Interview by Sean Boelman
When one thinks of the most legendary character actors working today, the name Udo Kier should immediately come to mind. Boasting an impressively large and diverse filmography, Kier is just as known for his off-the-wall and crazy bit parts as he is for his supporting roles in films by auteurs such as Lars von Trier and Rainer Werner Fassbinder.
His newest role, in Carlson Young’s twisted Alice in Wonderland-like fantasy The Blazing World, sees him more in the former category as this film’s White Rabbit. We at disappointment media had the opportunity to sit down with the iconic actor and have a conversation about the role in the film, in addition to his career as a whole. Check out the interview below!
disappointment media: You currently have 270 credits and counting on your resume. How do you keep up such an impressive output?
Udo Kier: Well, modern technology knows more about me than I do. I don't count my films. And when I talk to journalists, they always say, "It's almost 300 films," and I say, "Yes, 100 films are bad, 50 films you can watch with some good wine, and 50 films are good." And, you know, I think I did only with Lars von Trier, I did 10 films or 12, Fassbinder, and all. So there are good films, but, you know, as an actor, unless it's a director like David Lynch, you know, I'm a very lucky man, that I work with many people like Wim Wenders, like Werner Herzog, like Lars von Trier, they cannot make a bad film. They can only make a film people don't like, but it doesn't mean that it's a bad film. But there are directors who will tell you wonderful stories. And then you start working with them. And you feel something is not in my direction, and then you still have to make the film. And there are films I did I have never seen because I didn't have a good time making it. So why should I go and depress myself in the theater? So you never know.
disappointment: So you mentioned that you've worked with many accomplished filmmakers, but you also leave time for up and coming filmmakers like Carlson Young of The Blazing World. What do you like about working with new talent like this?
Kier: Because they have talent. You see, I myself, I have never been to acting school. And I became a professor. And the thing that I say to my students, when we had a speech, I always said, "Talent is something you cannot learn. You can learn a technique, but you cannot learn talent," which is true, then it comes to question about his style, how much you want. When Carson sent me the script, and the producer, I said, "Okay, I read it twice." You see, when I get a script, I read first my role only. And if it's interesting, then I read the whole script with my role in it. And if I'm not necessary to be there, it doesn't change the story, why should I be in the movie? So I read it twice. I liked it. And I said, "Let's meet." And we talked and spent the afternoon together, she came with the producer. And I liked her, I liked her energy. And I understood very quickly that she was not really out to make a short film, which she did, but she got her attention. People saw it, and then she found the money to make the feature film, which she had planned all the time. She hadn't planned to make a short film and then was a success, and made a feature film. So I liked her. The same thing happened to me with Todd Stephens for Swan Song. I read, he came here. We talked one afternoon, and we had details, and I made the film. So talent, I like because I know from the past, in more than 50 years, the internet knows more than I do about my life. I must say I prefer independent films. I mean, I made Blade, I made Armageddon. Imagine if I would have gone to the director and would have said, "I have an idea." They would have said "What? You have a script? What idea?" But when you are making independent films, you become as an actor, you become part of the creation also. And Blazing World it was like, I know it was fantasy and she chose me to be her fantasy. That was really a compliment, she could have asked a lot of actors. But she wanted me to be cast standing by the water, just go with my finger, "Come, come." And I liked when I went there, what was very important, I hadn't made any films because of the virus. And they guaranteed me it was 100% safe, which it was. Not 100%, let's say 90. But I went there to Texas. They tested me, I had to wait till the next morning, there was a property, a farm where everybody was staying. The food came three times a day, nobody was allowed to leave. And everybody was living there. And we made the film. And she was amazing. A young, delicate, young girl able to write, direct, star in it, and be there and listen to the actors and she's very, very creative. And that's why I'm very happy that I did the movie because she's very talented.
disappointment: You mentioned how some of your scenes in The Blazing World don't have much dialogue. What is either the challenge or the reward in acting scenes like this?
Kier: Well, you're making me a compliment, of course, I have enough possibilities to express myself without text. Text is just there to undermine something. You know, you can say, "Oh, I'm hungry." As you can also say, "Ahh, ahh, food! Food!" You know you can have your fantasy to go either direction. I don't need text as much. It's like Lars von Trier tells everybody, "Don't act." I mean, I made films with Lars where we had our self service table with Lauren Bacall, Ben Gazzara, James Caan, Nicole Kidman, Udo Kier, Stellan Skarsgård, and Lars comes up to us and says, "And don't forget, don't act." You see, it is like you don't need text. Sometimes actors they love text, I won't mention any names, and start with the back to the camera by the chimney and then they'll turn a little round and talk to the floor. And finally they come up and I always call them another Oscar speech.
disappointment: So what is different in your approach of how you act in certain arthouse dramas like what you've done with Lars von Trier versus fantasy movies like The Blazing World?
Kier: I prefer, of course, the fantasy because I can use my fantasy. If some director like Lars, a great director and friend, I'm the godfather of his first child and we made our first movie several years ago, but I know he doesn't like us to act. To do a drama. We just be there and have a good script and a good situation and we talk. But personally, when I did John Carpenter's film, you know and opened my stomach at the end and put my insides into the projector, like a sausage factory. I like that. Because it's so ridiculous. But you know, I don't play as ridiculous. And I don't think it's ridiculous. I think it's, you know, a person with a special mind.
disappointment: So you mentioned a bit earlier how you like to take these roles that are pivotal, but small? How do you make these turns so memorable?
Kier: Because the way I talk. You know, I always say, there is a way when you play a killer, you have a gun, and then you look at your partner, shoot. But I wouldn't do that. I prefer, if the director allows it, that the gun is in front of me. And I clean my fingernails and I say, "When I'm done, I'm going to kill you. Are you happy with your hair?" BANG! And people say, "That was evil!" To kill somebody is evil one way or the other. So now it's like, I read the roles. I mean, I in Johnny Mnemoic played the boss of Keanu Reeves, Ralfi. And, you know, then the Chinese people come and kill me. When you play, in short roles or small roles, not long on screen, it's very hard to keep the memory. For example, now with Swan Song, my life has changed. To get a page in the New York Times, writing, "On top after 50 years, Udo Kier finally becomes a leading man." And I was thinking, "Were they right? I made so many movies," but I had never been a lead in America. I had the lead in Germany with Dracula and Frankenstein, but never in an American production. And I was thinking why? And I know why. Because the people start with you and follow you till the end. Yeah, when I showed Swan Song, I hope people can tell me "Oh, you made us cry, you made us laugh," because they follow the personality. Or you have fantasy roles, like in The Blazing World, which are totally crazy. And he sings a song, "There are three keys. You have to open each one. But I'll tell you, they're not as nice to you as I am." You know, it's fun. And that's why when I do even commercial movies like Blade, that my teeth are going to be pulled out and I'm going to be exploding in the sun. And I said, "Great! What a great way of leaving a movie." So it's as always, I look for something interesting. I wouldn't do a movie where it's a boring part. I wouldn't do that. Never. Because especially now I'm getting older. Next week is my birthday. 77. Lucky number. I'm born on the 14th of October, two times seven is 14. So and, you know at the moment, I'm in Hunters, with Al Pacino, in eight episodes, I'm in six, and I'm still working on it. I'm flying next week to Prague to shoot three weeks and then I'm done. And so there you have it.
disappointment: Well thank you so much for your time. I really enjoyed speaking with you and I can't wait to see 270 more movies from you!
Kier: I know that's not going to happen, but I'm looking, because time is money, and time is to sin. I'm looking for something now for the next couple of years, which really nobody has seen. I want to, will I be able? I cannot answer that question, but I want to do something amazing. Really amazing.
The Blazing World is now in theaters and on VOD.
Interview by Sean Boelman
Japanese filmmaker Ryusuke Hamaguchi is having quite the year, with two films having toured nearly the entirety of the festival circuit. The first, Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, debuted at Berlinale and is an anthology drama centering around the idea of coincidences in relationships. The other, Drive My Car, is adapted from a short story by Haruki Murakami and won the best screenplay prize at Cannes. They are two very different but both wonderful films, and we had the pleasure of talking with the director about them. Check out our interview below!
On Drive My Car
disappointment media: What stood out to you about Murakami's writing and this story in particular
Ryusuke Hamaguchi: I can say there are mainly three things. The first one being that there are conversations that are happening inside a car. And I think this is related to the appeal of the characters themselves. These characters often are very internalized in their feelings. But through their conversations, through the time spent in the car, they start to get closer to each other. And I felt that this kind of relationship and the depiction of the relationship makes it easier to turn and adapt into a film. The second reason is a conflict with the character being an actor. And you know acting and performance is a theme that I've always dealt with in a lot of my films, so I felt very attracted to it. The third is the text, the dialogue that Takatsuki has in the original in which he says that in order to know oneself better, you need to face the other person directly. And that text from the original was something that personally moved me and I felt very convinced by that story and to me it was one of the cores of the story and I wanted to directly include it in my film.
disappointment: Even though the film is based on a short story the runtime is nearly three hours How did you find so much depth and detail in the source material?
Hamaguchi: So I think the answer to that question is related again to the characters which are Kafuku and Misaki. I really like both of these characters that are in the original. They're both characters who don't often make their emotions apparent. However, when they do say something about their emotions, it's very honest. And that's something that really struck me about the original. However, in the original story, I felt that where these two characters end up at the end of the story felt incomplete. I wanted to see where they actually do end up. And so when I was thinking about trying to get them to a certain destination, a certain place that felt more complete, it just ended up taking this long.
disappointment: So one of the highlights of Drive My Car is the cast. How did you work with the actors to deliver such emotional performances?
Hamaguchi: I think one major thing here is to choose the right cast to begin with. The performers who played the main characters, Mr. Nishijima and Miss Miura, both of them are wonderful actors. And it was also very delightful to be able to work with wonderful actors who also fit the side characters. I felt that something about the humanity that these casts brought to the character connected a lot with what I was trying to depict. And I think they all personally just gave depth to the characters to begin with. So you know, once I know that I'm working with a wonderful cast, my job I believe is to create an environment where they can all feel safe to perform, I see that as my number one job so that the performers can bring their best. And if I can actually provide that kind of environment, I know that my cast, the performers will do a wonderful job. And in order to create that I tried to have as much time to rehearse. And I believe one of the most important fears or worries that an actor can have is not knowing enough about the characters. And that creates a lot of worry. And so in order to try to get rid of that worry, the two things that I do are readings, but also giving backstory. So in terms of the reading, what we do is we have the actors read the dialogue, the script many times over and over and over without emotion until we get to the point where the dialogue comes out automatically. And once the actors are able to do that, when they're actually performing in front of the camera, they can really look at each other and it makes it easier for them to show emotion and think about other things. And regarding my point about backstory, it's so that I can give past relationships to the characters that are present. What I do is write a very simple script about the backstory. And even though in rehearsals we're just doing the script reading, what we sometimes do is to act out those backstory scripts. And what that allows is to give the roles sort of a memory through that relationship that was caused through those rehearsals of doing the backstories and that way, when they actually are on set and doing the main script, even though they had been reading that dialogue without emotions previously, once they're in front of the camera, they can sort of derive a natural emotion because they have this past memory from acting out the backstory. And I think that allows for a real emotional performance to come through.
On Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy
disappointment: What was the challenge of creating a film out of three thematically connected stories?
Hamaguchi: So I would say making these three short stories was actually a rather smooth process. If I were to talk about some challenges, I mean obviously there are challenges to making any film, but the thing about Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is that each production of each story was at a very small scale. And to be working at a small scale meant that it allows for the safety to spend a lot of time to make the film. Which for me also meant that there is more time to rehearse, and so with Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy, this isn't necessarily a challenge but what it allowed me to do was to test out what it can mean to have more time to rehearse.
disappointment: So Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy has a humor to it. Why do you think this was important for this film?
Hamaguchi: I'm really grateful that you mentioned humor in my films, mainly because I'm always thinking about humor to be part of my films. But I think the fact that the theme of Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy is coincidence really allows and makes room for humor to enter the work. Working with this idea of coincidence is a really strange existence within this framework of storytelling, mainly because coincidence itself exists outside of the logic of cause and effect, in some ways, is this very alien thing that is suddenly appearing into the story. And it has the power and the ability to change where the direction of the story is going. It can suddenly swerve the direction of the story. And I think that can actually lead to humor in itself. But when working with coincidences, I think it's not possible to just do that, because I feel like it's more because then the audience to the audience coincidences can be a reason for something to seem quite unbelievable. However, the Japanese title of this film is directly translated to be "Coincidence and Imagination". And so I had the title include coincidence, and I think that allows for the audience to be more open and accepting of the fact that coincidences will happen in the story. And again, I think this really also leads to a humorous element.
disappointment: So the second episode discusses the idea of story structure which is something that the film as a whole experiments with. Why do you like subverting expectations for storytelling?
Hamaguchi: Doing this where I have three different stories but then turning it into one film was a challenge in itself but also joyous at the same time. And I thought it was okay to have three very different stories, but I did want people to also come out of the theater feeling that they watched one film. So in that sense, I was very aware about the structure of the film in its entirety. In terms of the first story, I kind of saw it as an entry point. So the first story has a very understandable, very simple triangular relationship structure that's there. I would say maybe the end of the first story is the most ambiguous out of the three. That said, with the second and third stories, I was sort of pushing on the idea of testing out this idea of coincidence further in both the second and the third film, Regarding the second film, coincidence ends up bringing on a very bad result for the characters on the in the third film, however, the coincidence leads to a happy incident, happy feelings. And so if I had flipped that order of what you come out of with the two stories, I felt that the audience would be coming out of the theater feeling quite disgruntled. And I really wanted the audience to come out of the film feeling something happy.
Drive My Car and Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy are screening at the 2021 New York Film Festival. Wheel of Fortune and Fantasy opens in theaters on October 15 and Drive My Car opens in theaters on November 24.
Interview by Sean Boelman
A partnership between Amazon Studios and Blumhouse, Welcome to the Blumhouse is a horror anthology containing four feature-length seasons each class, all made by underrepresented filmmakers. One of the films in this year’s batch is Bingo Hell, a Latina-led horror film about a group of senior citizens banding together against a mysterious outsider who takes over their beloved bingo hall. We at disappointment media had the chance to speak with the co-writer and director of the film, Gigi Saul Guerrero, about her influences and working with some of the greatest people in the business. Check out our interview below and be sure to watch Bingo Hell and the rest of the Welcome to the Blumhouse films!
On Concocting Bingo Hell
disappointment media: In Bingo Hell, there are messages about a community being torn apart by gentrification, but they're also coming together to fight back. What do you think is important about this message?
Gigi Saul Guerrero: You know, I think, definitely we wanted to break that stereotype of the weak and the old. So it was important for us to have the senior citizens be the leads and the heroes of this story. We've seen that many times that older people get gentrified, and it's not in their control. And that's really heartbreaking. But not only do we talk about gentrification, we also talk about greed. So no matter how much money it is, no matter how much money can change you, the true strength of a community and friendships, you can't break that apart. So we felt it was a wonderful combination of strong communities, strong friendships fighting against gentrification and greed.
disappointment: One of the one of my favorite parts about the film is its visual style. I thought that it was really interesting. What did you do to develop this visual style of the film?
Guerrero: Oh, man, thank you so much. You know, I was really inspired by older movies like The Frighteners, Goonies, Batteries Not Included. You know, they definitely had such a charm. And this vintage wash that is so nostalgic, that really fit these older characters. Now, if you almost put Grumpy Old Men in a Rob Zombie universe, it's a great combination. So definitely still keeping that gritty grindhouse vibe that I'm really into, but now mixing in and blending it with some old school genre pieces. It just felt really fun.
disappointment: So something that was really cool that you did in the film was that you kind of blend fantasy and nightmare. What intrigued you about this combination?
Guerrero: Yeah, you know, I think definitely what inspired me to go that direction was, we all have fantasies of what we want. We all dream of not just a better life, but our problems to be solved. We all just want what's the next best thing. And I think sometimes we're blinded by reality as well as with fantasies. So definitely, with the themes of greed, I wanted that balance of what people think is happening, but what you truly are doing to yourselves. It can be very self-destructive if you fall in the peril of greed. It's self-destructive. And people stay in denial of that a lot. It happens. We're only human so why not really literally show that so gruesomely with the death seems of you know, these people have bigger dreams, but they're really only hurting themselves.
disappointment: And you mentioned the really gruesome effects on they're very good. What was it like creating those effects?
Guerrero: So much fun. I think the thing I was saying on set every day was, "More blood, more slime!" Every day, everybody's shoes were going back home very dirty. So for me, you know, I love it. Ever since my short films and everything I've worked on, there's so much blood. So definitely, you know, if I wasn't allowed gore — that's not the same as blood — so why not add slime in it as well. So nobody seemed to stop me. So I just went for it. It's so much fun. I haven't seen so much slime since Nickelodeon days. So we needed more slime.
disappointment: So the film also combines horror and comedy. What do you like so much about the horror-comedy genre?
Guerrero: You know, they go so well, hand in hand. It's such a nice parallel, I think with horror, we are bending and twisting reality so much that adding humor fits. Because you can really exaggerate not just death scenes and characters, but you can really take important subjects, such as gentrification, such as greed, or even like Jordan Peele does it with social commentary. You can take any of these topical subjects and actually get people to sit and watch for the 90 minutes. If we don't put more humor in our world, in our horror world, we're only going to suffer like we do with the news, right? So I think it's a really nice combination for escapism in filmmaking. And who doesn't love laughing when people just get splattered with blood? Like, if that's me, I'm that person cheering on.
disappointment: So what do you think made a bingo hall the perfect setting for a horror movie?
Guerrero: I mean, I'd be very scared, very scared of a group of senior citizens attacking me. They're the strongest, most stubborn people, you will not change their mind for anything. But also, it makes a perfect setting because we haven't seen that before. We all know the world of bingo to be almost like a boring game, or a game for seniors. No one's really done it. So it's really fun and exciting to do a fresh take on a horror movie.
On Having the Perfect Collaborators
disappointment: So you were able to find a great heroine in the Academy Award-nominated actress Adriana Barraza. What about her stood out for you for this role?
Guerrero: Oh, man, she's so strong. She's so captivating. And, you know, she really has that authenticity that Mexican, older women bring. They have this charm, this stubbornness to them that you just can't help but shake them, like, listen to me. And she reminded me so much of my grandmother. And I wanted that feeling of somebody so charming, so cute and cranky. That will give everybody the same love and an excitement to see their own grandparents on the screen. And I think that strength and that just genuine personality that Adriana brings was perfect. And also for her, she really was so enthusiastic every day on set. And she said to me, "Gigi, I've done a lot of TV. I've done a lot of movies. I've done a lot of horror movies. But never have I played the lead in a genre film. A strong Mexican older woman in a horror movie. Never did I think that would happen." So to me, that means a lot that Bingo Hell was her first one and hopefully more. You know, we need more, more strong Latinas like that. She's so incredible.
disappointment: And one of the most important things about any horror film is obviously the villain. Sometimes the villains are remembered more than the heroes. How did you create such a great horror movie villain in Mr. Big?
Guerrero: Let me just start out: Richard Brake is crazy good. He is that iconic horror actor that you know fans just love. He has such a unique face. And he is such a well rounded and crafted actor that you can throw anything at him. Now just like what you said, we wanted a villain that people will cheer for in a weird way, a villain that people are like, I can't help but love this bad guy. That's always so much fun. But I think with Richard Brake, he brought such great human characteristics of somebody that is easily manipulative. Somebody that can gaslight you, somebody that is like, down the street, the next door car salesman that just convinces you to spend your money. He has that charm. And so if a villain can be charming, scary, and just overall, really mysterious, you have a great combination in your hands. And Mr. Big is definitely memorable, and has some great quotes, too.
disappointment: So you've collaborated with Blumhouse multiple times now, between this and Culture Shock. What do you like most about working with them?
Guerrero: Well, I just like that they're open to these crazy ideas. So I'm thankful. But they're very welcoming to underrepresented voices, such as myself as a Latinx female filmmaker, they really do open the doors and have a home for us, which is fantastic because right now it's a really exciting time in the industry, where diversity is being so welcomed and recognized. So working with Blumhouse, I love that they're open to these ideas. I'll never forget that they said yes to the idea of Bingo Hell.
Bingo Hell streams on Amazon Prime beginning October 1.
Interview by Sean Boelman
After winning the NEXT Award at the 2021 Sundance Film Festival, the animated adventure flick Cryptozoo was quickly snatched up for a summer release. From the team behind My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea and featuring a voice cast including Lake Bell, Michael Cera, and more, this is definitely one of the most visionary animated movies of the year.
We at disappointment media had the honor to talk with writer-director Dash Shaw and animation director Jane Samborski about the film, its influences, and the nature of independent animation, among other things. Check out the interview below and watch Cryptozoo!
On the Film's Influences
disappointment media: What were some of the stylistic influences on your animation in Cryptozoo?
Dash Shaw: Well, you know, a bit a big part was Jane, who painted most of the cryptids in the movie, the way that those are modeled, is kind of after the French movie Fantastic Planet by René Laloux, in that they're like painted pieces, and it's technically stop motion, but it doesn't look like stop motion, because they're each done by hand.
Jane Samborski: Another thing that I know was a big pillar, when Dash was writing the project, he had a fellowship at the New York Public Library. And one of his fellows was working with counterculture newspapers from the '60s, which even ones from all over the world had this very consistent thin line look. Pre-internet, it was just in the air and so that and the desire for much more specific drawings in reaction to the broadness of the previous film.
Shaw: The Winsor McCay short, The Centaurs from 1921. That has a great sexiness, adult quality.
Samborski: And then also, I mean, the whole film has a collage look, so we're bringing together a lot of disparate ideas and really trying to honor the work that each of the individual artists did, but still create a cohesive whole and then you know, playing and making it exciting and just following where the art leads us.
disappointment: So there was definitely a very strong mythological foundation in the film. You based a lot of it in real mythology, what was your research process like for this film?
Samborski: You know, I always end up talking about every single creature is from a real mythology. We did not invent anything for the film. My research project was largely internet-based, as so many are these days. I was specifically looking for the older images from the cultures of origins. Everything does get run through the Jane paint filter you know, I am the artist that I am, so things that I make look like I made them. But those older images are just so wonderful and strange. And you know, it was a great place to start.
Shaw: And like when I started writing and I came across the Baku, that's when it really became a movie idea. Because movies can be so dreamlike and so the Baku as a centerpiece of a movie sounded like a good idea. And you know, like Hokusai had drawn a Baku in the 1800s and there's an experimental manga anthology called Comic Baku, so I had heard of it that way.
On Making Cryptozoo
disappointment: So do you have a particular cryptid that was your favorite to animate and why?
Samborski: I have two. I am in love with the Tengu and the Camudi. The Tengu being kind of the bird creature that tears apart the helicopter, and the Camudi being the giant Angular snake at the end. And what really excited me as an animator in both of those cases, is that I was able to take not just the visuals from the source material, but the actual motion. The Tengu has that sort of stylized Japanese woodblock posing, and the Camudi has the angular movement of the South American stone carving. Which I'm in the weeds as an animator, that's where my heart is.
Shaw: You know, I like that because Jane has her paintings. And then, I do most of the human characters when they kind of crossover and it's these humanoids like, like Gustav the faun so like, Jane painted his legs. And the blurring of the boundaries, I think is, I hope, an interesting part of this movie and just these kind of moments, I think are what I think of.
disappointment: So something that stood out to me about Cryptozoo is that it tackles some pretty weighty and important themes. Do you think there is a single most important message for audiences to take away from your film?
Shaw: You know, that's the kind of thing where when you say it in a sentence, it immediately feels like it's somehow deflating, like, you know, making a sentence kind of summary of a movie. You want the movie to be like, an hour and a half, like experiencial ride that's kind of full of contradictory feelings, and it has a wide range in it. So um, so, you know, leave the unicorn alone. When you come across a unicorn, leave it alone.
Samborski: Yeah, I mean, I think we just want to have the conversation. You know, if there were easy answers to these problems, we would have found them already.
Shaw: Leave the unicorn alone.
Samborski: Leave the unicorn alone.
disappointment: So Cryptozoo is a female-led globe-trotting adventure. I kind of saw Lauren as almost like a female Indiana Jones in a way. Where did this inspiration to tell this story in this way come from?
Shaw: Yeah, it was making that network of characters that all had a different relationship to kind of the idea of the Cryptozoo or the Cryptozoo being a potentially good idea: Joan, Lauren, and a cryptid herself, Phoebe. So I had that network. And you know, Lauren, traveling the world, getting all of these cryptids and it being connected to her childhood, which I think many people have that feeling with mythological beings. But I felt like I couldn't start with her like she's like Lara Croft, or like you said Indiana Jones. And it felt like, not the way to enter the story. Especially she's much more morally ambiguous than then those characters. So I wanted to start with two people who don't know anything about cryptids, you were just stumbling across it. And that kind of became the beginning and the bookend of the film.
disappointment: The voice cast of Cryptozoo is obviously magnificent. What was it like working with and recruiting all of these stars?
Shaw: It was totally great. And, you know, Lake Bell, like I said, the movie, that character looks that way because of Lake, you know. And the first movie she wrote and directed was about voice acting, voice recording and female voices in particular. So that felt interesting.
Samborski: She had skin in the game. It wasn't some weird side project she was picking up.
Shaw: You know, for these movies, like, I might record an actor for two days. And then Jane and I are drawing and painting for four years. So I knew that Lake Bell would approach this with some extra personal motivation. And I mean, Angeliki Papoulia as Phoebe is totally incredible. Of course, I love all of the Yorgos Lanthimos movies and, and she really…
Samborski: She brings the heart.
Shaw: Yeah, the heart. They're really like this soul that's like kind of shooting out inside of a very artificial world. Grace Zabriskie. You know, if you know Grace Zabriskie from other movies, I think it's really fun to kind of see her soul shooting out of this drawing.
On Making Independent Animation
disappointment: So something that makes your films really special, both your films Cryptozoo and My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea is that they're independent productions, which is getting kind of rare in feature-length animation. What do you think is special about independent animation projects like your own?
Shaw: Well, a key inspiration for me was, was when Disney released Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, they put it out as a two disc set. And one of the discs was just the storyboards by Miyazaki. And I love the Nausicaa movie. But also you're seeing those storyboards are like the dream of the movie. It's like the hope for the movie, and Miyazaki draws in quite an idiosyncratic way, compared to many anime artists, he has almost like, part European or a lot of different sensibilities inside of him. So then it goes through a production line that equals something that's quite consistent. With an independent film, you know, it's very obvious on Cryptozoo that we had a very unusual production line, and that we allowed for idiosyncratic voices, that it wasn't like it went through a machine to equal a consistency. And I really think that formally, at least, or it's even hard to say, formally, because I hope that, like the figure drawings, the beginning of the movie, it is a formal unusual thing, that characters are off model. And it's more like observational art school figure drawing of seeing someone in different sides. So that is a formal thing, but I do hope that it's an emotional thing where it has that thing that figure drawing has where people have contradictory personalities inside of themselves that you're sensing through these drawings. Doing it independently really allowed for that. It made that possible. I mean, you could talk about it for a long time.
Samborski: I mean when you are figuring things out from scratch, you're desperate to figure out how to do it. And so you, you're wishing someone would tell you how to do it. But in that act of experimentation, you're maybe finding a solution you never would have found if you haven't gone through and established. And there's flexibility that's gained by small teams, there's inventiveness. There's a big risk of failure. So you get some pros and cons. When you're really lucky, it ends up greater than the sum of its parts. And we really hope that that's what's happened here. It feels like it has.
disappointment: So I personally found it very exciting to see your style evolve from My Entire High School Sinking Into the Sea to Cryptozoo. What did you change about your approach for your sophomore feature?
Shaw: Thanks for saying that. Yeah, I mean, it was very, like conscious, a lot of very conscious decisions. We had most of High School Sinking drawn before it had been cast. So you know, I didn't think we would get good actors. And that was kind of like very built into the initial script and how I was kind of envisioning that movie. But when it came time to Cryptozoo, I thought maybe I could probably get good actors for this. So I promised myself I wouldn't design the characters until after they had been voice recorded. So also, like the main character of High School Sinking has this kind of dot eye thing that's like a Charlie Brown, kind of Scott McCloud idea of the main character being a bit more blank, and that you could project it onto them. But in retrospect, I thought it was kind of the least interesting character in that movie, that I liked the side characters more, which is a problem that a lot of first movies have, actually. So when it came time to Cryptozoo, I was like, all of the characters have to be interesting looking, they have to look great on screen and be full of unusual ideas. You know, fewer drawings, but better drawings, more specific painting, more complicated, a story we can travel all over the world, it's like, a lot of things I hoped to kind of course correct from the first one. But then there are things, like I really liked the last half hour of High School Sinking when it's really a disaster movie and an experimental movie at the same time. And I thought that part was rockin' and good. And so I really tried to lean into that with this one. And I tried to lean into the parts that I liked about the first one.
Samborski: You know, I think one of the big questions for us as a creative team in High School Sinking is can we even do this?
Shaw: Yeah, it was kind of part of the motivation.
Samborski: Yeah. How can we movie? And so with the second one, we knew we could movie and so we're like, how high can we shoot?
Shaw: How high can we movie?
Samborski: Yeah. Can we have huge action scenes? Can we hire people and have them help us animate it? And so it was just, you know, I think that's where a lot of the growth for me was is just how do you even make these things happen? And there's like a technical component. That's hard. There's a human component. It's hard.
Cryptozoo is now in theaters and on VOD.
Interview by Sean Boelman
Few names are as synonymous with the J-horror genre as that of Takashi Shimizu, the creator of the Ju-on series (better known in the United States as The Grudge). His newest film, Howling Village, takes a Japanese urban legend and makes a horror movie out of it, full of the director’s iconic haunting visuals. We at disappointment media got the tremendous honor of talking with Shimizu in advance of the film’s release! Find out what we learned below!
disappointment media: Howling Village is based on a real urban legend. What inspired you to make a film out of this?
Takashi Shimizu: The producer approached [me] about some strange things that had happened in this Inunaki Tunnel and what may have happened in the tunnel, a lot of it has been taken up on the internet, and everybody has chimed in with their own version and their own ideas. And basically, [I] took all of that and started to put it together into a script.
disappointment: Superstition is a key factor in many of your films, including Howling Village. What draws you to exploring this theme in your films?
Shimizu: There are superstitions and superstitions do have some basis in reality sometimes, and sometimes they don’t. And a lot of people who are superstitious think about their superstitions, talk about them, and that [grey area] gives a lot of room for the doubt that needs to exist for a good horror movie.
disappointment: The setting is almost another character in Howling Village. What about these locations stood out to you?
Shimizu: Every place has a certain kind of existence, if you like, an existence of its own. But obviously, some places are kind-of boring. [I] like these forgotten places, where people used to live, and to sort-of imagine the people that lived there, what they did, and to give existence to these places that a lot of people wouldn’t think exist anymore.
disappointment: Your films contain some iconic creepy images. How did you create some of the imagery in Howling Village?
Shimizu: [I] was a terrible coward as a child. [I] was scared all the time, so basically that’s where [I’m] making up all these images from.
disappointment: Different countries have different styles of horror. What do you think makes Japanese horror so unique?
Shimizu: Other places, they basically create monsters and so on — and not to say that Japan never does that — that sort-of scare you directly. [My] sense of Japanese films is that it is the sense that something is terrifying, less than the actual terrifying thing itself, the creation of an ominous quality.
Howling Village hits theaters August 13 and VOD on August 17.
Interview by Sean Boelman
Indie horror filmmaker Richard Bates Jr. has made a name for himself on the festival circuit as a writer/director of genre-bending midnight movies that have quite a lasting impact on their fans. His newest film, King Knight, stars an ensemble cast led by Matthew Grey Gubler in a story about the leader of a coven of witches going to his high school reunion. In advance of the film’s Fantasia premiere, we got to talk with Bates about the film, mixing genres, and more. Check out the interview below!
On the Recipe for Midnight Movie Success
disappointment media: Your films generally have a great deal of success on the festival midnight circuit. What is it to you that makes a great midnight movie?
Richard Bates Jr.: I really am drawn to midnight movies about family and sort of people who feel alienated who find each other and form families and groups and whatnot. Like I want it to feel like a party in art school. Everyone's included.
disappointment: So in your films, you really like to blend horror with other genres it seems. In King Knight, it's comedy. What do you like about making films that mix genres together like this?
Bates Jr.: Well, I mean, I'm really drawn to it in sort of all art forms right. Like, you know, I loved growing up listening to Frank Zappa. You know, a Frank Zappa song could be ten different genres. And then, you know, in college, I would love listening to Girl Talk albums, mixtapes, the mash ups, right. A song is like 15 songs. And so I really liked that. And I tried to do that, with my movies. I think the most genres I ever packed into a movie was Tone-Deaf, depending who you ask, could have been too many. But I'm always sort of drawn to that. With King Knight, I would say, I really just kind of set out to make a movie that would make me happy and hopefully make other people happy. I really had my version of a comedy in mind.
disappointment: So you were talking about how you've done a lot of different genres in your films from ghost movies to slashers and witchcraft. Are there any other horror subgenres that you find yourself wanting to riff on?
Bates Jr.: I mean, depending on what I want to write about. What I want to write about influences where I'll go with the genre, you know what I mean? There's absolutely nothing I wouldn't riff on if I felt like it had made sense with the material. Because I typically don't try to think about that, when I do my first pass of a screenplay, then I work it in, you know, systematically afterwards, because when I do my first draft I’m thinking more about the characters, and act breaks. And sometimes it's very sort of experimental act breaks. I mean, like a movie like Trash Fire, right? The whole point of the movie is, it can be too late to change. Dr. Phil is wrong, so get your shit together, and it's a movie and two acts because of that. The other ones are a little different, certainly King Knight has three acts, but it's a comedy. So you find yourself being a little bit looser with it, you know, particularly in the first act.
(L-R) Josh Fadem as Neptune, Johnny Pemberton as Desmond, Angela Sarafyan as Willow, Mathew Gray Gubler as Thorn, Andy Milonakis as Percival, Nelson Franklin as Angus, Emily Chang as Echo and Kate Comer as Rowena in the comedy KING KNIGHT, a King Knight LLC release. Photo courtesy of King Knight LLC.
On How He Makes Movies
disappointment: So King Knight is a film about a coven of witches, but it's definitely an unorthodox witchcraft film at that. What are some of your favorite films about witchcraft?
Bates Jr.: You know, I'm very passionate about the religion, Wicca. I made documentaries on it, it's a lot of my library. I would say I enjoyed watching Practical Magic. And I mean that sincerely. I don't know that there are a ton of movies about witches that I've ever been particularly drawn to. So it's probably why I made this. I mean, quite frankly, you know, once I was done with Tone-Deaf and I was trying to figure out what to do and with things just so ominous in the world, I just tried to write a movie to make myself happy, and will hopefully make other people happy. And at the time, I'd been pitched this director for hire thing, a witch movie about an evil witch, and I realized then that I wanted to make a witch movie, but I really liked witches, I didn't want to do that. And so I kind of took Pecker, the '90s John Waters movie where, you know, it's like, it's perverted, and it's edgy, but it's so sweet. And it keeps you coming back. So most of my movies are pretty cynical. So I really tried to strip this of any and all cynicism and love every character in it, quite frankly. And a lot of my friends are witches, and I had them read it just to make sure that it was all in good fun without being inconsiderate. So the idea at the end of the day is I don't want to preach either. I don't want to tell people witches are better than you. No sort of holier than thou reverential thing, the idea is just to treat them as they should be treated just as characters in a comedy. And then hopefully, by the end of it, you fall in love with them as people. Because as far as religion is concerned, truthfully, we're all searching for the same answers to the same questions.
disappointment: You've worked with some genuine legends in your career: Malcolm McDowell, Ray Wise, Robert Patrick, Barbara Crampton. Is there anyone else on your bucket list of people you want to work with?
Bates Jr.: Well, I would say, definitely Bill Murray. You know, it's tough, though, I'll tell you, I really try not to think of cast until I'm done writing, and then I will just pour over, I will only think of cast, right, because it's the most important thing to me. So the actor that I would want to work with would have to be a dream actor for the part, you know, and maybe fit in with our sort of troupe that each movie we kind of add to, because it helps, you know, when you make these sort of tonally incongruous movies, that you sort of get the references, and it's like a circus. So when I cast King Knight, I got to cast every single actor who I wanted because I paid for the movie with my own money, and then I took out a little loan to finish it. And I got to have full control over casting, I mean, I even negotiated the actors contracts with their agents. So I just had complete trust in all the actors. So it allowed me to not have to worry about micromanaging, I got to direct in a very sort of exciting way where it's sort of blanket directions. Act one, "I don't care how ridiculous the line of dialogue seems to you, or how preposterous the scenario is, you're not acting in a comedy, you're acting in Sophie's Choice." And everyone got it and committed to it, and then act one to act two, right? That shit was like, "Okay, guys, now it's the spirit quest, I want you to imagine if Nickelodeon remade The Holy Mountain." And this group gets that kind of, more obscure references and stuff. And so it's exciting. And we kind of form a little family of our own.
disappointment: There's something really special about watching horror comedies in specific in a communal setting. And while the circumstances right now have obviously prevented that from happening, virtual festivals, like Fantasia, have worked to really replicate that. Why do you think your films make for such a great shared experience?
Bates Jr.: Well, I think that there are certainly elements of a provocateur in each and every one, and it's fun to sort of react to things like that with groups, right? I will tell you, I think comedies best with a crowd for sure. I know that when I made Tone-Deaf, I really made it specifically for the theater. And now you know, it really never got to play at too many. And maybe it's my own fault. But really, when I imagined Robert Patrick breaking the wall I wanted people in the theater to feel like the villain was chastising them. I wanted it to feel like it was him versus the audience. And that movie was shot so wide that I designed it specifically for theater, whereas a movie like King Knight, I sort of designed for all experiences. A movie that maybe you watch with 10 friends around your VHS player type thing and you find this special little weird thing and you don't know that a lot of other people know about it, but it means so much to you. You know what I mean? That that's my hope at least, that's my sort of dream with a movie like this, that it makes some kids feel empowered, or less alone, or something.
King Knight is screening at the 2021 Fantasia International Film Festival, which runs August 5-25.
Interview by Camden Ferrell
In anticipation of the release of his film Nine Days, disappointment media got to sit down and talk with writer-director Edson Oda. In the interview, we discuss the film's ambition, working with such a star-studded cast, and more. Check out the interview below and watch Nine Days in theaters now
Interview by Sean Boelman
Having directed the indie darling Blindspotting and having since released the Disney animated hit Raya and the Last Dragon, filmmaker Carlos López Estrada’s second feature Summertime (which was made before Raya) is finally making its way to U.S. audiences on a wider scale. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to speak with Estrada about his wonderful mosaic of spoken word poetry set in Los Angeles in anticipation of its release. Check out the interview below!
On Spoken Word Poetry
disappointment media: This is your second film to use poetry as a medium of storytelling in film? What do you think of the use of that as a whole?
Carlos López Estrada: You know, my life has surprisingly led me into this community of spoken word artists. And it was unexpected, it was not a community that I belong to. Like, my upbringing was so far from that, I was born in Mexico City. But I sort of, like, found a place in it, and I am so happy to be surrounded by so many wonderfully talented artists, a lot of them young, and they've all taught me so much about creativity and about art, about activism and organizing, and like the responsibility that we have with our work as artists, as creative people. So I've kind of taken it as like a personal mission to just do anything within my power to help support this community because it's given me so much. And I feel like so many other people, like myself can benefit from learning about them. So, you know, Summertime is just an excuse to do that, to try to introduce as many people as possible to them.
disappointment: You mentioned some of the young talent in the film, and they're amazing. How did you find these specific people featured in the film?
Estrada: So we worked with a nonprofit organization called Get Lit from Los Angeles, and they work with local high schools, essentially promoting literature through spoken word poetry. And because they work all across the school district, the makeup of the group is like incredibly diverse and eclectic, and from every single neighborhood of Los Angeles. So I was introduced to the organization by a friend, they invited me to a spoken word showcase. And from there came the idea to try to adapt that experience into a movie.
On Capturing This Community in L.A.
disappointment: One of the things that really stood out to me about this film was that there were so many characters, but they were all very fleshed out and felt lived in. How did you work to create these?
Estrada: I'm so glad that you say that. Because that was definitely what we wanted to accomplish. It feels like that because the poets really put their personalities into them because they created the movie with us. It wasn't like I came in and gave them a script and said, "Hey, learn your part and let's develop your character." This was really them sharing their poetry. This was them giving us an insight into their lives. Like many times we shot in their houses, we shot with their family members, with their friends. And they're the authors of the movie, it's their film, and we got to create it around them. So that's really sort of why I think it feels so real, is because, you know, they're not playing characters. They're just playing versions of themselves, and they're exploring things that are important to them.
disappointment: What was the difficulty of telling so many stories in a single film?
Estrada: So many difficulties. Well, first of all, just because we had the summer and only the summer to workshop the movie, because many of them were graduating high school, and were sort of like going all over the place afterwards, whether it was work or whether it was school. So if we wanted to make the movie with this group of people, we had to shoot it over the summer. And this was April when I first met them. So that gave us only a handful of months to develop, to script, to rehearse, and to shoot the movie. And there were so many people involved. So it was really a series of summer workshops every day for about two and a half to three months, we met, sometimes as a group, sometimes with individuals, sometimes in smaller groups. They would bring poetry, we would put it up on boards and find a way to put it all together. Like figure out what locations we wanted to shoot in, in a map of LA, figure out where each poem would fit and how we would move through it. So there was no one formula of like, "This is how we did it." I feel like every interaction with each of the poets was different. And every scene required such different tools. Like, we were in a new location, we were with a new cast you know, many times the tone of the movie shifts a little bit depending on who you're following. So I think that it's chaotic, but I think that's what hopefully gives the movie its personality.
disappointment: Do you have a specific performance or performances in your film that you would call your favorite?
Estrada: Um... there are so many. I mean, there's one by a poet named Marquesha, towards the end of the movie, where she confronts an ex=lover about, you know, some kind of like trauma that had been built up in her. And that scene just hits me every single time and filming that scene was such a memorable experience. And Marquesha is just such a brilliant, brilliant poet and performer, so I would say probably that one, but I do think I've gotten really close to the poets and I feel like every single scene comes with like a history of how it came together, how we shot it, what it meant to the poet, so it's multifaceted.
disappointment: So there are a lot of scenes that are based on individuals, but there are also a lot of them that come together, like the scene in the burger joint. How did you capture this feeling of community within the poets?
Estrada: I mean, I think it was mostly what you just said. Rather than like creating it, it was just capturing it just because this community already existed, these poets had been performing with each other for years, some of them grew up together, some of them have known each other for over 10 years. So there's a bond and there's a familiarity there that is really sort of like the essence of this community. And we just tried to create that as much as possible. through the poetry through the scenes, bringing them together, and also on the shoot. Like the poets would show up on set on days that they weren't even shooting, they would just show up to hang out, they would run lines with each other, they would rehearse the poetry, they would give notes, like performing notes, to each other. So it was in front of the camera, and behind the camera, there was a real feeling of community that I think is really sort of like the magic behind the film.
On the Meaning of Summertime
disappointment: The film is obviously a love letter to Los Angeles. Do you have a favorite part of the city of Los Angeles? Like just a favorite thing about it?
Estrada: Oof, that's... what is it, what is, what is it? I think I love locations or events that present opportunities for this kind of intersectionality. So whether it's a Dodgers game, or whether it's a protest, or sitting out in the park, like in Echo Park, and just like being hit by all these different stories and kinds of people with different cultural backgrounds and ethnicities. I feel like, a lot of cities do that, but LA just is so vivid, and the amount of languages that you get to hear, the amount of kinds of music that you have to hear, if you drive across the city, the kinds of food that you're exposed to. So I don't know, I think that's what I love the most about the city, just when you're out in public just like being in this constant state of getting hit by stimuli and learning so much about people whose cultures are foreign to our own.
disappointment: Several of the performances in the film deal with some very weighty and timely issues. What were some things that you hope that this film contributes to the conversation about?
Estrada: I just feel like it's a place where so many important voices, so many important stories intersect. And I feel like what that initial poetry workshop did for me, and what I hope the movie does is just generate a lot of empathy in people who watch because I feel like many times, myself included, we get to experience life through a singular perspective that doesn't often leave room for other voices to affect or impact. And what I think the movie does is show you one city, especially a city that I think a lot of people feel like they know really well just because it's been documented so much in movies and media. And it gives you so many different layers and nuances to something that we believe to know well, so it shows you 27 different points of view of how to understand the city differently, and how people in the city are existing, the problems that they're dealing with, the things that excite them, things that confuse them. So I feel like what it did for me is that it really brought the city to life. And it showed me nuances and layers to it that I believe are so important. So I hope that people who get to see it have a similar experience and that they welcome this chaos and learn to embrace it and appreciate it and enjoy it.
disappointment: One of the things that really stood out to me about this film is how there's so much Latino and other people of color representation in the film. Why do you think that minority stories like this are so important to be heard and seen?
Estrada: Just because they haven't been heard and seen for a really long time. And I think we're entering an age where that is not excusable anymore. And I feel like people are just really committed to bringing stories that haven't occupied the mainstream into the mainstream. And, you know, I'm definitely one of those people. And I feel like for the same reason we were speaking about earlier, I feel like we live our lives with such a singular vision that is not very often challenged, or, like complemented by other points of view. And I feel like just pushing to make movies and to bring stories to light where perspectives are different from our own, and perspectives that haven't really been given as much importance as others are being highlighted are just so important, because it makes our life and our point of view so much more layered and interesting. So I don't know, I find that to be sort of a big part of who I am as a person and as an artist, and I feel like I'm here because people that I looked up to did the same kind of work and inspired me a lot. So I'm hoping that by doing this work, you know, I can also pass that along to other people who may also be as passionate about this as I am.
disappointment: This is like a community that isn't really highlighted a lot, a lot of people don't know about it. What do you hope that people come away from the film knowing about this community?
Estrada: I hope that their interests are piqued and that they find ways to get engaged and find ways to follow and find ways to support these artists, the organization that we're working with, and I mean, this one's very particular to LA, but also the spoken word community, in the States and across the world is like growing and growing and becoming more prominent. And, you know, we saw in the inauguration speech this year, we see it more and more in movies and TV. And I think, you know, if people watch the movie and and get excited about this, this sort of art form, then I think they should try to look at their local organizations, see what are the personalities and the names and the people that are supporting these artists and become involved. Because I think, at least for me, it's been a very rewarding experience.
Summertime hits theaters on July 9.
By Camden Ferrell
Few people have had as consequential an impact on music as Brian Wilson. Through his work with The Beach Boys and his solo work, he has crafted a legacy that has lasted generations. He is the focus of Brent Wilson’s newest documentary Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road which is premiering at this year’s Tribeca Film Festival. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to attend a virtual press conference with director Brent Wilson, Rolling Stone editor and Brian’s longtime friend Jason Fine, as well as the one and only Brian Wilson. Here’s what we learned.
Brent Wilson met Brian Wilson while working on his previous film Streetlight Harmonies, and after becoming close on set, Brent wanted to make a movie about Brian. Brent mentioned that Brian has had many things written about his career but this “incredible third act [Brian] was having in his life” hadn’t properly been captured yet. He wanted to create an “intimate” film that would show us a different side of the musician. He then got the thumbs up from Brian and his wife, Melinda. From there, Brent was recommended to meet with Fine who wrote multiple articles about Brian and was also great friends with him.
For his article Brian Wilson’s Better Days, Fine drove around L.A. with Brian for 3-4 days, and Brent wanted to capture that type of conversational intimacy. When asked about how it felt filming, Fine mentioned that aside from the myriad of cameras in the car, it all felt “natural”. Fine said that he and Brian have been driving around L.A., listening to music, and going to eat for years, so there was no pressure when filming the movie over the course of three weekends. Brian has a lot of history and memories embedded within the city, and Fine noted that driving around with him felt significant due to Brian’s past with the area. Throughout the interview, they banter and reminisce a lot about the restaurants, the beaches, and even a party with Paul McCartney.
When asked why he agreed to the movie, Brian said he didn’t really know; he just made up his mind on it. Although, he does concede that Fine’s involvement was also a factor in his decision. Throughout the film, Brian and Fine are driving and listening to music. This music includes some of Brian’s work as well as the music of his brothers Dennis and Carl. He enjoyed the experience of hearing this music with his friend, and it was clear in these moments in the interview that Brian and Fine had such great chemistry and camaraderie.
As filming wrapped, there was roughly seventy hours of footage. When asked how one condenses that much footage to ninety minutes, Brent simply responded, “painfully”. While they all laugh at this remark, Brent proceeds to talk about how it genuinely hurt him to cut so much footage. There were a lot of “beautiful” moments that he wanted to keep in, but he also knew his film had to breathe. He talks about the “quiet” moments of the movie where Brian and Fine aren’t talking and how it was important to the final product. They spent three months sorting through footage before even editing the movie, but Brent mentioned that focusing on the juxtaposition between their interesting conversation and the more reflective silences was a tough but proper choice.
Fine remarks that seeing Brian in this casual environment, the viewer gets to see the “courage”, “humor”, and “strength” he has as a person. He says people know the music, not the man, and that this movie provides a window into how much of a joy it is to spend time with Brian. Throughout this interview, it is clear that Brent and Fine have such a profound respect for Brian and that this movie is a testament to the love and admiration they have for him as an artist and as a person.
Brian Wilson: Long Promised Road is currently seeking distribution.
[GIFF 2021] Brothers Justin and Christian Long Talk Their Feature Directorial Debut LADY OF THE MANOR
Interview by Sean Boelman
The 2021 Gasparilla International Film Festival opened with a special screening of the new comedy Lady of the Manor, the feature directorial debut of Justin Long (Dodgeball, Jeepers Creepers) and his brother Christian, which was filmed locally in the Tampa Bay area. Before the screening, we at disappointment media got the chance to talk with the filmmakers about their debut and experience filming in Florida. Check out what we learned below!
One of the unique things about this film is that it is a collaboration between the two brothers. There are clearly certain pros and cons to working with one’s sibling on a film, and here is what Justin and Christian Long had to say about that:
“I think we just have very similar sensibilities and we get along as friends. So I feel like we just see things very similarly in terms of comedy in terms of creative things,” says Christian Long.
“Trust, I trust you. It's like any other relationship. It's usually the simple things, you know, those are the important ones,” says Justin Long.
The film follows a stoner who, after getting a gig as a tour guide in a historic manor, befriends the ghost of the former lady of the residence. This is what Justin and Christian Long had to say about coming up with this story:
“You know, we really love buddy comedies from the '80s and '90s. And I don't know, besides, it came to us we realized it was such a good opportunity for that type of buddy comedy, but with two women, and we just felt like we hadn't seen that in that way. So we just wanted to, you know, sink our teeth into that,” says Christian Long.
“But, you know, though it involves a ghost like Christian said, we wanted first and foremost, we wanted it to be an odd couple comedy, and a ghost comedy second. And then when we started attracting these actors who we loved, I mean, we were such fans of God, Melanie Lynskey and Judy Greer. We had seen them in so many things, but never seen them do something like this. And so that was part of the thrill was getting to just watch some really great actors be funny,” says Justin Long.
Comedy can be a very difficult genre to pull off because of its unique complexities, especially when it is a filmmaker’s first film. This is what Justin and Christian Long had to say about tackling their directorial debut:
“It's just our favorite genre. And especially for these times right now, I feel like I want to see, just personally I love movies, and as an audience member, I want to see comedies. And like Christian said, they're the movies that we grew up on. We grew up on the classics. What About Bob? and Planes, Trains and Automobiles, The Odd Couple. You know, great odd couple comedies,” said Justin Long.
“I don't think we're aiming for directing a drama,” said Christian Long.
“It'd be disappointing,” says Justin Long.
If their debut is any indication, we can look forward to seeing more great things from these two brothers in the future. But for now, everyone can make sure to keep an eye out for Lady of the Manor, which comes out everywhere on September 17.
The 2021 Gasparilla International Film Festival runs from June 10-13 in Tampa, FL with in-person and virtual options available.