematically, it’s beautiful. The people are amazing. They’re very passionate in a lot of ways which I think is something that gets overlooked. I think the landscape, physically and metaphorically speaking is relatively untouched from a cinematic stand point as well. There are so many stories to be told.

What goals or aspirations do you have going into the process of bringing this film to life?

I think with any project, it always starts with a story that’s living inside of you and you have this fear of it going untold so it becomes about this journey of getting it told. And that, I think becomes the biggest goal, is just being heard with it.

You will be working with AJ Cook on this project. How did the two of your originally cross paths?

AJ and I have worked together on “Criminal Minds” for quite some time. I think it’s been 12 years now since the first episode I did.

What do you feel you bring out in each other creatively?

Well, there’s just a comfort level that comes along with a 12 year working relationship. Everyone has their own way into a character or into a scene, however you want to look at it. Knowing and having an understanding the way someone does that makes your life easier. You know what someone is going to bring to the table and vice versa so now we can just focus on telling the story, which is what we’re there to do. There’s a good amount of trust that gets established over that many years of work.

What can you tell us about the other people either in-front and behind-the-scenes who will be bringing this story to life?

I’ve got to producers from West Virginia that I worked with on my first feature that will be back for the second round, Bob and Jeff Tinnell. Once you walk through the fire with someone, it’s easy to do it again. They’re West Virginia boys and film makers themselves, so they get the land and they get the process.

You recently launched a Kickstarter to fund the project. What can you tell us about the campaign and the hurdles you have to overcome as an indie filmmaker in this day and age?

Yes, I’ve wandered into the deep waters of crowdfunding, which is no easy task. I think it’s nothing short of a miracle any time a movie gets made, especially an indie. A film takes an incredible amount of time and energy to complete on any level, then with an independent, you’re doing all of this for very little to no pay. It’s a lot to ask and a lot to commit to for that kind of time. So it’s just the dance of finding that right fit. Finding those people who care enough about your story and have enough faith and confidence in you that you can pull this thing off. And look, from a business stand point, I get it. You’re giving someone hundreds of thousands to a couple million dollars to make film. That’s someone’s hard earned money that they don’t take that lightly and rightfully so. This process can take years to get film made.

When it comes to your work as an actor, is there a role or genre you always had your eye on tackling?

Nah, there’s never been anything specifically. I mean yeah, everyone wants to be a cowboy at some point, but it’s more of finding those great characters and stories. Something that grabs ahold of you, you know? I’ve been blessed enough to play in a little bit of everything which has been great. There’s something that’s interesting and fun about all of them.

What stands out to you as some of your creative milestones?

I don’t know about milestones, but I think writing a script might be one of the things I feel the most accomplishment from after I finish. For me personally, it’s so hard to get it right or get it to where it works the way you want it to. There’s a reason everything starts from the script. You get the script right, and follow it, you should have a good movie.

Looking back on your career so far, what do you consider your biggest evolution as a performer and filmmaker?

I think just continuing to grow and evolving into a more rounded story teller. Starting to write more, direct more, tell more of my own stories. That seems to be the area I’m finding the most interest or more fulfillment these days.

We can definitely look to you as an inspiration with you have accomplished. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Oh man, I think I’m still learning that about myself and what I’m getting out of life. I hope that we all tell the stories that we have in hearts, because they deserve to be told and the world deserves to hear them.

Are you involved with any charities or organizations related to this epidemic that we can help spread the word on?

I’m not involved in any specific groups but I think the most important thing is continuing to shine a light on this problem. Help to keep the conversation going. Contributing to that narrative in whatever way you can.

To learn more about Josh Stewart’s Kickstarter campaign for “Back Fork,” visit the official page for the project at www.kickstarter.com/projects/1159798350/back-fork.

Support the film at:
https://www.facebook.com/BackForkFilm/  
https://twitter.com/BackForkFilm
https://www.instagram.com/backforkfilm/

Follow Josh’s continuing adventures through social media at Twitter, Facebook and Instagram

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Director Sophie Goodhart On Bringing “My Blind Brother” From Script To Screen!

Director Sophie Goodhart On Bringing “My Blind Brother” From Script To Screen!

Jenny Slate, Adam Scott and Nick Kroll in "My Blind Brother."

Jenny Slate, Adam Scott and Nick Kroll in “My Blind Brother.”

When one of her sisters was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis, writer/director Sophie Goodhart channeled the experience into the critically acclaimed 2003 short film “My Blind Brother.” The short was nominated for the Palme d’Or at the Cannes Film Festival. Over the next 13 years, Goodhart would experience many false starts and near-misses in her quest to expand the short into a feature film. However, her persistence and determination has paid off in spades! “My Blind Brother” stars Nick Kroll, Adam Scott, and Jenny Slate in a hilarious tale that takes sibling rivalry to new heights. Bill (Kroll, Adult Beginners, Date Night) has always lived in the shadow of his overachieving brother Robbie (Scott,”Parks & Recreation”, The Overnight, Step Brothers), an arrogant athlete and local celebrity who happens to be blind. After years of thanklessly helping Robbie achieve one goal after another, Bill finally catches a break when he finds a connection with the charming Rose (Slate, Obvious Child, Zootopia), who is dealing with her own crisis. But when Rose starts dating Robbie, Bill must decide if he can finally put his own happiness over his brother’s and compete for the ultimate prize. Also starring Zoe Kazan (What If, Our Brand is Crisis). Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently had the pleasure of chatting with writer/director Sophie Goodhart about the film. The two discussed her unique path as a filmmaker, the challenges of bringing the film from script to screen, what the cast brought to the characters she created and more!

Let’s start at the beginning. How did you get involved with the arts early on and what led to you pursuing a career as a filmmaker?

I actually started in news. I went to University where I did history and economics and from there I went to ABC News. I was so bad at it! Then I went into documentaries and that is sort of where I always wanted to be. I loved documentaries and I worked for the BBC, Channel 4 and ITV. I did weird shows like one called “Pet Rescue,” which was 75 half hours following ducks being rescued off ice and things! I found myself doing this documentary about the river police. I was filming someone who was basically trying to commit suicide off a bridge and I suddenly thought, “Oh my God! I’m a vile human being. I cannot believe I am doing this. I am making this man’s possibly last few minutes of life deeply uncomfortable.” I just felt kind of depressed about what I was up to, so at 30-something I went off to graduate school and said, “I’m going to learn how to shoot and come back to make really beautiful documentaries that are very, very cultured and sort of exquisitely intellectual.” While I was there, what I realized was that I preferred writing fictional characters and then being able to get them to do whatever I wanted without the guilt because they weren’t real! [laughs] I realized I could make films about things I was interested in without human casualties. I made some shorts while I was at film school and really loved the process. My last short did really well and I thought, “Well, here I go!” I didn’t ever plan to make it into a feature. I did the short and then wrote 10 other features, some of which got optioned. I got some of them greenlit and thought, “This is going to be great!” And it took fucking 12 years or something! [laughs] I thought, “Here I go! I am going to be this great success!” Basically, I had to spend the next decade of people asking me what I was up to, pretending I had to go to the loo or go and get some food because I was just unable to get funding. I had so many false starts where this actor said he was going to do it and I thought I would make it in the next year but it would fall through. By the time this film happened and Nick, Jenny and Adam said yes, I was so sure that it wasn’t going to happen. I didn’t tell anyone and I was also quite pregnant! I thought, “Well, it doesn’t really matter because it won’t happen. I will just squeeze the baby out and carry on avoiding people at social functions!” [laughs] And then it did happen! I feel quite relieved and can go to Christmas parties and shit!

Did having to wait a long time to make this film a reality impact you and the final product?

In the end, the timeframe helped me because if I had gone any earlier, I obviously wouldn’t have gotten Nick, Jenny and Adam. It was perfect timing and I think they make the film. I love the script and felt very confident about it. I knew that what I was writing about was something I cared passionately about. The sibling relationship was very interesting to me, along with the treatment of disabilities and the romantic aspect. Working with these three actors meant that it became much more than that and it kind of took on a life of its own. Jenny, Nick and Adam are really bloody good! For me, what I am most interested in as a director is content. Being able to make my script a real thing was the thing I was most focused on.

Sophie Goodhart, Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate on the set of "My Blind Brother."

Sophie Goodhart, Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate on the set of “My Blind Brother.”

You lived with these characters for some time. What did Nick Kroll, Jenny Slate and Adam Scott bring to them that you might not have expected?

You know, from the first moment of talking with them, they all really brought themselves to it. Jenny is so intelligent and an emotionally sophisticated actor. She is really willing to go to an internal place that I feel lots of people aren’t. She is able to go darker and more uncomfortable while making the character completely compelling and sympathetic while also showing the worst of herself in some way. Adam commits so strongly being able to play someone who doesn’t give a fuck! He really went for Robbie’s self-centeredness, which I loved. When he finally does show you this beautiful vulnerability, it is so surprising because he had committed so strongly. I feel like each of them pushed what I had written and made it more powerful. Nick can express with his face that kind of furious resentment without doing or saying almost anything. He can do it silently all the time — just by moving his eyes or blinking! It is just how he holds himself and he has such interesting physical comedic abilities. They all brought an immense amount to the characters! There were moments that were improvised. I, at the beginning, thought, “I’ve written this script and I love it, so I’m not sure I want to improvise.” Then you kind of realize who you are working with and you are like, “Oh, I have to let these people be able to take this other places.” There are quite a few moments in the film where that happened.

What was the biggest challenge of the film and the biggest lesson you learned along the way?

Sophie Goodhart's "My Blind Brother"

Sophie Goodhart’s “My Blind Brother”

There were a few challenges. One was trying to get a comedy with a disabled character made. People are very cautious and don’t have a huge amount of money for independent cinema anymore. We couldn’t shoot it for nothing because it was shot on water, so we had to find someone that was brave and forward thinking, which took awhile to find Tyler Davidson. I was very, very pregnant when I was shooting and that was also a challenge! I had the baby and then had to go back into the editing room four days later. Shooting on water is not an enjoyable experience, if you have not very much money. That was very hard. As far as lessons I learned, it took me a while to take on the role and say, “Here I am. I’m the director! Don’t worry, I know what the fuck I’m doing!” Even though I did, I think there were moments at the beginning where I was too grateful because I had been unemployed for such a long time. I spent the first while saying, “Thanks everybody, you are amazing. Thanks, is everyone alright,” rather than just getting on with it and doing the job. I also think that there is a tendency to want to be liked. Whether it is pushing to get another shot at the end of the day or saying, “No, no. This needs to happen,” I think because I hadn’t done it before, I was a bit to concerned with being a good person as opposed to making the film as good as it should be. In the end, it all worked out and I got very, very lucky with the actors. They never took advantage of me being a novice. I think next time I know to possibly push more.

Being a writer and director, you are involved with all parts of the filmmaking process from start to finish. Is there a part of the process you enjoyed more or less than another part?

I love the writing and it is probably where I feel most confident. I loved, loved, loved pre-production. However, I found editing to be quite a challenge. I was working with Jenny Lee, who was the editor of “Skeleton Twins.” She saved me so often! I was surprised how hard some of the editing was and I can’t tell if it was because I had a brand new baby and was exhausted! I found it hard to keep track of where the film was and was a particular moment working. I say that because you see it again and again and again and feel like, “I don’t have a fucking clue!” [laughs] I get this sometimes day to day, where I let my emotion cloud my intellect. I can look in the mirror in the morning and think, “That is the ugliest face I have ever seen in my life.” Then, an hour-and-half later, I see it and say, “It’s fine. Who cares. Good enough!” I might see it a bit later and think, “No, no. It’s a nice face.” That is sort of what happened to me with the film. Depending on my mood, I tend to think I’m a genius or it is all a disaster! Jenny guided me through as a steward, pilot and captain. I wouldn’t work without an editor that I totally trusted. A film can be made in the edit room. My relationship with my cinematography, Eric Lin, was really fundamental. If I get the opportunity to go again, I know I will once again enjoy how wonderful a collaboration can be. Eric and Jenny made such a difference on this film!

Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll and Sophie Goodhart on set.

Jenny Slate, Nick Kroll and Sophie Goodhart on set.

You definitely had a unique path in your career and with this film.

Are you talking about me being unemployed, Jason? [laughs] Yes, it has been a unique path!

Yes, indeed! [laughs] What is the best lesson we can take away from your journey as an artist?

Oh, God! I don’t know. I know some people might say, “She was unemployed forever! She should have stopped seven years earlier and got a proper job.” So, some people would say it is stupidity and other people would say, “Well done for hanging on!” I think that maybe the lesson is, if you see it as a happy story, is that I got to make a film at the end and that denial and delusion are useful tools and that if you keep on trying it probably will eventually happen. Also, make sure you try to carry on writing what you actually want to write because you get the opportunity to make it. I don’t know if anyone is going to give me money again to make another one, however, the one thing I am very happy about with the film is that I walk away knowing that I totally stand by everything I said in it! That is a nice consequence!

That is terrific! I loved the film and think you did an amazing job bringing it to life. I can’t wait to see where the journey takes you next!

Aww, that is so nice, Jason! Do tell everyone you know to watch the film, so I can get to make another one! [laughs]

You’ve got it, Sophie! It’ll be my pleasure!

‘My Blind Brother’ hits theaters nationwide and On Demand on September 23rd! Check out the trailer for the film below.

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SCHERZO DIABOLICO: Adrian Bogliano & Francisco Barreiro On Making The Film!

SCHERZO DIABOLICO: Adrian Bogliano & Francisco Barreiro On Making The Film!

ScherzoDiabolico-4

Adrián García Bogliano (“Here Comes the Devil,” “Late Phases,” “The ABCs of Death,” “Penumbra”) has spent the past several years making a name for himself within the horror genre. His latest film, “SCHERZO DIABOLICO,” the prolific and inventive Bogliano has created a tale of dread concerning a seemingly mild-mannered man who enacts a disturbing plan for vengeance.

The film centers on Aram, (Francisco Barreiro, “We Are What We Are,” “Here Comes the Devil”), a low-paid accountant living a dull existence. With a nagging wife who berates him for not being assertive, he quietly suffers while awaiting a long-deserved promotion. But there’s more to Aram than his quiet demeanor lets on: He has been secretly devising a scheme to get what he feels he is owed. One day he asserts his power menacingly when he kidnaps a schoolgirl (Daniela Solo Vell, “Eddie Reynolds y Los Angeles de Acero”) and keeps her tied up in an abandoned warehouse. What seems like the perfect plan soon unravels into his worst nightmare as his carefully constructed scheme comes crashing down piece by bloody piece. In this twisted thriller, Bogliano uses his startling visionary style to subvert genre conventions while keeping us guessing as to what will happen next in what becomes a gritty game of cat and mouse. As Bogliano’s his most ambitious work to date, “SCHERZO DIABOLICO” has captured the imagination film fans and critics alike, while establishing the young director as undeniable force in the world of horror cinema. The film was an Official Selection at the 2015 Tribeca Film Festival, Cannes Film Festival, Sitges Film Festival and other major events. In short, it is the latest chapter in what is sure to be an amazing career for the young, passionate director, who has no plans for abandoning the genre he loves.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Adrián García Bogliano and Francisco Barreiro to discuss their blossoming careers, the challenges of bringing “Scherzo Diabolico” from script to screen and what the future might hold for these stars on the rise!

What attracted you to the entertainment industry early on in life and ultimately made you pursue it as a career?

Adrián: I wanted to be a part of the film industry since I was a little kid. My parents both studied film. They transferred their passion for film to me. I started writing fanzines and very small magazines in the early ‘90s. I also started reviewing films and stuff like that on the radio. I had also started writing my own scripts, so it was something I always wanted to do. I never hesitated on that! When I was a teenager, I started realizing what a director was responsible for and I realized becoming a director was my goal.

Francisco: For me, it was a little bit different. I didn’t know I wanted to be an actor until I was about 18 years old. I always loved theater and films but I didn’t have much experience in school. I started studying theater for three years at a school in Mexico. Since then I began working in theater and then began to make some films.

Your latest project is “Scherzo Diabolico.” Before we talk about the film, how did the two of you first cross paths?

Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Adrian Garcia Bogliano

Adrián: I saw Francisco in a movie and he really impressed me. It was the original “We Are What We Are,” the Mexican film. Francisco was absolutely great in the film! All of the cast was really solid and I was really impressed by Francisco’s performance. I was contacted to make a segment for “The ABC’s of Death” and it was going to be the first thing I was to shoot in Mexico, so I approached Francisco to see if he wanted to star in the segment. He wasn’t able to because he had other commitments at the time. We established a relationship then. When the time came to do “Here Comes The Devil,” I approached him and I wasn’t sure if he wanted to take part of that because when I came to him with the script, we were going to shoot in three weeks in Tijuana. I didn’t know if there would be enough time or if he would be interested. He was very willing to do it and he did an amazing job! “Here Comes The Devil” was a film where his part wasn’t a lot of meat to the part but he made the character really shine. He brought a lot of things to the character that I didn’t even imagine were possible with that character. I was really impressed with that and we wanted to do more things together. Finally, when we got the chance to do this movie, we wanted to do it together. I wrote this for him and my intention was to explore all of the possibilities.

How did the initial idea for the story of “Scherzo Diabolico” come about?

Adrián: I think it had to do with my love of a couple of movies and a lot of friends and people who were around my age. From the film perspective, I think it had to do with my love with two films that are very different but they have similarities. The first is a Swedish film of the 1970s called “Breaking Point” by the same director who did “Thriller: They Call Her One Eye.” “Breaking Point” is a really weird film about male fantasy. The other is Peter Medak’s “Romeo Is Bleeding.” It has been one of my favorite films since I was a teenager. I thought both of those films were very interesting with their really weird male fantasies where these guys interact with women. I thought that was a very interesting starting point. I also felt those male fantasies had a lot to do with what society tells us what we need to achieve in terms of success and happiness. That was the starting point.

Francisco, what did you bring to this character that wasn’t on the original page?

Francisco Barreiro

Francisco Barreiro

Francisco: I think I tried to work a lot in many subtle things. I felt the character was very complex. I was excited to have the powerful and amazing chance to explore very deeply in a character that changed a lot throughout the film. The main thing was to bring something very subtle and very human that the audience can connect with and feel is very real. For me, I felt this character could have a huge impact. He is not a bad guy and he only wants to be the next boss but he makes bad decisions. It is a complex study of a character and it was very interesting. Everything was there when I read the script and there were a lot of possibilities to work with. I tried to bring something deeper. For example, the character interacts a lot with other characters but, at the same time, he is often by himself. It was interesting for me to build a script in my mind, to make some dialogue silently in my mind, to keep developing this complex character. When the audience is watching this guy in silence but he is thinking and something is happening in his mind. I think we discovered some things. I used to talk a lot when I was alone and I would talk louder by myself. I tried to bring little details to make the character more real and more human. I was very into the details and that was the most interesting part of the work for me.

As a director, did you want to attempt something you might not of had a chance to do in the past?

Adrián: Yeah. There are always things like that with each project. With this project, there were a couple of different things. One was pretty crazy! We wanted to make this film with a very strange technology. It was very hard but it was interesting. We shot this film with a DSLR camera with an anamorphic adapter, which is a very heavy and bizarre thing they used in the old theaters to screen anamorphic movies. It is not a lens but a huge piece of metal that is very heavy and it gives the film a very particular look. I don’t think anybody has ever made a film with one of those. It gave the film a very particular look and aspect ratio that is very interesting. It is a very wide aspect ratio. That was exciting to try that combination of an old technology with a DSLR camera. The other thing I wanted to try on this film was to make a movie with a very, very small crew. I have made a bunch of micro-budget movies when I was just starting and this film was actually much bigger in terms of budget but I wanted to keep the crew really small. I wanted to try to make a movie with the smallest amount of crew possible and remain very concentrated and focused. It was very difficult but I was happy to try that and I would do it again for the right kind of movie. It is something that works very well. It is an idea I got a few years ago from watching Shane Carruth’s “Primer.” When I saw the credits, I realized there were about five people on the crew. I wanted to make a film that, even though you realize it is an independent movie, it doesn’t look cheap or bad. Everything you need for the story is there but you realize that it was made with a super small crew. Obviously, if you only have five people, each one of them has to do two or three different things during the shooting. It is a very interesting process and it keeps you very focused and on top of everything.

ScherzoDiabolico-1

Looking back on this project, what was the biggest challenge you faced and the biggest lesson you learned along the way?

Adrián: The biggest challenge to me was to do a film like this with such a small crew in Mexico City, where people are used to working with bigger elements. I feel like there is not a big tradition of guerrilla filmmaking. There is some people doing it, some great names there doing that, but there is not a big tradition. It was interesting to go there and ask people to do this because to some people it looked like we were completely crazy! “How is it that five people with this strange looking camera are making a feature film?”

Francisco: For me, the challenge of playing this character was a 1 in 1,000 opportunity. This kind of character is pure gold and the type you are waiting all of your life to play. That is a real challenge. An extra challenge was us having this guerrilla production. It was a great effort for everyone to make this film a reality. What I learned is that to keep trusting and working with friends. This film for me was a very ambitious film and, at the end, it became a really great film that I love. You just have to trust!

Music plays a big role in this film. What can you tell us about finding the right fit?

Adrián: Some of that music was already on the script and some of it, after we had the first cut, we started looking for the right pieces. I had a lot of ideas for the movie but I think the tone of the movie actually appeared in front of me. I realized how the movie should feel after listening to the piece that gives the film its title, “Scherzo Diabolico.” It is not only a musical thing but it is also a joke in Italian. The idea of a diabolical joke was very interesting to me and I realized it had to have these overtones of black comedy on it to really work and to give the audience the idea that it is some sort of a joke. I wanted to give the audience the idea that, at the end of the movie, the joke was going to be on Aram’s character. When I understood that, the rest of the pieces were easy to pull.

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Where do you see yourselves headed next when it comes to the types of projects you might pursue?

Adrián: In my case, I expect to keep making horror films. This is the genre that I love and I like to try very different things within the genre. I think the genre gives you so many opportunities to try very different things and to talk about very interesting subjects. That is what I plan to keep doing! I want to keep within the realms of the genre, while always trying new things. I plan to keep making movies with different budgets in different countries. After making “Late Phases,” which is my biggest film to date, the idea of going back to making the guerrilla style movie was something really exciting. I think it gave me the opportunity to try things that with films that are a bit bigger you cannot really do. To me, it is interesting to try different things and different sizes of projects all of the time.

Francisco: As an actor, my real passion is in theater. I have been working in theaters for the past 12 years of my life. That is my lifeline, where I feel most comfortable and feel the most capacity of decision, so I am going to keep working in theater. In the other side, I just try to look for a good challenge and good films where I get to work with my friends. For me, it is very important to work with friends and people that I know I can trust and admire. I will try to look, be patient and wait for different and more difficult films that can put me in some risk. I like that feeling and I like that challenge, so I will be waiting for it! In the meantime, I will be doing theater!

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Many people can look to you both to be inspired. What is the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?

Adrián: As a director, I think it has a lot to do with what I said previously. I think you have to keep working and keep doing new things. If you are a director, the only way to grow is by making movies and doing new things. You cannot measure your career in terms of increasing the size of your next project in terms of budget. It has to be more exciting and have new challenges. I think for many directors, unfortunately, the goal is often to make bigger films in terms of budget. I think that is a mistake. I think every movie is something different. The most interesting thing you can do is to keep pushing yourself, keep making movies and trying to find new ways to tell stories. The other thing is to doing movies about something you are passionate about. I am passionate about horror. I love movies and I see every type of film but my passion is horror, so I am trying to stick to it and trying to be better with each film within the genre. That is important. There are a lot of directors that use horror to move to something else. That may work for some people but I think the best thing you can do is something you love and really believe in. If you feel it enough and are passionate, you can try to master the craft.

Francisco: I think the actor in film is more complex than the role he may play. I am interested to try these filmmakers, these films and these stories where the actor can be more than just something representing a character. I am very interested in finding out what this means for me and continue developing the human study. I am always watching to look to people to understand little details of how they work. I also hope to continue following my passion and doing the work that I love! I want to continue to try and rethink what the real role of an actor in a film is. That is a very interesting and complex thing that I have been discussing with a lot of other actors. I think there is something very interesting there.

Thank you both so much for your time today! What you created and will continue to create is truly inspiring. I wish you continued success!

Adrián: Thank you so much, Jason!

Francisco: Thank you!

Scherzo Diabolico,’ the new genre masterpiece from the mind of Adrián García Bogliano, is now available on VOD and Digital HD platforms from Dark Sky Films!

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Blu-ray Review: Flashback To The Golden Age of Indie Film With ‘Sleep With Me’

Blu-ray Review: Flashback To The Golden Age of Indie Film With ‘Sleep With Me’

'Sleep With Me'

‘Sleep With Me’

This week, Jeremy Morrison, takes us back to the golden days if indie filmmaking with a look at one of Olive Films most exciting new releases, “Sleep With Me.” First, a quick synopsis:

Friendships are put to the test when best man Frank (Craig Sheffer, A River Runs Through It) announces to the bride and groom-to-be, Joseph (Eric Stoltz, Mask) and Sarah (Meg Tilly, The Big Chill) that he’s in love with Sarah. Despite protestations to the contrary, newlywed Sarah finds herself drawn to Frank in the romantic drama Sleep With Me.

Sleep With Me, directed by Rory Kelly (Some Girl) from a screenplay co-written by Kelly, Duane Dell’Amico, Roger Hedden, Neal Jimenez, Joe Keenan and Michael Steinberg, features Parker Posey (Irrational Man), Joey Lauren Adams (Bio-Dome), June Lockhart (TV’s Lost in Space) and Quentin Tarantino (Reservoir Dogs) in supporting performances and is photographed by Andrzej Sekula (Reservoir Dogs, Pulp Fiction).

Cast: Parker Posey, Meg Tilly, Joey Lauren Adams, Eric Stoltz, Craig Sheffer

J-Mo Says:

SLEEP WITH ME is a perfect example of what indie film was in the early to mid nineties. Eric Stoltz, Craig Sheffer, and Meg Tilly lead the who’s who cast of indie stars and young up and comers. The title caught my curiosity when I read that the film featured six screenwriters, all tackling their own scene. The release is barebones, and though it looks great, I would have loved to know more about the film. Finding info online proved near impossible. Honestly I loved the movie so much I just want to know more about the genesis of the project.

Meg Tilly shines in SLEEP WITH ME as we watch her relationship with Eric Stoltz fly through turbulent air on their way to a conclusion that feels more realistic than other efforts that tackle the same type of love triangle. The surrounding cast bring their best in this picture. Parker Posey and Joey Lauren Adams stand out, but the real joy for me was watching Dean (Chainsaw from Summer School) Cameron as ‘Joey’ as he popped in and out of scenes with cynical wit. Fans will also enjoy a brief appearance by Quentin Tarantino in the third act.

My only gripe is with the lack of supplemental material, but only because I was left craving more after the film ended. I highly recommend this Olive Films release for hardcore film fans and the casual viewer alike. — Jeremy Morrison, Film Geek

Check out this film and a plethora of other amazing releases from Olive Films via their official website — www.olivefilms.com.

Jeremy Morrison – Staff Writer
Co-creator/host of the Acid Pop Cult Podcast, film reviewer, screenwriter, Jeremy has more than eight years experience in television and film production. His childhood fascination with the naked breasts featured in the “Friday the 13th” franchise prepared him for absolutely nothing in life. J-Mo lives by one motto: #wecantallbezacksnyder
Twitter: @acidpopcult
IG: @almostgothim

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ON THE RISE: Alice Eve On The Making of ‘Before We Go’ and ‘Lithgow Saint’

ON THE RISE: Alice Eve On The Making of ‘Before We Go’ and ‘Lithgow Saint’

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Over the past few years, Alice Eve’s hard work and dedication to her craft have established her as an actress on the rise in Hollywood. Best known for her roles in ‘Sex and the City 2’ (2010), ‘The Raven’ (2012), ‘Men in Black 3’ (2012) and ‘Star Trek Into Darkness’ (2013), her career continues to gain steam with every new project she takes on. One of her latest endeavors, ‘Before We Go,’ pairs her with one of the hottest leading men in Hollywood, Chris Evans. The film focuses on a chance encounter between strangers sparks a life-changing nighttime adventure in New York City. Nick (Evans) is a musician who spends his nights performing in Grand Central Station. It is there he meets Brooke (Alice Eve), a young married woman who finds herself stranded after her purse is stolen and she misses the last train out of the city. Starting as convenient acquaintances, the two soon embark on a journey, growing closer as they confront past loves and present fears, and take control of their lives. A throwback to romance films of the past, the project as serves is the directorial debut of Chris Evans. Jason Price recently caught up with Alice Eve to discuss the making of ‘Before We Go,’ the challenges involved and her superb performance in the short film, ‘Lithgow Saint.’

One of your latest projects, the directorial debut of Chris Evans, is “Before We Go.” How did you get involved with the project and what made it one you knew you wanted to pursue?

'Before We Go'

‘Before We Go’

Chris reached out to my agents and they got in contact with me. They said he was going to be directing a movie and the script had at one time been on the black list and they were big fans of the script. It is certainly a story that used to be made more often, one about a girl and a guy falling in love and the complications. We see less and less of these screenplays around. I had just come off of more of an action film and I really liked the idea of the intimacy, the exploration into character and the love story. I love to watch a love story! I spoke with Chris, we had a meeting, and I liked his ideas, so I went for it! What I loved about the script is that it was a classic love story. Some of my favorite books and films are about love and I find those are the ones that stay with you.

How did you approach bringing the character from script to screen?

In terms of building out the character, it was the same process that it always is for me, which is basically complete immersion and almost osmosis! You read it and you kind of wonder how this person would react to situations that you are in and then we built it together. We had long conversations and really discussed what love meant to each of these people in this movie. It was very different from what either of us thought love was personally. We built an infrastructure around what romance was in this universe and I really enjoyed that.

Chemistry is important in any film but especially in a romance story. How did you and Chris go about building that chemistry that plays so well on screen?

We filmed in New York, so we both went there before filming started. We went out to a couple of lunches and told each other a little about ourselves and shared our experiences and stories of love. We both made a genuine effort to connect and get inside each other’s heads a little bit.

I think it definitely paid off as the two of you are a great pairing.

Thank you!

Chris Evans and Alice Eve in 'Before We Go'

Chris Evans and Alice Eve in ‘Before We Go’

Chris is not only the leading man in the film but the director as well. What challenges does that pose while on set?

For me, the biggest challenge was that we were on a night schedule and it was cold. I don’t feel there were that many challenges in terms of him doing both because he had come very prepared and knew what he wanted in terms of the technical side. I think that he had a very good dialog with his cinematographer, John Guleserian. To be honest, I felt very involved in the whole process. I was there and came up with a few ideas and never felt there was comprise for that.

You worked with plenty of talented people in your career. Having seen a lot along the way, what do you feel Chris Evans’ strengths are as a director?

He is very, very confident, Chris Evans. That goes a long way. He is very sure of what he wants, so in terms of running a set, that is incredibly important. Also, he is capable of juggling a few things at the same time. He can have a few balls in the air, which is important, certainly, if you want to act in the film as well. Hopefully, he will get another chance.

Alice Eve and Chris Evans

Alice Eve and Chris Evans

You mentioned shooting in New York, a larger than life town that adds ambience to any film. What did the city bring to the film?

New York is one of the most magical places in the world, isn’t it? You always like it more than you think you will, if that makes sense, Jason. You like it more each time you go back. That is certainly the case for me. Every time I go there, I think, “My god, this place is incredible!” Just the fact that we were able to have it as a backdrop of the movie was a big part of the appeal. New York City has a lot to offer.

It is great to see a love story like this one on screen again. As you said, stories like these are becoming more of a rarity. In terms of romance, what speaks to you the most these days?

Being proposed to is very romantic. When someone is saying, “OK, let’s go for this for a long time.” That is an amazing moment. And you know, anytime anyone buys you flowers it is always a nice thing!

Alice Eve

Alice Eve

You know what, Alice? You are absolutely right. I am definitely going to buy my girlfriend some flowers today!

Yeah! Buy her some flowers! That would be lovely. I really hope you do!

I definitely will!

That would be lovely! I love it!

Back to the movie for a moment! [laughs] What is the best lesson you took away from this project?

Don’t do night shoots in the freezing cold again! [laughs] Just don’t do it! In creative terms, this character is very, very different for me. I really enjoyed playing her. I enjoyed learning how committed she was to her marriage and the feeling that is inside, which I accessed through her. She has a deep commitment which was beautiful.

Your work as an actor continues to be very diverse. How have you most evolved as an actor through the years?

Every time you get to do a movie, you learn, you grow and you get more feathers to your bow. I consider it a great privilege to get to do what I do. I am aware as jobs go, this is a very, very good one. It is a wonderful thing to be able to do what you love. Even though it is not every day or the year, maybe half the year, it is a great privilege.

Another project of yours that I am excited about is “Lithgow Saint.”

Oh good!

It just popped onto my radar. I am super excited about it. For those unfamiliar, what can you tell us about it and what impact has it had on you?

Alice Eve

Alice Eve

I am really glad you brought that up. That is a movie I am very proud of. It is a short film that was inspired by an interview that Helen Mirren had with Michael Parkinson on his show in 1975. At the time it was shocking and I think it still is shocking if you watch it on YouTube. It was an idea my husband had. He said, “What about if you were to kind of remake that?” I called my brother and said, “What do you think about that?” He said, “Let me think about it.” He came back with this screenplay and we asked Jason Isaacs if he wanted to be involved. He said, “Yeah, I want to play him Scottish.” It is a very interesting discussion and dialog on what happens in interviews and whether we have kind of moved on from this potentially exploitative format where humans can be put on the spot but maybe, in some cases, women are put on the spot in ways they maybe shouldn’t be. (Visit the official site for ‘Lithgow Saint’ at this location – Click Here)

What goals do you have moving forward as an actor?

I am doing a movie next year with Ben Lewin, who did “The Sessions.” It is with Dakota Fanning and it is about autism. To me, movies that explore topics that maybe haven’t had much of a public voice or been understood completely and the emotional effects they have on people, as autism does, is something very valuable in cinema. I am looking forward to that and it is called “Please Stand By.”

I know our time is short, Alice. Before I let you go, what is the best lesson we can take from your journey so far?

Keep calm and carry on as we say over here! [laughs]

That works! Alice, you are a true delight. I wish you continued success and can’t wait to see where your journey takes you in the future!

Thank you, Jason! All the best!

‘Before We Go’ will be available on Blu-ray and DVD on November 3rd. Follow the adventures of the amazing Alice Eve on Instagram

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The Ballad of Adam Goldberg: The Artist On Life, Artistic Evolution & ‘No Way Jose’

The Ballad of Adam Goldberg: The Artist On Life, Artistic Evolution & ‘No Way Jose’

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Over the past two decades, Adam Goldberg has turned in a slew of memorable performances from ‘Dazed and Confused, ‘Saving Private Ryan, ‘2 Days in Paris’ and ‘The Hebrew Hammer.’ His résumé outside the world of acting is just as diverse as the roles he has played. Goldberg has established himself as a prolific photographer, a force in social media and a remarkable director who continues to challenge himself creatively as a artist. Adam Goldberg’s focus over the past year and a half has been his third feature as director, ‘No Way Jose.’ The film follows the life of wayward, erstwhile indie rocker cum children’s musician Jose Stern (Goldberg), over the course of two weeks after being kicked to the curb by his fiancé. He is on the verge of turning 40, and at a crossroads in his relationship. When Jose’s fiancée discovers a dark secret, she kicks him to the curb and he finds himself on the couch of his married-with-children friend, who is in the throes of his own mid-life crisis. Jose reflects on his past as he seeks counsel from his burnt-out friends, dysfunctional family, and a troubled ex-girlfriend — all in an effort to find himself and perhaps the love of his life. In addition to co-writing and directing, Goldberg also contributed music to the soundtrack, which also features tracks from The Beach Boys, Harry Nilsson, Three Dog Night, and many others. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon caught up with Adam Goldberg to discuss his journey as an artist, the challenges of bringing ‘No Way Jose’ to the screen, his evolution as both a filmmaker and a musician and where he sees himself headed in the future. 

Let’s go back to the beginning. In your youth, what drew you to acting and filmmaking?

Adam Gldberg

Adam Gldberg

I think a few things had a big impact on me. I went to movies with my parents when I was young. Probably with my dad a little more than my mom. My parents split up when I was young. You can do an analysis of an only child whose parents divorce and how that kid might want some attention. I am sure it factors into it! Anyway, I remember going to movies with my dad and seeing “Rocky.” I remember leaving the theater shadowboxing. I wanted to become a boxer and an actor. I would do sketches for my dad when he would pick me up on the weekend. I would often included my my mom and her boyfriend. I would charge him some nominal fee to enter the house and watch the play I would put on. My dad also had Z Channel, there is a great documentary about it, which was a local cable station that was an extremely well-curated cinematheque. I became a fan immediately. I don’t know how I remember this but I remember waking up one day from a nap at my dad’s and Dustin Hoffman’s hand was on the breast of a naked woman in “Straight Time.” [laughs] I was exposed to a lot of interesting movies from Woody Allen to art films, all by watching this almost cinematheque, film festival driven cable station. I think all of those things combined forces to generate initial interest in being a performer. By the time I was 15, my passion really shifted in concurrence to filmmaking. I wouldn’t say it trumped my interest in acting. I began making short films on Super 8 and editing them. Eventually, I got a video camera but continued to shoot with both. I had a crude editing system to edit video. I went to USC on a summer program when I was a junior in high school. That was the first time I was mixing sounds and it helped to generate my interest in all aspects of filmmaking. Really, that was my plan. Through both my interest in acting and a certain amount of happenstance, I ended up becoming a professional actor. I feel that was partly as a function of wanting to make films but feeling acting was an accessible, yet competitive lane through the front door to filmmaking, while others work there way up through more conventional ranks to become a director. It wasn’t far into my career as an actor, about five years, when I wrote my first screenplay, “Scotch And Milk.” I was making my first film when I was 25. It was my goal but it was incredibly challenging, incredibly draining and often times maddening experience making these small movies. Sometimes you are left with a little bit more of the ass end of things … [laughs] or the impetus which drove you to invest so much of yourself in the film to begin with. It is easy to sort of forget some of the more artistically compelling reasons why you do these things. [laughs] It has been sort of a struggle for me to fight those demons off and continue to produce work as a filmmaker. Other things have sated some of the creative desires, whether it is an immersive passion for photography or making music, as I have made several records now. I guess that is the thumbnail! [laughs]

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“No Way Jose” is your latest film. What sparked the idea for the story and ultimately made you know this was the project you wanted to pour your energy into?

I have never been a guy who has had a bunch of scripts sitting on the table but I have always been someone who has different ideas percolating. I have only written four features from beginning to end. There have been a couple of thwarted attempts at writing something but I have written four features which were all written to make. This one in particular was really written to make economically by using friends and family. There were several aspects at play. One was that I wanted to do something new. I wanted to do something that wasn’t going to be as structurally or narratively challenging as some of the other films I had made and perhaps would require less money. That isn’t to say that I made either one for very much money. The first movie I made was for $50,000 and then the second movie was made for roughly $1.5 million. I wanted to write for my friends, who I think are extremely talented and not primarily actors but writers, poets or figures in my life who I feel are interesting. I wanted to populate the film with these very real people that I am close with.

Adam Goldberg's 'No Way Jose'

Adam Goldberg’s ‘No Way Jose’

The other people who were more conventionally cast, Ahna O’Reilly, Emily Osment and Gillian Jacobs, were people who were sort of paralleling people in my own life. The film was definitely a self-reflective exploration of what I was going through while pushing 40 and struggling with my ambivalence about commitment. It was also about trying to exercise this lighter comedic muscle that I felt I had been giving away for free in some independent fare in which I had contributed a great deal improvisation-ally and otherwise. I thought I should expand and do something along those lines and on my own terms. The project became more born out of these elliptical concepts more than, “Oh, I have this great idea for a movie.” Once I had this dogma that elicited my desire to make a movie, then I started exploring what was going on with myself in order to make this movie. That is the short answer! [laughs]

How did the script evolve when you started working with the talent you assembled for the project? What did they bring to the mix?

There were many iterations of this script. Some were so drastically different from the final script that you could almost make an entirely different movie using some of the same characters. That is really what the early scripts for this film were until I began to make it more of a personally reflective affair. I am a big believer that there is only so much rewriting one can do before you work with the actors. I like working with people who give a lot of themselves, sometimes personal aspects of themselves up, in order to fully flesh out a character. As much as this thing was meticulously written and rewritten, I also rehearsed it quite meticulously. We rehearsed nearly every scene and my DP shot the rehearsals with a Canon 5D (we shot the film itself on the Red camera system). I would shoot conventional coverage of these rehearsals, which I would edit later that day. In the end I had something like a rough pre-version of the film. Mark Putnam, my DP, and I were coming up with a shooting style for this film but it also helped me look at how scenes would run together and what the various actors were bringing to the table. My co-writeer, Sarah, and I were able to get a sense of what needed to be rewritten. It gave us an opportunity to incorporate improvisation prior for shooting, thought there was plenty of it on the day as well.

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The music in the film adds an amazing layer and tone to the film. I am sure that was a beast unto itself. What can you tell us about pulling those elements together?

Yeah. There are two elements to it. The first is the music that my band in the movie performs. It was important for me to do some version of the music I make in real life but not necessarily in exactly the same style. I had a concept on what kind of music this band played. I don’t have a band per se but I have played with these guys in various iterations of recording some live stuff. For my last album, I did all the instrumentation myself but in this case I really wanted it to feel like a band. So, I got these guys together and we recorded this stuff live, which was kind of a ridiculous way of doing it, a kind of “Method” way of recording it. We could have easily just recorded it track by track but, like I said, I wanted us to kind of feel like a band. There is that element and then there is all the source tracks. I was insanely ambivalent about going down that road because it is an expensive road and it was not an expensive movie. I had gone down this road before and it had led to a very dark dead end on my first film, “Scotch and Milk,” which probably has the greatest soundtrack in the history of movies but a wide audience will never know this until I clear that music.

Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg

Twenty years later, I don’t know how promising that is looking but it was a movie as much about the music in the film than anything. It was all this jazz stuff that was really difficult to clear. My second film, “I Love Your Work,” I did most of the music and Steven Drozd from The Flaming Lips did some music and we also worked on some music together, so there was never going to be that issue. In this case, I thought it was really important to give the film a real frame of reference. There was a version of this that I was just going to score myself but I really wanted to have frames of reference and music that each of these characters would be listening to that would also ground the movie in reality. Otherwise, I feel these films can feel super-insulated. Having said that, it is an incredibly expensive road and a lot of negotiations have to go down to get these artists to sign on. You make one deal, a favored nations deal, where everyone has to agree. It is a jigsaw puzzle and without my music supervisor, Jonathan Zalben, there would have been absolutely no way that it would have ever gone down. I owe a lot to him.

I was curious to know, with working on the music for this film, where does that leave you in regards to your own music? Where do you see yourself headed musically?

There are two ways I have been thinking about approaching it. I have a backlog of partially recorded songs or fully fleshed out songs that go back to when I began making records or at least as far back as 2009. There is a record I could make pretty much right now and I have been grappling with the idea of doing something that is a little different. That would be to use the existing states of these recordings, which were recorded on tape recorders, in GarageBand, in a couple of instances of reel-to-reel 4-track, and more rarely, Pro Tools, and putting them out in their raw, existing form. Often times, although I am proud of my last record, I feel my desire to make a pure ‘70s style LP sounding record makes me lose some of the rawness, intimacy and emotion of these grittier recordings. Some part of me wonders if I shouldn’t just release the whole damn thing! It’s a hard drive’s worth of stuff! Maybe I would release it in a book form as an adjunct piece to a photography book I have also been wanting to do. In essence, it is taking my Tumblr blog which largely consists of the photography, peppered with these recordings, and putting it into book form, with the demos on CDS or download key. Honestly, it is kind of a zero sum gain monetarily but I think artistically it would solve my current dilemma. [laughs] It would be something I would love to own, even if only 100 other people owned it. That is probably what I would do is make 100 of them and take it from there. That is one version. The other version is to literally go back into my garage, take 10 of these things and make another record. I am trying to figure it all out! [laughs]

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Jumping back to the making of “No Way Jose,” what is the biggest lesson learned you will take to future projects and where do you see yourself headed next?

There were two lessons I learned. One is a lesson I unfortunately learn on every film, which is don’t make any deals at the beginning when people have ideas you know are going to somehow bite you in the ass in the end. Sometimes your desire to make something gets the better of your intuition. I made this film in kind of a come hell or high water mind frame. It was an emotional and extremely difficult year, a somewhat horrifying year actually. I wanted to make something out of this and not be mired in something quite tragic that happened to my wife and myself. It was weird because the film reflected elements of my life at the time. Basically, we lost a son at term and now we have a very healthy seven month old. “No Way Jose” was in many ways, and this sounds very melodramatic, a birth of sorts that gave us something we didn’t have. I think that was my way of dealing with it. Every time I make one of these things I learn some valuable business lesson. Whether it is through naivety or intentional blindness in wanting to get something made, you are always going to pay the piper at some point. That is one lesson. The other lesson is more of a Writing 101 thing, which is that if something isn’t working on the page, then it is also not going to work later on. There were a couple instances of that where it caught me! [laughs] Those are the two major lessons. As far as what I want to do, I have a few ideas and a potential new collaborator. I won’t say too much about that except to say that it is a very exciting prospect. Like I said, I hope to not let the ass end of these things discourage me from being creative. Ultimately, I want to keep producing stuff and people can hate it, like it, buy it or not but I need to create for my own sanity.

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As someone who followed your career from its start, I’ve grown up alongside of you in a way. When you look back at your career, what is your biggest evolution as an artist?

I think there are things I have learned as an actor. For one, I think I was trying so desperately to put all of myself into my acting that sometimes I would lose sight of the bigger picture of that role, for instance. I got to a point where I would say, “Look, this is what this part is and it doesn’t matter what I want to experience.” You have to be faithful to what is necessary for a part. I think that is also how I managed to find so many creative instincts or muscles, whatever you want to call them, aided by these other passions of mine. I can think of two of the biggest artistic evolutions I have had. I was always a big picture taker but I think, frankly, the quality of my work has grown exponentially through the years. It’s not even just the quality but the formats have become much more interesting and advanced, arguably, than they ever have been. I would also say that musically I have gone from someone who has had a hard time finding my voice to being much more focused. I had a lot of discarded ideas, bands and demos in the ‘90s. Over the course of the last record, I think I became very secure in not just my technical ability, which will always be impeded by my autodidactic approach to music, but now have a much clearer sense of my voice.

You have seen the film and music industries, as we all have, change exponentially over the past two decades. What excites you the most about both of those industries in the current climate?

What excites me? [laughs]

Yeah.

Sorry! [laughs] I thought you were going to ask what disappoints me! [laughs]

I’m trying to keep it positive! [laughs]

Yeah, I know! I guess that is my own neuroses showing through. It’s funny because I got a lot of nice compliments through Twitter and on Instagram about “No Way Jose.” And I was like, “The movie isn’t out.” I googled it and was like, “I guess it’s out, alright.” It was out in this really low res, torrent download form. I found that to be insanely disheartening. I have a distribution deal, which in effect, pays back only when this film succeeds. Every deal is on the backend. You know, it is a hard time to make a living doing things, being filmmakers and musicians. I suppose what is potentially exciting is also the idea that there are more ways for people to be exposed to your work. When I did “I Love Your Work,” it had an incredibly limited release in theaters and it was incredibly important to me that people saw it in the theater. I got the best kind of press for that project. I was doing interviews with Terry Gross, who is a hero of mine. There was something about that and having a theatrical that really legitimized it for me. The legitimacy of something was measured through theatrical distribution and now that has sort of changed.

Adam Goldberg

Adam Goldberg

I definitely feel like sort of an old guy trying to understand this but, at the same time, I feel lucky to be able to create my own stuff, particularly music, and put it out there. “I Love Your Work,” in its proper aspect ratio is really hard to find and “Scotch and Milk” is impossible to find and “No Way Jose” won’t be. There is something about the accessibility of content and the accessibility to the means to make that content that is very exciting. It can also produce an over-influx of product and end up in the wrong hands. It can be argued that I am those wrong hands too! [laughs] Some people could be doing it for all the wrong reasons, to do it just because they can or something as superficial as attaining part-time celebrity status or something like that. With all that said, there is some incredibly interesting content in all kinds of new media and venues for media. I think it is a more exaggerated version of what has always been the case, which is that there is going to be good art and bad art and now there is more of each!

Very true! Thanks so much for your time today, Adam! I thought “No Way Jose” was a beautifully made film and we can’t wait to help spread the word. Most importantly, we can’t wait to see where your journey takes you next!

Thank you, it means a lot to me. I really appreciate the really thoughtful questions! Thank you!

“No Way Jose” is available on DVD, iTunes, and VOD. For the latest developments on his work in the realms of film, photography and music, visit Adam Goldberg’s official website at www.adamgoldberg.com.

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ON THE CUTTING EDGE: April Mullen On Bringing ’88’ To The Screen And More!

ON THE CUTTING EDGE: April Mullen On Bringing ’88’ To The Screen And More!

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When it comes to making it in the entertainment industry, sometimes you have to take matters into your own hands and blaze a trail all your own. Such is the case with the multi-faceted, creative dynamo that is April Mullen. Skilled both in front and behind the camera, April is a maverick filmmaker whose been producing and directing for ten years and acting for over fifteen years.

Co-founder of WANGO Films, launched in 2005, she has produced and directed every one of the company’s feature films to date. The company’s first two feature films, ‘Rock, Paper, Scissors: The Way of the Tosser’ and ‘GravyTrain,’ both garnered theatrical releases in her native Canada and were picked up by Alliance Films for distribution. Her next feature, ‘Dead Before Dawn 3D,’ not only generated a buzz from genre fans but established her as the youngest person and first female to ever direct a live action stereoscopic 3D Feature Film. As a producer, she has participated in a number of major co-production markets and producer labs from around the world including: Cannes, Belinale, TIFF, Mip and Tokyo TIFFcom.

Her continued hard work and dedication to her craft, both in front and behind the camera, have begun to turn the heads of both critics and fans alike. Her latest film, ’88,’ is one of her most ambitious projects to date. Featuring Katharine Isabelle, Christopher Lloyd, and Michael Ironside, the fast paced thriller follows Gwen (Katharine Isabelle), a young woman who comes to in a road side diner with no idea where she is or how she got there. Split between two timelines, blurring reality and fiction, Gwen gets taken on a revenge-fueled journey as she seeks out the person responsible for her lover’s death. ’88’ is an immersive and satisfyingly mind bending cinematic ride, which is sure to leave the viewer spellbound. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with director April Mullen to discuss her blossoming career, the origin of the film’s storyline, the challenges of bringing it from script to screen and what the future holds for this creative powerhouse!

Director April Mullen

Director April Mullen

A career in the entertainment industry is not the easiest route for someone to pursue. How did you get started on your journey?

I started really, really young. If you were to ask my parents, they would tell you I was putting together neighborhood kids, cousins and other family members at a very young age to put on plays and productions. I was doing that when I was 7 years old, so it started way back when! [laughs]

I started getting really serious about my career and acting when I graduated theater school. There was a huge strike with the SAG and I decided to start creating my own work. Writing and creating my own stuff had always been really important to me, so it sort of propelled things a little faster than I had initially envisioned.

Who were some of the people who impacted you as an artist?

That is a difficult question. I think, overall, I have always been heavily impacted by real life and the people I meet on a day-to-day basis. I am also heavily influenced by images I see each day. I sort of take note of moments that stand out to me and make an impact on me, no matter if they are big or small. I usually somehow embed them into the films in one way or another or they inspire a character trait, a story, a character I am portraying or something we are writing. I think I just pull a lot from what is around me and what excites me about life in general. In terms of directors, the list is so long! [laughs] Right now, I am right back on a Martin Scorsese train for some reason. I have been so amped up about everything he does! I love people who create entire worlds like him and Tim Burton. “Edward Scissorhands” is one of my favorite films!

'88' - The latest from director April Mullen

’88’ – The latest from director April Mullen

Tell us a little bit about your latest film, “88,” and what made this the project you wanted to take on as your latest feature.

Tim Doiron and I have worked together for over 10 years now. We had done a lot of comedy and comedy-horror. That is where our strengths were. We had always wanted to do this fractured, fragmented story, a revenge story. We didn’t know what it was called but “88” was in our minds and bubbling in our imaginations for about three years. That was before we even did “Dead Before Dawn” that we had plans to do “88.” We were just waiting it out until our experience as filmmakers sorta met what we wanted to achieve. We are from Canada and that is where our funding source was. We were doing comedy, so that was a lot easier for us at the time for us to continue to do something we were known for. When the timing was right, we felt it was time after three comedies to attack “88.” That is how it happened!

What were you eager to accomplish as a writer/director from a storytelling standpoint or stylistically with this project?

Definitely. With “88,” because we are dealing with the fugue state, which is a state of amnesia, there was a lot of creative freedom in the way we edited and shot the film. With the two different timelines going back and forth, we sort of separate them with stepbacks. We wanted the viewer to feel that they were immersed in what a fugue state would feel like. By that I mean your mind would feel like it is pulling at different memories or moments or things that trigger an emotion. We were really trying to go for something new and frenetic, so the audience members could feel what people would go through when they are in the fugue state. We were hoping to achieve new things in our editing with the fast-paced flashbacks. When it comes to storytelling, the fugue state has a hyper-realistic look to it. We just wanted to use that to share with audience members what people in a fugue state really do go through. Some parts gave us a lot of leeway to explore and push the creative boundaries of what we were normally allowed to do. I think it is fun to be able to step outside your comfort zone and give audiences something they haven’t seen before. Whether they love it or hate it, it is something new! Because of the fugue state and the whole theme of the film, we were allowed to do that without having to overly explain anything. With the fugue state, there are auditory and visual hallucinations and that adds so much to the film!

The always amazing Katharine Isabelle in '88'

The always amazing Katharine Isabelle in ’88’

As you mentioned, the idea for this film was percolating for a while. How did the film evolve from the script to the screen?

That is a great question. The original idea, when we started putting it to paper, we had the timeline of the present state and the fugue state on the office walls for a year-and-a-half. What we did at first was play it in sequence so it happened from present state all the way through and then fugue state all the way through. We just felt that would play out like a very run-of-the-mill thriller with the story unraveling itself along the way. Then we thought, as I mentioned before, it would be interesting to have the audience feel like they are thrust into Gwen’s world and try to capture what the feeling of broken memory is like. We were really excited about having the timeline go from one to the other and back and forth. It sort of came about organically. It was definitely a very well plotted and laid out map on which we meticulously pinpointed every single thing. The more you watch it, the more hidden gems you will find!

You have a terrific leading lady in Katharine Isabelle. What did she bring to the table for this project?

She was bold and unafraid! She was willing to take the risks of going too far and then pulling back. I think another really exciting thing she brought to the role was it wasn’t overly done. It could have been that the person in the fugue state, like Flamingo, would have been over the top and a totally different person and Gwen would be something totally different. I think she did it ever so slightly but because of the writing and the situations both women are thrust into, that helps to do some of the story writing on its own. She did a terrific job of making Gwen vulnerable and a lot more fragile but without overdoing it. I thought that was a really beautiful choice to have it not be over the top and in the audience’s face. It was very based in reality with the circumstances that are happening around whichever woman she was playing. I think that was really exciting!

Katharine Isabelle and director April Mullen on the set of '88'

Katharine Isabelle and director April Mullen on the set of ’88’

You are an actress yourself. What type of advantage has that given to you as a director?

I literally don’t think I could be a director without having the backbone of my acting training that I have had for the past 25 years. I feel that my toolbox is what I know and my communication skills with the actors is my strength. That comes from practicing the art form in every different facet for the past 15 years. I think all of those things are a blessing and they really help me. Having communication with the actors, finding those moments, allowing the freedom and pushing them when they need it is such a very fine, fine line. I think because I understand the craft so well and I have lived and breathed it my whole life, it really makes me feel very comfortable. I feel like I am in a very comfortable space and can run on instincts and impulses when it comes to choices with actors and different personalities. I feel like because my tool belt is loaded with so many years of experience, it is very natural and almost second nature. It’s natural and not forced in any way. It is a blessing because I don’t have to think about it because it isn’t coming from my head, it’s coming from my gut instincts.

What do you consider your biggest evolution as a director in your career to date?

You know what? I don’t think I have even come close to where I want to go and where I want to be as a creative person, whether it be as a director, a writer or performer. I feel like it is a constant learning curve and every script that I read or film I see makes me so in awe of what is around me. I am constantly striving to do better and try new things. I am really striving for new and exciting things that audiences haven’t seen. I am really striving to one day make a film that one day has a large impact on people in general. I hope to create those magical moments of film that impact people with an everlasting image. I think it is an ongoing journey. I definitely feel very, very excited at this point in my life and I feel blessed to be able to create every day, hone my craft and try new things. I feel a lot more confident because I’m getting older and with age I am very excited to come into my voice. I feel with “88,” Tim and I were both able to showcase what we have going on in our imaginations, when five years ago I don’t think we would have been able to literally put it to paper, whereas now we can totally surpass that. I think “88” is very complicated in its structure with its broken timelines. After having done that and 3D in the past, I feel I am ready for a totally new challenge. I am certainly up for new challenges all the time!

Katharine Isabelle and Christopher sharing the screen in April Mullen's '88'

Katharine Isabelle and Christopher sharing the screen in April Mullen’s ’88’

Where do you see yourself headed for your next project?

Tim and I are going back to what is sort of a comedy. It is a paranormal comedy that is a big budget feature that we are developing. It is already written and we are really excited about it! I am also going to start shooting an action/drama in March called “Badville.” I am very excited about that as well!

On The Rise: The multi-faceted April Mullen

On The Rise: The multi-faceted artist April Mullen

It is very exciting to see someone like yourself out there creating their own work and forging your own path. What is your advice to young creatives looking to make their career in the entertainment industry in today’s climate?

That is a great question. I would say stay focused, take really big risks, never doubt yourself, work as hard as you possibly can and never stop being inspired by the little things! It’s the little things that will keep you going! Working in the industry is like walking through a tornado every day, especially if you are self-generated and building your own path. It can be as if you are a ship in the midst of tidal waves. I think you have to constantly remind yourself to stay grounded. You have to look at the little things like the sunsets! I know that sounds so cheesy! [laughs] But really, it is the little things that play a huge role in keeping you inspired on a daily basis so that you can continue to self-generate and create new things. Never give up!

Terrific advice, April! It has been terrific talking to you today! We can’t wait to spread the word on all you have going on!

Thank you, Jason! Thank you for your support!

For all the latest news and updates from April Mullen and Wango Films, visit the official website at www.wangofilms.com. ’88’ is now available on Blu-ray and digital media. Be sure to check it out!

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Director Liza Johnson Discusses Bringing ‘Hateship/Loveship’ To The Screen

Director Liza Johnson Discusses Bringing ‘Hateship/Loveship’ To The Screen

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Adapted from acclaimed author Alice Munro’s iconic 2001 short story, “Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage,” director Liza Johnson brings us the gripping story of “Hateship Loveship.” The story focuses on Johanna Parry (Kristen Wiig), a profoundly shy, unadorned woman who is hired by Mr. McCauley (Nick Nolte) as a housekeeper and a primary caregiver to his granddaughter Sabitha (Hailee Steinfeld). Despite her outgoing nature, Sabitha carries wounds from the death of her mother years before, complicated by the circumstances of that death for which her grandfather still blames her father, Ken (Guy Pearce), a hapless recovering drug addict with a certain ragged charm. In an act of mean-spirited rebellion, Sabitha uses technology to foster a pseudo-relationship between Johanna and her father, never dreaming of the potential harm to either party. Sabitha doesn’t understand that Johanna is not a demure cut-out, but rather a woman for whom the phrase “still waters run deep” could have been coined. The young girl’s interference provokes Johanna to indulge in something long missing from her life: the dream of a future and a home of her own. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with director Liza Johnson to discuss her career, the making of ‘Hateship Loveship’ and the challenges of bringing it to the screen.

Director Liza Johnson

Director Liza Johnson

I wanted to go back to your early years. What initially attracted you to the world of filmmaking?

I have always loved movies but when I was young, it wasn’t like I always wanted to make movies. When I was in art school, I studied more in a kind of tradition of video and film that you would see in museums or a gallery. Over time, as I worked in that tradition, I kept doing stuff with stuff with performers and things that had a bit of a story in them. At a certain point, I just thought “If I am going to push this work, it would be a movie.” [laughs] I started to think about it and it is a little bit of a different economic context and exhibition context, so I tried to learn. I did things like going to the labs at The Sundance Institute and that helped me understand some of the difference between the tradition I had been working in before and the one I am working in now.

Who were some of the inspirations who helped shaped see the artist we see today?

That is a hard question and always an embarrassing question too. I think it is fine to be aspirational but at times it makes me feel bloated and ridiculous. “Oh yeah, I really like Robert Altman?” If I say that then I am sure people will say, “Yeah, well you are no Robert Altman!” [laughs] For sure the cinema of the 70s has been influential to be, such as Altman and Cassavetes. I also really admire writers and filmmakers that take a really bold point of view. I am not sure I do that in the same way but I feel like writers like Lynne Tillman or directors like Kelly Reichardt inspire me with the way they take a very bold point of view with what they do.

'Hateship Loveship'

‘Hateship Loveship’

Your latest film is “Hateship Loveship.” How did you get involved with this project and what was it about the material that made you want to pursue it in film form?

The screenwriter, Mark Poirier, who is also a lovely literary writer, brought it to me. I think he thought I would be attracted to the main character. He was right! I just really loved the way she comes from a world where it doesn’t do her any good to what the things she can’t have. Then when she has to move into this new world, she really lights on fire with desire for something and has to figure you how to realize her desire. I just found that to be really beautiful and tense when you she her struggle to do that.

Going into shooting, how did you prepare yourself to tackle this film stylistically?

I felt that in some ways it should be in a classical style. I really had a great team on this movie. I worked with the cinematographer, Kasper Tuxen. We looked at a lot of movies that have been shot with available light or work hard to create a style of a realistic, everyday world. I wanted to be accountable for the author of the source material, Alice Munro, who I think is so beautiful at writing the inner lives of everyday people who live in an everyday world. Her characters don’t live in styled, film noire world or a fantasy world. They live in the same world you and I live in. That was important to Kristen [Wiig] too. The first time we ever met we talked about what the world would look like. Kasper has a lot of range as a stylist and was really smart about how available light could make the world feel like the world I wanted to achieve on-screen. We also worked closely with two designers, one of which was Hannah Beachler. She is a production designer who also did the film “Fruitvale Station’. In the tradition I have been working in, I often don’t have an art department and I sometimes just shoot on raw locations, which always brings something to the situation. Usually, there is something accidental in the frame that is unexpected and that can be bad or good. When you have an art department, they can go in there and clean out all the dirt at the location and put back their own perfectly ordered dirt! [laughs] Hannah was a really good collaborator because she was interested in trying to make a controlled world that also feels like it has the randomness and sense of accident that real life has. We shot a lot on real locations. She designed, styled and dressed them but you try to be sensitive to the idea that everyday life has a lot of randomness in it. We tried to make a look that has the quality of realness and surprise. Likewise with the costume designer, she is a very character driven costume designer and she tried to really think about what kinds of clothes would be available to Johanna in the world she is coming from, how would she look different from the other people around her in the new world she goes to. I would say between the three of them, they made a coherent style to the movie that feels like the style of everyday life or something really real, you know?

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Absolutely. Another huge part of the realism of this film is your very talented cast. Was it difficult to land the right mix of people to bring it to life?

Actually, it wasn’t that difficult. It was really a great experience. I felt like Kristen would be the right person to play Johanna. I love her work and I think she is wonderfully talented. I also felt that she would be interested in this role thematically. I say that because a lot of the characters she has created are often very funny or broad. From being on Saturday Night Live, you have to convey that character in very short period of time. I felt like the characters I had seen her create, I felt like she would understand this woman. Once she decided to do the film with me, it was not very hard to attach other actors because I think actors are really good observers of one and others work. The first person Kristen and I thought of for the role of Ken was Guy Pearce. Guy Pearce is a really serious, super smart actor and of course, he wanted to be in a movie with Kristen because, well, it is kind of like sports. If you play with someone who is as good as you are; it raises your game. I feel like Guy instantly wanted to do it because he felt like it would be exciting to work with her. I think that was pretty much true throughout the cast. With that said, people who are massively talented like Jennifer Jason Leigh or Christine Lahti were not only attracted to the script and source material but knew it was going to be an ensemble with an incredible level of talent.

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You can serve as a terrific inspiration to young filmmakers. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to those looking to explore a career in filmmaking?

Wow! Well, for me, and it could be different for other people, the thing that has helped me the most is having a really good community of like-minded people who are doing their own project that others may find eccentric! [laughs] Living in a support world of other people who might be directors, actors, writers, scholars or painters and having them not be cynical, believe they can get their work done has been eye-opening. Sometimes it is hard to stay in the game and it really helps to build a world around you where people have common interest and common struggles. That is the thing that has helped me the most.

Thank you so much for your time today, Liza. I enjoyed the film and look forward to spreading the word on this and all of your future projects!

Thank you, Jason. It’s been a pleasure!

Liza johnson’s ‘Hateship Loveship’ hits select theaters and VOD on April 11th.

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Director Scott Coffey Offers A Glimpse Inside The Creation of ‘Adult World’

Director Scott Coffey Offers A Glimpse Inside The Creation of ‘Adult World’

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Director Scott Coffey is now stranger to the entertainment. He got his start as an actor years before making a successful transition into a directorial role. His first feature, ‘Ellie Parker’ (2005), made it’s tremendous debut at the Sundance Film Festival selection, earned him a spot on Filmmaker Magazine’s “25 New Faces of Independent Film” and established him as a force to be reckoned with in the world of cinema. His sophomore outing, ‘Adult World’ is no less impressive and is a film not to be missed.

‘Adult World’ is a satirical comedy about an eccentric young woman, Amy Anderson, (Emma Roberts) who has just come out of university, convinced she’s going to be a famous poet. Saddled with debt and unemployed she moves back in with her parents who force her to get a job. Desperate and armed with a poetry degree and not much else she takes the only job she can find, working in an adult book store called Adult World.

Meanwhile, desperate to get her poems published, Amy stalks an aging punk poet figure named Rat Billings (John Cusack), “one of the greatest poets of the early 90s.” Rat reluctantly agrees to mentor her. As Amy makes new friends, including a drag queen named Rubia, the elderly couple who own Adult World, and Alex, the charming and quirky young manager, she learns that she might not be the voice of her generation after all.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Scott Coffey to discuss his transition from actor to director, the challenges of bringing ‘Adult World’ from script to screen and where his next project will lead him.

Scott Coffey

Scott Coffey

Going all the way back to the beginning, what intrigued you early on about the world of filmmaking?

As a kid, I loved movies more than anything. I grew up in Hawaii and I wasn’t a surfer and didn’t like the beach. I loved being in the dark and I loved stories, which was really fun for me. I think that is where it all started.

Was there something in particular about filmmaking that made you want to pursue it professionally?

I was an actor for a long time and that was great. I liked being an actor but I didn’t love it as much as I loved being on a set. I love directing and it was something I took to very quickly. I really adore it. That is kind of how that happened.

Did you find the transition from actor to director a difficult one to make?

Yeah, I did. It was a fun one though. It definitely took a lot of work and it is challenging but I really love doing. I am much more happy being a director than I am being an actor. I worked with so many good people that it was easy. It was a challenge to make the transition but it was something that was relatively easy as I had been on so many movie sets and I had some connections. I was lucky to know a lot of good actors and I was able to pull people into my work, especially with my first movie.

As an actor and a director, who would you cite as your biggest personal influences?

David Lynch has been a huge influence and kind of a mentor to me. Woody Allen is another director whose movies I love and adore. Robert Altman is another terrific director. As far as actors, I have always loved Al Pacino. Diane Keaton is another person whose work has always inspired me. Her jazzy, interesting eccentricity is something I have always found fascinating. Those were all really huge influences on me.

'Adult World'

‘Adult World’

Your latest film is ‘Adult World’. How did you get involved with the project and what made you was it that you saw in the script that made you want to pursue it as a feature?

I thought the lead role was really interesting. I really liked the girl and thought she was very complicated. She was slightly unlikable but slightly endearing. I thought it was a very, very interesting challenge to find and actress who could pull that off and that would be interested in doing that. That is what I was wrapping my head around. I like the dilemma she is in. She is kind of bold and thought she could do anything she wants to and that she can live the American Dream and that American Dream might not be there anymore. I think that was a really fun way to approach the movie with thinking about those ideas. That is something that really appealed to me when I read the script.

When the project was in its early stages, how did you prepare yourself to tackle the film stylistically? Was there something you hoped to achieve with this film that you might not have had a chance to attempt with your previous work?

This was bigger movie and I had a really great cinematographer I was working with. We had a lot of discussions about how the warmth of the movie to look and how we wanted everyone to look very natural and have the cold and how cold it was outside to be a big part of the movie. We were really interested in the intimacy of the inside spaces compared to the cold of the outside. That was something I was really interested in looking at and thinking about.

You have a terrific cast along for the rise on this picture. Can you tell us what the actors might have brought to the project that you might not have been expecting?

Oh gosh, the actors brought so much and were really hugely influential. We improvised and played and they really brought themselves to the movie in so many ways. It was great and really, really fun to work with them. I don’t think I would have been able to make the movie I did without the casting. I was really lucky to have such an amazing cast, so that was great.

Scott Coffey and John Cusack On Set

Scott Coffey and John Cusack On Set

Can you tell us a little bit about how the script evolved along the way? Was there a lot of change there?

Yeah, there were a lot of changes that Andy [Cochran] and I made while we were working on it. Then the script kept changing on set as well. We would work a lot on it and a lot of the John Cusack scenes, especially, we would spend a lot of time of time at night going over the different scenes and how we were going to perfect them, how we wanted them and what would be fun to do. We were very involved in that.

Obviously, you have been involved with the film since day one. Now that you have had time to live with it for a bit, looking back on the process, what do you consider the biggest challenges you faced while putting this film together?

Getting the cast that I wanted to work for the smaller amount of money was a challenge. It was a low budget movie and it was difficult to get everybody to come to Syracuse to work the way we worked. That was a little bit of a challenge. There are always different kinds of challenges but I think that was the hardest thing. Once we were on set, it was really, really fun and really great.

From a directorial standpoint, is there a scene that stands out in your mind as the most difficult to shoot?

Shooting some of the outside stuff was difficult because we were shooting during the winter when it was so cold and snowy. The camera was getting wet or frozen, so that was the hardest thing. Otherwise, everything else flowed really well.

They say you learn something from each project of which you are a part. What did you learn from your time on this film?

More than anything, I learned to trust my instincts and to go with what I think is right as opposed to what other voices think. I think that is what I learned more than anything. If I start with something I really love and really want to make, I should trust that instinct more and follow that as opposed to what the audience is going to think or what the other people think. I think by making my most personal work, that is what audiences most respond to. I think if you make something really personal, which really resonates to people because they can feel the moving parts in it. I think trusting your instinct is the most important thing.

Evan Peters, Emma Roberts and Scott Coffey

Evan Peters, Emma Roberts and Scott Coffey

Which character in “Adult World” do you most relate to on a personal level? Is there something that resonates with you about one of them in particular?

I really relate to all of these characters and that was really fun. That is why it is really fun for me to make movies because I try to figure out who I am and what part of me is alive in each character. I can relate to each one of them in different ways. I am very much like Emma’s character Amy and Rat Billings in many ways as well.

Is there are particular part of the filmmaking process that you find yourself more drawn to?

I love being on set and directing. I don’t like being in the editing room or writing as much as I love being on set. I love working with actors and I have to say that is my favorite part of the entire process.

What do you consider your biggest personal milestone as a director at this point in your career?

Today, I got a good review in The Village Voice. That is something I had always hoped for and today they gave me a rave review, so that has been a huge thing for me.

Awesome! It is well deserved!

Thank you!

How do you feel you have evolved as a director since first starting out?

Like I said, I am really learning to trust my instincts. That is the thing — a sense of confidence. It is about knowing what I want but not being rigid; “bending and not snapping” to paraphrase an old proverb.

Scott Coffey

Scott Coffey

What is up next for you as a filmmaker? Is there an area you are anxious to explore in the short term?

I am going to direct an adaptation of a novel called “Chemical Pink” that the author Katie Arnoldi wrote. It takes place in the world of women’s bodybuilding in the early 1990s in Venice, CA. That is probably my next project. It is a thriller and I am really excited about it. We have already started to cast and hopefully we will shoot this summer. I am meeting women body builders and going to tournaments. It is pretty incredible! It is a really amazing world and I find it fascinating.

What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to young filmmakers who might look to you for inspiration?

Don’t take advice from anybody! [laughs] Trust yourself! Listen to you inner voice and trust it!

Where can people catch up with you online?

I am on Twitter at twitter.com/skotcof and that is something I post thing on pretty often.

Awesome. Thanks so much for your time today, Scott. I really enjoy your work and can’t wait to see what you have in store for us!

Thanks for talking to me, Jason. I appreciate it!

‘Adult World’ premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2013 will open February 14th in theaters and on VOD.

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COLD COMES THE NIGHT: Director Tze Chun Discusses Bringing His Vision To Life

COLD COMES THE NIGHT: Director Tze Chun Discusses Bringing His Vision To Life

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Writer/director Tze Chun is a man on the rise in the entertainment industry. His story kicked off his film, “Children of Invention,” debuting at the 2009 Sundance Film Festival and going on to be one of the most-awarded and best-reviewed films of the year. It won 17 film festival awards, including 8 Grand Jury or Best Narrative Feature prizes. His hard work over the past several years as a writer and director has laid the groundwork for what is sure to be a stellar career in film. His lastest film, ‘Cold Comes The Night,’ is no less impressive. The film tells the story of a struggling motel owner (Eve) and her daughter (Parker) who are taken hostage by a nearly blind career criminal (Cranston) to be his eyes as he attempts to retrieve his parcel of cash from a crooked cop (Marshall-Green). Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with Tze Chun to discuss his love of filmmaking, the process of bring ‘Cold Comes The Night’ from script to screen and what the future holds for this young director in the rise.

Tze Chun

Tze Chun

I wanted to go back to your early years and give our readers a bit of background on you. What intrigued you about the world of filmmaking and eventually lead you to pursuing it as a career?

I think like a lot of people, I grew up loving movies. I started out as a visual artist and I wanted to be a comic book artist growing up. Eventually, I figured out if you turn a camera on and hit record, it is a whole lot easier than drawing one hundred pages to tell your story in a comic book! [laughs] In high school, I made a bunch of movies with my friends and after that I was hooked! I spent every day after school going to Barnes & Noble to read all of their film books and learning about film history. That is really how it all got started!

What would you cite as one of your biggest influences as an artist?

I think the movie that first influenced me was ‘The Graduate.’ One of my English teachers, when we were freshmen, showed us the movie from beginning to end on VHS. He would pause it to point out things like art direction, editing and all of these things I had never even thought about before in terms of the craft of movie making. That was one of the biggest influences on me; just being about to look at movies in that light.

Is there something you took from your work as a visual artist which has translated into your work as a filmmaker?

I was a portrait painter for a number of years after college. I think one of the things I have found, as a painter, was that one of the things I liked painting the most were people’s faces. When you are a portrait painter you have to capture a single moment that encapsulates a person in their entirety. There is something about that. If you look at my movies, a lot of them feature a lot of close-ups of our main characters. I like to think there is almost a portraiture quality to my first film, “Children of Invention,” and now with “Cold Comes The Night.”

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I was able to check out your film last night. It is a great story and it is filmed with great performances. For those how aren’t familiar with your latest feature, what can you tell us about ‘Cold Comes The Night” and how the film came about?

‘Cold Comes The Night’ is a crime thriller that stars Bryan Cranston, Alice Eve and Logan Marshall Green. It is about a nearly blind career criminal, played by Bryan Cranston, who was trying to smuggle something over the U.S./Canada border. He is separated from his package and in order to retrieve the package from a crooked cop, he talks a single mother, played by Alice Eve, hostage to be his eyes as he retrieves it. It is kind of a throwback thriller, a bag of money thrilling similar to early Coen Brothers films, “No Country For Old Men,” “Blood Simple” or “A Simple Plan.” Ultimately, if you like those films, you will like this movie. I was a co-writer on the project. Our executive producer Scott Halle put me and two other writers together and we started brainstorming ideas. We talked about the movies we loved and we kept returning to these crime drams like “Blood Simple” or “A Simple Plan,” that are kind of character studies masqueraded as genre movies. That is really what we wanted to make with this film.

You mentioned working with other writers on the film. What can you tell us about the process?

I have co-written a lot in the past and I think it can be helpful. It shortens the amount of time it takes to write a script and it is always nice to have more than one opinion, otherwise, you are just arguing with yourself. Oz Perkins and Nick Simons, who were my co-writers, where actual in LA and I was living in New York. We all of the writing remotely, through Google Voice. Then we would take notes on a single Google doc and pass the draft back and forth.

What were you thoughts on tackling this film stylistically when you were fleshing it out in the early stages?

My first feature, “Children of Invention,” is very naturalistic and very realistic. I wanted to make sure in making this movie that even though it is a thriller and a genre film that it would still have a naturalistic quality to it. When I talked to my cinematographer and art director, we wanted to make sure it never lost its link with reality and that it didn’t turn into a genre exercise. That is why; in terms of lighting and actual feel of the movie is very naturalistic look.

Chun and Cranston On Set

Chun and Cranston On Set

Did you find the script evolving at all when you began filming?

I think there is always tweaking that happens on set. Bryan, Alice and Logan were very involved. We gave them the script a couple of months before we started shooting. With a movie like this, you might not even know what the location you are going to be shooting in is going to be until a week or two before shooting there. The staging changes things and there are certain situations where locations might be better or worse than you expected, so you always have to change things up.

You hit a home run when it came to casting for this film. What did these very talented actors bring to these characters that you might not have been expecting?

I think there is always something the actors bring to the characters that you are not expecting. One of the best things about being a director is being able to be surprised every day, pleasantly. Bryan, Alice and Logan are at the top of their games. They are all very smart and very willing to push their performances to the very brink. Physically, this film was very demanding for them all, not just because it was a low-budget movie but because there are scenes that are incredibly intense. For me, when I write a script, you imagine things in your head but when you are actually looking at people going through it on-screen or in front of you while you are shooting, it becomes so much more of an intense experience. Bryan. Alice and Logan all have great instincts and definitely made decisions I would never have even imagined and that definitely made the movie better.

Was it difficult to find the right mix of people for this film or where the actors obvious choices for you?

I think they were all pretty obvious choices. Oz, Nick and I where all huge fans of ‘Breaking Bad.’ When we cast Bryan, I think he was half way through Season 3 of the show, so it hadn’t quite gained the momentum it ultimately had and it wasn’t yet mainstream. We had been following the show since the very beginning. We had talked about Bryan even as we were writing the script. Alice I found through our casting director, who had always been a huge fan of hers and he sent me a couple of clips from a movie called ‘Crossing Over’ where she has three scenes with Ray Liotta. She really holds her own against a pretty intimidating screen presence. I thought that was really interesting. She is a young actress who can be tough and is clearly able to push back against someone who is intimidating her. That is really what the role needed. I hadn’t realized when I watched those clips that I had seen her in “She’s Out of My League” but was almost unrecognizable because she was playing such a different character. I think that Alice really pushed herself to play against type. She is obviously very beautiful but I think she really wanted to push herself into a gritty and darker role.

Director Tze Chun

Director Tze Chun

What were some of the more difficult scenes to shoot for this film?

From a technical standpoint, any scene that was an exterior at night was very difficult because we just didn’t have a lot of lights. The scene where she is breaking into the impound lot is a great example. We bought a weather balloon off the internet and floated it above the impound lot and shot a giant light into it! It was guerrilla filmmaking! Even though the movie does have name actors our production budget was still very small. It definitely felt like at each location, we really had to jury-rig and MacGyver together what our lighting set-up was going to be. In terms of the other scenes, it’s funny because when you write a script the scenes you think will be difficult to shoot are never actually the ones that end up being difficult. I the one I thought was going to be the hardest was Chloe and Billy’s last scene where he is yelling at her and pointing the gun at her. It is a very intense scene but Alice and Logan were so prepared and really brought it! Ever take of that scene was fantastic! I remember when we moved on to the next location, I was like “I cannot believe how smooth that was!” It was really a joy to shoot that scene given that I thought it was going to be very, very difficult for everyone involved!

Now that you have been able to live with the film for a while and look back on the experience, what do you consider the biggest challenge you faced?

I think the biggest challenge was fitting a movie of this scale into a very small budget. This scale movie doesn’t get made that often anymore. I am learning there is a reason for that!

On The Rise: Tze Chun

On The Rise: Tze Chun

You have you hands in so many of the filmmaking process. Is there a particular part of the process that you prefer over another?

I feel very lucky that I really enjoy every aspect of filmmaking! From the brainstorming to the writing, whether it is by myself or collaborating, working with all my department heads or shooting the movie, I feel really lucky that I enjoy every part of the process. Every part of the process feels so different, so there is something different to enjoy about every aspect of it.

How do you feel you have evolved as a director since you first started out?

As a filmmaker, you always want to push yourself to move difficult, bigger movies. I started off very small. My short film that got into Sundance in 2007 had a budget of six hundred dollars and it was all non-actors. My first feature was under a two hundred thousand dollar budget with a lot of non-actors and child actors but no name actors. It was kind of an observational, naturalistic drama. With “Cold Comes The Night,” I really wanted to push myself and try to do things that were a little more cinematic, a little bit bigger and to try and work within a genre which I had never done before. It is always interesting as you go into a different stage of your career to have to push yourself and seeing what things you can learn. I definitely learned a lot making this movie because it was so much different than my previous films.

Coming January 10th

Coming January 10th

With that said, where are you looking to expand as a director in the future?

I have a couple of projects with my producer on “Children of Invention,” Mynette Louie. She has been my producing partner for six years now. One of the projects is a thriller set in New Orleans. I am going out for some open directing assignments as well. I am attached to another project which is also a crime thriller. I think it would be nice to do a couple more crime thrillers to yearly get a handle on it over the next couple of years!

It is really inspiring to see the work you have done so far. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to young filmmakers looking to pursue a career in film in today’s climate?

I guess the best advice I can give is just to try and make as many movies as you can. Some of them will not be good but one or two of them will. From those experiences, discover what your strengths. Hopefully, you can use those experiences to take the next step and refine what you are creating.

Thanks for your time today, Tze! I look forward to seeing what you have in store for us in the future! I wish you all the best!

Thank you, Jason! I really appreciate it. Thank you so much!

“Cold Comes The Night” Hits theaters and On Demand on January 10th, 2014. Check out the official Facebook for the film at facebook.com/coldcomesthenight.

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