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ANYTHING: Director Timothy McNeil On Bringing His Work From Stage To Screen!

ANYTHING: Director Timothy McNeil On Bringing His Work From Stage To Screen!

Based on his award-winning play, Timothy McNeil’s feature directorial debut, ANYTHING, is a story about the infinite possibilities of love. Written in 2007, the play was first performed by McNeil and his old friend, the Oscar-nominated actor and producer Mark Ruffalo, at a benefit for their acting teacher. “When Mark and I did a scene,” McNeil recalls, “I was encouraged by the reception and decided to mount a full production with the Elephant Theater Company where I was a member.” The play went on to win the Los Angeles Drama Critics’ Circle Award for Best Play of the Year, and was also nominated for an Ovation Award for Best New Play, and a GLAAD Award.

The film centers around Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) who, following he death of his wife and an ensuing failed suicide attempt, is forced to move to Los Angeles so he can be cared for by his over-protective sister, Laurette (Maura Tierney). After a few months, he asserts his independence and starts a new life in Hollywood. A buttoned-down middle-aged man living among hipsters, hustlers, and hobos, Early is initially a fish out of water, but quickly becomes enamored of this strange, new world. He is especially taken by his next-door neighbor, Freda (Matt Bomer), a beautiful transgender woman who finds Early every bit as exotic as he finds her. Loneliness and a shared need for companionship opens their hearts to a remarkable new relationship, as they both discover they’ve found what’s been missing in their lives.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Timothy McNeil to discuss unique career path, bringing ‘Anything’ from stage to screen and the challenges he faced along the way!

How did you get involved with the arts early on in life?

When I was 25, I was living in Houston, Texas. I was sort of depressed and I was selling wine wholesale. I always watched films and thought, “I can do that! I can act.” I believed I could act, so I took a class at 25 and I moved out to Los Angeles at 28. I started studying at the Stella Adler Academy of Acting in Los Angeles. That’s when everything started to open up as far as creativity goes. That’s really where my writing began as well. So, I acted for a while, started writing and then started directing. That’s the short answer I suppose!

Who had a big impact on you and your craft?

I think that Mark Ruffalo has been a tremendous mentor to me, as far as the film side of things go. We’ve done a lot of theater together, but he helped me a great deal when I was approaching film for the first time. He’s been a great mentor. Another great friend of mine has been Benicio Del Toro and he helps me a great deal. Those are the people who come to mind right off the bat!

“Anything” is terrific. Tell us how the idea for the story came to be.

It started off as a play that I wrote in 2007. It was a reaction to what I felt was the difficulty in the marriage debate in California at the time because I live in Los Angeles. From there, I’ve began to develop a story about a transgender person and the person from the South, which is where I’m from originally, and how they begin to establish a relationship and find the shared love of so many different things. That was the genesis of it. From there, I began to develop it from a play to a film. Again, Mark Ruffalo was instrumental in that because he asked me to make it a film and then he pushed me to direct it! I had been directing a lot of theater and he thought I would make a nice director for the film. That’s where it comes from!

How did the material change from a play to a screenplay to, ultimately, a feature film? I imagine a passage of time impacted the material.

Completely! The Trans Movement has moved forward in a beautiful way since 2007. There is still a way to go, of course. As far as the script goes, some changes were made as far as the writing goes because plays have a certain texture or nature or the writing itself is more poetic or more spoken. I tried to pull the play out of it, if that makes sense! [laughs] I think I did pretty well with that, but I guess that’s something people will decide for themselves. That was the major difference in the updating of Freda, which was important to the film.

How did the final version of the film compare to what you expected to end up with as a finished product?

For a first-time director, I was a remarkably happy with it! I’m not normally the happiest person but I’m very happy about it, Jason! It’s crazy! [laughs] I think it’s because of the great actors and the remarkable crew that really shepherded me through the process. When I look on the screen, the idea of the movie comes through in the way that I wanted it to and I am really, really happy about that! I can see certain things that I could have done better but I’m really happy in that way!

The cast for “Anything” is remarkable. Tell us about finding the right mix of people to bring these characters from script to screen.

The first piece was John Carroll Lynch. I had admired his work for quite a while and then Mark Ruffalo introduced me to John. Right from the beginning, after really talking to him, I said, “That’s my Early!” He read the script and decided he was in! He was in for the first four or five years, through the process of trying to find financing and all of that. The second piece was Matt Bomer. I saw him acting in “The Normal Heart” and I thought it was such a remarkable performance. I met up with him and thought I had met my Freda, so that was great! The third piece, which was just as important and integral, was the character of Lorrette. When I met Maura Tierney, I knew she was the one. I met a lot of great actresses who could have played the part but when I met Maura, I just knew it was so right! I think that’s up on the screen as well!

John Carroll Lynch and Matt Bomer in Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything.’

You lived with these characters in some form for more than a decade. Did these actors bring something to these characters you might not have expected?

That’s a good question and so true! First of all, I was really happy with myself that I wasn’t picky about the characters, if you know what I mean. I was able to let the actors be and they discovered so much that it surprised me, particularly John. I say that because I had played Early on stage. I think what he did was bring such a deep sensitivity and emotional intelligence to the character, so much so that it was astonishing for me. The same is true with Maura and Matt. They were both so extraordinary and I didn’t have to do too much directing at all.

As you mentioned, you live in Los Angeles and that is where the story within “Anything” takes place. Tell us about the city and how it impacted you and this film.

I came from Houston, as I said. When I arrived in Los Angeles, I felt a bit set free. I don’t mean that as a knock against Houston. Los Angeles allows people to invent their lives in a way and I think New York probably does the same thing. That’s what Los Angeles is to me. Not to get too pretentious or precious about it because it’s a place but it was a creative birthplace for me. That’s really what it was! Los Angeles allows a human being to explore different pieces of their self that other places sometimes don’t and that’s why I think Los Angeles is critical to this story.

Once you were on set and shooting, did the script evolve?

The script was pretty much shot as written but there were a couple of moments that we changed. We didn’t do too much improv but the actors were fully capable of that and occasionally would say, “What about this?” And I’d say, “Yeah!” But it was fairly minimal. The script was fairly solid as far as the arcs of the characters and thematically. It was important to have that right from the get-go.

As a first-time director, I’m sure you learned from this project. What were the biggest challenges?

The camera! I had an amazing director of photography whose name is James Laxton. He was also the DP on “Moonlight,” which he had shot right before he came to shoot “Anything.” I leaned a lot on him. The understanding of how to use the camera in a way that’s different to tell the story was eye-opening to me and the revelation. It made me so happy and I was learning something every day, which was really beautiful! It was a great experience for me that way and particularly with the camera.

What were the advantages of coming from the theatre world into the filmmaking world?

I think, when you talk about theatre, there are couple areas where theatre can give actors and directors great aid. One is character and the specificity of depth of character. The other is the understanding of thematic ideas and how to communicate those ideas. I think theatre informs all three of the actor’s work; Maura, John, Matt and all of the actors in the movie are all accomplished actors, not only on film and television but in theatre. That was good, and I can say we were all on the same page thematically! That was a big thing!

What are your favorite memories from this project?

I think there were five or six times when I was watching a scene being shot and I was truly astonished by what the actors did! I sort of dropped the headphones in my lap and I was the happiest human being on the planet to be honest! [laughs] I think those are the moments I remember the most but, on a film set, there’s so much camaraderie. It’s really beautiful if people are there pulling for the movie and we had that! I think that’s the other thing I took away from it. I also had amazing producers, Jason. It’s so weird when I talk about it, but I didn’t have a bad experience on even one day! We were a little rushed but that’s to be expected and it wasn’t a problem because we were prepared!

John Carroll Lynch in Timothy McNeil’s directorial debut, ‘Anything.’

How have you evolved as a writer over the years?

I think I’ve gotten deeper as far as my characterizations go. I’m also working through a lot of the same themes present in anything, but I’ve begun to understand them on a deeper level, which I think is important. At the same time, I’m getting much better at getting rid of the things that don’t serve the big idea and a piece of writing. That’s a huge transition for a writer to make. That has happened for me and I’m grateful for that. That keeps evolving! It’s a hard thing to kill your darlings as Hemingway said but that’s the truth! [laughs] You’ve got to be able to sacrifice stuff, you know? [laughs]

Where do you look for inspiration?

Rebellion! To be honest, rebellion is always interesting to me, along with the resistance against oppression and repression, which exists even in a relatively democratic country like ours. Those things are always inspiring me but also human beings striving to get back to their soul, if you will. I know that sounds ridiculously precious but that inspires me as well. Those things just move me! My wife also moves me, so I know it sounds crazy, but she does!

You have a lot going on. Where are you headed in the future with projects?

I’ve got a script that we’re trying to get set up which is about a man dealing with an intense amount of grief in a novel way. I’ve had an awful lot of death in my life lately and I’ve been trying to make sense of it. I did it through the writing of this particular script. It’s a solid script and I’m excited to see if I can get behind the camera again!

We can look to you and your accomplishments as an inspiration. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as an artist?

I appreciate you saying that, Jason. I will say this — never stop! Everybody I know has stories to tell. If you work hard maybe you can get those stories told. Just be disciplined about your day as best as possible and get those stories on paper. Let them be known. I think that’s really important. I’m kind of an old dog now at this and the film thing has really opened up for me. I’m really happy about that and grateful but, I will tell you, it’s important to learn your chops and get down to business. Get into rooms with actors and don’t be afraid of rewriting. Fight for your story!

That is terrific advice! Thank you for your time today! I appreciate it and wish you continued success!

Thank you, Jason! It was great talking to you!

Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’ opens in theaters in Los Angeles on May 11th.

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John Carroll Lynch Talks Career, Longevity & Role In Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’

John Carroll Lynch Talks Career, Longevity & Role In Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’

Through the years, John Carroll Lynch has established himself as one of the premier character actors in Hollywood. He’s a man known for elevating the quality of every project of which he is a part. Lynch first gained notoriety for his role as Norm Gunderson in The Coen Brothers’ classic, ‘Fargo.’ He is also instantly recognizable for his television work on the ABC sitcom ‘The Drew Carey Show’ as the title character’s cross-dressing brother, as well as on ‘American Horror Story: Freak Show’ as Twisty the Clown. His films include ‘Face/Off,’ ‘Gran Torino,’ ‘Shutter Island,’ ‘Ted 2,’ ‘The Invitation,’ and ‘Zodiac.’ Most recently, he portrayed McDonald’s co-founder Maurice “Mac” McDonald in ‘The Founder,’ where he starred opposite Michael Keaton. As one of the hardest working actors in the business, he has continued to keep his career momentum building by taking on increasingly challenging roles. His latest role in writer/director Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’ is no exception to the rule.

The film centers around Early Landry (John Carroll Lynch) who, following he death of his wife and an ensuing failed suicide attempt, is forced to move to Los Angeles so he can be cared for by his over-protective sister, Laurette (Maura Tierney). After a few months, he asserts his independence and starts a new life in Hollywood. A buttoned-down middle-aged man living among hipsters, hustlers, and hobos, Early is initially a fish out of water, but quickly becomes enamored of this strange, new world. He is especially taken by his next-door neighbor, Freda (Matt Bomer), a beautiful transgender woman who finds Early every bit as exotic as he finds her. Loneliness and a shared need for companionship opens their hearts to a remarkable new relationship, as they both discover they’ve found what’s been missing in their lives.

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with John Carroll Lynch to discuss his unique path, his evolution as an artist and the challenges of bringing his character in ‘Anything’ from script to screen.

You are a familiar face with your eclectic work in film and television. How did you get involved in the arts early on and pursue it as a career?

I had been doing plays in elementary school and that was always fun! I went to see a high school production of “Camelot” that my brother was in and my sister was working backstage on the crew. It was a really, really good production! It was so good that this high school production moved to a community theater and had another run! My brother played one of the knights and he has a beautiful singing voice. He came out and started singing the opening song to all the people. In my head, I was like, “He’s a knight. One of Arthur’s knights.” Then I had this kind of reverb moment where I was like, “No, no. He’s my brother … but he’s a knight … but he’s my brother … but he’s a knight.” I was like, “How is this happening? How can he be someone else, simply because he says he is?” That was the beginning of it for me! I said, “I want to try that! I want to be someone else by just saying that I am!” That’s what started me off on doing that. Over the course of time, I realize that was my opportunity of telling stories. The fundamental element of my life has been to tell stories.

Pursuing a career as an actor can be a scary step to take. Did you have reservations about taking the plunge?

I never really thought about it in that way. I thought of it as something that I could not do but had to do! It was such a primal thing that I didn’t even think about it in those terms. Certainly, I was terrified but the idea of not doing it didn’t make any sense at all to me. It called to me in such a clear way! As I got older and said, “I’m going to do this for living,” it never occurred to me that I wouldn’t! Gratefully, I’ve been very fortunate to be one of the few people who has said that, and it has happened that way. It was always about this idea of transforming and being someone else. More specifically, it’s got to be more and more about what stories we are telling, what we are saying about ourselves and how we can take these tools, illuminate the human condition to ourselves and others and hopefully change their hearts, minds and the world.

Who had a big impact on you and the way you approach your craft?

With every piece of work I have done, be it a play or television or film job, I’ve learned something from somebody doing it, so it’s a long list! Early on, I worked with a place called Catholic Youth Services. There was a priest who is running the place who was a frustrated actor himself and had decided to create the opportunity for high school and elementary school kids in Denver. His name was Father Dennis Dwyer. This is where I was really introduced to straight drama as I had only done musicals up until then. After that, there were people in college. Then it got to be people who I was not only directed by but worked with. Early on, I worked with a former artistic director of the Guthrie Theater named Garland Wright. While people don’t know him outside of the profession, those who do know him as a theater director know that he was one of the most gifted and fundamentally life-changing artists of his lifetime. He died very young, in his 50s, but he was an extraordinary director and somebody who introduced me to the idea that you could have an aesthetic or individual voice in this business. His voice was so strong and so beautiful. To be working for him at the age that I was, in my early 20s, was amazing. He has been a primary point of conversation throughout that time, in my work, all the way through to well after his death until now.

What are the keys to longevity when it comes to a career in the arts?

Just having the good fortune of having people hire you is a big part of it! [laughs] Longevity in this business is based on people going, “Yeah, I’d love to have them in my project!” I got great advice early on, “Do your work with joy. Go home.” I like that, and it’s certainly been part of what I’ve done. I try to always be value-added and never take away. I’m constantly trying to learn more about the way in which stories are told, how I can support them and how I can support my fellow storytellers, be it the people who I work with on the crew, all the way up to the directors. I love actors and acting. I love storytelling and I’m very passionate about it. I’ve been fortunate that people continue to say, “Yes!” That’s really the key to longevity; getting people to say, “Yes!”

Your latest project is terrific. How did “Anything” come onto your radar and what made it a story you wanted to be a part of telling?

I had worked with Mark Ruffalo a couple of times. We were out having a drink together and he said, “Ya know, my friend Tim [McNeil] is writing the screenplay from a play has written. You should read it.” It was a few months later when I got a call from him saying, “This is Tim’s number. Give him a call.” Tim and I started talking about it. This was a long while ago. I don’t know how far after the play was written, which was 2007, so I’d say it was only two or three years after the play was written that this conversation started. He agreed that it would be great if he directed it and I would play the part of Early. It took a long time to gestate, as independent films often do. Matt [Bomer] came on board and was such a fantastic collaborator and wonderful to work with. His Freda, she’s terrific! We got to rehearse together before we started working on it. The thing that really drew me was the truth that the story tells, which is you can’t mistake love wherever you find it. It is an unmistakable thing! Love is not dependent on anything but love itself. I’m really a big believer in, “Let’s stop worrying about it and get it out of the way because it’s such a precious commodity.”

John Carroll Lynch and Matt Bomer in Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything.’

Tell us more, if you would, about preparing for this role. How did it compare and contrast to what you’ve done in the past?

The beauty of this for me was that I had such a long time with the script! With most projects, I don’t have that long to live with the character. I lived with Early for a long time. I also read Eudora Welty and other things about the South because Tim had asked me to do that. Tim was fundamentally bringing this to life. He had written a play, written the screenplay and played the part on stage in Los Angeles, so he knew it backwards and forwards. When Matt and Maura [Tierney] joined the cast, it really started to bubble. Everybody in the movie came for the right reasons! That’s one of the great things about Independent film — everybody is there for the right reasons! They’re there to tell that story and that really helped this project become something greater, as well.

Each project brings its own challenges. What were the challenges you faced with this role?

Time is a big factor! [laughs] we had a limited amount of time because of the budget of the film. The film is kind of a cocoon of a film because it has a lot of interior scenes. We were doing a lot of scenes back-to-back in the same room at different parts of the film. To keep those things straight in rapid succession was an interesting challenge. We talked about the fact that I got to live with this character for so long, but I think the biggest challenge after that was forgetting I had lived with it at all. I needed to be present in the moment with my fellow actors in those circumstances and embrace those moments for the first time. That was a wonderful challenge, one that I always appreciate when it comes to theater and one that I really appreciated about this project. It’s very different when you come to something and a week later you were on the set, which happens quite a bit if you are fortunate enough to work. You get a piece of material and a week later you’re doing it. In cases like that, you don’t get the chance for it to steep and it’s very fresh. With “Anything,” it got a chance to steep for a very long time, so the challenge was to keep it fresh. The last challenge, I would say, was that I normally don’t get to play an arc this big with this amount of material and transformation in a character. It was my goal to shepherd, as best I could, the journey of the character inside the material. That was a really important part of the work that I did. It was exciting to do that, and it was particularly exciting to do that as I was preparing to direct for the first time. Literally, I had two weeks of prep for “Lucky” and then I went into rehearsals for “Anything.” We shot “Anything” and then I went back into prep for “Lucky.” I had just done a lead role in an 18-day shoot when I started working with Harry Dean Stanton on his lead-role in an 18-day shoot! It was great for me to be thinking about it holistically as a storyteller with Tim and Maura, as the primary collaborators, along with the producers and everybody else who also contributed.  

John Carroll Lynch in Timothy McNeil’s directorial debut, ‘Anything.’

You came a long way from your early years as an actor and continue to take on challenging projects with each passing year. How have you evolved as an actor along the way?

I understand how the whole process works a lot better than I used to. I know what’s possible and I know how to push the envelope more now than I did before. The gray part for me is that as much as I’ve learned about how to act better, I’ve also never lost my love of it. It’s never stopped being fascinating and it’s never stopped captivating my heart the way it did when I was 13. I’m so fortunate to be as interested in it today as I was then.

Where do you see the journey taking you?

I want to direct more. I definitely want to do that. I certainly want to tell more stories like “Anything.” I want to support us all and come to the agreement that we are all worthy of love. I’d like to continue to do stories like that. At the same time, I don’t mind throwing elbows and reflecting human evil! I don’t have any issues with that. I would say that the primary thing that I want to keep doing is to keep supporting stories that I think are important to tell. Working with the people that I’ve gotten a chance to work with, especially over the past few years, has been truly exciting. I love where they are headed, and I love what they are talking about and I want to continue to have those conversations! I also have some material that I have written that I would like to find a way to produce. Those are the things I’m looking forward to doing moving forward!

We can look to all you accomplished as an inspiration. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey?

Try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try! [laughs]

Well, it doesn’t boil down any simpler than that! [laughs]

Yeah! That’s what it is! That’s what it is! Try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try and fail and try! [laughs]

Thanks for your time today, sir! It’s been a pleasure to speak with you. Thanks for all the great roles you’ve taken on over the years! I can’t wait to see where the journey takes you!

Thank you, Jason! I appreciate that! I’m sure we’ll cross paths again in the future. Have a great day!

Timothy McNeil’s ‘Anything’ opens in theaters in Los Angeles on May 11th.

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TANGERINE: Check Out The Trailer For Festival Favorite Shot Entirely On iPhone

TANGERINE: Check Out The Trailer For Festival Favorite Shot Entirely On iPhone

'Tangerine'

‘Tangerine’

Check out the first trailer for the first feature film shot entirely on iPhone. Magnolia Pictures recently picked up ‘Tangerine’ at Sundance. The Mark and Jay Duplass produced the film from director Sean Baker (Starlet), who co-wrote it with Chris Bergoch. It stars newcomers Kitana Kiki Rodriguez and Mya Taylor.

Synopsis: It’s Christmas Eve in Tinseltown and Sin-Dee (newcomer Kitana Kiki Rodriguez) is back on the block. Upon hearing that her pimp boyfriend (James Ransone, STARLET, Generation Kill) hasn’t been faithful during the 28 days she was locked up, the working girl and her best friend, Alexandra (newcomer Mya Taylor), embark on a mission to get to the bottom of the scandalous rumor. Their rip-roaring odyssey leads them through various subcultures of Los Angeles, including an Armenian family dealing with their own repercussions of infidelity. Director Sean Baker’s prior films (STARLET, PRINCE OF BROADWAY) brought rich texture and intimate detail to worlds seldom seen on film. TANGERINE follows suit, bursting off the screen with energy and style. A decidedly modern Christmas tale told on the streets of L.A., TANGERINE defies expectation at every turn.

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THE FRENCH {HOP} CONNECTION: Alamo Drafthouse Announces First Ever Collaboration With Odell Brewing

THE FRENCH {HOP} CONNECTION: Alamo Drafthouse Announces First Ever Collaboration With Odell Brewing

'The Connection'

‘The Connection’

The Alamo Drafthouse and Odell Brewing are pleased to announce the release of their first ever collaboration, “The French {Hop} Connection.” Inspired by the upcoming Drafthouse Films French crime thriller, THE CONNECTION-releasing this summer-this limited batch beer will be part of Odell’s “Bridge Series,” available in stores and on tap starting in May, including at Alamo Drafthouse locations in Texas, Colorado, and Missouri. In addition to offering “The French {Hop} Connection,” these Alamo locations will also feature a mini Odell “tap takeover,” with several taps dedicated to other Odell brews throughout the month of May.

The creation of “The French {Hop} Connection” was a true collaborative process taking place over several months and culminating with Alamo CEO and Founder Tim League traveling to Odell’s home base of Fort Collins, Colorado, along with members of the Alamo Beer Team for a final tasting and brewing session this past February.

 “At Drafthouse Films we are always looking for innovative ways to share and promote our unique film releases,” said Alamo Drafthouse founder Tim League.  “Odell is one of the best, most innovative breweries in the nation, and I knew they would love the challenge of pairing a French-style beer to our new French crime thriller THE CONNECTION.”

We were excited to work with the Alamo on this project,” says Odell Head Brewer Bill Beymer. “We wanted to craft a beer that would compliment the film and be a great representation of what we do. With ‘The French {Hop} Connection,’ I think we have achieved that.”

odell_beer_dinner_menu_for_web

What’s on tap…

“The French {Hop} Connection” is a Saison-style ale featuring sought-after French hop varietals Aramis and Triskel-over 112 pounds worth!

“We were able to to source both Triskel and Aramis hops from a grower in France,” says Beymer. “It was the first time we used these two varietals, so it was really pleasing to see the way the sweet, spicy character with hints of citrus and herbs complimented the Saison.”

Odell and Alamo took inspiration from the upcoming Drafthouse Films release THE CONNECTION. A stylish, ’70s-period crime thriller, THE CONNECTION tells the story of real-life Marseille magistrate Pierre Michel (Academy Award® Winner Jean Dujardin, THE ARTIST) and his relentless crusade to dismantle the most notorious drug smuggling operation in history: the French Connection. Inspired by true events, THE CONNECTION serves as the European flipside to William Friedkin’s classic thriller THE FRENCH CONNECTION.

Select Alamo locations will also be presenting special “beer dinner” screenings to debut THE CONNECTION and “The French {Hop} Connection.” Dates, locations and menus for those screenings to follow soon.

THE CONNECTION will be released theatrically across the country starting May 15.

Watch the The French {Hop} Connection Beer Trailer below:

For more about Alamo Drafthouse, visit drafthouse.com

For more about Odell Brewing, visit odellbrewing.com

For more about THE CONNECTION, visit drafthousefilms.com/film/the-connection

About Alamo Drafthouse

Tim and Karrie League founded Alamo Drafthouse Cinema in 1997 as a single-screen mom and pop repertory theater in Austin. 17 years later, the now 19-location chain has been named “the best theater in America” by Entertainment Weekly and “the best theater in the world” by Wired. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema has built a reputation as a movie lover’s oasis not only by combining food and drink service with the movie-going experience, but also introducing unique programming and high-profile, star studded special events. Alamo Drafthouse Founder & CEO, Tim League, created Fantastic Fest, a world renowned film festival dubbed “The Geek Telluride” by Variety. Fantastic Fest showcases eight days of genre cinema from independents, international filmmakers and major Hollywood studios. The Alamo Drafthouse’s collectible art gallery, Mondo, offers breathtaking, original products featuring designs from world-famous artists based on licenses for popular TV and Movie properties including Star Wars, Star Trek & Universal Monsters. The Alamo Drafthouse Cinema is expanding its brand in new and exciting ways, including Drafthouse Films, which has garnered two Academy Award nominations in its short three year existence, and Badass Digest, an entertainment news blog curated by veteran journalist Devin Faraci.

About Odell Brewing 

Founded in 1989, Odell Brewing was started by Doug Odell, his wife Wynne, and his sister Corkie. Today, the culture of family and collaboration still thrives fostering a brewery full of beer-centric people. It is this passion for beer that inspires Odell Brewing to create quality, hand-crafted, innovative brews. As a regional craft brewery, Odell Brewing is committed to serving the communities in which it distributes by minimizing its environmental impact, sourcing local raw materials, and through its charitable giving program known as Odell Outreach. Odell Brewing was named a “Best Company to Work For” in 2013 by ColoradoBiz Magazine and is an award winning brewery, nationally and internationally: 2014 World Beer Cup® – gold for Runoff, 2013 Great American Beer Festival® – gold medal for 5 Barrel Pale Ale, 2012 Brewers Association Recognition Award, 2011 Great American Beer Festival® – gold medal for Friek, 2008 World Beer Cup® – gold for IPA. 2007 Great American Beer Festival® – gold medal for IPA.

About Drafthouse Films

Drafthouse Films, the film distribution arm of the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, is a curated brand of provocative, visionary and artfully unusual films new and old from around the world. Following the earnestly simple motto of “sharing the films we love with widest audience possible,” Drafthouse Films debuted in 2010 with the theatrical release of Four Lions, which was named of Time Magazine’s “Top 10 Films Of The Year.” Their diverse and unique slate includes Joshua Oppenheimer’s highly-acclaimed, Oscar® nominated documentary The Act Of Killing produced by Errol Morris and Werner Herzog, Ari Folman’s post-apocalyptic meta-sci-fi The Congress starring Robin Wright, Paul Giamatti and John Hamm, Michel Gondry’s surrealist romance Mood Indigo starring Audrey Tautou, Midnight Movie sensations Miami Connection and The Visitor and rediscovered classics Wake In Fright and Ms. 45.

Recent and upcoming releases include the romance-horror hybrid Spring; the hotly-anticipated The Look Of Silence, Oppenheimer’s companion piece to The Act Of KillingThe Connection, a 70’s-set true crime epic and European flipside to William Friedkin’s The French Connection starring Oscar® winning Best Actor Jean Dujardin (The Artist); The Keeping Room, from director Daniel Barber (Harry Brown), based on Julia Hart’s acclaimed Black List screenplay, starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld and Sam Worthington; the multiple Cannes award winning The Tribe, filmed entirely in Ukrainian Sign Language with a cast of deaf, non-professional actors; and a remastered re-release, in conjunction with Olive Films, of the 1981 disasterpiece Roar, the most dangerous film ever made, starring Tippi Hedren, Melanie Griffith and a cast of 150 untrained lions, tigers and exotic animals.

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ON THE RISE: Roberto Aguire On His Career, Role In ‘Boulevard,’ And Much More!

ON THE RISE: Roberto Aguire On His Career, Role In ‘Boulevard,’ And Much More!

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Over the past few years, Roberto Aguire has established himself as a young talent on a meteoric rise in Hollywood. As a young actor, he cut his teeth as a student at New York University’s Tisch School of the Arts, receiving a double major in acting and economics. One of the most dedicated and hard-working actors in the business, he has started turning the heads of both critics and fans alike. Aquire made his initial splash in his feature film debut as both actor and producer in the dark coming-of-age comedy, ‘Struck By Lightning.’ The acclaimed film, scripted by Glee’s Chris Colfer and also starring Rebel Wilson, Sarah Hyland and Allison Janney, premiered at the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival to outstanding reviews. In the film, Roberto plays Emillio, the school’s resident foreign exchange student from El Salvador and consequently, a die-hard womanizer. It was this role served as an amazing start to what is sure to be an amazing career in film.

It is evident the moment he hits the screen this incredible young actor pours his heart and soul into each and every role. His latest captivating and highly emotional performance is no exception to the rule. In Dito Montiel’s ‘Boulevard,’ which headlined the Tribeca Film Festival on Sunday, April 20th, he stars alongside Academy Award Winner (and childhood idol) Robin Williams. The film centers around a devoted husband in a marriage of convenience until a run-in with a guarded young man, Leo (Aguire), forces him to come to terms with his own secrets. His masterfully acted performance as an incredibly complex character leaves little doubt this multi-faceted young actor is poised become a breakout star in 2014. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon caught up with Roberto Aguire to discuss his career, the challenges of bringing his character in ‘Boulevard’ from script to screen, his evolution as an actor and much more!

Roberto Aguire

Roberto Aguire

What got you started on your journey into the entertainment industry and made you pursue it as a career?

My Mom actually pushed me to do it. I have always been an entertainer and have always gotten up and performed in front of people. I would get up and do a puppet show, put on an accent or make fun of myself. I had been doing a couple of school plays and my Mom got this audition from a friend for an amateur theater company in Geneva, where I grew up. She said “Why don’t you go on this audition. You won’t get it but it will be fun!” I said, “Ok. Cool! I will try it!” I went to the audition and ended up getting a callback! She said, “Congratulations! You got a callback! You aren’t going to get it but you should go back anyway!” [laughs] I went back again and got another callback! She said, “You know what? You probably shouldn’t go back. You aren’t going to get it.” I said, “No. I want to go.” I went and I ended up getting the part. It was for Neil Simon’s ‘Brighton Beach Memoirs.’ I was playing Eugene, the lead character. It just completely hooked me! I got addicted to acting and couldn’t imagine myself not doing it for the rest of my life. That is where it all started!

Who were some of the biggest influences on you as an actor early on?

I think the biggest influence I had growing up, ironically, was Robin Williams. I think I got part of my acting big from him. Growing up, I saw him in so many different things. I grow up laughing at “Mrs. Doubtfire” and being captivated by his performances in “Good Will Hunting” and “Dead Poets Society.” I found it amazing that one person could take people on all these different adventures and have them rolling on the floor laughing in one movie and absolutely awe stricken and about to cry in another. He has probably had the greatest impact on me as an actor. It was from there that I said “I want to be an actor for the rest of my life and to be able to do everything he can do.”

That leads us to your latest film. ‘Boulevard,’ in which you co-star with Robin Williams. How did you get involved with the project initially?

A friend of mine, who knew the writer really well, passed me the script. He said “You should look at this because it is really interesting. I think you would be great for the lead.” I read it and fell in love with the script. It was a beautifully written script and was so detailed and descriptive. It was like verse and prose! It was amazing to read. I called the writer and I asked to sit down with him. We immediately had an amazing connection. I understood what he was trying to convey through the script and he really understood how passionate I was about the script. By the end of the meeting, he said “I would love for you to play this role. I think you are perfect and are everything I imagined him to be.” After that, Robin and director Dito Montiel came onboard and it happened pretty quickly!

Roberto Aguire

Roberto Aguire

What was it about the character that intrigued you in the initial script?

I think what intrigued me was that it seemed like such a challenge for me! This kid, Leo, is just so lost in life and so broken that it was going to be a huge stretch for me to play him. It was going to be such an uphill battle to find all the nuances and subtlety that the writer had given him on the page and then to bring them to life. To me, the most intriguing part about Leo is dealing with someone who really got stuck in life and didn’t know how to get out. All you want to do is shake him and say “Come on! Just move on! You had everything at your fingertips to do it but you just aren’t doing it!” I think it was that frustration that I wanted to hook onto and try and give the audience through the performance.

Going into a project like this, how do you prepare for a role? Is there a particular process you go through?

Yeah, I am one of the crazy ones! [laughs] I am someone who does so much research beforehand. I basically want to find out everything I can about Leo’s world and what it is to be on the street and what it is to be addicted to prescription meds, which we don’t explore that much in the movie. Doug had I had talked about it beforehand and it fed my research and portrayal of Leo. I wanted to create as much of a background as I could, so that when I was on set and everything was a go, I could just go on the fly. That is especially important when you are working with someone like Robin and never know what might happen on set. You never know which way a scene might turn. I just wanted to be ready to stay true to the character no matter what.

As you said, Robin Williams was a huge influence on you. What can you tell us about meeting him and working with him for the first time?

It was the most nerve-racking moment of my life! [laughs] I had so many people tell me, “Don’t expect too much of your idols. Try to lower them off that pedestal. Just think of them as regular people.” However, when you have someone who has had such an impact on your life, you can’t do that! It is part of what drives you; imagining these people as these huge, almost magnanimous beings that you can’t ever touch. When I walked up to him for the first time, all of those things hit me! I remember, within five minutes, he was already doing the accents and cracking jokes. I said, “Ya know, That is Robin Williams! He is everything I thought he would be and more!” I was so happy I didn’t take him off of that pedestal because he met every single expectation that I had for him.

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Being paired with a tremendous actor like him is certainly a great opportunity. What did you pick up from him by watching him work?

So much! The greatest thing about Robin is that if you look at him from a technical standpoint, he has done over 100 movies; he is so at ease on set and knows exactly what is going on. I think that is something I definitely tried to adopt after I saw him do it. He is just so prepared with what he has done that he doesn’t let what is going on around the set affect him at any point. If people are running behind, if something got messed up or if suddenly there was any sort of problem, he is so in his character and the right state of mind that you can’t throw him! I think that is one of the things I really appreciated in him as an actor and something I tried to apply.

Roberto Aguire

Roberto Aguire

Looking back on you time with this role, what jumps out of you are the biggest challenges you faced or the biggest lesson you may have learned?

I think for me, the biggest challenge was the transformation. When Dito and I first sat down to talk about Leo, we were both really adamant about how I had to look Physically for Leo. We were also in agreement on what kind of behavior I had to start adopting. From our first meeting, my target goal was to lose 30 pounds for the role. I ultimately lost 35 pounds! That transformation is huge. At that point, your body is so starved of anything that you are not really function on any sort of higher plane! [laughs] Your body is just in survival mode where it is going on instinct. That feed into the behavior of the character, where this kid is basically living on instinct. He is not able to respond the way anybody in their right mind would be able to respond. He is deprived, starved, malnourished and obviously addicted to drugs. I also started smoking for the role. Doing that transformation was a huge challenge but I feel it ended up giving me a truthful portrayal of this kid.

What was it like working with director Dito Montiel on this project? What do you feel he brought to the table for a project like this one?

I think what is unique about Dito is the fact that he is so in tune with reality. He doesn’t let himself be guided or let anything be dictated by what a movie reality should be or the type of reality we sometimes find in movies. For him it is all about “What is it in life? What is the truth of this situation? If we were to find it, how would it manifest itself?” He is so good at latching on to that and he is able to come into the middle of the scene where you are and you are engaged by him and what he is saying. You understand what he is saying because he is speaking on a very truthful, emotional level. I think that is why he is so amazing with actors because he skips passed any sort of bullshit and goes straight to “I think this is what is happening in the scene and I think this is what I am feeling. It doesn’t feel like this direction is what we want. Why don’t we switch it into this direction?” He has a terrific ability to articulate what he wants because he is so clear about what he wants when he is on set. As an actor, it is really easy to latch on to that and say “Ok! Let’s go in that direction! Let’s explore that!” Then everything starts rolling much more smoothly.

Roberto Aguire

Roberto Aguire

How do you feel you have evolved as an actor since first starting out?

I think I have evolved in a huge way! It is weird, I don’t know if it is like this across different industries and across different careers but in acting there is a huge learning curve. The difference between your first, second and third movie is substantially different from your experience on your sixty-first, sixty-second and sixty third movie. You learn so much, absorb so much information and basically are becoming more adept at the craft at the beginning of your career. In addition, I am lucky to have had a solid education in acting. I went to Tisch School of the Arts at NYU. They were able to lay this awesome platform for me, so when I started actually having this practical experience of acting, I was able to grow that much for quickly. I think at this point in my career, I have worked on enough films that I am finally able to relax a bit and have the confidence to say “Ok. I know what I am doing. Let’s make this something really, really fun!”

What types of projects are you eyeing for the future? Are there any particular roles or genres that speak to you and have you anxious to pursue?

The thing I have always had my eye on, since I was a little boy because I am such a huge fan, is the world of sci-fi and fantasy. Being part of anything that is such an immense imaginary world and being able to truthfully be in that creation would be amazing. In terms of what I want for my career, I want to focus on characters that really scare me. Those are the most challenging; the one’s you look at on the page and say “Oh my God! Wow! That is a huge undertaking!” [laughs] There is something about rising up to the challenge and looking uphill at something, as opposed to downhill at something that really gets me excited. I really want to focus on those kinds of roles in the future!

Are you interested in exploring the world of filmmaking from behind the camera in a directorial or writing capacity?

Yeah, I think eventually I would love to explore that area. It is interesting. In this industry with success comes a lot of flexibility across the different crafts or mediums. I would love to direct something. I think that all-encompassing vision of a captain in this process that is something that is appealing to me. First and foremost, my passion is acting, so I think I have to feed that and get that tank three quarters of the way filled before I am able to say “Let’s try a different challenge!”

Absolutely. Everything comes in time!

Exactly! There is this amazing quote by Andrew Marvell, “Had we but world enough, and time.” The second half he is actually talking about seducing women but the first half is pretty good! [laughs]

What other projects are on the horizon for you? What should we be on the lookout for in the months to come?

I had this one project, “After Darkness,” which we shot last year with Kyra Sedgwick, Tim Daly, Valorie Curry and John Patrick Amedori. It is this character driven sci-fi film about a family dealing with their issues at the end of the world. I think that will, hopefully, be playing in festivals this year. I am really excited for that to come out. I am being very strategic about what the next role I do is going to be. Like I said, I want it to be something that really challenges me and builds me toward the future.

Roberto Aguire

Roberto Aguire

You can serve as a terrific inspiration to young actors. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to those looking to make a career in the entertainment industry in today’s climate?

Don’t stop dreaming and don’t stop persevering. It is really unfortunate but I think nowadays people are so overwhelmed by the amount of times you get told “No.” and by the amount of people that say you can’t do it because they seem like insurmountable challenges. I think the best thing young people can do nowadays is follow their dreams. There is no reason why they shouldn’t dive in headfirst and go for it. I think people kick themselves more for the things they didn’t do, as opposed to the things they did.

Are you involved with any charity work at the moment we could shine a light on?

It is funny you mention that because my mother, my family and I are looking to work with some charities in Mexico. We haven’t determined which one just yet. My parents are Mexican. We are trying to find the right charity to stand behind in Mexico that we feel is going to make a difference in education. I think that is one of the biggest issues in the world today, especially in Mexico and third world countries. The populations are just not educated enough to know how to change things. They don’t know how to find when they are being manipulated or not, so I think education is one of the biggest issues that needs to change, especially in Mexico.

Hopefully, one of our readers can help point you in the right direction!

Thank you! If anyone has some information they can share, they should contact me. My mother and I are actively searching, so that would be fantastic!

Where are the best places for people to connect with you via social media?

On Twitter, handle is @RobAguire and I am on Instagram at instagram.com/robaguire. Very simple! [laughs]

I want to thank you so much for your time today, Roberto! It has been terrific speaking with you!

Thanks so much for the questions and the time, Jason! I really appreciate it! Talk to you soon!

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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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ON THE RISE: Rose McIver On Her Blossoming Career, ‘Brightest Star’ And More!

ON THE RISE: Rose McIver On Her Blossoming Career, ‘Brightest Star’ And More!

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The lovely and charming Rose McIver has spent the past few years establishing herself as a young actress on the rise in Hollywood and leaves her poised become a breakout star in 2014. McIver is an incredibly expressive performer who pours her heart and soul into each and every role. She began to turn the heads of fans and critics alike with a high profile role in the multi-award winning Dreamworks film “The Lovely Bones” (directed by Peter Jackson) as ‘Lindsey Salmon’ starring opposite Mark Wahlberg and Rachel Weisz. Showing no signs of slowing down, McIver is part of two of 2013’s brightest breakout series. As “Tinker Bell” on the hit ABC series, “Once Upon A Time,” her beloved character is set to play an integral role in helping resuce Henry from ‘Peter Pan’ before he disappears into ‘Neverland’ forever. In addition, Rose can also be seen in Showtime’s critically acclaimed series “Masters of Sex”, starring opposite Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan. Rose plays ‘Vivian’ the daughter of Provost Barton Scully played by Beau Bridges and Alison Janney’s character Margaret. Vivian is a young girl of nineteen who is desperate to become a woman and sets her eyes on a handsome doctor, Dr. Haas Nicholas D’Agosto. Rose is also set to star in the independent film “Brightest Star” as ‘Charlotte,’ the romantic lead opposite Chris Lowell. This beautifully acted film premiered at the Austin Film Festival and is set for a theatrical release on January 31st. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Rose McIver to discuss her blossoming career, the challenges of bringing to life the unique characters she plays and what the future may hold for her in the years to come!

Rose McIver

Rose McIver

I wanted to start by giving everyone a little background on you, Rose. How did you get started on your journey in the entertainment industry and what made you pursue it as a career?

I sort of stumbled into it myself. When I was very little, my older brother was scouted to be in a couple of commercials and a short film and my Mom, somewhat begrudgingly, let him do it! At some point he needed a younger sister on a short film short. It was basically a baby in a scene. My Mom was there with me anyway, so we did it. I think that is how it first happened. Then it keeps happening intermediately. New Zealand’s film industry is tiny, so we became friends with a lot of the people we were working with. My Mom was very adamant that she wanted us to stay in school and we did. I did little bits and pieces on my holidays and kept enjoying it. It was almost like a hobby, like other people playing tennis or doing ballet. I just kept doing it and towards my final years of school, more or more opportunities were coming up. When I finished school, I just went with it and have been very lucky to stay employed since then!

Who would you cite as your biggest influences as a young actor?

There is a woman in New Zealand named Miranda Harcourt, who an actor and drama coach. She is someone who I always look up to professionally and personally as a mentor. Similarly, when I came out to The States, I was looking for influences along those lines, who I respected in their personal life and their careers. A really good example is Allison Janney, who I worked with recently on both “Brightest Star” and “Masters of Sex.” I idolize her! I really love the way she handles herself. I think she creates amazing work and is really is respectful of the environment she works in and the people she works with. I think that is a really valuable combo!

'Brightest Star'

‘Brightest Star’

I couldn’t agree with you more! Speaking of “Brightest Star,” how did you get involved with the project initially?

I met with Maggie Kiley, who directed the film, a few years ago now. I had read the script and we had a little lunch where we talked about it. I just felt like we were really on the same page about who we saw Charlotte to be and the way she would be presented. The story Maggie was telling, I thought was something that being in my early 20s and feeling like I am really forging my own identity, coming across first love and experiencing heartbreak, it felt like something that made sense to me and I was really interested in pursuing. Luckily, she felt the same way! We worked together and I made a beautiful, long-term friendship with her, Chris Lowell and a bunch of other people! I feel really lucky to be a part of that!

When you read the script for the first time, was there something about this character that stood out to you and what do you feel you brought to the character personally?

I think the fact that Charlotte is juggling priorities appealed to me. There is this word, “ambition,” that I know when I was in school always found kind of ugly because it I viewed it as a feeling of discontent or wanting more than you had. I come from such a beautiful family and such a beautiful place that I always felt it was kind of ungrateful to want for anything more. I think Charlotte knows that she has a creative identity that she longs to fulfill. I think part of coming out of high school and finishing your adolescence you do start to ask these questions about what you want out of your life and what you want to look back at the end and feel like you have achieved. Charlotte seems to be in a very real and three dimensional place with the way she looks at those things and still values love and relationships but doesn’t quite know how to marry those ideas with her own personal goals.

Rose McIver

Rose McIver

What did Maggie Kiley bring to the table as a director and what did you learn from your time on set with her?

Maggie is quietly spoken, incredibly considerate and thoughtful. I think the most valuable thing I learned from Maggie was that she trusts her cast so implicitly. When you have someone putting that much trust in you, you have to deliver! It is not like you feel like you are getting a performance beaten or dragged out of you; someone is coaxing it and bringing their very best to the table, asking you to do the same and believing that you can do the same! She trusted me and gave me great direction when she felt I had misread something. Other than that, she really supported me breathing life into Charlotte the way that I found her. I think we are two very compatible people.

What were some of the challenges you faced on the project and how do you prepare to take on a character like this as an actress?

I think the most challenging thing was shooting out of sequence. You shoot out of sequence anyway but the story is told out of sequence and you are leaping around from college days to five years down the track and where you are at the relationship at the time. When you are working with time constraints that were quite limited, we shot everything over a couple of weeks, you end up really hopping around and trying to make sure you are on the right page on that day and that half an hour where you happen to have that location and are trying to block out a scene. I think making sure that we were all briefed at the start of each location and scene change was really important so we were in the same place chronologically in the story. That was quite challenging but luckily we had some incredible people on hand in the producers and that made it much easier than it would have been if left up to us as actors entirely to keep track!

In addition to film, you have been part of many great projects in the world of television. One of your most exciting roles is that of “Tinker Bell” on “Once Upon A Time.” How did you get involved with this iconic character and what have some of the challenges been when it comes to bringing her to life?

Rose McIver as Tinker Bell

Rose McIver as Tinker Bell

I feel so lucky to be playing Tinker Bell! I am up in Vancouver at the moment working on that. It is something that kind of came out of the blue. I didn’t even know I was auditioning for the role of Tinker Bell. I auditioned to play “a fairy.” I got the call that I had gotten Tinker Bell and I was ecstatic! I think one of the big challenges is not playing her as a caricature and making sure she is grounded. I think we only like to watch character we can relate to on a human level. For me, it was all about finding the humanity in somebody who we have seen depicted in so many cartoons over many, many years now. You have questions about identity and these fundamental human truths you are looking for. Tinker Bell has those just the same way as all the other characters do in the show. It was all about focusing on those, finding the fun elements and being able to tie those in with really, really truthful and honest performance was my focus.

‘Once Upon A Time’ looks like a really fun show to be a part of. What have been some of the most memorable moments from the set or bonding with the cast that spring to mind?

Well, Tinker Bell’s costume doesn’t really lend itself to Vancouver winters! In between takes we all would spend most of our time huddled a gas heater in a little tent. We all got to get to know each other and tell great stories because of that! There are people from all over the world who work on the show. What could have been long miserable nights ended up feeling like school camp! We would laugh at ourselves and thank to very good catering we would have hot chocolates, biscuits and all of the treats that we were after! It was really lucky that we were able to form such camaraderie during the shoots.

Another terrific project you are a part of is “Masters of Sex.” What have been the most challenging and rewarding parts of that cast?

I really enjoy working on things set in other eras for starters. I love that it was set in the 1950s and I love playing with the social norms and nuances of how maybe a teenager might hold herself then and the manner in which she would speak. At the same time, it is about juggling being incredibly honest in that moment of time. I really like the costumes, hair and environments we were filming in which really lent themselves to see that from a different world. But again, just thinking about the fact that Vivian is a nineteen year old girl who is going through the same questions, doubts and insecurities that every girl does and exploring “teenagedom” in another era is something I had a lot of fun with.

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Both of the characters are very unique and a lot of fun to watch. Where do you hope to see these characters head in the future?

I think both of them could do with some slightly more successful romances! [laughs] Neither of them has been very successful on that front! It would be nice to see how both characters handle themselves if a more appropriate suitor came their way! Hopefully, something develops in that direction!

You are back on set for “Once Upon A Time.” Can you give us any hints on what we might expect with the new season?

Unfortunately, I don’t know a lot more than you! I did just get back here today and I have only just got scripts but I am getting some big surprises that are obviously big spoilers! I am just excited to be back with the team. I think they have some pretty cool ideas that they are trying to work into the storyline now. Finger crossed, Tinker Bell has a very interesting journey ahead!

Rose McIver

Rose McIver

You definitely keep yourself busy when it comes to acting. What do you find yourself looking for when it comes to the characters you play?

I think every actor craves diversity and something new. We get to live a million lifetimes in one life and that is definitely what has drawn me to this field of work. Something else that is essential to me is the writing and knowing it has strong intentions and a reason for being written. It has to be incredibly entertaining, incredibly challenging or asks good questions. I like to be surprised! I don’t want to have any idea of my future or career but I definitely want to be telling stories that are meaningful.

Do you have a particular process for bringing a character to life once you have settled on a new role?

I like to listen to listen to music and read source material. I also like to meet the other cast I am going to be working with, ideally. I like to start building organic relationships with those people as it is the lion’s share of the work when you are on set. It is interesting, for things like “Masters of Sex,” my character isn’t involved in the studies at all but I still think knowing about the context of the show, Masters and Johnson, all of their research and the kind of environments her father would have been working in are very interesting and can help dictate what you bring to the show. I like to read around the character as well but on the day, you want to leave that feeling and find a really organic connection with the other people in the scene.

You are just getting started with your blossoming career but I was curious to know how you feel you have evolved as an actor since first starting out?

I would hope I have evolved a lot. I would hope that I am only really beginning for the long run as well! I love what I do and I hope I am able to do this for a very long time! I learn on every job and from every person I work with. There all sorts of different theories, methods and skills to acquire. I hope that I remain open and don’t ever get stuck in my ways and continue to learn from the terrific people around me.

Rose McIver

Rose McIver

What do you consider your favorite or most challenging role to date?

They have all been really challenging in different ways. I don’t think it would be fair to give one of them that title because I think coasting in any job; you are not really serving the character or story. I think you should always be exploring and looking for new things. Each job provides new challenges and some are more physical or emotional but I think you always have to be breaking down barriers and find new paths for the characters on each and every job.

We are still very early in 2014 at this point. What are you most excited about at this point in the year and what other projects might be on the horizon for you?

I am not entirely certain what is next yet! I just came back from a beautiful month holiday in New Zealand. Ideally, a holiday like that would be working! I would love to work in New Zealand! I am just excited to be surprised by great new scripts, new stories, new people I will be working with and to stay open!

What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to young actors looking to make a career in the entertainment industry?

I think generating you own material is very useful. If you are not being hired, make you own work! I think sitting around waiting for the phone to ring can be one of the most detrimental things to an actor, their performance and confidence. You need to make opportunities to keep educating yourself. I think generating material, putting yourself out there and trying new media are very important tools for success. I think being open and not being too constrained in our ideas or where your outlets will be is very useful. Reading a lot is also very important because I think you want to have things to share with your audience that aren’t just about the particular project you are working on at the moment. You want to be sure you have read around the other subjects and have different influences in your life because they are very useful to bring on screen or onstage. Maintaining diverse interests in what read is a very useful tool.

Are you one who writes their own material and if so, do you have any aspirations to bring a project to life in some capacity other than as an actress?

Yeah! I dabble in writing and I am working on a couple of things at the moment. One isn’t for me to work on as an actor in any capacity, just as a writer. That has been a really great exercise! I have been learning a lot and I am excited about seeing that come to fruition in the next couple of years! I also have this fantasy, in the long term, of writing a novel. It is a long term plan and we will see what happens with it! I would be really psyched if I could get that off the ground!

Rose McIver: On The Rise

Rose McIver: On The Rise

We definitely look forward to seeing what you come up with there! Are you involved with any charity work we could help spread the word on?

Yeah! I actually I have worked with SAFE (Save Animals From Exploitation) in New Zealand (www.safe.org.nz). I am unfortunately unable to have an animal of my own at the moment because I travel so much for work but I am really looking into how I can work for charity this year in some capacity.

What is the best thing about being Rose McIver these days?

I feel it is still having wonderful friends and family that love me and believe in me no matter where I am or what I am doing. I am also grateful to be able to juggle a career with a happy personal and family life! I couldn’t be more grateful!

Terrific! Where are the best places for people to catch up with you online?

I am on Twitter at www.twitter.com/imrosemciver and I am also on Instagram at www.instagram.com/imrosemciver.

Thank you very much for your time today, Rose! We look forward to catching up with you again very soon! Keep up the tremendous work!

Thank you so much, Jason! It’s my pleasure! Take care!

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Mike Patton To Score New Horror Flick “The Vatican Tapes”

Mike Patton To Score New Horror Flick “The Vatican Tapes”

Mike Patton

Mike Patton

Mike Patton’s career as a film composer continues to expand with the news that the singer/multi-instrumentalist will now turn his attention to scoring “The Vatican Tapes”, a horror film starring Michael Pena (“American Hustle”, “Tower Heist”) and Djimon Hounsou (“Gladiator”, “Blood Diamond”).

The news of Patton’s upcoming scoring project comes as his work on “The Place Beyond The Pines” has been included in the group of eligible film scores for the 86th Academy Awards (Read more – Click here >) and was deemed one of 2013’s best film scores by Film Music Magazine, who said “Patton proves himself to be equally audacious as a film composer as he is a rock star,” adding “while jarring at first to hear this miasma of religious choruses, grunge chords and experimental string writing over ‘Pine’s’ rural landscape, Patton’s approach turns out to be completely inspired in conveying the sins of the fathers…”

Patton discusses music and film and the worlds of popular music vs. film composition in the Sundance Film Festival panel, Collective Conversations: Sound & Vision – A Panel Discussion on Music in Film.  The William H. Macy moderated panel, which takes place on Jan. 19 from 12 to 1 p.m. at the Collective, will also include Craig Wedren, Alexander Ebert, Mica Levi and BT.

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The Truth About Emanuel: Francesca Gregorini Discusses Her Powerful New Film!

The Truth About Emanuel: Francesca Gregorini Discusses Her Powerful New Film!

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Multi-faceted writer/director Francesca Gregorin has spent the the past several years carving out a diverse body of work, which has been turning the heads of both critics and film fans alike. Her character-driven films are visceral and darkly humorous, stylistically bold, with undertones of the magical and surreal. Her stunningly beautiful work has, without a doubt, established herself as one to watch in the years to come.

Raised in Rome, Los Angeles and the English countryside, she brings a worldly, passionate and unique sensibility to her filmmaking. A Brown University graduate with a Theater Arts major, Francesca sold scripts to both HBO and Paramount before co-helming her directorial debut “Tanner Hall” with Tatiana Von Furstenberg. The film marked the screen debut of Rooney Mara in a lead role. Rooney alongside Brie Larson and Georgina King play a trio of boarding school girls entering their senior year. This coming of age drama focuses on the girls flirting with adulthood and the consequences that brings. The film was an official selection at the Toronto Film Festival (2009).

Francesca next wrote and directed “The Truth About Emanuel”, which stars Jessica Biel, Kaya Scodelario and Alfred Molina. The film tells the story of a young woman (Scodelario) who becomes obsessed with her mysterious new neighbor (Biel) who bears a striking resemblance to the girl’s dead mother. It premiered in the US Dramatic Competition at Sundance (2013) and is being distributed by Tribeca Films domestically, and Myriad Pictures abroad. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught up with Francesca Gregorini to discuss her roots in the entertainment industry, the process of bringing her scripts to screen, the challenges of bringing ‘The Truth About Emanuel’ to to life and much more!

I wanted to give our readers a little bit of background on you. What was it that intrigued you about the world of filmmaking initially?

I was a songwriter before I was a filmmaker, so to me it is really about telling stories. Through filmmaking, I found a better avenue for my particular talent in telling stories. I have always been compelled to tell stories ever since I was a child. I started with songwriting as my medium and then segued into screenwriting and then to directing. It just flowed in that way.

Who were some of the influences, both musically and directorially, who help shape the artist we see today?

I am a huge Roman Polanski fan. When it comes to the old school, I am a huge fan of him. I love Paul Thomas Anderson and Wes Anderson, when it comes to guys who are more current. I am a big fan of Terrence Malick as well. I am a big fan of The Smiths, The Pixies and PJ Harvey. They are the people who inspired me as a musician. It all goes into the same pot, whether it is music or film, it all goes into the creative process.

'The Truth About Emanuel'

‘The Truth About Emanuel’

You latest film is “The Truth About Emanuel.” For those who aren’t familiar with it and without giving away any of the twists and turns, what can you tell us about the film?

The best way to describe it is a psychological drama with some thriller elements, some surreal absurd elements and some dark humor. It is the story of a young girl whose mother died at childbirth, so she has a missing piece in her life. A new neighbor moves in next door that looks uncannily like her dead mother, so she develops with a preoccupation or obsession with her. In order to get closer to her, she offers to babysit because the woman has a newborn. In the process of doing that gets strapped into this woman’s fragile, fictional world. She ends up becoming the gatekeeper or protector, if you will. I think that kind of sets it up without giving away the twists and turns.

What can you tell us about the inspiration for the story and the process of bringing it to life?

The inspiration for any story, whether it is a song or a script, comes from me mining my own psyche and exercising those demons. [laughs] The main themes that run through this film are loss, madness and mortality. I think those are terms worthy of exploring and touch all of us because they are parts of the human condition. I experienced some loss in my childhood. Thank God none of it was death! [laughs] Growing up, I had an absent mother for some of my childhood. I think that is something you process throughout your life and is something a lot of us share. Basically, I think the character of Emanuel represents me in my youth and the character of Linda represents me in my adult life. Obviously, it is in exaggerated form and hopefully I am not quite as mental as Linda! [laughs] We definitely share traits, let’s put it that way. I also like the theme of carrying secrets. I think we all do that for the ones we love, especially children for the adults in their life. Part of loving someone is not wanting to burst their bubble, especially when you see the person is rather frail. It is a loving thing to do, yet it causes a lot of crazy stuff to go down.

How did the script evolve along the way from what was in the original pages to the final product?

Francesca Gregorini

Francesca Gregorini

Interestingly enough, the script I had written for Rooney Mara because Tatiana von Fürstenberg and I had cast her had cast and discovered her in ‘Tanner Hall.’ We became close friends and I said I would write her a script. It took me three years to pull the financing together for it. By that time, she was too old to play a teenager, so that was the impetuous for writing the part. She was the inspiration for the character of Emanuel. As far as how it changed, any true screenwriter will tell you that writing a script is all about the writing. It doesn’t differ much. I was very lucky with the script because it really kind of wrote itself to a large degree. The rewriting process isn’t so much about change as it is about leaving out things that are not as necessary as you think. That is a process that continues in the editing room. The editing room is kind of you final pass on your script in a way. I am a big re-writer but all of the main themes and characters didn’t change exclusively from the first draft to the last to a great degree.

You hit the ball out of the park when it came to casting “The Truth About Emanuel.” What can you tell us about the casting process and was it difficult to find the right mix of people to bring your story to life?

Jessica Biel, Francesca Gregorini and

Jessica Biel, Francesca Gregorini and Kaya Scodelario

To replace Rooney was a big challenge, as you can imagine. I literally met with every girl in that age range in Los Angeles over a course of months and months and months! I couldn’t find Emanuel. It was not for a lack of talent in this town because God knows there are some brilliant actresses. None of them felt, in their essence, like Emanuel to me. As a director, that is really how I cast. It is less about the audition and more about if the person has the essence of the character already in them. Ultimately, that is what is going to shine through — at least it is in my experience. When I couldn’t find Emanuel here, I got on a plane and went to London. I know they spoke English and had great actors! [laughs] I met Kaya Scodelario on day two and that was that! I just knew the minute she sat down that our search was over! That was the process of finding Emanuel. Kaya shares an innocence and depth that is behind her years, along with a biting sense of humor. It was about finding this rare, complex girl that is also so appealing, brave and true. Kaya as Emanuel is all of those things. For the part of Linda, Jessica Biel read the script; she loved it and wanted to meet. I wasn’t sure she would be right for the part because I hadn’t seen her do this kind of work in her other films. She told me she was willing to audition, which is how strongly she felt she was right for the part and how badly she wanted to play the part. I said “Fine!” She really blew me away in the audition. I was like “Wow!” I think that is the same way audiences will feel. It will be a real revelation; what she brings to the part. Their chemistry, hers and Kaya’s, was amazing. Alfred Molina was one of the first people I cast. God Bless him! He stayed on even when the cast would come together and then fall apart and financing would come together and fall apart. He was my rock! He would say “I am not going anywhere! I’m doing this film!” The entire cast of the cast of the film did the film for scale, practically nothing, so it was really a labor of love not only for me but for everyone involved. I think you feel and see that in the film through the performances. There is a lot of heart and goodwill. Everyone really brought their talent and rolled up their sleeves to make it happen. Jimmi Simpson gave a great performance and Frances O’Connor really strikes the right balance with the character of the stepmother. Aneurin Barnard is someone I discovered in London while looking for Emanuel. At that point, I hadn’t cast the part of Claude yet. I thought I should look at some boys while I was in London as well. I am glad I did because I found Aneurin! He was such a discovery! He is such a sweetheart and did a terrific job in the film?

Francesca Gregorini

Francesca Gregorini

Looking back on this project as a whole, what stands out as some of the biggest challenges you faced?

I think the biggest challenge I faced is the same challenge faced by all indie filmmakers and that is the financing. If you are truly working outside of the system, it is about finding people willing to take a gamble on you and your vision. It’s hard, especially when you have a female driven piece. It is a hard sell when you say “This is a film about lose, madness and mortality.” People aren’t exactly seeing dollar signs! [laughs] It took a while but in the end, if you have to make this movie and that is how I felt, then you make it happen. You may have to do it for not as much money as you thought but that is just part of the process of filmmaking. As far as one of the bigger challenges on set, I would say shooting the water sequences was certainly a challenge on this budget level. That was quite a feat and I am very proud of those sequences. I am proud of myself for pulling it off. I am proud of the entire crew and I am proud of Kaya! It wasn’t like she was a water baby! [laughs] It was a real challenge for her. It was one of those things where you just have to power through and hope that it is worth it. It definitely was!

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Was there anything you wanted to achieve stylistically with this film or explore directorially?

This is a narrative film, in many ways it follows Hollywood conventional film storytelling. What excites me is pushing those boundaries by going into surreal or absurd moments. I like to shoot a heightened reality. I think my films are realistic and certainly grounded in true human emotion, connection and struggles but they take some liberties and flights of fancy. I am a very aesthetic person, so I take great care in how this film looks and feels in terms of the cinematography, the production design and costume design. To me, it needs to be a feast for the eyes. That is how I like to seduce my audiences into the story. That is how I feel they are most willing to go on the ride. If you take a couple left turns, they are still there with you because they bought into. That is especially true if they have bought into the lead character, then you have them where you want them and can go anywhere you want. I think for this film, in particular, what was important to me was getting the tone right. Since it travels in some dark waters, I wanted to make sure it did have a sense of humor about it as well and it wasn’t this butter ride where people walk out of the theater decimated. I wanted to deal with some real issues that aren’t particularly gun but still have some laughs along the way. It was really important for me was to strike the right tone, look and feel of the film.

Francesca Gregorini

Francesca Gregorini

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

In term of how I have grown from “Tanner Hall” to this movie is I am more confident as a filmmaker. I think that allows me to take greater chances. I think I have become bolder stylistically and have dug deeper into myself. One thing I learned from “Tanner Hall” that making a film is this major endeavor that requires everything you’ve got for many years on the trot. If you are going to make a film, you best make it about something that is truly important to you and have something to say that is meaningful, otherwise you have just dedicated so many years of your life to something, With that said, I think I just went for it more than I did on “Tanner Hall.” I hope to continue along that path on my next film. You have to be brave because there is not much time! [laughs] We need to be brave in life and in our art as well by taking those chances. I feel I have been rewarded in doing that with “The Truth About Emanuel.” It came out the way I wanted and possibly better. That, in large part, is due to the collaboration with Kaya, Jessica and everyone else who brought their talent to the project.

Where are you headed next when it comes to film projects? Another other areas you are anxious to explore?

I am anxious to explore outer space! [laughs] I have begun work on that but I can tell it is going to be a few years in the making. I have a distinct that will not be my next film. I am also working on something that takes place in Paris in the 1920s, so that might possibly be my next project. There are a few things I am circling and that are circling me, so I don’t feel I am at liberty to announce what my next thing is at this point. There is no firm decision on that has been made to date. I am definitely open to directing other people’s work. I think that is an exciting prospect for me because I have not done that yet. At the same time, I think at my core I will always be a writer and it is what helps keep me sane! [laughs] I am definitely going to continue along that track as well.

You definitely seem to be great at juggling all of the different aspects of filmmaking. Is there a part of the process that you adore or a part that you absolutely dread when it comes to filmmaking?

The part to me that feels like you are tapping into the source and feels like magic is the writing because there is nothing there and then, suddenly, you have created out of thin air this world of characters, what they are saying and doing. That to me feels like an out of body experience! When it is working and going right, you are kind of a conduit o this story that needed to be told. You are kind of just birthing it and it almost doesn’t even belong to you in many ways. To me, that is the magical aspect of it. The part I find I enjoy the most is being on set and shooting. I love actors and I think that is part of why I have been so fortuitous in getting incredible performances out of them. I think actors by nature are very sensitive creatures and sometimes directors don’t particularly love actors and view them as a means to an ends. For me, I genuinely love them. I don’t know if that is because my mother [Barbara Bach] was an actress or what it is about them but I find that rapport and working relationship really satisfying. That is probably the part that is the most fun for me. The part of the process that requires the most out of me and sometimes I find it the most tedious but I really speak to it in a dogged manner is the editing. That is the part, at the end of the day, which really makes or breaks a film. I think editors and editing are the unsung heroes of filmmaking because that is where you movie is made or broken. It is the part of the process where you can really elevate what has been given to you by all the actors and heads of department. I really take it seriously and take that as the greatest responsibility.

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I find your work truly inspiring as do many other people. What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to young filmmakers, writers and all-around creatives who look to you for inspiration?

Francesca Gregorini

Francesca Gregorini

First of all, thank you very much for the compliment. From my experience, things have gotten better as time has gone on. Just do it! [laughs] I know a lot of people who have had a script for years and are like “Oh, I need to get X amount of dollars to make it.” or this that and the other. The truth of the matter is those people are never going to make their films. You can’t let anything stand in your way. I ended up making “The Truth About Emanuel” for exactly 1/5th of the budget that I was told by many a professional that was needed to be spent to do this script justice. At the end of the day, I just couldn’t rally that amount of money. I just pulled the trigger and said “I am going to make this film with the money I have and come what may.” Thank God I did because that is how we got into Sundance and I got to get my foot further in the door and advance myself as a filmmaker. My best advice is to give yourself a time limit, raise the money you can raise and then adapt your vision and script to make it for that. At the end of the day, you just have o get in the game anyway you can. I am in a fortunate position because I am also a writer and I can turn around and hire myself to direct. If you are not a writer and you are a direct, make friends with writers. Find out who are the writers in you school or town and familiarize yourself with who does the work that interests you. The script is the blueprint for your movie, so if it is not shit hot, then your movie is not going to be that. You are building your film on that foundation. To me, it is all about the story and writing. You can shoot it beautifully and have amazing actors but if you are telling a story worthy of being told or that moves you, you aren’t going anywhere with it that you want to be going. It is all about story and making sure what you invest your time into is of meaning and worth. If you don’t feel passionate about it, you are going to lose steam. You can’t fake it and you have to be very passionate about the story you need to tell and bring to the screen. You have to feel that nothing will dissuade you from it. You will get knocked down about 155 times, so the only thing that gets you standing back up is your resolve to tell that story! That is my experience anyway!

Thank you so much for your time today. It has been a pleasure to speak with you about the film. It is a truly brilliant piece of work. You have gained a fan for years to come!

Thank you so much, Jason. I really appreciate hearing that! Thank you for your time as well! Take care and bye for now!

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ON THE RISE: Brie Larson Discusses Her Breakout Role In ‘Short Term 12’

ON THE RISE: Brie Larson Discusses Her Breakout Role In ‘Short Term 12’

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Known for her solid work in a bevy of high profile supporting roles from ‘Scott Pilgrim vs. the World’ to ‘21 Jump Street,’ Brie Larson has established herself as a young actress on a meteoric rise in Hollywood. The buzz over her blossoming career and roles ‘Don Jon‘ and ‘The Spectacular Now,‘ which are set to hit theaters this fall, leave her poised become a breakout star in 2013. Larson is an incredible young actress pours her heart and soul into each and every role. It is her captivating and highly emotional performance in Destin Cretton’s ‘Short Term 12’ that started turning the heads of critics and audiences alike. ‘Short Term 12’ is told through the eyes of Grace (Brie Larson), a twenty-something supervisor at a facility for at-risk teenagers. Passionate and tough, Grace is a formidable caretaker of the kids in her charge – and in love with her long-term boyfriend and co-worker, Mason (John Gallagher Jr.). But Grace’s own difficult past – and the surprising future that suddenly presents itself – throw her into unforeseen confusion, made all the sharper with the arrival of a new intake at the facility: a gifted but troubled teenage girl with whom Grace has a charged connection. While the subject matter is complex, this lovingly realized film finds truth – and humor – in unexpected places. The second feature from Destin Daniel Cretton (I Am Not a Hipster), Short Term 12, opening August 23rd, also stars Kaitlyn Dever (Bad Teacher), Rami Malek (The Master), and Keith Stanfield. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon caught up with Brie Larson to discuss her role in the film, the challenges of bringing her character from script to screen, evolution as an actress and much more!

Brie Larson

Brie Larson

I wanted to go back to your early years and learn how you got started on your journey in the entertainment industry and what drove you to pursue it as a career.

Wow! I don’t really know to be honest with you! I was about six years, living in Sacramento and my parents had a practice together, they were chiropractors. I apparently went up to my mother when she was doing dishes and I said “I know what my dharma is, I am supposed to be an actor!” She was incredibly confused that I knew what dharma was and that I wanted to be an actor being that I was incredibly shy and there was no one else around us that was talking about or like that. [laughs] I was pretty adamant about it. I bugged her about it for about a year and finally she said if I took acting lessons, once a week for a year, she would think about it. During that years’ time, I not only started taking those private lessons but I also started auditioning for plays, getting roles and doing actual stage performances and monologues. I was really loving it and flourishing at it. I was coming out of my shell at the same time, so I just continued pursuing it.

Who would you cite as our biggest influences or even a personal mentor along the way?

Ed Claudio was my first acting coach. The older I get and the more time I have spent on set and jumping into new characters, I realize who absolutely lucky I was that he was the first person who started working with me. He used to make me sit on my hands and act out scenes with my eyes. Now, I am so grateful for that because I really know how to express myself in very subtle ways, which I think is like a superpower! Toni Colette was a huge influence on my before I had even worked with her. I decided to be home schooled when I was in the seventh grade. I was in charge of it myself, so I would do really long school days because I wanted to finish school as quickly as possible. I would sit there in front of the TV for seventeen hours and watch movies and do school work. It took me about four movies to realize I had watched the same person. I had no idea that Kitty from “The Hours” was the same person as the mom from “The Sixth Sense” and was Muriel in “Muriel’s Wedding”. I couldn’t believe it! Those were all individually characters that I loved. I loved how they were portrayed and I loved them. I felt like I knew those people. That really was a huge spark for me, realizing I could conceivably become a chameleon. That is what I wanted to do and was interested in being. Once I had the opportunity to play her daughter for three years, it was the most exciting and intimidating experience for me at first. She became everything I wanted her to be and more! I find her to be, in every way, an inspiration and I feel very lucky to call her a friend.

'Short Term 12'

‘Short Term 12’

Your latest film is “Short Term 12”. How did you get involved with the project initially and what made you want you to pursue the role?

The script was sent to me while I was in Georgia filming “The Spectacular Now.” I hadn’t even finished reading the script, I think I got about halfway through it, and I was already an emotional mess from it! [laughs] I felt very stronger that I had to play this part. I just knew that character and wanted to play it more than anything. I sent off an email saying I would do anything it takes to get the role. They set up a Skype call with the director, Destin Cretton, because I was out if town. In the meantime, I applied for a bunch of volunteer jobs to work with kids in Georgia, so I could get a head start on what that world looked and felt like. After that, Destin and I Skyped. We didn’t even talk for that long and by the end of it; he asked if I would do the film with him. I couldn’t believe it! Of course, I tried to play it cool. When I hung up I was stunned and just very concerned that it was all going to come crumbling down, that he was just being nice and I wasn’t going to get to do it! [laughs] That is how it all started. I came back from Georgia a couple of weeks before we started shooting and worked with the kids at a foster care facility and then we were rolling!

What elements did you bring to the character that might not have been on the written page originally?

It was specifically designed, in Dustin’s script, to have a really strong structure to it. It felt like you were reading an improv but they were very well thought out lines and scenes. Everything was very well placed except for the fact what really moves the story along emotionally is Grace’s internal world and internal conflict. It was a dream for an actor, to go into something being very well structured and support but then there is a whole other world and territory I was able to explore and make my own. It was really fun to do!

What do you consider to be the biggest challenge you faced with this role?

I didn’t find much challenge with it other than sometimes wishing I could have more sleep! [laughs] All of those things and the struggle of it bleeds into what is actually happening in the film. To be honest, every day was a pleasure! It was the most loving set and the most fun I have ever had making a movie. It was the best!

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What did you take from your experience working with director Destin Cretton and what did he bring to this project?

The thing I learned from Destin was having patience and feeling, even when it seemed it could not go your way, belief that you are going to make the day and things are going to work out they way they are supposed to. It is incredible to imagine you can make a day on any film ever! To create a schedule that is completely out of order as to how to the story really goes and then to say “Ok, this Tuesday at 2 o’clock has to go this way.” It is a miracle that we ever get it right once! We were actually two days ahead for a long time, while we were shooting. I realized after the fact, of course we were an ultra low-budget movie, we didn’t have money to go over twelve hours. We couldn’t afford it. I have worked on many independent films that are in the same situation and I was very aware! The producers make you very aware on films in the same situation that we can’t go over and things have to get done at “X” hour. By the end of “Short Term 12,” I finally thought to myself, “Oh my, God! We are in this course and probably have even more restraints on us because this is lower budget than most things I’ve done.” Yet, I never felt that way because everybody onboard had this incredible uplifting sense that we were going to get through it and we were going to make it and we did! With ease, everyday! It was so easy! I think if you support and love something and have the patience to just kinda watch it and not put this sort of restraint on it, then it goes the way it is supposed to. It felt very open and honest, every step of the way.

Brie Larson

Brie Larson

How do you feel you have evolved as an actress since you first started out?

I just think I have gotten better because I have had more time to do it. I have felt more comfortable doing it as time goes on. I think it is a very strange profession for me to have chosen because I don’t enjoy being observed and I am not a lover of attention. There are certain aspects of it that have plagued me in small ways and with time, I think I have been able to become more comfortable with letting it all go and letting it all happen. I think with every new project, it is about finding new ways to leave your ego at the door.

Is there any particular type of role you are interested in tackling in the short term?

Not necessarily. I am twenty-three and still trying to grasp what authenticity really means, so I find I keep gravitating towards projects that reflect where I am out or the philosophical questions that I am trying to answer that will never be answered. It always happens — something comes along that really speaks to me. Sometimes, it is very abstract to the viewer as why it would speak to me but it always seems to make sense to me.

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What is the best piece of advice you can pass along to other young actors who may just be starting down their own career path?

I could talk for awhile about that but the main thing is to never lose sight of yourself. You have to understand your job is to tap into these internal human emotions and if you don’t know what it is like to be a human or are afraid of struggling or feeling pain or happiness, you won’t be doing a good, honest job. You also need to be very aware that you are one small piece of a very big art project. You can be the best actor in the whole world but if there is no camera man, then you are acting to nothing. Being aware, respectful and a team player and not just focused on yourself and your performance but the morale of the whole team is an important thing to remember. It makes the whole process become fun rather than an us versus them thing.

Short Term 12

A Must-See Film!

You are still in the process of mastering your craft but I was curious if you are also looking to develop more of a life behind the camera?

Absolutely. I have already started by doing two short films. One of them won the Grand Jury Prize for Comedic Storytelling at Sundance two years ago. My second short premiered at SXSW, when “Short Term 12” premiered. I am just writing now and will be directing more as time goes on! I really enjoy it!

What should we look for next?

I have no idea! [laughs] I just finished a musical in India. I am not sure when the timeline is for that to come out but it will be the next release. I haven’t agreed to d anything else just yet. I want to give myself some time after all of this hullabaloo is over before I make a decision about what my next passion project will be!

We will definitely be on the lookout for wherever you land next! Thanks for your time today, Brie! We will talk again soon!

Thank you very much! Talk to you soon, Jason!

Mark your calendar! ‘Short Term 12’ will be released on August 23rd by Cinedigm!

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