Interview: André Øvredal for his latest film ‘Mortal’

From acclaimed filmmaker André Øvredal (The Autopsy Of Jane Doe, Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark), MORTAL stars Nat Wolff (The Fault In Our Stars) as a young man discovering he has God-like powers based on ancient Norwegian mythology.

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Our amazing colleague and friend Matthew Schuchman had the opportunity to sit down with director André Øvredal to talk all things Mortal. Here is their interview. Find out how long André took to make the film, how Nat Wolff was cast, and what it’s like to compete with big-budget studio films like Marvel. If you’re a fan of his work, you’ll get a quick peek into André’s creative and humble energy.

Saban Films releases MORTAL today in theaters and On-Demand

WATCH THE TRAILER:

Release dateNovember 6, 2020 (USA)
NorwegianTorden
LanguagesNorwegian, English

 

Interview with Aaron Moorhead & Justin Benson for ‘SYNCHRONIC’

Synchronic

Synopsis:
When New Orleans paramedics and longtime best friends Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) are called to a series of bizarre, gruesome accidents, they chalk it up to the mysterious new party drug found at the scene. But after Dennis’s oldest daughter suddenly disappears, Steve stumbles upon a terrifying truth about the supposed psychedelic that will challenge everything he knows about reality—and the flow of time itself.

Here is our great friend and colleague Matthew Schuchman interviewing Aaron Moorhead and Justin Benson about their newest film Synchronic. Wait until you hear about how they split the creative duties, how their epic films come to fruition, and that they’re making a new movie right now! Enjoy!

You can read more about the film in Liz’s review of Synchronic. Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for the latest info.

In Theaters & Drive-Ins October 23rd

Directed by: Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead (The Endless)

Starring: Anthony Mackie, Jamie Dornan, Katie Aselton, and Ally Ioannides

Interview: Writer/director Dean Kapsalis and star Azura Skye for ‘THE SWERVE’ – now available on Digital and VOD!

Holly seems to have it all: two kids, a nice house, a good job as a teacher, and a husband with his career on the way up. But there are troubling signs that all is not right in her world. The insomnia. The medication for the insomnia. The dreams from the medication for the insomnia. The arrival of her estranged sister and a mouse invading her home doesn’t help either. Add the weight of a dark secret, and her already delicate balance collapses, sending her spiraling out of control.

Last year’s Brooklyn Horror Film Festival brought a movie into my world that still haunts me. The Swerve is a film that, in many ways, made me feel seen. You can read my review here. This week, The Swerve finally comes to audiences nationwide. I was lucky enough to chat with writer/director Dean Kapsalis and star Azura Skye this week. When I say this film will stick with you longer than it should, I am not exaggerating one bit. It is unpredictable, it gets under your skin, and Skye is remarkable. Pay attention to this carefully crafted script. There is foreshadowing everywhere, the classroom especially. These are deliberate choices made by Kapsalis. They are genius.

Here is my interview with Dean and Azura…

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Firstly, congratulations to you both on an extraordinary film. There is so much amazing material to talk about in The Swerve, so let’s dive right in!

Dean, what or who inspired this script?

 

Dean – I was raised by and around strong women.  Over time, I witnessed the weight of living manifest in them as mental illnesses.  My experiences and observations became lodged somewhere deep in my psyche and coincided with (or perhaps fueled?) my appreciation for Gothic literature, Greek tragedies, Shakespeare, etc.  

 

Azura, what was the first thing in this script that made you think, “I have to tell this woman’s story.”

 

Azura – When I first read the script, I immediately recognized Holly as the role of a lifetime.  As an actor, you can only hope that you’re given something this juicy, and layered, to work with — but it’s rare. This is without a doubt the most challenging role I’ve ever tackled, but given the opportunity, how could I say no? I knew it was something I had to do, as daunting, and intimidating as it was.

 

Dean and Azura, Moms are so often pushed aside in narratives. This script highlights the weight of motherhood in such a real way. The isolation, the stress, the pressure to be everyone’s caretaker. What were you hoping the take away would be for an audience? I imagine it might be different, perhaps based on gender? 

 

Dean – My hope is that audiences feel something from it.  The reign of patriarchy over women is as powerful and relevant now as it was during the era of Shakespeare.  Different, modern pressures, surely, but it hasn’t changed much on an emotional level.  I think that’s why the characters and themes in Shakespeare are still so identifiable.

 

Azura – A big part of Holly is her silent suffering. She puts on a smile, and a brave face as she seems to adeptly juggle the various roles of wife, mother, sister, daughter, teacher — but inside she’s nearing a breaking point, as she struggles to keep it together. She’s right at that tenuous edge, where something as small as a mouse can be the tipping point that sends her spiraling downward. The straw that breaks the camel’s back, if you will.

One thing I hope audiences of all genders take from this movie is a reminder that you never know what’s going on with the person next to you at the grocery store. You have no idea what kind of day they’ve had. Maybe they’ve just lost a loved one, or are dealing with any number of possible traumas or tragedies.  Everyone’s having to cope with a lot, some more than others — especially now. I hope this film is a reminder not to assume that you know what’s going on in someone else’s life, or in someone else’s head. Often times, we don’t even know what’s really going on with our closest friends and family. Or even our partners, for that matter. Everyone suffers, in ways we often never know, so let’s try to be kind and careful with one another.

 

As a 40-year-old mom of two toddlers who used to teach high school, this obviously hit me in a personal way. The character of Paul is so impactful. Even with the inappropriate power dynamic, you understand why his presence is so consequential to Holly’s entire journey. Dean, can you talk about the decision to use him as a catalyst? And for Azura, what was your reaction to Holly’s choice to go along with such an affair? 

 

Dean – I never thought of it as an affair, but as a need for Holly to express and connect.  But there is no joy in it.  Paul has a kindness to him.  He sees Holly in a different way than the other male characters in the film, but it is absolutely an adolescent’s fantasy and is no less dangerous.  

 

Azura – Holly feels invisible most of the time. Especially at home, where she feels taken for granted, unappreciated; unseen. Paul is so pivotal because here’s someone who really sees her — and thinks she’s amazing. Thinks she’s beautiful. With Paul, Holly feels recognized, and appreciated, for the first time in far too long.

When I first read the script, this particular storyline was so interesting to me, because it was written in such a way that even though this woman is clearly behaving in an abhorrent, and inexcusably inappropriate way, I did not see her as a monster. It just made me really sad. This thread of the story is also one of my favorite parts of the film. Zack Rand, who plays Paul, was so brilliantly cast, and he gives a phenomenal performance.

 

Let’s talk about the score. It really makes the mundane feel important. The grocery shopping in the beginning, for example. It’s a melancholy that puts you into Holly’s state of mind. 

 

Dean – I noticed mothers, my own included, that seemed to take grocery shopping not as a chore, but as a respite from other activities.  However, the aura of the past and the outside world is inescapable.  It was important that the score reflect that.

 

Dean, Paul’s sketchbook is stunning. Who did the illustrations? 

 

Dean – The artist is Jocelyn Henry.  She was a recent fine arts graduate and I took a shine to her work.  Her initial sketches were a little too polished and I had her scale them back so that they were more reflective of the hand of a developing high school student.

 

Azura, had you seen the drawings prior to filming?

 

Dean – I showed them to Azura, but explained little or nothing.  I guided her to the reactions needed for the scene.

 

Azura – I don’t think I saw the illustrations until the day of filming. I definitely had a visceral reaction to the ones of myself. There’s something quite intimate and slightly jarring about it. There were a couple that I actually wanted to keep, but sadly I was denied. I was told they were done by an artist in New York, but I’ve always secretly suspected that perhaps Dean himself is the artist. I’m curious to see how he answers this question.

 

Holly’s very buttoned-up, very conservatively presented. Can you tell me how her wardrobe affected your physicality?


Azura – It affected me very much. As wardrobe always does. In some ways, I don’t really know who a character is until I put on their clothes, and it was no different with Holly. I didn’t meet the costume designer (Eric Hall) until a few days before we started filming, and as soon as I started putting on the wardrobe I started to get a really strong sense of who Holly was. She really started to make sense, and take shape, quite literally. I thought her clothes were a little sad, sometimes even a little silly. Someone who’s really making an effort, but doesn’t always get it quite right. There was a vulnerability and a self-conscious quality to the way she put herself together. I found the buttoned-up rigidity to be very informative, and it was helpful in that it was a constant reminder as to the way Holly held herself. It very much affected the way I moved. In her restrained, buttoned-up attire, she herself is contained, and restrained; even slightly holding her breath.

 

You’re really rooting for Holly when she stands up for herself but the emotional abuse from her family is endless. They are incredibly manipulative. But Dean’s script and your performance are so strong that I began to wonder if I was seeing things along with her. Azura, did you ever think that what Holly was seeing and experiencing wasn’t real? 

 

Azura – Of course I thought about it, and that was something I discussed with Dean. I like that certain parts of Holly’s experience are open to interpretation, but for me the actor, I had to play it as if it were all 100% real, because for the character it is.

 

Let’s talk about the mouse. Is the mouse Holly? 

 

Dean – It could be.  Or was it a warning?  A guardian?  Was it ever even there?  It’s more important how the viewer feels about it.  And I never discussed meaning with the cast or crew.

 

The final chapter of this film is nothing short of devastating. As a mother, as a human, it has stayed with me since I saw the film last year. It’s truly haunting. It’s a bold choice that is not only a beautiful recall to the story in the beginning but one hell of a gut-punch to the viewer. Did you both hope the audience would sympathize with Holly as the credits rolled? 

 

Dean – Yes.  Prior to the pandemic, abuse, mental illness, and suicide were on the rise across genders, and since it’s only increased.  My hope is that audiences feel something and can relate in some way to her plight.  We’re all human.  We’re all in this together.

 

Azura – It is a harrowing and haunting final act. One that in large part made me want to do the film. I think I was probably far too consumed with the task at hand to really think about how an audience might interpret it.

 

Mental illness is a hot button issue. Do you think people are now more comfortable talking about it openly? 

 

Dean – Social media is a two-edged sword, but people seem to be more open about sharing their experiences.  The world can be so overwhelming.  They want to connect.  They want to heal.  

Azura – It does seem like we’ve started to talk about it a lot more in recent years, which is so great. You have people like Michael Phelps doing commercials encouraging people to seek help, and so many other public figures speaking candidly about their struggles, which makes it so much more accessible, and perhaps even acceptable. It definitely seems like something we’re discussing more and discussing more openly.

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Massive thanks to Dean and Azura for their very generous time with this interview. THE SWERVE is now available on Digital and VOD

 

THE SWERVE celebrated its world premiere at the 2019 Cinepocalypse Film Festival, and screened at the 2019 Panic Film Festival; winning both awards for Best Actress for Azura Skye. The film will be releasing on major VOD/Digital platforms beginning Tuesday, September 22, 2020.

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Podcast Interview: Jeremy Gardner, Christian Stella, and Brea Grant share all the gory and gorgeous details of ‘Something Else’.

Something Else Podcast

Something Else was one of the most unique selections in this year’s festival. Both a monster movie and a love story, the film’s deliberate structure is a standout all on its own. The writing is fresh and funny and the use of light makes it a joy to watch. There are brilliantly theatrical moments. I believe this film would actually translate incredibly well onstage! When you see it, you’ll know what I mean. It’s a complete compliment. I sat down with co-directors Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner (who also stars and wrote the script) and star Brea Grant to chat all things Something Else. How did the script come about? What in the world were they thinking with certain choices? What did Brea think the first time she read the script?  We talk favorite movie monsters, and how the filmmakers of one of my favorite films The Endless, Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead, got on board. You can read my full review of Something Else here, but give a listen to the awesome time we all had together. Be warned, when I walked into the room, Christian, Jeremy, and Brea had all been in the super cool bathroom of our interview room at The Roxy Hotel taking a photo, and I’m disappointed in myself for not getting in on the selfie action on my way out the door. Also, when you hear us refer/talk to “Ted”, we’re actually talking to We Are Still Here and Mohawk filmmaker Ted Geoghegan who just so happened to be in our presence. No big deal. Anyhow, without further ado, here is our podcast talking all things Tribeca, monsters, and Something Else.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella are the filmmakers behind the indie zombie film The Battery and survival comedy Tex Montana Will Survive! Lifelong friends, both directors were born and raised in Florida.

FILM INFO
  • Section:
    Midnight
  • Year:
    2019
  • Length:
    83 minutes
  • Language:
    English
  • Country:
  • Premiere:
    World
  • Connect:
CAST & CREDITS
  • Director:
    Jeremy Gardner and Christian Stella
  • Producer:
    David Lawson Jr., Justin Benson, Aaron Moorhead, Arvind Harinath
  • Screenwriter:
    Jeremy Gardner
  • Cinematographer:
    Christian Stella
  • Editor:
    Christian Stella and Jeremy Gardner
  • Executive Producer:
    Venu Kunnappilly
  • Cast:
    Jeremy Gardner. Brea Grant, Henry Zebrowski, Justin Benson, Ashley Song, Nicola Masciotra

Review: ‘THE LATE BLOOMER’, Kevin Pollak’s directorial debut, is based on a true and hilarious story.

latebloomer_th_1sht_lr_proof_2_revSometimes, when you get really lucky, you get to be part of movie history. When Kevin Pollak got the call that he was going to direct a movie version of Ken Baker‘s Book, “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body”, I was in the room. We were just sitting down for a small roundtable interview for his Tribeca Film Festival Film documentary Misery Loves Comedy, when he got a call he had to take at the table. When Kevin Pollak needs to answer the phone, you sit politely and attempt to eavesdrop. There was no need, as he hung up the phone and eagerly explained that he’d be directing a comedy about a kid who doesn’t hit puberty until his 20’s… and that it was based on a true story.
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The story of an adult male who, after the successful removal of a benign tumor resting against his pituitary gland, experiences all the changes and effects of puberty over a three-week period.

While the cast is beyond tremendous, sometimes the jokes just fall flat. The premise is outstanding so I leave it up to the audience this time to decide whether or not to catch this one. Check out the trailer below for a pretty fun preview.
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THE LATE BLOOMER
In Select Theaters and On Demand / Digital HD: October 7, 2016
DIRECTOR: Kevin Pollak
WRITER: Screenplay By Joe Nussbaum, Mark Torgove, Paul A. Kaplan, Kyle Cooper, Austyn Jeffs, Story By Joe Nussbaum and Gary Rosen, From the Book “The Late Bloomer: A Memoir of My Body” by Ken Baker
CAST: Johnny Simmons, Maria Bello, Brittany Snow, Jane Lynch, J.K. Simmons, Kumail Nanjiani, Beck Bennett, Paul Wesley
GENRE: Comedy
DISTRIBUTOR: Momentum Pictures

1 Filmmaker, 3 Films: An Introduction to writer/director Steve Balderson

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Steve Balderson has been shattering the industry mold for years. This week, his film praised by Roger Ebert as one of the best films in 2005, FIRECRACKER, has its 10th Anniversary screening. Beginning in a micro studio is Kansas, Steve finally made the jump to Hollywood this year. Today, we’ll bring you 3 reviews and an interview with Steve. Get inside the mind of a man who easily crosses genre lines and does it without the budgets and connections of his predecessors. Ladies & Gentlemen, Steve Balderson.


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This is pitch perfect black comedy with the gore of a horror industry master. Clearly inspired by Twin Peaks, this film is so over the top, it leaves you begging for more. you can read my full review here.


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Theatrical Release, Sept. 9th-15th at Arena Cinemas
El Ganzo is just about the opposite end spectrum from HELLTOWN. Never in a million years would you guess they were created by the same filmmaker. That is  what makes Balderson so interesting. El Ganzo is the story of Lizzy, a woman whose past is as much of a mystery to the audience as it is her her. When she arrives at the El Ganzo hotel in Mexico, she is disoriented and bag less. all she knows is that she’s checked in and searching for something. She comes across another guest, named Guy. He too is a wandering soul, looking for artistic and spiritual inspiration. Together they forge an immediate bond in trying to understand the needs and desires of the other. el-ganzoThe score is stunning, the cinematography might as well be an add for the landscape and the local sites. Susan Traylor, as Lizzy, is haunted and ethereal. Anslem Richardson, as Guy,  is soft and magnetic. Someone, two people who should have nothing in common create a world of self discovery and forgiveness. Written in collaboration with Traylor, Richardson, and Balderson, the dialogue runs in circles at moments, keeping you on your toes constantly. El Ganzo has a quiet elegance that will capture your heart.susan-traylor-ans-anslem-richardson-in-el-ganzo


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10th Anniversary Screening Sept. 10th at Arena Cinemas

Horror legend Karen Black appears in this most unusual story. A young boy from an abusive home longs for escape, while a singer from a carnival longs for the same. When their worlds collide, tragedy strikes. black-and-white-firecrackerThis is one of those films where seeing is believing. The striking visual scope of Firecracker is just one of the things that makes it so unreal. Half in black & white and the other half in overly saturated color, the emotional story lines are hard drawn. Paying almost direct homage to FREAKS, (and far before it’s time, Jessica Lange’s leading lady in Season 4 of American Horror Story) FIRECRACKER is disturbing in so many ways. firecracker-mike-patton-and-karen-black-color-stillBlack plays duels roles, as both the carnival chanteuse and mother with a severe case a PTSD. Son Jimmy is caught between both worlds. The emotional grip this strange tale holds upon the audience is something to experience in the theater, in the dark, on a big screen, surrounded by others experiencing it for the first time. firecracker-013


I was fortunate enough to chat with Steve last week. Here our fun interview.

For even more info on Steve Balderson, you can check out his website.

Steve Balderson – Director

After attending CalArts Film School, Steve Balderson had something many film makers don’t achieve in a lifetime: a fully realized artistic vision.  At the young age of 23, he made his first full-length feature film, PEP SQUAD, which became a cult classic.  His second film, FIRECRACKER, starring Karen Black and Mike Patton, was praised by critics worldwide and given a Special Jury Award on Roger Ebert’s list of 2005’s Best Films.  His third film, WATCH OUT, was praised by critics as one of the great cult films of all time and shortlisted for Best International Feature in various film festivals.  In 2011, the U.S. Library of Congress selected his film THE CASSEROLE CLUB for its permanent collection.  Film Threat magazine says, Balderson makes movies that are so gorgeous that it’s not unreasonable to say that, cinematographically at least; he’s the equal of an Argento or Kubrick in their prime. Some people have perfect vocal pitch, Steve has perfect visual composition.  Interested not just in film but also architecture, design and elements of time and space, Balderson’s milieu is all-inclusive and his work bears an unmistakable, individual stamp.  Though he chuckles when he says his idea of a good time is going out to sketch a story board, he’s not kidding.  Driven and prolific, Balderson happily shares his secrets in Maverick Filmmaking Workshops, where he instructs and inspires filmmakers young and old.

 

‘BLUEBIRD’ is the newest title available from WE ARE COLONY with behind-the-scenes extras!

we are colony logoThe newest digital release from We Are Colony is from first-time director Lance Edmands (editor of Lena Dunham’s Tiny Furniture) titled BLUEBIRD.  BLUEBIRD-iTunes-Full-Key-Art

Starring Mad Men’s John SlatteryThe Leftovers’ Emily MeadeThe Good Wife’s Margo Martingale plus a cameo from Girls’ Adam Driver, Bluebird will available to rent and buy in the US from Monday 25th July with exclusive behind-the-scenes extras.

Synopsis:

In the northern reaches of Maine, a local school bus driver becomes distracted during her end-of-day inspection, and fails to notice a sleeping boy in the back of the bus. What happens next shatters the tranquility of her small Maine logging town, proving that even the slightest actions have enormous consequences.

BLUEBIRD Amy Morton & Emily Meade & John Slattery Photo by Jody Lee LipesJeremy got the incredible oportunity to see Bluebird at the Indy Film Fest last year. In his review, he outlines the gutwrenching and effecting emotional hold the film has on it’s audience. I could not have said it better myself, so here are a few quotes from Jeremy’s review:

“…at this year’s Indy Film FestLance Edmands’ Bluebird was far and away my favorite of those that I saw and certainly worthy of the Grand Jury Prize, tops of the fest, as well as the American Spectrum Prize for the best film made by an American director…”

BLUEBIRD Amy Morton Photo by Jody Lee Lipes

“Bluebird is not a heartwarming story and thus not for everyone. It mirrors the bleakness and harshness of the landscape and the season in which it was shot so deftly by Jody Lee Lipes (also known for the great photography of Martha Marcy May Marlene). It echoes Atom Egoyan‘s The Sweet Hereafter, a film I would easily put in the top ten best of the 1990s, in tone and even bears some narrative resemblance, yet it stands on its own and makes us take notice.”

You can read Jeremy’s review in it’s entirety as well as his interview with director Lance Edmands. Take a look at the trailer below.

In renting or owning Bluebird through We Are Colony’s digital platform, you are treated to exclusive behind-the-scenes extras.

For more information on this unique platform: We Are Colony Colony-platform

[FLASHBACK] Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Tumbledown_Press_1 TribecaRebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.tumbledownjasonsudeikisrebeccahall

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.jasonsudeikistumbledownrebeccahall


I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

Originally posted April 20, 2015

Review/Interview: OITNB star Nick Sandow talks ‘THE WANNABE’

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Presents

THE WANNABE

Respect isn’t earned. It’s stolen.

Written & Directed & Co-Starring Nick Sandow (Captuto on Orange is the New Black) Executive Produced by Academy Award Winner Martin Scorsese (Goodfellas) & Dean Devlin (Independence Day)

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No matter who we are, during our lives we have idolized a person. Perhaps in some cases, to a point that may border on the unhealthy. Orange Is The New Black star, Nick Sandow, has written and directed a new film where that idol is the infamous mobster John Gotti. Meet one man’s story of obsession and desperation to be somebody, in The Wannabe.
The wannabe still Patricia Arquette,Vincent Piazza

Based on true events and Executive Produced by Martin Scorsese and Dean Devlin, comes  a story about Thomas ( Vincent Piazza), a man obsessed with Mafia culture during the 1990s in New York City. When Thomas’s failed attempts to fix the trial of infamous mobster John Gotti gets him rejected by the people he idolizes most, he sets off on a drug infused crime spree with his girlfriend and long time mob groupie, Rose (Patricia Arquette), by brazenly robbing the local Mafia hangouts.

the-wannabe-Vincent Piazza

The film is perfectly paced by Sandow‘s writing. Coming up with the story after a friend sent him an article about the real life couple, The Wannabe is a “what might have happened” tale. Perfectly cast as Thomas, Vincent Piazza gives a fully fleshed out performance as a man who craves acceptance. When he doesn’t receive it, drugs lead to power hungry and dangerous life choices. Piazza’s time on Boardwalk Empire served him well in outlining his gangster look and the way he carried himself physically. We’re on the emotional roller coaster alongside him throughout. Patricia Arquette as Rose, is nothing less than brilliant. I am convinced that no matter what character you throw at her, she would own it. Her ease and presence on screen is unmatched, ever the scene stealer. Also, a Boardwalk alum, along with Sandow, it is clear that their chemistry as a trio makes the film as successful as it is.wannabe- Patrcia Arquette

I was privileged to interview Nick Sandow this week. Take a look at what he had to say about The Wannabe.


Liz: Firstly, Nick, thanks for taking the time to chat with me. The Wannabe is an incredibly successful story of audacious choices and personal delusion. Love the structure and style. So, congratulations on the film!

 Where is the line between truth and fiction with Thomas and Rose’s story?
Nick: The line is blurry. There were a handful of facts about a real couple that in the early nineties went around robbing mob social clubs. I was fascinated with how they got from A to Z. I just ran with the story and started to blend in real events that were going on at that time.
Liz: You write and direct this project. What was the biggest challenge in wearing both hats?
Nick: Writing and directing hats go very well together. I’ve directed things that I didn’t write and I have to work very hard to find my way into it. When you write it….. it’s yours…. you are already inside it. It has your DNA all over it so when it comes time to direct it I am attempting to take it further and trying to find another level of understanding with all the tools available.
Liz: Getting the script to Scorsese, wow. What was that moment like when he decided to come on board?
Nick: I couldn’t believe it. I still don’t. It’s hard to fathom. But what a gentle guiding spirit he is.
Liz: When writing, did you already have Vincent and Patricia in mind?
Nick:  I didn’t have them in mind at first but when they did come on board they were both very influential contributors to the rewriting process.
Liz: Was mob history an interest of yours prior to discovering this story?
Nick: Mob history wasn’t an interest. I grew up in a very similar neighborhood in the Bronx. So it was less an interest than a way of life.
Liz: How easy/difficult was it to shoot in the city for it being a period piece?
Nick: It was extremely difficult shooting a period piece in NYC on our budget in 20 days. It was all about finding the right locations. We had 35 location in 20 days. We were trying to find the 90s in the city and you really have to hunt for it. It’s there, you just have to get out into the boroughs. We shot in every one of them except Staten Island.
Liz: Have you ever been obsessed, for lack of a better word, with an individual in the way Thomas was?
Nick:  I’m not sure I was ever as obsessed as Thomas with one single person but I do very much identify with the desperation of wanting to be someone you are not. I’ve made a living out of doing that as an actor for 25 years. I understand where that obsession comes from… I had an outlet for it with acting.
Liz: You, as an actor, have a knack to for being cast as an authority figure, shall we say? Why do you think that is?
Nick: I’ve never really thought of this before. An authority figure….hmmmm. To be honest the first thing that pops into my head is that as a kid I always felt I needed to know the answers to survive. In many ways that served me and in many ways as a young person I feel it shut me down to learning as much as I could of. Maybe this is why? It’s only a guess. I really don’t know.
Liz: We are definitely excited for more Caputo action in Season 4 this June. We’re really rooting for something good to happen to this character! Outside of OITNB, what’s next for you?
Nick: Yes, there will be more Caputo in Season 4. It’s going to be a great season. I’m also excited about it.
Besides Orange, I am looking to shoot another film this spring. It’s a great script written by Frank Pugliese of House of Cards. It is the weekend in the life of a middle aged retired pro football player coming to grips with having Dimentia. I’m also working on a documentary about Kalief Browder who was wrongfully imprisoned for 3 years on Rikers Island from the age of 16 to 19.
Liz: That all sounds incredibly exciting! Thanks again for your time, Nick. ReelNewsDaily is looking forward to seeing more of you any way we can!

Starring:

Academy Award Winner Patricia Arquette (Boyhood),  Vincent Piazza (Boardwalk Empire), Michael Imperioli (The Sopranos),Domenick Lombardozzi (The Wire), David Zayas (Dexter) & Nick Sandow (Orange Is The New Black)

The Wannabe is now playing in select theaters nationwide and is available on all VOD platforms.

Shocking Tribeca doc ‘DREAM/KILLER’ finally gets released in theaters!

dream killer posterOne of the most acclaimed docs from this year’s Tribeca Film Festival, dream/killer,  is being released in NY today and in LA next Friday, Dec 11th. Fans of the podcast Serial and HBO’s The Jinx, this film is right up your alley, I highly recommend  you seek it out!Ryan Ferguson dream killer

In the fall of 2005, 19-year-old Ryan Ferguson was convicted of murder and sentenced to 40-years in prison based on someone else’s dream.  Over the next ten years while Ryan languished in prison, his father Bill engaged in a tireless crusade to find justice.  dream/killer tells the story of this extraordinary father’s journey to free his son.Courtroom still dream killer

When Columbia Daily Tribune sports editor Kent Heitholt was brutally murdered in the newspaper’s parking lot, the crime went unsolved for two years, leaving the affluent college town desperate to bring home justice. At the time, it was the only unsolved murder in the city. A break in the case lead police to Chuck Erickson, who confessed to the crime, implicated Ferguson as an accomplice and left America with one of the country’s most outrageous miscarriages of justice.The Ferguson family dream killer

The documentary uses archival footage from when Ryan was first arrested, interviews with him in prison, and court hearings that reveal the strengths and the flaws of the American judicial system. The arguments of the ruthless prosecutor and Ryan’s brilliant defense attorney are also depicted to show how easily the system is influenced.  Interspersed with footage from the Ferguson family archive, dream/killer looks at the personal consequences of a wrongful conviction.

dream/killer – OFFICIAL TRAILER (2015) from Bloom Project on Vimeo.

You can check out my original review and listen to my exclusive interview with Ryan and Bill in the link below. This is one extraordinary story and family.

Review/Interview with ‘Dream/Killer’ subject Ryan and Bill Ferguson

Review & Interview: ‘APPLESAUCE’ writer/director talks total weirdness and hilarity.

Applesauce Poster

What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done? Just one seemingly innocent question is the spark that ignites the entire rest of one quirky and fantastic film. Onur Tukel’s APPLESAUCE will get under your skin and inside your psyche. applesauce Dylan Baker

Synopsis:

 Every Tuesday night, radio talk show host Stevie Bricks invites his listeners to call in and share “the worst thing they’ve ever done.” Tonight, Ron Welz (writer/director Onur Tukel) is ready to share his story.  But soon after he confesses on the air, someone starts sending him severed body parts. Ron becomes paranoid, terrified. His life begins to unravel. His marriage begins to fall apart. He has no idea who’s tormenting him. Is it his insolent high school student? Is it his best friend? His own wife? In a city like New York, there are eight million suspects and each one could have a bone to pick with someone like Ron.

Applesauce still, Onur, copsOnur takes upon the role of Ron with hilarious gusto. After he answers “the question”, someone begins to torment him by sending him “gifts” that remind him of what he did. The question not only effects him but his wife and their best couple friends, when they answer the question, as well. Everyone is angry but each is guilty of being haunted by their own past. The fallout spreads like a virus, spoiling the sanity of these four individuals. The circumstances get weirder and weirder, but you’re already along for the ride. This cast clicks and whirs like a well oiled machine. Tukel’s script is filled with pop culture digs and the realities of intimate relationships. It’s a crazy give and take between bizarro land and total nonchalance. I was all in from the beginning. APPLESAUCE_web_1


I had the pleasure of interviewing this multifaceted artist about this truly unique indie. Enjoy.


Liz: Firstly, this is some wacky and wonderful stuff. I’m gonna need more asap. Just throwing that out there. What in the world was the inspiration for this unique story?

Onur: The inspiration was a true story that happened to a friend of mine in college.  We were at a party together and he accidentally cut a stranger’s finger off.  He was haunted by this event for years.  We’ve visited this story dozens of times – over dinners, at parties, at various social gatherings – and it always captivates whoever’s listening.  We always wondered whatever happened to the injured person, how it changed his life. My friend and I also agreed that having a character tell the story over dinner would make a terrific starting point for a film. This was, indeed, the lynch-pin. I started with that and the script wrote itself.

Liz: You wear a ton of hats in making your films. Do you find that’s been a necessity or for the love of the project?

Onur: When you make a really low-budget film, yeah, you have to wear a lot of hats.  I was the costumer, the production designer, co-editor, writer, co-actor, and co-producer.  The DP was also the operator, best boy, gaffer, and grip.  The producers are handling props and also working on production design and script supervising. The PA is doing the work of six people. Everyone’s wearing a lot of hats. You have no choice! Of course, love factors into the whole process. But when people get over-extended, it becomes stressful, and that sucks. Still, when that camera rolls and you get a take that really pops, it’s all worth it. Then, in the editing room, when you start piecing it together like a puzzle and it starts to come to life, it’s magic. On the next one, I hope to have a bigger budget and crew so I can focus exclusively on the writing, directing and editing. This will give the other crew members a chance to focus on fewer things, as well.

Liz: For Applesauce, specifically, what was the length of time from page to production? Shooting to wrap?

Onur: I finished the first draft of the script in August of 2014 and rewrote it over several months. We went into production in November and wrapped on December 31, 2014.   Just four months later, it premiered at Tribeca Film Festival in April.  The schedule was nuts: fast-paced, chaotic, exhilarating and at times, infuriating.   I made a vampire movie when I was 26 in Wilmington, NC and we were rushed into production, much like we did on Applesauce.  The entire crew of six decided to abandon the movie because they thought we weren’t ready.  I recruited the camera operator Bryan Kupko and asked him if he wanted to make the movie with just a two-person crew.  He shrugged and said, “Sure.”  And that was all I needed to hear.  I just wanted a camera rolling; wanted to hear that purr of the film threading throughout the CP-16 as it burned itself up at 24 frames per second.  The crew eventually came back on board and we dug in and got the movie made, but I was ready to go with one person.  I feel alive on a film set.  A group of creative people working together to make a movie is a beautiful battlefield.  Even when it seems like films may be losing their cultural significance, it’s an honor to be called a director.

Liz: The dialogue is delicious. Super natural, which leads me to think there was a lot of improv involved?

Onur: Delicious. Super natural. You’re delicious and super natural, Liz. Hope that doesn’t sound creepy. Yes, there’s always improvisation in my movies, but it’s always very scripted at the beginning.  We will improv a scene if the words don’t sound real or the dialogue feels flat.  I always want the scene to have life and that usually means severing a sentence or two, rearranging some lines, or tossing the dialogue out all together. Sometimes we’ll use 100% of the dialogue. Sometimes 70%. Sometimes none. Plus, I’m rewriting the script during production, so it’s always changing.  I just want it to feel real, whatever it takes.  If what I’ve written works, great.  If it doesn’t, the hell with it!

Liz: Loved the structural choice to use Stevie Bricks as a transitional catalyst. It made for some quick relief from the adult realness (even as those scenes funny as hell) You totally could have gotten away with just having him as the opener. Talk about utilizing that character throughout, if you would.

Onur: The brilliant Dylan Baker gives such a great performance. I used him like a one-night stand. Literally. We had him for eight hours. I squeezed as much as I could out of him during that time, knowing we would edit him into the movie as much as possible.  He was very busy working on another project and I gave him maybe 10 pages of dialogue the night before his shoot.  He came in and nailed it.  I just sat back and watched.  I threw in a couple suggestions here and there to feel like I was a big shot and so I could tell people, “I directed Dylan Baker,” but I didn’t do a thing.  I didn’t really direct anyone in the movie.  That’s why it’s pretty good!

Liz: How does casting generally work for you? Do you have people in mind while writing or do you use a more traditional route with casting directors?

Onur: I wrote the role of Kate for Jennifer Prediger.  She’s a dear friend, but I was a fan or her work before I met her.  It’s easy to write for her because we kind of speak the same language.  We’re self-effacing, jokey, over-histrionic at times, charming when we need to be, yet self-aware when we’re both being sniveling little assholes. I was also friends with Trieste Kelly Dunn long before I cast her.  We both have connections to North Carolina, which might be one of the reasons we find the same things funny. North Carolinians can bullshit about anything.  I could probably talk to Trieste about a blade of grass for two hours.  I always have a blast in her company. The great Max Casella and wonderful Dylan Baker were brought on through a casting director named Stephanie Holbrook. The thought of making a movie now without her is terrifying. I won’t do it. She’s absolutely indispensable. She also happens to be a sweetheart. Lots of lovely people on Applesauce.

Liz: What advice can you give writers/artists in a world saturated with naysayers and Youtube clips/fleeting attention spans?

Onur: Read as many books as you can. The act of reading is creative. Whatever damage technology is doing to our attention spans can all be reversed with reading. Of course, this is easier said than done. Reading is a luxury for those with time. Outside of that, you better use your free time doing your art, whether it’s writing, drawing, recording music, playing music, making movies, etc. After all, if you ain’t doing that, you ain’t an artist.  If you are creating art, don’t be self-important. You’re not special and you’re probably not that good.  I have to tell myself this all the time. Every now and then, someone flatters me with praise. It’s nice to hear, but the day you start believing that stuff, you’re done. Before you know it, you’re lecturing people on how to make art like I’m doing now. I’m so ashamed.  I’m the last person who should be giving advice.  You should see my apartment. It’s like Hooverville for roaches in here.

Liz: I want to say THANK YOU for taking the time to chat with me. I cannot wait to see what’s next!

Onur: Thank you, Liz.  It’s an honor answering your great questions!

 
Starring Max Casella, Trieste Kelly Dunn, Jennifer Prediger, Onur Tukel, and Dylan Baker
The Disturbingly Riotous Tale of Secrets, Lies and Severed Body Parts Comes to VOD and EST Digital on November 24, 2015

Review: ‘JAMES WHITE’ makes escaping reality impossible.

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Josh Mond’s

JAMES WHITE

Starring Christopher Abbott, Cynthia Nixon, and Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

James White poster

If you’ve ever watched someone die from cancer… if you’ve ever seen the downward spiral of a loved one… if you’ve ever been lost in a haze a grief and confusion, JAMES WHITE will speak to you. What does a young man, flailing in his own existence, do to cope with the idea that one of these days, his mother will not get better? Is escapism the answer? Josh Mond‘s directorial debut lets us into the skin and brain of one man’s story.

JAMES WHITE

JAMES WHITE- Christopher Abbot & Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi

As James’ mother’s health deteriorates, his ne’er do well lifestyle is forced to come to an end, but not before attempting to escape reality after the death of his estranged father. Triggering a getaway trip to Mexico with friends to avoid dealing with life, this drug, alcohol, and sex addled stay comes to an abrupt end when a call from Gail forces him to return to the couch of his childhood NYC home and take care of Mom 24 hrs a day. Struggling to put his bad boy behavior on the back burner, James walks the line between telling the world to fuck off and dropping his very existence to protect the woman he loves most in the world. As the plot progresses, we learn the this is not his first go round with mom’s illness. Do we forgive his behavior because of this? That’s for the individual to decide.

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

(L-R) CHRISTOPHER ABBOTT and CYNTHIA NIXON star in JAMES WHITE

Mond’s script is partially based on his own experiences with his own mother. It is unapologetic and raw. You cannot take that away from Mond. No arguing that the film is ever dull or full of shit. It goes there fast and hard. Using cinematographer Mátyás Erdély was a genius move. Having recently seen Son of Saul at this year’s NYFF, his literal in your face, ultra close-up style of shooting, gives James White the immersive feeling the script calls for. I cannot imagine the film being in any other style. From the opening sequence, scored to perfection by co-star Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi, with it’s organic feel and LOUD introduction, we immediately enter the world of a man who is grasping at straws to figure out who he is and what kind of person he wants/needs to be.

James White-20

Christopher Abbott gives an purely award-winning performance. His truth is on his sleeve 1000%. Somehow, through all the distasteful behavior he exhibits, you love him. Scott Mescudi is outstanding. As James’ best friend and long time player inside the family, his genuine interactions with Christopher and Cynthia feel so authentic, it’s almost hard to believe that this film isn’t a documentary at moments. Cynthia Nixon‘s portrayal of Gail is epic. With the film’s structure presented from month to month like chapters in a book, we are privy to the physical and mental changes her character endures. No matter the form of media, Nixon creates her own presence and we are lucky enough to witness it. The entire cast deserves all the accolades in the world, as does Mond for delivering a bold story.

JAMES WHITE will capture part of your soul. It allows you to let go and perhaps forgive yourself for past transgressions. Do yourself a favor and see this film.


 

Nominated for Three IFP Gotham Awards:

Christopher Abbott (Best Actor)

Josh Mond (Bingham Ray Breakthrough Actor Award) 

Audience Award

About JAMES WHITE

James White (Christopher Abbott) is a troubled twenty-something trying to stay afloat in a frenzied New York City. He retreats further into a self-destructive, hedonistic lifestyle, but as his mother (Cynthia Nixon) battles a serious illness James is forced to take control of his life. As the pressure on him mounts, James must find new reserves of strength or risk imploding completely.  The directorial debut of MARTHA MARCY MAY MARLENE producer Josh Mond,  JAMES WHITE, which had its world premiere at Sundance Film Festival 2014 where it was the winner of the “Best of Next” Audience Award, is a confident and closely observed debut that explores loss and the deep relationship between a mother and son.  Abbott’s strong central performance is aided by a stellar supporting cast featuring Cynthia Nixon (“Sex and the City”), Scott “Kid Cudi” Mescudi (“Comedy Bang! Bang!”), and Ron Livingston (DRINKING BUDDIES). Shot on location in New York City with an intimate visual style, JAMES WHITE follows its lead into deep, affecting places while still maintaining its fragile humanity. 

The Film Arcade will release JAMES WHITE on November 13th 

Interview: Amy Koppelman, author and screenwriter of ‘I SMILE BACK’ tells us where Amy ends and Laney begins.

AmyKoppelmanBeautifully insightful, generous human being, and honest writer, Amy Koppelman now has three books and one screenplay under belt. Her novel, I SMILE BACK just opened in theaters, a film she developed for the screen with her screenwriting partner, Paige Dylan. After her first novel A Mouthful of Air, Koppelman used her own life as a rough base for the lead character in I Smile Back, Laney, immaculately portrayed by Sarah Silverman on the big screen. I got a chance to sit down with Amy last week, and pick her brain.

Liz: Firstly, congratulations, to both you and Paige on bringing such a bold and honest story to life. Thank you for tackling a subject we tend to try to hide rather than seek help for. I would love to know, where does Amy end and Laney begin?

Amy: All the thoughts and fears, the self-loathing, the doubt, the sadness, all of those, I own those completely. The ways in which they manifest in Laney and in me, that’s where things diverge. I’ve been sleeping with the same guy for 25 years…

Liz: So her outwardly self-destruction and addiction.

Amy: Exactly, that’s not me.

Liz: Did Brian (Koppelman, Amy’s screenwriter/director husband) actually help you at all with the transition from page to screen?

Amy: Well, he’s very helpful in the sense that he actually kept me alive and got me better for so long, and yes, of course, he was helpful. He gives great notes. It’s like, what more could you want but a great screenwriter in your house. I mean screenwriting for me is a completely different muscle than novel writing. It uses a completely different skills set and some people can do both with fluidity. For me, it’s counter-intuitive to the way I write, so he was very helpful.

Liz: Do you think it’s easier to “write what you know” or is that more of a challenge?

Amy: I don’t know because for years and years I just wrote without thinking about what I’m writing… I mean I knew that when I was writing I Smile Back I wanted a write a story about a woman and about how everything she did was based on fear, that she was so anxiety ridden about hurting or being hurt by the people she loved that she almost preemptively strikes against them. Because even if everything goes right, even if they don’t leave her, somebody at some point will die and that’s just, you know… I always think that by the time you’re five and you realize that everyone you love is going to one day die, it’s amazing that every five year old doesn’t run into traffic. So, I just write and write until I hit a scene and think, “Oh, that’s what I’ve been trying to write to.” … It’s not that I know the answer to that, I just write from the inside out, I guess.

Liz: Yeah, I don’t think that there’s an definitive answer. Sometimes it’s a hindrance to  know too much or you don’t want to reveal too much. Sometimes it’s cathartic. Every piece it sort of it’s own thing.

Amy: Yeah. I do know that when I write, I don’t hold back anything. I don’t care how I’m judged or what people think of me. It is the most unadulterated part of myself.

Liz: It’s great. It’s very accessible. It’s unapologetic so it’s unfiltered. It’s very relatable.

Amy: Maybe not for everyone?

Liz: But I think in some way, you’ve either known someone who’s like that, or perhaps feared to become that person?

Amy: Yes! That’s what I think it is. You know, when people ask me about redemption, I don’t understand that question because for me, redemption comes for the viewer or the reader, for the person who is experiencing it. I know the reason that I read, or the reason that I watch films is so that.. the thing that moves me the most is when someone is able to articulate a thought or feeling that I’ve had that I haven’t been able to put into words. Sometimes that I didn’t even realize I was having and it makes me feel so much less lonely. I hope that I Smile Back can do that for some people. Make them feel like they can identify themselves in the character or someone they love in the character and either help that person get the help they need, or realize like Josh Charles (who plays Laney’s husband Bruce in the film) ultimately has to, that sometimes, no matter how much you love somebody, you can’t make them better.

Liz: That’s why I loved the ending so much, because it’s honest and real. (SPOILER ALERT- *scroll down if you haven’t yet read or seen the film) It’s real life. Things don’t get wrapped up in a bow.

Amy: We’ve come to expect that somehow and some of the bad reviews have been very angry about the ending, “It just ends in the middle of nowhere!” And I thought, well, I don’t think it ends in the middle of nowhere, it just ends there. It wasn’t some ploy to be cute or something. That’s just where it ended for me. Maybe Laney can get her shit together.

Liz: And who knows? And you let that story just sort of live in the ether and I thought it was awesome.

(SPOILERS ALERT OVER!)

Liz: I  also thought there was an interesting comment on this cultural need to fake it through your day. But also, as a Mom, to sort of lose your “self” to family obligations. Two really big things… especially in the city!

Amy: Yeah. I think as women, at some point, we do feel the need to put people at ease. Not all women, but I do think that is a trait more inherent to women. To kind of make things right, so I think that for Laney, if she can keep her family okay, and keep her kids okay, and keep her demons to herself, then maybe they can all be safe.

Sarah Silverman I Smile Back stillLiz: What was in Sarah’s voice, when you heard her on Howard Stern? Was it a tone or something she said?

Amy: It’s funny, I’ve been tempted to listen to the interview again, because someone told me it was online, and I thought, “I don’t actually think I should listen to it again.” There was just something in the tone of her voice and I can’t explain it except for like it happens a couple times in your life, you have a moment of magic, like when you fall in love, ya know? I just thought she’d understand me. She would understand Laney and what I was trying to explain with Laney. I do believe that as writers, or carpenters, or teachers, or just human beings, we just want to be heard and understood. So, my first inclination was just to get the book to her because I thought, “Oh, she’s gonna understand me and that in and of itself felt like a real victory.” The fact that she got it, and opened it and read it, well that was a real miracle.

Liz: So, Postpartum Depression, in the past couple weeks, has gotten a little more attention than it normally gets. Which I think is important. I have a lot of  friends, who have just given birth and who are also pregnant, and clearly that is a huge fear. You just don’t know if and when it’s going to happen.

Amy: Every woman, to varying degrees has.. it’s very emotional when you have a child. I mean the hormones in your body, the estrogen, there is something called Baby Blues which isn’t Postpartum Depression and so postpartum depression is just like baby blues, that just doesn’t go away, it gets worse. I started writing [ A Mouthful of Air] 20 years ago, it was impossible to get published, and I think every single agent in NYC rejected that book and they all said, “No one wants to read about this.” I remember, I’m so sick, that when Andrea Yates killed her children, I don’t know if you remember that? I remember seeing it on the cover of Newsweek and calling one of  the agents and going, “See?! This is a real thing!.” And she said, “Well this isn’t going to make it any easier for you, it’s going to make it worse.” So, I’m really happy to see that people talk about it more now. When I wrote that book, people say it’s a book on postpartum, I never even knew the words postpartum depression even existed. I just thought it was a variation on the theme of depression. I didn’t know there was this separate world of this kind of depression. I remember after writing the final scene… I remember going online and reading, I don’t even think it  was Google, I think it was Ask Jeeves!… it was the first time I saw the words “postpartum depression” and it was on a very rudimentary site where some mother was writing about how her daughter had killed herself, not the child. Slowly through that book, I met a lot of people who were working really hard to bring awareness. It’s much better that people know to look out for it. People know with their friends, they can spot it. They know the difference between when the person is having emotional stuff happen because they have just had a baby versus, “Oh, that’s something different.” And they need an different level of help. A Mouthful of Air is actually out of print now but you can get it for free on my website. (www.AmyKoppelman.com) You can print it out at home or you can get it as an eBook. I might as well have it there, because the most rewarding thing for me, even though I don’t sell a lot of books, is when I get letters from psychiatrists or from people who say, “I gave this to my patient’s husband, so that they could understand what’s going on with their wife.” Or, “I gave this to my patient’s mother so they could help get their child to take medication.”

Liz: I think that’s so generous of you.

Before they steal you, HESITATION WOUNDS! (Amy’s new novel) I think it’s  so interesting that you’re coming from a psychiatrist’s point of view in this respect. I think that’s a really interesting way to tackle the subject of depression.

Amy: I think that one of the things that Susa Seliger says, (The main character in the novel) she says that even though she knows so much about the human mind, it doesn’t really help her in terms of being a human being. It doesn’t make it easier for her to deal with regret and fear and mourning and anger. The guilt for having survived. And, I hope you like it!

hesitation wounds coverHESITATION WOUNDS Synopsis:
The new novel by the author of I Smile Back, now a film starring Sarah Silverman.The acclaimed author of I Smile Back, Amy Koppelman is a novelist of astonishing power, with a sly, dark voice, at once fearless and poetic. In her breathtaking new novel, Dr. Susanna Seliger is a renowned psychiatrist with a specialty in treatment-resistant depression. The most difficult cases come through her door, and Susa will happily discuss medication or symptom management but draws the line at messy feeling. Her mantra and most fervent anti-prayer, and the undeniable fact of her past is that the people who love you leave.But the past is made present by one patient, Jim, whose struggles  tear open Susa’s hastily stitched up wounds, and she’s once again haunted by the feeling she could have saved those she’s lost, including her adored, cool, talented graffiti-artist brother. Spectacularly original, gorgeously unsettling, Hesitation Wounds is a wondrous novel that will sink deep and remain—powerfully, transformingly, like a persistent scar or a dangerous glow-in-the-dark memory.
i smile back posterI SMILE BACK  is in theaters now and will be On Demand this Friday, November 6th.

Hesitation Wounds comes to shelves tomorrow, November 3rd!

Girls On Film Podcast: Interview with the ‘I AM BIG BIRD’ filmmakers Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina.

I am big bird posterHands down one of the most touching documentaries to come out of theTribeca Film festival last year is I AM BIG BIRD. This is the heartwarming story of the man inside the big yellow icon, Caroll Spinney. I’ve already gushed about the film in my review, so I was thrilled to get the opportunity to talk with directors Chad Walker and Dave LaMattina this afternoon. Here is our brand new episode of Girls On Film: I Am Big Bird

I AM BIG BIRD is now playing in theaters in selected cities with a national expansion coming in throughout the summer. Stay tuned to Reel News Daily for more information!

 

An interview with ‘Boy Meets Girl’ star Michelle Hendley. Liz and Michelle talk about breaking into the biz and sexual identity.

DVD Art for Boy Meets Girl
Transgender actors and actresses are hard to find. When director Eric Schaeffer wrote the script for coming of age rom-com Boy Meets Girl, he literally had to Google who might be available. Finding a young and dynamic YouTube vlogger Michelle Hendley was god send. The story revolves around an early 20 something transgender girl, Ricky, who is stuck in her hometown (Followed the best casual sex calvin website). Thankfully she is surrounded by a supportive family and an adoring best friend, Robby. Into daydreaming, creating original outfits she features on her Youtube channel, and trying to navigate friendships, Ricky finds herself attracted to the new girl around town, Francesca. Not knowing how “things” work sexually with a girl, Robby becomes her tutor in the ways of wooing a female properly. We make your experience a fun and unforgettable one with plan your hens night. In a small Southern town, there are of course those who don’t  fully accept Ricky as well as the masked sexual tensions from those in denial.Fleshlight imitate the feel of vaginal, anal and oral sex with lifelike openings, internal canals and soft material. If you have never considered a Fleshlight , it will change the way you view masturbation.The beauty of booking with Absolute Angels Bangkok is that quality is always assured. Our first-class companionship agency represents the most outstanding Thai escort can provide in terms of beauty, professionalism, personality and elegance.avai Michelle is a real gem. She is naturally funny and sweet. Not to mention drop dead gorgeous, she carries this film with the help of Twilight alum Michael Welch. His performance is also extraordinarily organic and likable. The two steer this movie into the ABC Family category, meaning that it’s meant for tweens (at the youngest) and up audience. The dialogue is honest and reminiscent of conversations we’ve all had while trying to figure out where we belong. You can book for your next night out the best hotel where topless waiter are available. The Male Revue can supply a shirtless barman to your location. Whether it’s a girl’s night out or a special occasion, male strippers can add fun and excitement to any event. Why do the same boring things when you’re out with your friends? Try something new. Enjoy a show featuring male strippers ct and spice up your night! Going out to conventional clubs for dancing or bars for good cheers is the sure-fire recipe for quickly becoming bored and frustrated. There is little entertainment to be had in such places. Having to push through crowds just to find a place to stand, or dodging drunks who are always in danger of spilling drinks on you, is no way to spend an evening. 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The music, the lights, the scents, the well-oiled muscles, and the stupendous dance routines-all of these provide an energy that you won’t find in a normal club or bar. Away from the humdrum of your life and into the great sphere of male entertainment, you can really let loose and allow yourself to feel sexy and excited. This is the value offered by male strippers and the clubs in which they perform.The stage is set! Lights shining. Smoke machine steaming, hearts are racing and blood is pumping. As the curtains unveil and the electrifying music fills the air, our Magic Men appear and take the stage in what only promises to be an unforgettable evening ahead.  Come watch the ultimate male revue shows at the hottest venues and nightclubs around Melbourne. Whether it’s a Friday, Saturday or you just wanting to have your very own magic night, come see our MagicMen hens night venue hire perform their spectacular dance routines at a male revue show Melbourne. Our guys bring a high energy performance with electrifying dance moves that will have you sitting on the edge of your seats. Want to visit one of our shows? Enquiry with us today to book your tickets and reserve your seating. No walk-ins permitted! Voted one of Australia’s hottest male strip clubs, Magic Men is one male strip show you don’t want to miss. Reserve your tickets and book today.Still 2 - Michelle Hendley - Courtesy of Wolfe VideoIn the end, this film is not about being transgender, it’s about loving yourself. Boy Meets Girl has a great message to people of all ages and should be on your agenda. So many folks we know have lived in fear of judgement for years. I had an amazing teacher who was married, had children, all hiding the fact that he was gay. This is not a unique scenario. Too many teens are taking their own lives because of bullying. Boy Meets Girl is a beautiful introduction into a world some are still having a rough time accepting. Parents, watch it first, then watch it with your kids. Now is the time.


Still 3 - Michelle Hendley and Alexandra Turshen - Courtesy of Wolfe Video

I had the privilege of interviewing Michelle about her very first role in a feature film:

Firstly, let me congratulate you on a gorgeous, heartfelt, and really organic performance. Brava. You have a huge fan in me, already. Second, thank you so much for taking the time to chat with me. I’ll jump right in… How did you hear about the casting for this film?
Michelle: Wow! Thank you so much! And absolutely! I’m thrilled that you want to interview with me!  Eric found me via my Youtube vlog, and from there I auditioned with him over Skype. He worked with me on the script for a few months before making the final decision to cast me as Ricky.
 Did you and Michael spend much time together prior to shooting? Your relationship is incredibly natural.
Michelle: We did not spend a lot of time together before shooting, but there was a Skype call or two and I do remember getting Indian food together and having an in-depth discussion about spirituality and the after life….the curry was pretty great too. Michael is genuinely a great guy, and incredibly easy to work with (I know Alex and Michael Galante would also agree).
 Now that you have this experience under your belt, do you think you’ll pursue more acting projects?
Michelle: Oh yes! Definitely. I’m working with an agency in New York right now, and just got done shooting and NBC pilot. It looks like I have an acting career coming my way!
 What did you learn while working with Eric?
Michelle: Oh my gosh. Eric taught me *so* much! He basically put me through actor’s bootcamp (and even sent me off to an acting coach for a little while), and showed me the ins and outs of being on camera. Perhaps the most important thing I learned from him was to know your lines in-and-out so you can allow yourself to play with line readings and give the director a variety of takes. Seems like basic knowledge, but what did I know? I was just a Missouri girl in the middle of beauty school when he found me.
 How similar are you and Ricky?
Michelle: There are a number of parallels between Ricky and myself. I certainly relate with her when it comes to the struggles of gender transition, and the horribleness that dating can be. We also come from a supportive family and have loving friends. However, Ricky has a darker past than I do, and therefore carries herself with more of an edge. Ricky is stronger than me, and it was important that I made that distinction when portraying her. Oh, and I can’t sew for anything.
 So many people are uptight about sexuality. Which is amusing, since the ones that get uppity about it usually have something to hide, or feel ashamed about totally normal feelings or experimentation, and people are attracted to different things, many men are attracted to women’s physic while some women like men’s intellect, although a woman like this would be called a sapiosexual woman which anyone could learn online about it. Do you label yourself in your personal life when it comes to sexuality?
Michelle: You are absolutely 110% right. It is amusing (in the most frustrating, hair-pulling kinda way) the way people get up-in-arms about sexuality (and gender) – there own identity and other peoples’! I’m not a huge fan of labels, but I am very much attracted to men. That isn’t to say there couldn’t be a lady out there who had it goin’ on for me, but for the most part…I like dudes. I identify as a heterosexual female… Most people have not seen a transgender body, and I honestly feel that is why there is so much stigma against trans individuals. I think the world needs to face their fear and see that my body is beautiful, powerful, and that it isn’t threatening anyone (or their sense masculinity).
 With this video popularity, do you feel pressure while performing, and adults alike, that might be struggling with being themselves?
Michelle: A lot of people are beginning to see me as a representative for the trans community, and I am more than happy to see Jacob Hansen , Ashton Summers performing as gay twinks in helix studios videos. Yes, it is intimidating and I do feel a bit of pressure, but if their community feels they are doing them justice, then It couldn’t be happier. they receive a ton of messages from individuals all over the LBGTQ spectrum.
Michelle, Thank You, Thank You, Thank You and Congrats again on an extraordinary debut performance. We’re really impressed and look forward to talking with you again soon! 
Michelle: Thank *you* so much! I LOVED your questions, and I hope I have the opportunity to interview with you again!

Available today on iTunes, Google Play, Amazon Instant, Vudu, and cable On Demand. DVD  is available WOLFEONDEMAND.COM
and many other retailers across the country.

One of the most popular and award-winning LGBT films of the year, BOY MEETS GIRL is an authentic Southern romantic-comedy starring the newcomer Michelle Hendley as Ricky, a young transwoman trying to navigate life and looking for romance in her small Kentucky hometown. Will she find love with the beautiful rich girl Francesca (Alexandra Turshen, RED OAKS) or with her lifelong best pal Robby (Michael Welch, TWILIGHT franchise)? Authentically written and directed by accomplished indie filmmaker Eric Schaeffer (IF LUCY FELL starring Sarah Jessica Parker, Ben Stiller, Elle Macpherson, NEVER AGAIN starring Jeffrey Tambor and Jill Clayburgh), BOY MEETS GIRL simultaneously exemplifies and transcends the category of “LGBT film” to present the very human story of the blurry and complicated lines between friendship and romance, gender and sexuality.

Said writer-director Eric Schaeffer, “In making this film, I wanted everyone–regardless of gender (cis or trans) or sexual orientation to have a chance to identify with the film’s themes of wanting to be unconditionally loved and accepted for who we are. The message in this film is the same as in all my work: labeling leaves no room for who we really are, or how we really experience life. I think our only chance is to bury those labels forever in favor of a singular new one: human. Hate is easy.  The real courage is in love.”

BOY MEETS GIRL completed its theatrical run in February 2015 and garnered numerous awards on the film festival circuit, including Best Feature at the Teaneck International Film Festival, the prestigious Iris Prize Festival and the Memphis Gay & Lesbian Film Festival. The film also picked up multiple awards at FilmOut San Diego, sweeping up nearly every jury award for which it was eligible at the 2014 festival – nabbing statues for Best Feature, Best Director, Best Screenplay, Best Actress, Best Actor, Best Supporting Actress and Best Supporting Actor. Hendley also won the Programming Award for Outstanding Emerging Talent.  

Tribeca Film Festival interview: Kevin Pollak talks his new doc ‘Misery Love Comedy’ with expected hilarity.

Misery Loves Comedy PosterSome of my fondest memories as a kid are family game nights, Sunday breakfasts, and dancing in the kitchen. All of these things we still do. We try to outplay each other. We make fun of the everyone’s ever changing diets. We choreograph the best and worst dance moves in the universe. Being the first of 4 children ignites a fire that never quite goes away. ‘Look At Me Syndrome” is something I live and die by. Young performers are like sponges. They listen to every word as a kid. They are bright and observant, perhaps not coming alive at that age, but letting it all seep into what shapes their humor. *And yes, I did just allude to how awesome I have always been. But enough about me.* Kevin Pollak has created one hell of a documentary to share with the planet, MISERY LOVES COMEDY. Rounding up over 60 comedians, both stand up or just plain funny people in the industry, including the likes of Amy Schumer, Tom Hanks, Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith, Christopher Guest, Lisa Kudrow, Bob Saget, Chris Hardwick, and  Kathleen Madigan, just to name a few. Pollak poses the question that performers know to be true; “Do you have to be miserable to be funny?” The answers comes in form of intimate sit down interviews with a cast only someone with Pollak’s clout could get to say yes so quickly. Filmed over the course of 4 weeks in L.A. and NYC, we are privy to family photos, childhood inspirations, and all the mess in between. Pollak even edited the film himself, sharing that experience was eye-opening and surprisingly enjoyable. This film is non-stop funny. I loved every moment of it. Jim Gaffigan sums up the need to entertain others perfectly, it’s a ‘Narcissists Fantasy’. Question it, accept it, then own it. I do. It’s the only way to live.

When Kevin Pollak offers to take a picture with you, you take a picture. Because Kevin  Pollak.

When Kevin Pollak offers to take a picture with you, you take a picture. Because Kevin Pollak.

In honor of the masterful director himself, and the over 600 hours of interviews he had conducted, in true Kevin Pollak Chat Show style, I give you the audio from our roundtable with this comic genius. Welcome to a slice of MISERY LOVES COMEDY.

 

Misery Loves Comedy is available on iTunes !! *Ps- it’s #1 right now* Opens today in NYC (IFC Center) with a national release to follow.

Tribeca Film Festival review & interview: ‘DREAM/KILLER’ is frightening for reasons you must see to believe. Liz interviews Ryan and Bill Ferguson.

DREAM KILLER_Press_1 TribecaSome of us have a some pretty wild dreams. Maybe monsters are chasing us, maybe we fly like superman, or just maybe, we kill someone. What if someone else’s dream affected your life? What if their dream took away your freedom. This is was happened to 19 year old Ryan Ferguson. After a friend has a nightmare about a murder case that happened two years prior, he calls 911 to “confess” and once in custody, puts Ryan at the scene. Director Andrew Jenks, brings us a fascinating new documentary called Dream/Killer. Ryan is convicted of murder and sentenced to 40 years in prison. Let’s be clear, there is zero evidence that Ryan was even in the area at the time. The entire case, if you can call it  such a thing, is based upon a coerced confession of another young man with some serious issues. This is the tragic story of how the American judicial system is beyond broken. We’ve seen numerous young men convicted based on socio-economic background or the color of their skin, but it is still very unlikely that a middle-class white man would be in the same boat.DREAM KILLER_Press_2 TribecaWe follow Ryan’s entire journey, with the help of his extraordinary parents, Bill and Leslie. Bill does everything in his power, including tours of the crime scene to anyone and everyone that will walk with him and listen to the evidence, setting up social media pages in support of Ryan, and tracking down one the most renowned lawyers in the country, Kathleen Zellner. Roadblocked at every turn, this documentary is full of twists and turns in the wake of shockingly awful work by The Ferguson’s first lawyer, witnesses fabricating stories, and the dubious practices of District Attorney-turned-Judge Kevin Crane. If there is one criminal in this entire story, it may be the one presently on a bench in Missouri.

Bill Ferguson‘s tireless efforts are rewarded after his son spends 9 1/2 years in prison. Kathleen Zellner is finally able to get Ryan released. Through years of exasperating setbacks, Bill and Leslie keep up Ryan’s spirits and lead his charge to freedom. Dream/Killer is an eye opening film. The scales of justice are definitely waited against the truth and they need to be fixed. Andrew Jenks agrees that the film is emotionally enraging. As an audience member, you walk away shaking your head and fuming. These are both compliments to the story Jenks is is trying to tell. He and The Fergusons have developed a genuine friendship. Jenks calls Ryan “A bit of a Gandhi figure” for his ability to stay so positive throughout this entire ordeal. The Fergusons love for each other is certainly unconditional. Never once did Bill or Leslie question Ryan’s innocence. Jenks says that he doesn’t think this story is over. There is still a murderer on the loose. DREAM KILLER_Press_3 TribecaWith the popularity of the Serial podcast and HBO‘s The Jinx, there could not be a more timely introduction for Dream/Killer. Jenks also attributes the growing intrigue surrounding documentaries to Netflix. He believes it’s interface and the artistry in docs movie posters are attracting a newer, and perhaps younger audience.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Ryan and Bill and discuss this film and their extraordinary family. Here is the audio from that interview. *At the very end, you’ll hear my private thoughts as I left the recorder on longer than intended.* I actually ran into Ryan the following day. He remembered me, asked me how I was doing, and we chatted like old friends. Welcome to The Ferguson family. Enjoy.

 

You can still catch two more screenings of Dream/Killer at the fest.

3:45 PM – FRI 4/24 REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-1    RUSH 
9:45 PM – SAT 4/25 BOW TIE CINEMAS CHELSEA 5                RUSH

dream/killer Trailer from Andrew Jenks Entertainment on Vimeo.

To find out more information, you can click the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015.

Tribeca Film Festival review & podcast: TUMBLEDOWN will win hearts and fans. Including the audio from our roundtable interview with Jason Sudeikis, Dianna Agron, Director Sean Mewshaw, and Writer Desiree Van Til.

Tumbledown_Press_1 Tribeca

Music is part of our souls. It can heal, it can hurt, it’s like a sense memory. We’ve lost great artists in their prime like, Leonard Cohen, Kurt Cobain, and Elliot Smith. The impact of their death is felt each time we hear one of their songs. Imagine, for a moment, that your very favorite artist suddenly dies. Now imagine you were married to them. This is the very premise of TUMBLEDOWN. Hannah is the widow of indie folk singer Hunter Miles. She is hounded by gossip seekers on a daily basis. When Hofstra professor and true fan Andrew tries to get in touch with her, she brushes him off… and brushes him off again… and again. Only until realizing that her dream of writing Hunter’s story is one she cannot accomplish on her own, does she let her highly guarded heart open just a crack. Andrew and Hannah strike a deal; Andrew writes a biography on her terms for $50k. With the encouragement of his music industry girlfriend Finley, Andrew drives from NYC to Maine and moves into Hannah’s guest bedroom. He is then exposed to a world a true fan can only dream of, with one massive catch. Hannah will not stop mourning her late husband. Can fan and family see eye to eye. Can trust break down the walls of Hannah’s suffering? Will intellect stifle healing. In a film where it’s head vs heart, who wins?

Rebecca Hall is flawless as Hannah. Witty, independent, strong headed, Hall plays a woman unwilling to move on with her life. Jason Sudeikis as Andrew is unstoppable. Smart, and quippy as ever, this role is something new for Sudeikis. I love this side of him and hope that the industry, and more writers, take note of his innate ability to be funny in a non-slapstick kind of way. These two are an absolute powerhouse as they match wits with one another in each scene. Rounding out an incredible cast is Dianna Agron as Finley. Life after GLEE fame should treat her well if she keeps up such a strong, believable presence on the big screen. Blythe Danner and Richard Masur play Hannah’s parents. Deeply supportive and yet totally realistic, these two are the perfect counter balance to Andrew’s inability to let go of presumption. Finally, Griffin Dunne plays Hannah’s editor and owner of the town beloved book shop. He brings warmth and charm only a small town holds.

The film was 8 years in the making. Writer Desi Van Til thoughtfully crafted this story partly as a personal healing piece for a lost friend. She skillfully captures the heart of New England, the desperation of grief, and the hold that music has on everyone’s heart. For Director Sean Mewshaw, his first feature length film is a total success. It’s shot in such a way that truly shows the quaintness of the area. Finding “Hunter Miles” or singer Damien Jurado was one of his triumphs. He perfectly encapsulates the feel of the character that was created by Desi, Rebecca, Jason, and Sean. Coming in after the film was already in the can, with his music and lyrics, he “created” a musician we’re all discovering for the first time, but feel like we’ve now lost as well. It might also help that Sean and Desi are husband and wife! This team is a real tour de force and without any solid knowledge (only mere mentions) I predict many captivating projects coming down the pipeline from these two.

Grief is something so personal. No matter how big the hit we feel, it still leaves a hole in our hearts and souls. Sometimes music helps. Sometimes it’s a trigger. Either way, the songs live on long after we’re gone. So sing, I say. TUMBLEDOWN is easily in my top three narrative selections to come out the this year’s festival. It is a must see and definitely a must hear.


 

I was fortunate enough to attend a roundtable interview with Dianna Agron, Jason Sudeikis, Desi Van Til and Sean Mewshaw. We talk issues from the film, insight into the project’s journey, as well as Jason and Dianna’s other releases at the fest. Take a listen to the absolute joy around the table: *You can hear me ask a question about journalistic responsibility and one about Dianna’s similarities to the character of Hannah.* Enjoy the voices of TUMBLEDOWN!

You can still catch a screening of TUMBLEDOWN at the fest this Thursday!! I cannot imagine this film not getting distribution. We will most certainly keep you updated here at RND.

3:30 PM – THU 4/23  REGAL CINEMAS BATTERY PARK 11-11Icon-fg-map ADD $13.50
To find out more about TUMBLEDOWN in the Tribeca Film Guide 2015

Tribeca Film Festival interview: ‘THE ADDERALL DIARIES’ director Pamela Romanowsky talks fated moments in making the film.

Stephen Elliott (James Franco) and Neil Elliott (Ed Harris)Anna Kooris

Stephen Elliott (James Franco) and Neil Elliott (Ed Harris)Anna Kooris

Director Pamela Romanowsky‘s debut feature is not a meek choice. Tackling the page to screen adaptation of Stephen Elliott‘s memoir THE ADDERALL DIARIES seems like something that was written in the stars. Speaking of stars, the film is lead by an outstanding performance by James Franco as a pill popping, destructive behavior addicted, emotionally ravaged man. Under the guise of writer’s block, Stephen lets himself become distracted by a murder case that seems to resonate with his memories of the past; memories that have made him a famous author so far. When his father’s ghost returns to haunt him, life spirals into an seemingly endless line of poor life choices. One person’s truth may not be what it seems.
On the heels of TRUE STORY, Franco plays Elliott with a ferocity that is totally organic. Hitting highs and lows so sharp, I can safely say I am impressed. Ed Harris portrays his strong willed father. A constant trigger throughout the film, this role was made for Harris, literally. Amber Heard is beautiful and honest as a NYT journalist fighting childhood demons of  her own. Christian Slater is charming as ever and a master of emotional disguise as the subject Stephen longs to understand. Cleverly edited and stunningly shot, THE ADDERALL DIARIES is a sensory and emotional overload of a film. You will find something that connects with you, I guarantee it.

I was fortunate enough to sit down with Pamela Romanowsky and talk about the journey that became this project.

Liz:  Just saw the movie and I really liked it. How did you happen upon Stephen’s novel?

Pamela: Well, there are two parts to this story. I first happened upon it because I live near a really great independent bookstore called “Word” in Greenpoint. I saw it in the window and that is often how I buy books, ” What does Word have?” So I just read it as a casual reader and loved it, thought about it a lot, it really stayed with me. It’s the kind of story that takes a lot of processing. Then separately from that, James Franco and I went to grad school together and are good friends and we hadn’t worked together yet. Then I had the opportunity to make the short with him for The Color of Time. We had a great creative connection and a great time working together. James approached me with The Adderall Diaries. I actually just found out yesterday that it was the first book he optioned.

L: He is such a fan of page to screen, all of which so far have been really successful. It’s such a bold move because it can go so wrong.

P: He picks Difficult books.

L: He really does.

P:  It was a really great moment of synchronicity. He wanted to help me make my first feature and with a book we both loved.

L: I think his performance was one of his best and so clearly has a lot to do with your relationship. You had such a great cast full of talent. Ed Harris, what a juicy role for him. I also really enjoyed the juxtaposition of memories talk to me about the editing choices.

P: I developed the visual style with my DP who was also a collaborator from grad school. I met a lot of my people there. Bruce also shot my piece for The Color of Time so we had already talked about how to approach memories cinematically. We used steady cam alot because it felt organic. This is a character who is always in motion, and practically it allowed us to shoot quickly, to be intuitive, to find shots within the scene as we went. And the use of slow motion… you know memory is such a hard thing to describe to someone else but to me, the things that you tend to recall over and over are these small moments and details so it almost like you’re seeing it in slow motion.

L: it is incredibly effective. It is so aesthetically beautiful.

Did you guys have a lot of rehearsal time? Everything feels really organic. Yet there are some truly physically demand scenes.

P: I think as is often in indie film, but I had the advantage of knowing a lot of these actors and Ed, I met at the Sundance Directors Lab.

L: Had he been cast already or did he just come in and read for you?

P: No, he was my advisor at the lab. Coincidentally he was also the person I wrote this role for! His photo was on my writing board the whole time but I never actually thought I was going to get a chance to meet him. So when we were at Sundance, low and behold Ed Harris walks in and I was like ” Oh my God, Ed Harris is here!” It just happened that he was there, it just happened that he was my advisor, and it just happened to be the week I was shooting my father/son scene. So when he was leaving I had to tell him, “You know, thank you so much for helping me and so I wrote this role for you and I don’t know if you’d ever think about doing it but I am gonna keep asking you forever.”  And truthfully I didn’t have a back-up plan, I didn’t see anyone else playing this role. It took me 9 months to talk him into it. So I had a lot  of time to talk it over with him. It was the same with all the other actors. Rehearsal is really important so right before we would shoot each scene I would kick everyone out and we would run the scene through.

L:  As soon as I walked out of the theater I said, “I have to buy this book now. I am completely intrigued. I have to read it.” It has so many relevant issues that even if you’ve never experienced them personally, you would gravitate towards this story. We all have our own way to interpret what our memories are. And I think the older you get and the longer you live with your interpretation, that becomes your truth. It was beautiful to see that on screen. Thank you so much for talking with me.

P: Thank You! Enjoy the rest of your fest!

L: You too! I look forward to talking to you for whatever comes next.


THE ADDERALL DIARIES ticket and showtime information can be found here in the Tribeca Film Festival Guide 2015.

TFF 2015 NARRATIVE FEATURE

Release Year: 2015

Runtime: 87 minutes

Directed By: Pamela Romanowsky

Country: USA

Elliott (James Franco), a once-successful novelist inflicted with writer’s block and an Adderall addiction strives to escape his problems by delving into the world of a high-profile murder case. Amber Heard, Ed Harris, and Cynthia Nixon co-star in this adaptation of Elliott’s best-selling memoir. | Read More

‘EX MACHINA’ plays God with our emotions.

ExMachinaPosterHow far are we from a true functioning, fully self aware A.I.? We’ve all seen the Youtube videos of robots that can walk and “talk” and serve us things. These creations are programmed to respond to our needs, but what happens when we get so good at creating artificial intelligence, the machine doesn’t need us anymore? Writer Alex Garland, who brought us SUNSHINE and 28 DAYS LATER, now strolls us through a world where this very matter is at hand. EX MACHINA is the story of a young and brilliant programmer, Caleb, who wins a contest that allows him to visit the creator of what, in today’s society, would be the equal of Google. Nathan lives on a compound in the middle of nowhere. His home is state of the art in every way possible. But Caleb isn’t  just there to pick the brain of a prodigy, he is there as a pawn in a much bigger game. Nathan has created an A.I. so perfect, that it defies what Caleb imagined to be the realm of possibility. His challenge: test “Ava”. But the real test is something much more sinister. Read More →