Tag Archive | "thrillers"

Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

Francesca Eastwood, Natalia Leite & Leah McKendrick On Bringing ‘M.F.A.’ To Life!

When director Natalia Leite (“Bare”), writer/actress Leah McKendrick (“Bad Moms”) and leading lady Francesca Eastwood joined forces to bring the ‘M.F.A.’ to the masses, they had no idea of the incredible bond they would form during the process. The hauntingly powerful film, which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, “Final Girl,” “Outlaws” and “Angels”), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with the trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation culminating in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she needs. Directed by Natalia Leite from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick. McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (“Westworld,” “Knight of Cups”).

Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently caught with the inspiring women responsible for the success of this powerful film  — Natalia Leite, Leah McKendrick and Francesca Eastwood. In the interview, they discuss their passion for the film, the challenges they faced in bringing it from script to screen and the lessons learned along the way.

It’s great to have you all here today. Tell us about what sparked the initial idea for this film and what made it a story you all wanted to tell.

Leah McKendrick: It started from me feeling very frustrated by the things I was seeing in the media. There were stories on constant repeat about girls being assaulted on and off college campuses who the system had failed. I was feeling frustrated, hurt and angry, so I started writing this script. Eventually, I got it to a place where it wasn’t so dark because it had been very dark originally. I tried to infuse some humor and levity into it along the way. It wasn’t long before I was on the hunt for the perfect director. I knew in my mind that I needed someone who loved it and had a connection to it. To be honest, that’s not that hard to find as most women have experienced something and would feel a connection to a story like this, so that wasn’t even the hard part. For me, the hardest part was finding a director who understands it and knew what to do with it. I’m not a writer that wants to direct. I’m a writer that loves directors and I want a director to make it their own. That’s the most important thing to me; that it’s someone who is going to share your baby. Natalia was that person! I had seen her work and I had felt that she had a very intimate connection in film. I also felt that she could be the perfect addition and the perfect person to helm the ship. That’s when she came onboard.

Natalia Leite: The script came my way and Leah reached out to me. I read it and really loved the script. Honestly, I just felt that I had to make this movie. I was really drawn to the concept and thought the writing was really strong. We had some conversations where I told her what I would do. I felt that we were a really good match and the film would be a good way to talk about a social issue that I care a lot about in a way that is so accessible to people and can be entertaining while still opening up a bigger conversation.

What went into finding the right mix of actors to bring these characters to life on screen?

Natalia Leite: In terms of casting, we had to cast very fast because we had access to Chapman University and we had to try to shoot it before school started. We hit the ground running as soon as I signed onboard. Francesca Eastwood’s work came my way through our casting director, Arlie Day. Arlie sent over some materials and I loved Fran’s work, so we met for lunch and talked about what I was going to do with the film tonally and what she would bring to it. We wanted to make sure we were on the same page and that we were gelling together. It was perfect! Once we found her, no one else could have fit the role! Peter Vack is someone who I’m friends with and Leah had also thought of him for that part, so he came on. A lot it came from reaching out to people we had some connection to and thought could be good for the part. Clifton [Collins] came onboard somewhat last minute but was fantastic in the role!

Leah McKendrick, Natalia Leite and Francesca Eastwood.

You all came together to make this film and you all saw it from different angles given your role in the production. What was the biggest challenge you faced on the project?

Francesca Eastwood: I think the biggest challenge for me was the subject matter and the timing. While it wasn’t something I had initially thought of when I read the script but my mom said to me, “Wow. You really go through a lot physically in this film.” It was a very physically demanding role in terms of running around, long shoot days and shooting every day relatively quickly. That was a challenge but it’s also part of why this project is so awesome! The challenges were all good things! It was just as emotionally challenging as it was physically challenging. It was an extremely rewarding project to be a part of.

Natalia Leite: For me, it was a lot about tone. Like Francesca said, it’s a very sensitive subject matter and a controversial film. Finding the right balance between making it feel very realistic, yet not having it be a sad story all the way through was a challenge. It came down to making good informed decisions on how we would talk about this issue while still having moments of being entertaining and thrilling.

Leah McKendrick: I think the hardest thing for me was getting over the idea of the script being your baby. It’s just one thing and it’s going to change. A lot of things may end up on the cutting room floor and you have to get over the initial vision you had when it was just you and no one else involved!

Natalia Leite: Yeah, that was a difficult thing for me as well.

Francesca Eastwood: Yeah, as an actor reading it, that was hard for me too.

Leah McKendrick: I think, as an actor, when you pick up a script and are reading it, you become attached to the vision you have in your head. Maybe that comes from being an actor; becoming very attached to the journey that the characters go on. If one character gets cut out or whatever, your vision starts to feel incomplete. I think the strongest writer is the writer who can get over that. My mentor, Shintaro Shimosawa, who is also a producer on this film, is a writer. He is so un-precious about his work. He is always all about the best idea. I think while you can think you just want the best idea, I think you can be emotionally stunted by the fact that you’ve only been seeing what you have in your head and can be cutting yourself off from greater possibilities. Sometimes you’re just not seeing straight and you just want what is in your head. Getting over that and realizing that what can be created is better than what was in your head or on the script is definitely a lesson I’ve learned. It took me two years to write my script. There are points where it is just you alone in the coffee shop with your vision and you have to fight for it. Every step of the way you are fighting for that vision, so as it gets dismantled it can be heartbreaking. With that said, I’m very proud of our film and how it changed because of Nat and Franny, the producers, performers and creators on the film. I’m really proud of the end product!

It’s cool to see you all working together in this capacity and creating such an awesome film as the end product. What did you bring out in each other creatively?

Leah McKendrick: Building off of what I just said, I would say that Nat forces me to see my work in a completely different way. An example is that, as a writer, I use a lot of my real-life experiences. The scene where Fran’s character, Noel, is being peer-critiqued was different initially. In the original script, it was a conversation she was having with her professor and her professor is saying, “This isn’t good enough.” Nat came in and said, “I went to art school and a big part of art school is being critiqued by not only your professor but your peers.” I thought, “Oh my god! I love that!” I would’ve never thought of that because it wasn’t something that occurred in my real life. I went to school for acting and there is also peer-critique but, in my mind, I was remembering these moments where professors would pull me aside and say, “This isn’t good enough.” So, to answer your question, I think that Nat brings this whole world of experience to my work. I love the sense of judgement that it brings to Noelle’s early life in the film. She feels so naked initially. I really love that Nat is always forcing me to come up with the weirder, more unique, intimate and vulnerable version. Another great example is with the pool. Initially, after she went through her trauma, she ran and got in the shower because that is where I go when I feel very alone and very vulnerable and I need to feel more in touch with myself. Nat said, “I want her to do something weirder, more unique and more off because she is feeling off.” So, we had her walk into the swimming pool. That’s some of my favorite footage in the film. I think that another director might have just taken my script and made it the way it’s written, where I think Nat has challenged me to get a little weirder. With Franny, I think you are right in that we just trusted her and you ran with it but I love that! When I watch the film, sometimes she looks like a little girl to me, especially the scenes with my own character, Skye. I feel like we look like little girls and that is something we bring out in each other but, at the same time, there are times where we are vicious to each other, crying, upset and angry. I feel, as an actress, I’m able to both love and hate her at times in the film. In real love, I have the most love for you! I think we played it really well from both sides and it’s something that comes across really well. I think that is why people say to me so often that we work well together in the movie because it’s so sad, loving and all of these things. I think that is because we have that chemistry in real life?

Natalia Leite: I would add to what Leah said about pushing her to a certain place, I feel that you also did the same for me. I have a tendency to linger in these moments and I’m sure from an outsider’s point of view, I seem like a pretentious artist to sit in this scene for so long! [laughs] Leah would be like, “No, no. We’ve got to move. We’ve got to get to the point. We don’t just need to sit here. We get that she’s in pain.” I think that gave it more of a commercial appeal and made it a little more hard-hitting and faster, which was really good. It was such an amazing collaboration between the three of us because we are all strong women with strong ideas and all felt very invested in this story and film. There were times where we had to hash it out. I might think something should be one way in a scene but someone else felt it should go another. We would have to figure it out. For me, as a director, I’m also like, “OK, if you feel really strongly about it being this way that I didn’t really envision, convince me.” I’m always open to hearing someone else’s opinion about something, especially when it’s not my writing and ultimately Fran is the one who is living the character. It was a really awesome collaboration in that way.

You are inspiring females. What’s the best lesson we can take from your journey as artists?

Natalia Leite: Thank you for calling us inspiring females! [laughs] I love that! Thank you! I almost dropped the phone. [laughs] This film had a small, small budget and we really had to be a team and work together to make it happen. We had to really trust each other. Starting out, we didn’t even know each other when she sent me the script. Since making the film, we have all become friends, which is awesome! I think the lesson is that we all need to do it together!

Francesca Eastwood: I would say the most important lesson is to take risks, to do the things you believe in and also the things that you’re afraid of. If you believe in it and your heart’s in the right place, it’s a pretty good feeling getting to share that.

Leah McKendrick: If somebody would look at my career, I would hope it would inspire more women to take things into their own hands. No matter if they want to be directors, writers or actors, they shouldn’t be afraid to create their own work. You don’t need to wait for the industry to give you permission. As many leaps forward as we are making as female filmmakers, there is still so much work to do. I think you’re in trouble if you’re waiting for permission. For a long time, I felt so frustrated by the industry while trying to get work as an actress. That’s when I started making my own work. I’m glad that I did because not only can I make my own roles but I can make work that I believe in and speaks to the sort of issues in the world I feel need to be spoken on. I hope more women will do that!

That’s an awesome way to look at things! Thank you all for your time today! We can’t wait to see what you all have in store for us in the years to come and wish you continued success!

Dark Sky Films’ will release the haunting thriller,’M.F.A.’, in theaters, VOD and HD Digital October 13, 2017.

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Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films To Release ‘M.F.A.’ Starring Francesca Eastwood on October 13th

Dark Sky Films has unveiled the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety‘s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films To Release High-Octane Thriller ‘M.F.A.’ On October 13th!

Dark Sky Films has announced the release date of M.F.A., a critically acclaimed powerful thriller starring Francesca Eastwood in a stand out role. The film, from female director and female screenwriter, takes on the searing current issue of sexual violence on campus. M.F.A. will be released on October 13th.

M.F.A., which was nominated for the Grand Jury Award at the 2017 SXSW festival, tells a gripping story of a young woman forced to take action to protect herself in “perhaps the bravest, rawest rape-revenge thriller yet” (No Film School). Noelle (Francesca Eastwood, Final Girl, Outlaws and Angels), an art student struggling to find her voice, is sexually assaulted by a fellow classmate. Attempting to cope with her trauma, she impulsively confronts her attacker, leading to a violent altercation that culminates in his accidental death. Noelle tries to return to normalcy, but when she discovers she is only one of many silenced sexual assault survivors on campus, she takes justice into her own hands. A vigilante is born – retribution is the inspiration she’s been waiting for.

M.F.A. was directed by Natalia Leite (Bare) from a debut screenplay by actress Leah McKendrick (Bad Moms). McKendrick also co-stars in the film along with Clifton Collins Jr. (Westworld, Knight of Cups).

The film received glowing reviews upon its world premiere at SXSW. Variety’s Andrew Barker said, “An unapologetically feminist, female-centric take on the oft-problematic (and oft-male-gaze-dominated) rape-revenge thriller genre … Leite directs with a bracing, assertive style.” Brad Miska of Bloody-Disgusting called it “intensely engaging, thought-provoking, and also mesmerizing.” “Spectacular, risky and wonderfully realized by Natalia Leite,” said We Live Entertainment’s Nick Casaletto.

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The Neon Demon: Jena Malone Dazzles In Nicolas Winding Refn’s Sleeper Hit of The Summer

The Neon Demon: Jena Malone Dazzles In Nicolas Winding Refn’s Sleeper Hit of The Summer

This week, genre film aficionado Jeremy Morrison takes a look at Nicolas Winding Refn’s latest offering, “The Neon Demon.” The flick, which is gaining more buzz with each passing day, stars Jena Malone, Keanu Reeves, Christina Hendricks, Elle Fannning, Abbey Lee, Bella Heathcote, Desmond Harrington and Karl Glusman.

The Plot: Jesse (Elle Fanning) moves to Los Angeles just after her 16th birthday to launch a career as a model. The head of her agency (Christina Hendricks) tells the innocent teen she has the qualities to become a star. Jesse soon faces the wrath of ruthless vixens (Abbey Lee Kershaw and Bella Heathcote) who despise her fresh-faced beauty. On top of that, she must contend with a seedy motel manager (Keanu Reeves) and a creepy photographer (Desmond Harrington). As Jesse starts to take the fashion world by storm, her personality changes in ways that could help her against her cutthroat rivals.

The Review: This movie landed on my radar thanks to the fine folks over at Mr. Skin. Knowing next to nothing about the film, other than it promised a few nude scenes, I checked out the trailer and something clicked. I just had to see this film. Admittedly I have yet to see “Drive,” “Bronson” and “Only God Forgives.” Nothing against Nicolas Winding Refn, the films just haven’t found their way to my screen. The trailer for “The Neon Demon” just seemed like my kind of weird.

Arriving at the theater I was a little sketchy. The last time I asked for a solo ticket at the box office was for Rob Zombie’s “Halloween,” and though I have come to terms with the genius that is Rob Zombie’s comedies, at the time I left the theater swearing off all things horror convention chic. Things worked out a bit better this time around. I’m glad I followed my impulse to see the film as soon as possible before my social media feeds were flooded with high praise for the hit or miss film amongst critics and cinephiles alike. And yes, I understand the irony that I too am now flooding YOUR feed with MY opinion.

the-neon-demon

As far as the film itself, “The Neon Demon” is an actor’s dream and a cinematographers wet dream. Elle Fanning is able to capture the deer in headlights quality you’ll see on just about any newcomer to the Los Angeles scene. Keanu Reeves taps into one of his darkest roles yet as he oozes scum through the screen. Bella Heathcote and Abbey Lee Kershaw play up the beautiful bitter bitch side of the model world. But the true standout in this picture is Jena Malone’s Ruby. Malone’s performance is powerful, folks. I won’t break down specifics as I would hate to spoil the experience for potential viewers, but I’ll say she does some of the heaviest lifting in the film and handles it with the ease and grace of a starlet. Can we agree to give Jena Malone all the movies from now on?

'The Neon Demon' is in theaters now!

‘The Neon Demon’ is in theaters now!

If Tumblr taught me anything about Nicolas Winding Refn, it’s his movies look amazing. “The Neon Demon” is no exception. Natasha Braier is behind the lens and proves she is one of the best shooters around. Every scene plays out like a beautiful nightmare. I mean this as respectfully as possible, but “The Neon Demon” looks and feels like Dario Argento’s “Suspiria” shot a hot, thick rope all over a Wes Anderson flick’s chest.

THE VERDICT: SEE IT! TWICE!

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

Find THE NEON DEMON online:
Facebook | Twitter | #TheNeonDemon

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Trailer and Poster Revealed For ‘Demolition’ Starring Jake Gyllenhaal

Trailer and Poster Revealed For ‘Demolition’ Starring Jake Gyllenhaal

Film fans can now check out the first trailer for the upcoming flick, DEMOLITION, starring Jake Gyllenhaal . Directed by Jean-Marc Vallée the film also stars Naomi Watts, Chris Cooper and Judah Lewis. Check out the official synopsis below along with the poster art!

‘Demolition’ opens in select theaters in the U.S. on April 8, 2016 and premieres in the U.S. at the 2016 SXSW Film Festival.

Synopsis: Davis (Jake Gyllenhaal), a successful investment banker, struggles after losing his wife in a tragic car crash. Despite pressure from his father in law Phil (Chris Cooper) to pull it together, Davis continues to unravel. What starts as a complaint letter to a vending machine company turns into a series of letters revealing startling personal admissions. Davis’ letters catch the attention of customer service rep Karen (Naomi Watts) and, amidst emotional and financial burdens of her own, the two form an unlikely connection. With the help of Karen and her son Chris (Judah Lewis), Davis starts to rebuild, beginning with the demolition of the life he once knew.

DEMO_1SHEET_27x40_MECH_FINAL2_ONLINE.indd

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TRIPLE 9: Check Out 7 New Character Poster For The New Film!

TRIPLE 9: Check Out 7 New Character Poster For The New Film!

Open Road Films has released 7 brand NEW Character Posters for the intense action thriller, TRIPLE 9! Check out the posters below which feature a star studded cast including, Woody Harrelson, Anthony Mackie, Chiwetel Ejiofor, Kate Winslet, Casey Affleck, Aaron Paul and Norman Reedus!

Then catch all the action when TRIPLE 9 hits theaters, February 26, 2016.


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GONE GIRL: New Trailer For David Fincher’s Upcoming Film Revealed!

GONE GIRL: New Trailer For David Fincher’s Upcoming Film Revealed!

gone-girl-2014-ben-affleck-1

The new trailer for 20th Century Fox’s highly anticipated thriller, GONE GIRL, is here. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Emily Ratajkowski, check out the heart-pounding trailer NOW! The highly anticipated film hits theaters everywhere on OCTOBER 3, 2014!

'Gone Girl'

‘Gone Girl’

GONE GIRL – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

The film stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, David Clennon and Emily Ratajkowski.

GONE GIRL Official Socials 

Official Website: http://www.gonegirlmovie.com/

Official Facebook Page: https://www.facebook.com/GoneGirlMovie

Official Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/GoneGirlMovie

Official Google + Page: http://bit.ly/GoneGirlGplus

#GoneGirl

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gone-girl-2014-ben-affleck-1

The new trailer for 20th Century Fox’s highly anticipated thriller, GONE GIRL, is here. Starring Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, and Emily Ratajkowski, check out the heart-pounding trailer NOW! The highly anticipated film hits theaters everywhere on OCTOBER 3, 2014!

 

'Gone Girl'

‘Gone Girl’

GONE GIRL – directed by David Fincher and based upon the global bestseller by Gillian Flynn – unearths the secrets at the heart of a modern marriage. On the occasion of his fifth wedding anniversary, Nick Dunne (Ben Affleck) reports that his beautiful wife, Amy (Rosamund Pike), has gone missing. Under pressure from the police and a growing media frenzy, Nick’s portrait of a blissful union begins to crumble. Soon his lies, deceits and strange behavior have everyone asking the same dark question: Did Nick Dunne kill his wife?

The film stars Ben Affleck, Rosamund Pike, Neil Patrick Harris, Tyler Perry, Kim Dickens, Patrick Fugit, Carrie Coon, David Clennon and Emily Ratajkowski.

GONE GIRL Official Socials
Official Twitter Page: https://twitter.com/GoneGirlMovie
Official Google + Page: http://bit.ly/GoneGirlGplus
#GoneGirl

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

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

cold-comes-the-night-feature-2014-1

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

Tze Chun

Tze Chun

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Chun and Cranston On Set

Chun and Cranston On Set

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

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

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

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

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

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

Director Tze Chun

Director Tze Chun

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

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

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

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

On The Rise: Tze Chun

On The Rise: Tze Chun

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

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

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

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

Coming January 10th

Coming January 10th

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Director Sebastian Cordero Discusses Bringing ‘Europa Report’ To The Screen

Director Sebastian Cordero Discusses Bringing ‘Europa Report’ To The Screen

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Director Sebastian Cordero has spent the the past decade carving out a diverse body of work and established himself as a director to watch in the years to come. His new film, EUROPA REPORT, quite literally, launches his career into a whole new world. A unique blend of documentary-style film-making, alternative history and science fiction thriller, EUROPA REPORT follows a contemporary mission to Jupiter’s moon Europa to investigate the possible existence of alien life within our solar system. When unmanned probes suggest that a hidden ocean could exist underneath Europa’s icy surface and may contain single-celled life, Europa Ventures, a privately funded space exploration company, sends six of the best astronauts from around the world to confirm the data and explore the revolutionary discoveries that may lie in the Europan ocean. After a near-catastrophic technical failure that leads to loss of communication with Earth and the tragic death of a crew member, the surviving astronauts must overcome the psychological and physical toll of deep space travel, and survive a discovery on Europa more profound than they had ever imagined. Jason Price of Icon Vs. Icon recently sat down with director Sebastian Cordero to discuss journey into the world of filmmaking, the challenges of bringing this ambitious new film to life and what he learned along the way.

Sebastian Cordero

Sebastian Cordero

Thanks for taking time out to speak with me today, Sebastian. I am really excited to help spread the word on this amazing film!

Thank you as well for your time!

What was it about filmmaking that intrigued early on in your life?

When I was a child, I was fascinated by the power of cinema. To watch a film in the theater and to become completely immersed in the story, seeing a world that was not familiar with your own from the perspective of pure entertainment as well as watching a story that grips you and tells you something about life was something that fascinated me and I wanted to be a part of it!

What was it that made you want to pursue filmmaking as a career?

There was a moment, as a child, where I realized how powerful filmmaking was and I wanted to be a part of it. I was watching ‘Raiders of The Lost Ark’ when I was nine years old. Very shortly after that, I saw a few more big Hollywood films, mostly from Spielberg and all of the ‘Star Wars’ films. I think those films had a huge influence on my whole generation, not just the filmmakers of the world. At the time, it was something that seemed impossible to pursue. As a nine year old kid, I thought it was amazing but I had no idea how to pursue it. Then I was lucky enough, after high school, to be able to come study film here in the United States in Los Angeles. At the time, I felt it was the place to do so.

Your latest film is “Europa Report.” How did you initially get involved with this project and what made you want to be a part of it?

I got the script from one of the producers on the film. He had seen a couple of my previous films and that there was something about the way I handled the tension in those films and the way I handled the actors in a limited, enclosed space. I think that really attracted him in terms of what I could bring to this project. I am really grateful he saw that because when I read the screenplay, I felt immediately drawn to the material. As a teenager, I had a phase where I read a lot of science fiction and this brought me back to that age and phase in my life. Having done a lot of films that are very different from what ‘Europa Report’ is, I felt it was a great opportunity to dive into something like this. I also love the way the script handles a mixture of a well-told, gripping story with great characters and ultimately, a lot of thrills. At the same time, I think it keeps it’s eye on the real science, the realism of space travel and what we know about Europa and the possible discoveries that could be found there. I thought it was really cool to be involved with a film that could maintain that equilibrium.

How did the script change from what originally intrigued you to what we ultimately see on screen?

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A Must-See Thriller!

There were a few things I felt I wanted to research more and figure out better ways to solve certain problems within the realistic elements we were dealing with. We were very lucky and at the same time smart in choosing to do a lot of research early on. I felt the story and script were working but I wanted to make sure everything happened for a reason that was fitting the story and made sense scientifically. There were scenes, like the space walk scene for instance, where the space walk goes wrong. It is something you have seen in a lot of science fiction films. The first version of it I read, there were a lot of things that felt a little gratuitous and didn’t make complete sense with the science and the care that is taken when astronauts are embarking on something like this. We went back and forth with a lot of scientists and actual astronauts who helped us figure out the best way to have things go wrong and incorporated that into the scenes. The ending of the film, without giving too much away, there is the final discovery that is made by the remaining members of the crew of astronauts. In the original script, that final discovery happens on the surface of Europa. The minute you start researching Europa or talking to scientists who are working on that research, you know the most interesting thing about Europa is what is under the ice. It is what is under the ocean of Europa, below the ice crust that is most fascinating. We incorporated into our ending the fact that major discovery has to happen under the ice. It was something that gave us quite a bit more tension because suddenly you have a spaceship that has landed in an area where the ice is getting thinner, the ice is cracking and there is a lot of movement in the ice. That brings a lot more danger to the people who are still alive inside the lander.

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‘Europa Report’ the type of film that lives and dies by it’s cast and the cast you brought together is terrific! How did the casting come about and what did they bring to the table?

Thank you! I think they each brought something really interesting and really unique. It is funny because originally the script called for an international cast because one of the premises is that it is a private mission to space in the near future where they bring the best of the best from each space program around the world. It was really cool from the beginning to say “Ok! We can have someone from China, someone from Europe, Russia, Sweden, Eastern Europe or the United States.” We started looking for great actors from each of these countries and they didn’t have to be huge stars. We just needed them to be fantastic actors!

Sharlto Copely In 'Europa Report'

Sharlto Copely In ‘Europa Report’

We had an amazing casting director, Avy Kaufman, who was extremely helpful in putting together this very diverse cast. She suggested a lot of names, I suggested a lot of names myself, as did the producers and it was a little bit like chemistry and how can you bring these elements together and see how they work. The minute you start to have a strong actor onboard, it helps bring other talented actors into the project because they are attracted to working with that actor. In our case, the first person to respond to the project and was absolutely passionate about it was Michael Nyqvist, who read the script, loved his character and thought there was a lot to do with the role of “Andrei”. Almost immediately, actors who were considering their roles, having him onboard reassured them and made the project even more interesting. Sharlto Copley, for instance, loved the script and the minute Nyqvist was onboard, he said “Great! We have a couple of great scenes together and this will be wonderful!” Anamaria Marrinca was one of my personal choices early on. I had seen her in “Four Months, Three Weeks, Two Days”. We wanted an Eastern European actress and I thought she would be great for the role. She didn’t seem like a typical choice for a science fiction film, where someone like Sharlto has become a bit of an icon in science fiction. Anamaria is much more of a dramatic, international actress, who is very well respected. I didn’t know if she would respond to the material. The minute she read the screenplay, she said “Are you kidding? This is fantastic and there is a lot I can do with it. No one ever asks me to do science fiction movies!” She was really into it!

Each one brought different thing, you know? On one hand, Anamaria is someone who always questions the internal processes of the character, the subtleties and hidden symbols within the story. I think she was great in pointing out and highlighting those. Sharlto has this thirst for making the story really work and making sure every decision his character makes is completely coherent with what is happening, while at the same time allowing for the big spectacle, the thrills of the movie and the emotional involvement of the audience with the movie to be present. He knew from the very beginning that his big scene had to be really one of the most emotional moments in the film. He did everything in his power to get there. I think he did an amazing job with his final moments in the film. Each one basically brought different ingredients to the movie.

As you mentioned, this is a very different type of film for you as a director. What did you learn from working on this film from a filmmaking standpoint?

Sebastian Cordero

Sebastian Cordero

I think “Europa Report” is one of the film’s where I have learned the most. It is a very strange film in the sense because it tells a story through receipts of a faux-documentary and seeing the story from the monitoring cameras in the ship. Very early on I discovered that it just wasn’t appropriate to feel the hand of the filmmaker. Instead of that, you had to feel the hand of this fictitious company, Europa Ventures, who have put this mission together and now is editing this documentary about what happened — the great discovery as well as what went wrong. For me, the minute I tapped into that, it was a big revelation to me in terms of how each decision was to be made. The aesthetic of the film had to do more with the logic and science behind how they were telling this story and where they were putting the cameras inside the ship, rather than me, as a director, saying “Oh, this would be the cool shot.” or “This is the best way to reveal something.” Everything had to have an internal logic, where the film had to emerge on it’s own terms, which is a weird thing! It hadn’t happened to me before, at least not in this way. I thought it was fascinating to allow myself to just be a catalyst for the film rather than imposing my own style in it because it really was a film I felt spoke for itself. For me, that was a huge lesson. It is something I am very curious to see how the things I learn here will be onto whatever project I take on next!

Absolutely! I can’t wait to see what the future holds for you as a director! Thank you very much for your time today and giving us a look at what it took to make this fantastic film!

Thank you very much! Take care!

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