Tribeca Film Festival 2020 interview: Filmmaker Justin Fair on his highly stylised short, ‘Sloan Heart Neckface’

Synopsis: Sloan (Clara Mamet) has a not-so-low-key crush on Neckface, an anonymous graffiti artist. Neckface (Raúl Castillo) has less-than-resolved intimacy issues and a no relationship policy. Which he makes abundantly clear to his obsessive fan girl. That is, until Neckface realizes he and Sloan may be the same kind of crazy; and embarks on a mission to win her back. Which may or may not involve exploiting his roommate (Isiah Whitlock Jr.), stealing a much-coveted pair of sneakers, and incurring the wrath of a ferocious lunch lady.
Appearing in the New York Shorts Program at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival 2020, Sloan Hearts Neckface is something special. It’s an incredibly engaging 15 minutes. It was like watching a tennis match of NYC characters. As a New Yorker, it really felt like home. It’s visually vibrant and quite emotionally turbulent. I was lucky enough to speak with filmmaker Justin Fair on what makes Sloan Hearts Neckface as unique as it is. Check out our interview and the teaser trailer below.
Did the initial script look and feel like the now finished film?
Yes! I hope so anyway. I hope we captured what was great about the script. Some things we captured quite literally from what was written, a lot we cut, and a lot we elaborated on, but I hope the essence remained intact.
I adore that each character has a signature color. Whose decision was that?
It’s great to hear that translates! We had an extremely talented Art Director, Lydia White, who lives in a Shell House. She created these beautiful mood boards consisting of a lot of Blues and Reds and we decided to run with that. I wanted not only for the characters to have a certain color, but also to have those colors impose themselves on the other characters at certain times of the story.
Have you ever had someone who was, shall we say, “a little more than enthusiastic”, pursue you?
Haha. I can’t say that I’ve ever been pursued in the way Sloan pursues Neckface in the film. I’ve never had that pleasure.
Who does the art on the letters?
We had a whole team of artists work on the art. I thought it important that each character’s artwork came from a different artist. The Neckface character actually had several artists: Jeff Weinberg did the sketches on the Priority Mail stickers, Landon Webb designed all but one of the tags. The big practical tag that Neckface rips off the fence was done by John Gagliano. Jenny Herbert created all of Sloan’s artwork. Henry White did Lester’s portraits of Sloan, and Ruth Sylvestre did the other Lester drawings. Really proud of all their work, thank you for asking.
Are Neckface’s tags real? 
Absolutely not haha! There’s actually only one practical tag in the film and that was one made on our own materials. The rest of the tags that appear on subway beams, buildings, and monuments were created and then added afterward by a great VFX guy, Matt Brant. He did all the compositing, tracking and rotoscoping.
I love that this is essentially a string of monologues. Did Ian Grody sit in on casting? 
It is a string of monologues! Initially, it was just two monologues that Ian wrote for a magazine, if I’m not mistaken. Later he expanded it to several more monologues for an evening of staged readings at NYU- which is where we met. He eventually adapted it into the short film script. Ninety percent of the actors in the film are friends of Ian and mine. We never held auditions.
Do you have a favorite short film?
No, I can’t say I do. I don’t get to see enough of them. There are a lot of places online to see them now, but I prefer to see them in a theater. The earliest short films I remember seeing are Charlie Chaplin’s. I still have a big love for them.
What directors inspire you?
So many greats. I love both the classics and contemporary stuff. For inspiration, I look to Scorsese, Cassavetes, Kubrick, Ozu, Billy Wilder, Hitchcock, Fincher, Sofia Coppola, Oliver Stone, Michael Mann, Denis Villeneuve, Wes Anderson
What is the most rewarding part of directing for you, and also what is the most challenging? 
The most rewarding part of directing is for me is being surprised by my collaborators. If your collaborators feel like they can take risks and be heard and their contributions will be honored (as opposed to having their job/performance dictated to them), then they will give to the film in beautiful and surprising ways. In other words, if I’ve created the space for everyone involved to feel like they own a piece of the film, then we all got to do what we came to do and that love will show up on the screen. That’s when I feel most successful as a director. The most challenging part of directing is the discipline of rolling with the punches because things will always go wrong. When they do, the challenge is to embrace it as a chance for creative problem-solving. I try and trust that it’s just the film finding its own way. It pretty much always leads to something better than what was planned.

Fantasia International Film Festival 2019 review: ‘Black Magic For White Boys’ spells it out in dark humor.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYSOnur Tukel is truly one of a kind in his IFGAF honesty and deliciously bizarre approach to storytelling. (There I go again with the tasty metaphors. This all started with Applesauce.) At this year’s Fantasia International Film Festival, Tukel has given us another smart indie with Black Magic for White Boys. The film uses the power of magic to heighten the toxic masculinity, racism, and misogyny of white men. Tukel brilliantly plays Oscar, a manchild with an inheritance who thinks he can command the uterus of his new girlfriend. Jamie Block plays real estate mogul, Jamie, trying to undercut and oust his rent-controlled tenants. Ronald Guttman as French magician Larry, in desperate need of ticket sales, utilizes a book of ancient spells to the benefit of all three men. Black Magic for White Boys is a not so subtle metaphor for the gentrification of New York City and perhaps the state of our country during this truly hideous period of our history. Every great/disastrous recent newsworthy story is integrated shamelessly (a total compliment) into the dialogue. The modern-day Greek chorus of bus riders making social observations is perfection. Performances across the board are nuanced and raw, funny and wild, in your face and effed up. Shout outs to Franck Raharinosy, Brendan Miller, Colin Buckingham, and Eva Dorrepaal specifically.  Therein lies the cinematic magic of Tukel. Putting himself in each of his films is also essentially my favorite thing. Watching him transform from role to role only reminds me our how insanely talented he is as a writer, director, and actor. Ultimately, like each of Tukel’s films, this stands as a unique experience packed with insight, bold ideas, humor, and a grab ’em by the balls mentality. No surprise, I loved it.

BLACK MAGIC FOR WHITE BOYS

Tribeca Film Festival 2019 Review: ‘Bunker Burger’ and ‘The Neighbor’s Window’, two shorts that keep you watching.

Bunker Burger

The members of an underground, post-apocalyptic bunker invite a psychologist from the radioactive and chaotic surface to audition for a place to live among them.

This short has everything you’re looking for in any film; suspense, distinct style, consuming plot, brilliant performances. There is not a hair out of place with this dark comedy. It is the perfect proof-of-concept piece. I am delighted to hear that writer/director Adam Yorke is developing it into a feature. I’m already there.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Adam Yorke is a writer/director/producer and head of development at Wildling Pictures, a ProdCo. in Toronto. He’s made two previous shorts and has had two feature scripts optioned. He’s currently writing the feature version of Bunker Burger.


The Neighbor’s Window

The Neighbors’ Window tells the true story of a middle aged woman (Maria Dizzia) with small children whose life is shaken up when two free-spirited twenty-somethings (Juliana Canfield and Bret Lada) move in across the street.

This film is absolute perfection for anyone thinking the grass is always greener. A married New York City couple watching the progression of a neighboring couples’ lives play out over the course of about a year is simply captivating. In the city, personal space lines are thinly drawn. It can feel as if no one here owns curtains. But we make too many assumptions and cannot fully appreciate what we have until tragedy strikes. The Neighbor’s Window is about people. With stunning performances, a lovely score, it’s pure and wonderful.

ABOUT THE DIRECTOR(S)

Marshall Curry is a three-time Academy Award® -nominated documentary filmmaker. Many of his films have premiered at Tribeca and include the Academy Award®- and Emmy® -nominated documentary Street Fight, as well as A Night At The GardenRacing DreamsPoint And Shoot, and If A Tree Falls: A Story Of The Earth Liberation Front.

 

 

 

Review: ‘Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation’ – Eat, Sleep, LAX, & Repeat

Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation

Theatrical Release Date: May 26, 2017

Available on VOD & iTunes: June 20, 2017

Guest review from Reel Reviews Over Brews

Spirit Game: Pride of a Nation is a documentary that follows The Iroquois Nationals Lacrosse Team on the road as they compete in the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. For the first time ever, the World Championship Games were hosted by a native nation in Onondaga, New York, the Capitol of the Iroquois Confederacy. The documentary covered the true meaning of the game from the Iroquois, who originated it and called it their “medicine game.” The documentary also gives a bit of history on what this sovereign nation had to go through, to be recognized by the Federation of International Lacrosse. They experienced years of misfortune but always managed to keep the faith and appreciate the game, which is a testament to the type of people the Iroquois are.

We are suckers for documentaries, especially ones about sports. The documentary did a great job showing the Iroquois culture and how important the Iroquois Nationals Team is to them and their history. While countries have national sports for example; the USA has baseball, England has cricket, and Canada has Ice Hockey, the Iroquois have lacrosse. Except, the Iroquois don’t have hundreds of thousands of players to pick from… they have roughly 400 players to create a championship team with. Even at this disadvantage, they were able to compete at such a high level in the 2015 World Indoor Lacrosse Championships. It was truly amazing to watch the Iroquois band together to host the WILC. When they faced Canada in the championship, they didn’t even hold a grudge towards them for “skipping” the passport stamping (the only team at the WILC that did not attend this ceremony), the Iroquois just played the game as they knew… with all of their heart. Throughout the movie, they had us thinking about our own sports memories. Whether it was traveling and playing professional WIFFLE ball with our team, Way Too Beautiful, or having the same mindset as the Iroquois growing up playing baseball and hockey. This movie hit us right in the feels. By the end, not only do we now want to go visit the Iroquois Nation, but we also want to follow them during the next World Championship Games!

Reel ROB Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Post Credits Scene: No

We want to thank our friends at Reel News Daily for allowing us to do this guest review for them!

TITLE: SPIRIT GAME: PRIDE OF A NATION
IN THEATERS: May 26, 2017
AVAILABLE ON VOD AND iTUNES: June 20, 2017
DIRECTOR: Peter Spirer & Peter Baxter

‘GROWING UP & OTHER LIES’ speaks to the inbetweeners in us all.

GrowingUpAndOtherLies

The city will make you or it will break you. But, perhaps that’s just a myth. How do we survive the rat race that is New York City? The great divide between those living paycheck to paycheck and those who own their own apartment is pretty wide. Do we, as New Yorkers, put that  pressure on ourselves, or is  it the city that places those life expectations on us? In Growing Up & Other Lies, four friends commemorate and commiserate their friendship by deciding to send off one of their crew with a walk along the entire length of the island of Manhattan. It’s the true to life story of Rocks, Gunderson, Billy and Jake. Friends who took their own paths after college. Although they all still reside in the city, like so many of us in our 30’s, life gets in the way and connections become fewer and further between. Jake make a go at living as an artist and now, on the heels of a breakup and a sick father, is a good time to exit the city gracefully. The guys plan to walk the length of the island in one day. Along the way, stopping at points that have meaning or that, maybe, they’ve never stopped to observe before. (Also a common occurrence for natives. You’ll never actually see a New Yorker at The Empire State Building. Ever.) Complications get in the way as they try to ease Jake into making his final decision.

growing up and other lies 1

Written and directed skillfully by Darren Grodsky and  Danny Jacobs, who have been a creative team in the past with the film Humboldt County, Growing Up & Other Lies speaks to anyone who has felt like they aren’t where they planned to be. Life throws you curve balls. Whether you choose to bat is up to you. This is a truly solid ensemble cast. Josh Lawson, Adam Brody, and Wyatt Cenac play Jake, Rocks, and Gunderson, respectively. Danny Jacobs play Billy. Each of these characters is someone you already know. Jake is kind of a self esteem starved mess, Rocks seems like he’s got it together but it’s too good to be true, Wyatt is the smart ass we all need and Danny, well, Danny is the over excited one of the group that sort of makes it easy to pick on. 

growing up and other lies 2

The editing of the film in itself is a beautiful love song to New York. As they travel from one neighborhood to the next, there is a gorgeous “hand drawn” graphic that guide you. The music changes, the view changes, and the guys change. As cliche as it sounds, the film really drives home that life is what you make it. I got the opportunity to talk with Danny and Darren on the phone about the film. (Bare with the Google Voice recording… I heart you so hard Google) Take a listen to our chat below:

Darren Grodsky and  Danny Jacobs talk GROWING UP & OTHER LIES

 

Growing Up & Other Lies is a quintessentially New York film. It’s an homage to the generation surviving between X and Y. Touching and laugh out loud funny, it’s a true testament to the times in our lives we either live to regret or live for.

Synopsis | After struggling for years as an artist in New York City, Jake is calling it quits and returning home to Ohio. On his last day in the city, he persuades his three oldest friends to help him retrace their greatest adventure together: a walk down the entire length of Manhattan.  But their attempt to reclaim the glory of their early 20s doesn’t go quite as planned.

Over the course of the day, buried conflicts emerge as Jake becomes embroiled with his ex-girlfriend and his friends dip into their own crises of manhood. GROWING UP AND OTHER LIES is an anti-coming-of-age comedy.

Written & Directed by | Darren Grodsky and Danny Jacobs (Humboldt County)

Starring | Adam Brody, Wyatt Cenac, Danny Jacobs, Josh Lawson, Amber Tamblyn and Lauren Miller

Run Time | 90 Minutes

Release Date | In theaters and On Demand March 20th