Interview by Sean Boelman
In anticipation of the release of their film The Paper Tigers, disappointment media got to sit down and talk with actors Alain Uy, Ron Yuan, and Mykel Shannon Jenkins. In the interview, we discuss the meaning of family, the film's great action sequences, and more. Check out the interview below and watch The Paper Tigers in theaters and on demand beginning May 7.
By Sean Boelman
The Underground Railroad is Oscar-winning filmmaker Barry Jenkins’s first foray into the medium of television, and his touch can be felt all over the series. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to attend a virtual press conference featuring director/showrunner Jenkins and cast members Thuso Mbedu, Joel Edgerton, Aaron Pierre, William Jackson Harper, and Sheila Atim. Check out what we learned below!
The series is based on the acclaimed novel by Colson Whitehead. This is what Jenkins had to say about adapting the source material: “I think the biggest thing for me, one I love the book. I thought Colson had created a really great opportunity to maybe even recontextualize the story of our ancestors by focusing on this young woman Cora. You watch the show, and, you know, there's this version where maybe without seeing it, you assume for 10 episodes, Cora is trying to vanquish the condition of American slavery. But what she's really after is she's trying to reconcile this sense of abandonment she feels towards her mother. And I thought that was a really interesting way to come at a story like this to present this very, I think, truthful but also just massive in scope and scale journey that was ultimately about parenting and about a daughter's relationship to her mother.”
For Jenkins, a serialized format was the only way to tell this story. Here’s why: “When you go into a movie theater, it's a very captive experience. You kind of have to surrender yourself. You're in the middle of a 30-seat aisle. You turn your phone off. I wanted the audience to have the opportunity. You can pause. You can play. You can skip. You can choose whom you want to watch this with, or whether you want to watch it alone. So that was part of the reason why I felt like it had to be a series.”
In bringing this story to life, Jenkins utilized some terrific imagery and symbolism. Some of the most memorable moments in the series bring the eponymous network to the screen in a literal sense. This is what Jenkins had to say about that: “The first things we did were all the trains and the tunnels. And I told Mark Freidberg, our production designer, because I'm working from this childhood memory, ‘This can't be fake. I want real tracks, real trains, real tunnels. I don't want blue screen, and I don't want CGI.’ And so we found a private rail network and we built our tunnels above them. And so much of this project was trying to contextualize what it would've been like to be my ancestors which is a very difficult thing to do and just because some of this history has been lost, I think that's why we're creating these images in our image now.”
Still, Jenkins does not shy away from the horrors of what he is presenting. When asked if the world is ready to see his vision, he said: “I do think the audience is ready for it. And if they aren't, I think that's fine too. You know, I think the thing that's really beautiful about putting images into the world is that, when someone is ready to find that image, it will be there. And I think in creating this show it honored our ancestors. I think we were respectful of ourselves, respectful of the text, and respectful of the audience. So, I do think folks are ready. I wouldn't have made it if I didn't think they were.”
The Underground Railroad streams on Amazon Prime beginning May 14.
Interview by Sean Boelman
One of the highlights of this year’s Midnighters section at the virtual SXSW Film Festival is The Spine of Night, an ultra-violent adult animated fantasy epic featuring a star-studded voice cast. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to chat with Morgan Galen King and Philip Gelatt, the directorial duo behind the film, about their process of bringing their vision to life. Check out the interview below!
On Animating the Film
disappointment media: I think one of the things that really stands out to me about this film is that it's really epic in scale, but it's an independent film. And so what were the difficulties of making something this ambitious on a smaller scale?
Philip Gelatt: Yeah, I mean, so one thing to acknowledge about that, off the bat is that what allowed us to do this independently is basically the sheer amount of time that it took our animation team led by Morgan to do the animation. Like it took about seven years, to be honest, from when we started to when we finished. So, you know, and we knew that going in, you know, we knew that we were setting out to make something epic in scale and vastly ambitious on a visual level and a narrative level. And just sort of knew, I think, and I think we probably verbalized it, but I think we all sort of knew on sort of like an internal subconscious level that the way it was probably going to get done was brute force. And so that's sort of, you know, how it happened. Yeah, I mean, I don't know if I have anything else to say on that, other than just like that sort of the like, what it takes to do something like this independently is just a lot of grit, I guess.
Morgan Galen King: I mean, I think it was, you know, it was definitely an act of endurance. You know, I remember when we were finished shooting the motion reference in 2014, March 2014. You know, like I was, I think we were driving to the train station, so I could go back to Philadelphia to start the animating. And I was like, "Well, I sure hope we can be, you know, I think three, maybe four years." But as it gets into year five, and year six, like we are, we are really in this now. And when we're tipping into the latter half of the decade of production. So it was, yeah, I mean, for sure. Brute force is the answer to pulling that off, I think.
disappointment: And so did you have any particular scenes or images that were your favorite to animate, or that were the most memorable to animate?
King: Well, I think anyone who has ever gotten a chance to animate a lot of ultraviolent gore, it just tickles me, I mean, I'd like to think the film treats the gore in a fairly serious manner. But as an animator, keeping track of like, the weight of organs and the spatter of blood, and all of that is just like,it feels like a juggling act, it's a very active animation when you're working with that much fluid. It's always the most fun to draw.
Gelatt: I thought you were gonna say one of the scenes of just endless people talking to each other, like scene 11 is the scene in the throne room, and it's the longest scene in the movie, and it took Morgan and the other animators forever to do. That's like a negative thing to think back on. Not the positive thing of the gore. Yeah.
On the Film's World
disappointment: And so another thing that really impressed me about the film is just the level of detail that you put into the world building, both in the writing and the animation. What informed your process of writing and animating the world of The Spine of Night?
King: I mean, Phil, you're saying, we were talking earlier about, like, how much coding influenced the psyche? Do you want to talk to touch on it?
Gelatt: Sure. I mean, from a writing perspective, you know, the chance to build a fantasy world is so much fun. Like, it's so much fun, but it's also there's a lot of responsibility, right? Because you want the viewers to, you know, you're bringing them someplace strange, and you're asking them to engage with it, visually, and also emotionally. And then also, like, intellectually. You're asking a lot of the viewer, so when you set out to write something like that, you know, you want to be detail oriented, but you can't be too detail oriented, there's this whole balancing act that you have to do. So when we set out to do it, you know, I think we had in mind, like our favorite examples of the genre. And like, for me my favorite example is the 1982 Conan movie, because it is, like, it just just feels like a tangible world that has like a real history and like, the armor looks like it comes from different cultures. And it's just like, I just love it. So I don't know if you can really see that in this movie. But it certainly was massively influential, at least in terms of, I think both the writing and the visualization of the movie, in terms of, you know, how you go about making a grounded low fantasy, feature film. Because we're not doing dragons and elves, and you know, like, there's no minute tear off, there's like, it's a very different flavor of fantasy than that Tolkien stuff. So you have to be a little bit more focused on the, you know, the tangible aspect of it, I guess. Not to not to insult Tolkien, but you know.
King: I think that's pretty much right on point. I mean, like in terms of creating a detailed world that feels fleshed out, I mean, there's obviously some fantasy genre tropes in there, I think. But like, we wanted to really sort of push off a lot of them. And I think, like Phil was saying, like, to go to, like, lower fantasy, like Conan, that is less about like fantasy races, but also to not really do like, Game of Thrones, you need a family tree guide to follow the lineages of what's happening. I think, you know, I think we're sort of trying to find an area that was not like either of those.
disappointment: I think you also leave a lot of room to be explored. Are there any more stories you want to tell in this universe?
King: I mean, I think we certainly have considered it. Like we've talked about, you know, a lot of ideas over the years. Over the course of seven years of working on this, I think we've kicked around ways we could do all sorts of things with it, because it does sort of, I mean, act as a hub through the middle of a bunch of different timelines. So like, if people really wanted to, I think we could tell all sorts of stories that interconnect and spill out of this setting. For sure.
Gelatt: It's a tricky question. Like, as Morgan says, We've certainly discussed it. Both sequel ideas and spin-off ideas. I think there's also part of the fabric and the DNA of writing the movie and making the movie was the hope that people would imagine some of those stories themselves, right? Like we sort of left a lot of these dangling narrative bits and like, dangling characters almost. And the hope with all of them wasn't like, "Oh, we could do a show about this, or we could do a show about that". The hope for the viewer to lean in and put themselves in the world and imagine the other stories that could exist there. Like, that's always sort of been my favorite thing about fantasy fiction is both the story, but then also the details of the story leaves out that let me fill in myself. Which isn't to say we don't have stories we want to tell this to say we wouldn't. Like we're saying, I don't think it's the type of fantasy world that we would want to go through and make an appendix and a huge family tree about. That wasn't the style we were after, as he said.
disappointment: Did you have one of the heroes in the film that was your favorite?
King: I love them all so much. even the ones that are kind of jerks, I like all of them. Well, I mean, Mongrel, the Barbarian character that Joe Manganiello voices is a character that I've sort of been doing things with on and off for over a decade now. In like, sketching stuff, so I mean, I've always loved that character. I just think he's like a fun distillation of like, it's Conan but the mustache, he's a eunuch. He sort of wears like a He-Man thing, he's like a meta-barbarian to me.
Gelatt: Mongrel the meta-barbarian. It's great. Yeah, it's a spinoff series right there. For me, I mean, I also love them all. Faye, the scholar in the second sequence I think, is always going to be my favorite. Because, like, Mongrel is a meta-barbarian. Faye to me is like a fantasy version of Indiana Jones, right? Like she's like, she's like what if Indiana Jones were in Conan the Barbarian? And that's just like a really exciting idea to me. And Benny Gabriel who voices her and who was the live action reference for her, I just think she's so massively talented. So there's like, affection there, both for the behind the scenes stuff, and also for the character itself.
disappointment: And you mentioned the cast, you guys assembled an amazing voice cast for this film, what was it like signing them on to this project, and then working with them?
Gelatt: Signing them on to it was exciting and terrifying. Like in that, terrifying, because you know, you want to get a large voice cast, and then they say yes and you're like, "Oh, my God, now I have to go record with Patton Oswalt," Then you're like, "This is maybe gonna be weird," but then it's not weird. It's great. So it's fun. And we tried to pick, tried to approach people who we thought would appreciate, you know, what the movie is. And I think we did find that. So yeah, I mean, it was a lot of fun. I mean, they're a great cast, and they're a great group of people, and they all seem to really like, get it, which is nice. Like, it's nice to like, you know, have them sort of engaged with it for what it is.
King: Yeah, I'd say two things. I mean, it's great. The final voice cast is just a dream come true in a lot of ways. I mean, when you get to tell someone "Oh, yeah. Also, Lucy Lawless is in this movie.," and, "Oh my God, Xena is in this movie." It's I mean, that's tremendous. But as Phil was saying earlier about Betty Gabriel too, this has been such a fun process in that she was there when we were shooting the motion reference, because we actually filmed so long ago that we were filming before Get Out, which is sort of her big breakout role. And so, you know, it's been fun too to have her be able to be a part of the cast as the years have gone.
On the Rotoscope Animation Medium
disappointment: So what about this process of rotoscope animation really stands out to you?
King: I mean, I grew up with a lot of these films that we're referencing like the Ralph Bakshi films. From a very young age, I was in love with us. Although it the style was never as big in the West, like, you know, Eastern European animation has such a rich history of it in a way that it never quite, I think the Disney cartooning approach was so popular in America that like a lot of this stuff done under the Soviet regime never made it over. But there was so much rotoscoping outside of that Western animation world and I love all that stuff, too. I think there's just a realism to it that I think for some people I've heard say tips into the uncanny valley, but I feel like when it's done well, at least, I think it sort of skirts around that into being its own aesthetic choice.
Gelatt: Yeah, it's like a very distinct flavor of animation that is increasingly rare, but I think it's just a particular flavor that I think is great.
disappointment: And so what do you think is the potential of the animation medium for stories like this that are grand, but to produce them live action would cost hundreds of millions of dollars? But you have this independent film that's just as impressive on a smaller budget?
King: Oh, I mean, I hope so. We certainly tried. I mean, I think we're really swinging for the fences. I think animation is, you know, like, so inherently geared towards this, you know, like, creating fantastical stuff. I think having done more like, you know, we animated shots of people just talking over drinks in a bar. And like, animation doesn't necessarily always serve that. So I think it really motivated us to keep the scenes full of fantastical ideas on a regular clip in a way that live action can kind of breathe more. And little nuances can tell a lot more in a live action thing, and in an animated forum, it's almost like, you're encouraged to make it epic and fantastical. Because it's well, it's just a lot more fun to draw and it utilizes the medium better.
The Spine of Night is screening as a part of the online edition of the 2021 SXSW Film Festival, which runs March 16-20, 2021.
Interview by Sarah Williams
Belgian filmmaker Zoé Wittock's Jumbo is an atypical romance that, though its premise of a girl who falls in love with an amusement park ride named Jumbo may come off as an easy joke, manages to make its love story believable. disappointment media was able to talk to her about the film's unique subject, and her writing process.
Jumbo is a story of objectum sexuality, or an orientation where one builds a romantic relationship with an inanimate object. Wittock based Noémie Merlant's character, Jeanne, around Erika Eiffel, who famously had a civil partnership with the Eiffel Tower, as well as public relationships with a bow, the Berlin Wall, and a construction crane. Having talked to Eiffel during the writing of the film, she says the most striking thing about her is that "She's just like you and me. She jokes like we'd do, has a fairly normal life." Wittock goes on to say how the expectation of these objectum-sexuals is for them to be complete recluses, but she says that she found how normally the relationships were conducted to be a major influence in choosing to frame the film like a usual romance.
What's interesting about Jumbo is that it doesn't lean into surrealism or the supposed weirdness of a relationship between a woman and a theme park ride. "Unlike Crash [by David Cronenberg] I avoided shock," she says. The film is lush and romantic in depicting Jeanne's love, and playing the relationship so straight silences a lot of jokes that come with the out-there premise. Unlike the Cronenberg film, that leans onto the gory details of paraphilias, Zoé Wittock knew from the beginning she was filming a fairly ordinary romance.
Jeanne's character is also kept out of these easy storytelling beats to lean into. When asked if any of the questions viewers have had as to Jeanne potentially being autistic, with her fixations and difficulties socially, she says, "I didn't want to diagnose her character, or to make a psychoanalytic film." While Asperger's is mentioned as a possible way to view the character, she makes it clear that her film isn't meant to have a psychological explanation, or to assume Jeanne's neurodivergence, but to work on a purely emotional level. Jeanne's love for the ride stems from a tactile aesthetic appreciation initially, building her models in her bedroom.
What is intended in terms of metaphor is the film's queerness. "I talked to many of my LGBTQ friends. Some loved the idea of film as a metaphor for acceptance, and other LGBTQ friends didn't want their sexual orientation to be interpreted as parallel to objectum sexuality," Wittock says. She poses an interesting question: "What do we see as too far? It's not hurting anyone, and though it's different from loving a person of the same gender, that same stigma is there." Jumbo's potential queerness is speculative, a potential metaphor for the rarer acceptance of homosexuality in the past.
What rings especially true if indeed reading the film through a queer lens is the idea of compulsory heterosexuality, or forcing oneself to desire the opposite sex. The film has two pivotal scenes, one is a sensual, surreal sound-stage sequence between the machine and Jeanne, and the other is the typical sex scene with a man from work, but here it's shot through a mirror. When asked about the choice to distance the camera, and the viewer emotionally on the latter, Wittock says, "If I loved women, I shot this as I would feel to be with a man. It's supposed to be uncomfortable, and reversed." The mirror gives Jeanne her privacy here, in a scene of discomfort as she tries to force herself into society's norms. For those struck by the intimate scenes between Jumbo and Jeanne, the sequence, done with practical effects, actually uses a mixture of thickened sugar-water and squid ink to represent the bursts of oil.
By choosing to film what many call a paraphilia as a traditional romance film, Zoé Wittock creates a new empathy. Her depiction of objectum sexuality as sympathetic has made a character she believes audiences can still relate to. By never viewing Jeanne through a diagnostic lens, the film becomes allegorical, while still doing its best to follow the experiences of objectum-sexuals who consulted on the film.
Jumbo is now available on VOD.
Interview by Camden Ferrell
Over a year after its premiere, Minari is receiving attention this awards season and was even in the National Board of Review’s Top Ten Films of 2020. A lot of this attention is surrounding the performance of legendary Korean actress Yuh-Jung Youn. She was recently nominated for best supporting actress by the Screen Actors Guild, becoming the first Korean actress to do so. In anticipation of Minari’s release in theaters, disappointment media had the opportunity to talk with the seasoned actress about her new movie.
On Receiving Her Role
disappointment media: Can you tell us a little bit about how you met Lee Isaac Chung and got the role of Soonja?
Yuh-Jung Youn: Okay. I have a dear friend, and she’s Korean, and she was born and raised in Germany. We were going to make a film together back 20 years ago, but the project fell apart. I tried to comfort her and her friend Grace Lee, and then we became friends later on. Then, she was back and forth from Germany to Korea and America. And then one time, she asked me to have some kind of Q&A thing while we were at the Busan International Film Festival. And her friend, [Lee] Isaac Chung, is teaching at the University of Utah, and he's going to bring his students because they'd like to meet us and then have a Q&A, so I said yes. We had the Q&A, and I was very shocked and impressed. Isaac mentioned my first movie [Women of Fire]. It's from back in the '70s, and Isaac wasn't born at the time. I wondered how such a young guy could know about my first movie. I found out his major was film history, so I was very touched and moved. The students weren’t interested about that movie, so we didn't talk about it. That was the first meeting with Isaac. Later on, my friends brought a script. It's Minari, and it's written in English, and as you know, my English is not perfect. In the middle of reading the script, it was very real to me. During that day, I hadn’t finished yet, so I called my friends and asked, “Is this [Isaac’s] story?” She said yes, so I said, “Okay, I will do it.” That's the story.
disappointment: You’ve had an extensive career working in South Korean film and television. How did your experience working on Minari, an American film, differ from your past experiences as an actress?
Youn: I don't know. The director was Korean and Steven [Yeun] was Korean and Yeri [Han] was Korean, so we didn't feel that much different working in Korea, but the staff is different, and then we try to speak English and there are some words I don't know. Like they say that first team comes in, or something like that. I thought, “Who is the first team?” That kind of special word. I couldn't get it, but later on, we picked it up. There's always a first team that comes in, and I’m like, “Who is first team?” and I was looking around, and I realize that I’m first team.
disappointment: Earlier in your career, you came to the United States before returning back to Korea. How did your experiences in the United States shape your performance in Minari?
Youn: That’s hard because I didn’t have that experience myself. I have a lot of friends who came to the States as immigrants. Of course, they struggled with English, and because of the time, they were well-educated, but they couldn't get a proper job. Every nation loves their second generation. They’re trying to do their best to give them a better future than we have, so they work hard, and they sacrifice for them. I think it is kind of insulting. Since they cannot speak English perfectly, they have to do something like chicken sexing, like they do in the movie. So yes, I've been watching many families and many parents sacrifice and work for their children, so that hurts.
On Filming Minari (Contains Mild Spoilers)
disappointment: In Minari, you play a witty and foul-mouthed grandma. are there any people in your life who inspired this character?
Youn: Actually, the first question I asked Isaac was if I should imitate [his] grandmother. He said, “No, no, you do it your own way,” so that gave me freedom. I was thankful because it’s different with every director. Some of them want you to do it a certain way or to imitate their grandmother. They might say she has a very specific behavior or something like that. Sometimes, I feel like I cannot move around if the director gives me that kind of direction, but Isaac was smart enough not to give me that direction. He told me to just do whatever [I] want. I felt very trusted, so I just played myself if I were in her position and in her situation. That was my imagination. I was witty because I think the culture difference between her grandson and her makes people laugh. Also, I like to be witty, and I like to laugh all the time. I don't want to be serious.
disappointment: What was the most difficult scene to film for your character?
Youn: [Soonja] got paralyzed because of the stroke, and usually, on set, somebody had to be with me to correct me and tell me if I should move this way or that way. I practiced a lot before I left Korea. I have a very nice neurologist friend, Dr. Kim. I was very grateful and thankful that he showed me a lot of videos, and he actually was performing in front of me how to do this and that. So that scene was just trying not to forget that this side is not supposed to move because of the stroke. That was very tricky. And of course, the fire scene was very dangerous to film.
disappointment: What do you think families of Korean immigrants will like most about this movie?
Youn: I don't know because they all have a different memory like you. Everyone has a grandma. For instance, my first son, he is a Korean-American living in New York, and he's not trying to watch this movie. I was so shocked that he's not watching it; his mother is in the movie. I later found out that he saw the trailer, and it made him cry. He saw me playing go-stop, and he remembered his great aunt was playing go-stop when he visited Korea. It’ll be different for everyone.
disappointment: What do you hope audiences will learn from your character after watching Minari?
Youn: You know, if they see the movie, then it’s their part to learn and understand my role and the movie. I cannot suggest how to watch the movie. I'm not the guidance. Whatever they individually feel and think, that's just part of this movie, so it's fine with me.
disappointment: In the movie, you have great chemistry with Alan Kim. Can you tell us what it was like to work with this young and talented actor?
Youn: First, I was like, “Wow, what am I going to do with this young boy?” He’s a seven-year-old boy, but he was like a sponge to me; Isaac told him to do this. He just treated me like a grandma. We usually did a master shot together, him and me. He has a good memory, so he memorized all the lines perfectly. So, we would do the first master take. Later on, if Isaac needed some kind of shot from him, he directed [Kim] in a very wise and smart way. That's how David became that character. He was really good. Like a sponge, he just absorbed everything.
On Her Career and Korean Representation
disappointment: Your career has spanned many decades, and you've worked with so many different directors. Are there any directors you want to work with in the future that you haven't worked with yet?
Youn: When you're young you can hope for a lot of things, but at my age, as I’m older, I know the chance has to come to me, and the role has to be suitable for me. If somebody asks me to do it, then I will do it, but I’m not hoping to do it with a specific director because it will give them pressure.
disappointment: Over the last few years, we've seen an increase in the popularity of Korean culture in the United States. What do you hope for the future of Korean representation in Hollywood?
Youn: I'm doing some kind of project now. That's why I'm in Vancouver. There's a lot of Korean directors here actually. I was hoping you guys could have a better future than us, so you can introduce a lot of Korean culture, so we can share it. After all, we are all the same human beings. The culture may be different, but later on, it's all the same. It's not about discrimination anymore. It’s just sharing together, like you have this kind of culture, we have this kind of culture, but in the end, we love each other. We are all trying to make the future better, not fight each other, not talking about discrimination or something, just that we are all the same. Whether your face is yellow or white, it doesn't matter. We are all same human beings, so I wish we can share together and then love each other.
Minari will be in select theaters February 12 and on VOD February 26.
Interview by Camden Ferrell
When Minari first premiered at the Sundance Film Festival in 2020, many were impressed by the performance from 7-year-old Alan S. Kim who plays David. In anticipation of the release of Minari, his debut film appearance, disappointment media had the opportunity to talk with Kim and discuss his role in the movie.
On Joining the Minari Cast
disappointment media: You made your film debut as David recently, and it's a great debut. When did you first know you wanted to be an actor?
Kim: I guess when my mom told me about Minari I’m like, “I guess I'll do this.”
disappointment: And what was it like to audition for Minari? Was it nerve-wracking? Was it exciting?
Alan S. Kim: It was exciting, but the heat wave was kind of hot, like really hot. It was so hot, and the hotel was so well air-conditioned, so when I had to go out to film, I'm like, “Do I have to go out? It's way too hot.”
disappointment: And you were filming in Tulsa, Oklahoma, correct?
Kim: Yes, in the summer.
disappointment: What did you like about the area?
Kim: Well, it was big and cool, but kind of western, I guess?
On Preparing for and Filming Minari (Contains Mild Spoilers)
disappointment: Whenever you got the role of David, what did you do to memorize your lines and prepare for the role?
Kim: Well, for the Korean lines, my mom would speak and help me memorize. I would repeat it, and if I still didn't get it, she would do some of the motions to help me understand.
disappointment: In the movie, you speak both Korean and English very well. Did you learn both of those languages growing up, or was there one you learned first?
Kim: My first language was Korean and then my teacher helped me learn English, but before she even taught me how to speak in English, I always spoke Korean to the teacher. Yeah, that was really bad.
disappointment: What did you find was the most exciting part about filming Minari?
Kim: Probably when I gave pee to the grandma [Youn Yuh-jung]. Because it’s just so funny, but kind of naughty. It's like, giving pee to someone innocent.
disappointment: That was hilarious. So, you and Steven Yeun, who plays your father in the movie, you guys seem like a real father and son. What was it like to work with him?
Kim: It was really fun working with him because he really was kind and awesome. Since I was such a slow eater, he would say, “Hey, let's have an eating contest. Fastest one to eat is the winner," just so he can make me eat faster.
disappointment: So, giving the pee to your grandma was your favorite part of film, but what was the most difficult scene to film for you?
Kim: Probably nothing because everything was so easy except the heat wave. Yeah, it was really hot.
disappointment: What do you think kids are gonna like most about this movie?
Kim: Probably the funny parts because most kids like to see funny parts. And yeah, they will really like that.
On Being Behind the Scenes
disappointment: In the movie, there's lots of Korean dishes and beverages you have to drink, so what is your favorite Korean meal?
Kim: Well, the Korean meal there on set was probably like the rice and the kimchi and lots of things like that. In the movie, I had to drink Mountain Dew. Other than that, I would drink nothing but like apple juice and orange juice, so when I drink Mountain Dew, I'm like, “Yum!”.
disappointment: What was it like working with a movie big sister [Noel Cho] on set?
Kim: It was really fun. Off set, we would watch Captain Underpants, and we would play games like Talking Tom Hero Dash.
disappointment: Are there any behind the scenes secrets or stories that you want to tell us?
Kim: Like, behind the scenes, for the raining scene we would watch the TV and then Steven would carry me into the car. That’s more of a cut scene. It didn't actually rain. It came from like a giant rainmaker thingy majiggy. Then, there's also a part where I go to Johnnie's house, but in that part, there was a scene that was cut out. I had to ride a bike but since the bike was so big, they had to attach it to the go-kart, and I had to fake that I was riding the bicycle.
disappointment: In the movie, your grandma teaches you how to play a card game. I believe it's called go-stop. Did you actually learn how to how to play that in real life?
Kim: Yes, my mom taught me.
disappointment: What's the most fun part about that game?
Kim: I don't really care about winning or losing, but if I win, I don't really boast, but I'm like, “Oh, yeah!” kind of like that. I really like to play.
On David and Minari's Message
disappointment: How do you relate to the character of David?
Kim: Well, mostly everything except he has an unhealthy heart while I have a healthy one. We both have older sisters, and we like to annoy them. And we also follow rules on our own terms. Because if my mom says to sleep, I'm like, “Okay,” then I sleep somewhere random.
disappointment: David's a fun-loving kid. He likes being mischievous. He likes goofing around, but in your free time, what do you like to do for fun?
Kim: I like to play video games and watch TV. My favorite video game is either Minecraft or Roblox.
disappointment: Now, what do you hope people learn the most from Minari after watching it? What's the lesson you want people to learn from the movie?
Kim: I'm not sure, but the lesson would probably be if you believe in yourself, you can do it. Probably something like that.
disappointment: Minari is a movie about family and what a home truly is. What does home mean to you?
Kim: A house mostly, but more so than a house, love.
On His Future as an Actor
disappointment: What's next for you and your career as an actor? What do you plan on doing next?
Kim: More movies, and I'm doing another movie sometime in March. I think it's called Latchkey Kids.
disappointment: That's great. Are you excited for Latchkey Kids?
disappointment: What advice do you have for any children who want to be in movies?
Kim: Don't overreact and don't rush. Also, don't really do anything that's not yourself.
disappointment: Who do you want to thank the most for all the help they've been when filming this movie?
Kim: My family.
Minari will be in select theaters February 12 and on VOD February 26.
Interview by Sean Boelman
Kathryn Newton and Kyle Allen are two of the brightest rising stars working in Hollywood today, and the new Amazon Original Movie The Map of Tiny Perfect Things allows them to act opposite each other. Telling the story of two teenagers who find themselves stuck in a time loop, it's a charming sci-fi romantic comedy that offers a nice dose of escapism. We at disappointment media got the opportunity to discuss the film with Newton and Allen. Check out the interview below!
On Time Loops
disappointment media: So The Map of Tiny Perfect Things is a time loop movie. Do you guys have any favorite time loop movies?
Kyle Allen: Ooh, ooh, ooh, pick me! Happy Death Day. Jessica Rothe, hashtag Desperado
Kathryn Newton: Obviously, that's the best time loop movie, Happy Death Day.
Allen: Happy Death Day for the win.
disappointment: That's a great one! So imagine if in real life, you were stuck in a temporal anomaly? What would you guys want to do all day?
Allen: Hmm. Kathryn would eat cheese fries. This I know.
Newton: I would eat Hot Cheetos, please get it correct.
Allen: Yeah, I would find a way to contact aliens. And then I would invite them to Earth. And then if they're friendly, we would have a tea party. And if they weren't friendly, I would fight them on the rooftops of New York City. It would be glorious.
Newton: I would still be eating Hot Cheetos.
disappointment: On a similar note, if you could bring one person into the temporal anomaly with you who would it be?
Newton: Kyle Allen.
Allen: Oh, geez. Oh, gosh. That's, that's embarrassing. Because I was gonna say Katherine Newton. Because you know, like track record. Experience. We already know we get along in a time loop.
Newton: We already know we kill it.
disappointment: So on a bit more of a serious note, the idea of a time loop kind of rings surprisingly true today, with everybody having to stay home. There's a lot that people can kind of sympathize with. How do you think this is?
Newton: How do I think it is? I think it's kind of weird that we made this movie right before quarantine started. We wrapped early because we had to go home. And I thought it was just going to be an allegory for what it felt like to be a teenager. You know, I always felt like when I was young, like I was eternally bored, in like this teenage wasteland, and my future was never going to happen. And this movie takes that and exaggerates what that is. And I feel like every day we're living that way right now. So I hope if someone sees this movie that they can take away that you create your future right now. You know, you can create a brighter day just right now in this moment.
Allen: Yeah, I think I think the movie talks a lot about really paying attention to where you are and the people around you in a very kind of closed circuit environment, which most of us are in right now. Which is forcing us to really deeply appreciate the things and the people around us, regardless of the state they're in.
On the Tiny Perfect Things in Life
disappointment: I think one of the other things that really resonated with me about the movie is that one of the messages is about enjoying the little things in life. What do you hope about this message resonates with audiences and what resonated about that message with you?
Allen: I think I learned to do just that. I mean, you know, the only moment you have is now and you know, the quality of your life is dictated by your ability to appreciate that moment. And so I think that's just a really great reminder, a lot of people know it, you know, but we need these things explained to us in a multitude of ways. You know, we need to experience it for ourselves. And I think this film really helps with that. And I think that'd be a wonderful thing for people to take away from it.
Newton: I really couldn't say it better. I think that this movie, we've seen time loop movies before. But there's also something about being young and experiencing first love and first heartbreak and first true grief that everyone can relate to, at any age. So I think that everyone's been there, everyone has been a teenager and not knowing what their future was going to be and not knowing who they are. And it's hard to learn that you're the only one who can really control that. And I think that this movie really does a good job of showing that it can be okay. You can move on. And you don't have to be done.
disappointment: Do either of you have like a favorite tiny perfect moment, either from the film or from something you just experienced in your life that's just a small thing you enjoy?
Newton: We had so many perfect moments on set.
Allen: Today, I was on my way to do these these interviews back from a doctor's appointment, and I was going up Highland, which is one that I've always gone up, you know, while I was going to acting classes and stuff like I was I would always go by them. It's a bunch of billboards, and I was looking at those billboards and I think to myself, like one day, it'd be one of those billboards. And today, I saw our billboard. And I was just like, well, that's a tiny perfect thing. But it was like a big perfect thing. You know, it wasn't that tiny. It was big, because it was so big, it's billboards. But I freaked out. That was great.
Newton: We had a perfect moment. Our last scene, our kiss scene where we kiss each other, the line is "Oh, let me try this one more time. I have a hair in my mouth." And we talked about it. We were like, "how are we going to get a hair in my mouth?" And I kid you not. We did it in one take. And there was literally a hair in my mouth. Magic.
On Pop Culture Easter Eggs
disappointment: So something else that I really enjoyed in this film was all of the pop culture references and Easter eggs that there were in the film. Do you have any favorites?
Allen: She tells Mark that he watches too much Doctor Who.
Newton: That is great.
Allen: I definitely like told myself that I was researching for this film, but the reality of which I just binged almost all of Doctor Who.
Newton: I don't know, I was gonna say something about how [Margaret's] into anime, but it's really not that big of a deal in the movie. I also love that we watch Time Bandits. I don't even know, does this count? Just like that they play video games, like whatever video game they're playing is like super of the times that we're in. You know?
Allen: They invented that, that game. The game you see on the screen is not the game that we were actually playing like they made that game in post. But we were playing this other game called Dark Souls. And we loved that game. We had to play it for like, probably like 16 hours. We were playing this game. So we all got really, really good at it. I thought that it was a really good time.
disappointment: You brought up Time Bandits. The big question is have you seen Time Bandits?
disappointment: Did you like Time Bandits?
Allen: It is a glorious film. It's got Sean Connery. I mean, like, it's spectacular. It's got Mesopotamia. It's got Napoleon Bonaparte. It's got giants. I mean, it's just a big win.
On Filming The Map of Tiny Perfect Things
disappointment: What drew you to these roles?
Allen: I would say definitely, you know, the team behind it, the creative team behind it is fascinating, you know. Weed Road, FilmNation, all of the people involved. They don't make bad movies
Newton: They only make good movies.
Allen: They only make good movies. And you know, obviously, Kathryn being attached, I was like, that would be an amazing costar to have. And then as well as the physical aspect of the film, I live for it. I absolutely live to be in those environments where so much is demanded of me on so many levels and the acting is physical, you know?
Newton: I was really interested in Margaret, I really wanted to figure out why she was the way she was because I related to her, you know, and I wanted to grow too. And when I first met Ian, he asked me what I thought, how the movie should be shot, like, what does the movie need? And I said, Well, you need me. And you need this, you need this kind of guy. And you have to believe that these two people are in love. Because at the heart of it, this is about a girl not wanting to grow up. So what is it that is pushing her to have this experience? And I really wanted to do that myself, too. I think you have to be ready to receive, you know, you have to be ready to change. And ask for more. And I think that Lev Grossman wrote a beautiful story, a beautiful short story, and then the movie, we got to dig deeper into these two people. And you got to find out who Margaret was. So I was just excited from a creative aspect to be open, like our director Ian was so collaborative in letting me do whatever I wanted. And instead of telling me what to do, he'd whisper like, ideas and inspiration. So it was just a really great process of making the film.
disappointment: The two of you have excellent chemistry together on scene. What did you like most about working with each other?
Newton: What do I like most about Kyle Allen? Hmm, let me think.
Allen: Hmm... I don't know. It's pretty tough. Pretty tough. It's really hard to find things that are you know, likable about Katherine Newton. Like, gross. [laughs] She looks out for you. She's not gonna let you mess up.
Newton: Aww, yeah. I've got your back. I felt like you had my back, too. I think my favorite thing is, you know how much Kyle really cared about the story. And he really wanted it to be perfect. He worked so hard on every aspect of the character, but also, we had a lot of scenes that were like routines like choreography. And I don't think that I would have been able to do it without someone as great as Kyle in that field like no one else could have done it. So he really supported me. And I think that Mark and Margaret are Mark and Margaret. We found a good harmony in this movie.
disappointment: And you mentioned the scenes with extensive choreography. They're really impressive. What was challenging about pulling those off?
Newton: Well, it wasn't just us that had to be a part of it. You know, Kyle and I worked really hard on creating that. But also our DP you know, Andrew Wade, he had to be a part of our routine too. We had to work with him. He was just as much part of the choreography as we were, not to mention the 1000 extras, who were also part of the team to create this big, magical picture.
Allen: Yeah. We had trained chefs in those kitchens. That was cool. In the kitchen scene where we're moving through the kitchen. Yeah, I mean, I don't know, I wouldn't look at it as like challenging. Like, you know, learning to drive is challenging. Just you know, cooking grilled cheese can be challenging depending on how exhausted you are at the given moment. Sorry, recent experience of mine. But I mean, I loved every second of it. Everyone showed up, brought their full selves. But like, I think those environments where there's like a million things you have to pay attention to, it's like, where I'm at my most comfortable.
disappointment: But also, both of you have like a very physical background — Kyle in dancing and acrobatics and Katherine in golf — how do you think that helped you prepare for those scenes?
Newton: Huge, I think you have to have such stamina and such focus that you need to have all of that working all the time. And there's no excuses. Failure is not an option, when you have three hours and the sun is setting, you know, you have to get it. But because we all love this movie so much, it was not hard at all. It was easy.
Allen: Yeah, I absolutely think, you know, having emotional and physical focus and awareness, the ability to do those things are absolutely vital to make to make those things happen. Because you have to learn things and integrate them into your body really quickly. As an athlete, like that's your job as an athlete, any kind of athlete has to do that. And that's required of you on set, you have to pick up like a physical task, you know, like a subtlety of movement, how to do I set this plate on it, you have to be able to do it very fast and integrate it very quickly, because there's a million other things moving around you. And you're also acting, you also have to be, you know, reciting dialogue as you do the physical act. So there's, there isn't enough time to, to practice it over and over and over and over again. We took time for some of those things, but a lot of it was on the fly.
On the Film's Message
disappointment: Something else that really stood out is that there are a bunch of little nuggets of wisdom spread throughout the film. Do you have one that particularly resonated with you?
Allen: Time is the thing that when you spend it, you don't get it back.
Newton: I don't understand that. Please explain.
Allen: I think it's recognizing the permanence of things. I mean, they're in an exception. And I think in life, you try and make these exceptions for things that happen to you or things you want to have happen. I sometimes I'll talk to people about, you know, dreams versus realities, like, I don't want to achieve my dreams. I want to achieve my realities, like I don't want to dream I want a reality, I want it to actually happen. And that quote, you know, time is the thing that when you spend it, you don't get it back, it just recognizes kind of the value of permanence, of you know, of not being able to go back. That means something.
Newton: You kind of said this earlier, Kyle about how Mark thinks it's about him. And then he meets Margaret and realizes it's about her, but I feel the same way about Margaret. You know, she's dealing with her grief, and she doesn't want to get off track. She wants to stay stuck. But then when she gets outside of herself, and she sees how beautiful things can be., she realizes that you can't just live for you all the time. Carpe Diem, you have to seize the day, you know, you have to make the day you have to make the most of your day.
Allen: That's one thing that that Mark realizes. And I guess, you know, Katherine said that Margaret realizes as well, is that you're not really living if you're not paying attention to the people around you, which I think is really evident in the film, as well. It's something that our characters learn to do. Not because they're rejecting it, you know, they're rejecting a bit, but they're also they're just young, they just don't know yet.
The Map of Tiny Perfect Things hits Amazon Prime on February 12.
By Camden Ferrell
Minari dazzled audiences when it premiered at the 2020 Sundance Film Festival where it won the Grand Jury Prize and Audience Award. The movie was recently nominated for a Golden Globe and three SAG awards, and in anticipation of its wide release, disappointment media got the opportunity to speak with members of its cast. Yeri Han, who plays Monica, talked to us about her role in the movie and what she enjoyed about making this film.
On Receiving the Role of Monica
disappointment media: I want to start by congratulating you on Minari's nomination earlier today for Best Ensemble at the Screen Actors Guild Award. I'm very happy for you all.
Yeri Han: Thank you so much.
disappointment: How did you first meet Lee Isaac Chung and get the role of Monica?
Han: So actually, I came across this project through the script first. It was sort of the first draft translated version, so there were a lot of gaps to be filled in for Monica's character, and I was worried whether I'd be able to fully comprehend it. When I met Isaac, I decided that I was going to do this film no matter what because he's such a great person, and I was already looking forward to the process of making Monica's character with him.
disappointment: What about Monica's character interested you the most?
Han: I thought to me, Monica was the strongest character in the film, although she didn't have her own aspirations and dreams that she wanted to pursue. Nevertheless, she was the strongest force that holds the family together. I believe that the force that really was holding this family together was love, and I wanted to capture and portray this character sincerely.
disappointment: Are there any people in your life or family members who shaped your performance as Monica and inspired you?
Han: First of all, my own mom and dad married very young, so it was before their ego fully developed, so we went through the growth pains. And I also had six aunts, so I had a glimpse into lives of six different women from that time that helped me tremendously with my character. I also had a very loving grandmother like Soonja [Youn Yuh-jung].
On Filming Minari (Contains Mild Spoilers)
disappointment: What were some of the challenges with making Minari?
Han: One of the real challenges that I can remember is the weather and the climate. It was always 40 degrees Celsius the whole time, and I was really worried about the child actors. But other than that, it wasn't so much of a challenge.
disappointment: I've seen Minari two times now, and both times I watched it, I'm always impressed with how great your chemistry is with Steven Yeun. What was it like to work with him?
Han: Steven is such a sweet guy, and he’s very honest. When we were working together on set, he would always ask me if I'm okay, how I felt about certain scenes, and if we wanted to do it together. He would always want to discuss our performance together, which enabled us to put our heads together and think about better ways to make that scene. And in a way, I felt that I was meeting Steven’s own childhood through this film, so it motivated me to try and portray Monica's character to my best ability.
disappointment: What scene in particular was your favorite in the film?
Han: There are too many. Personally, it's the scene before Soonja has a stroke, and she holds David in her arms and comforts him. Also, the scene where all of Jacob's hard work and effort goes up in flames in that fire at the end. Whenever I look at that scene, it brings back the memory of the emotion that I had at the time.
On Her Career and Korean Culture
disappointment: What is the difference between making movies in Korea and making a movie in the United States?
Han: I don't know if I can make that comparison since this was a small budget film production. I guess the difference that I could say is that I had to speak English on the set. I guess that's why a lot of the crew or the people who are involved in the project kept telling me, “Yeri, this isn't the typical experience of filmmaking in the States. You should keep making more films here,” I guess to make sure that I'm not discouraged by the experience.
disappointment: For the last 13 years, you've been very busy as an actress. Is there any genre of film or television that you haven't done that you want to do in the future?
Han: This is one of the questions that makes me think when I'm asked that question. As far as I'm concerned, an actor is someone who waits for a role or a film project to come to her, so I don't think about what kind of genre of films that I want or characters that I want to portray. It's the moment I get a script that I like or the director that I want to work with that I suddenly have that burning desire and want to do it and feel ownership that this is mine. And when that falls through, then I get sometimes very hurt. I guess I fall in love when that happens, when things come to me.
disappointment: In the last few years, we've seen Korean culture becoming much more popular in the United States. How do you feel about this sudden increase in interest in Korean culture?
Han: I can really feel that the world has changed for younger generations, the generation that's younger than me. It's become faster. The world has come closer together. I feel very lucky that so many people have interest in our popular culture of music and film, and that there is that emotional connection happening across cultures. Currently, there are a lot of projects and new content being made and a lot of money that's injected in the market. I don't know how long that's going to continue, but I hope that we will continue maintaining that unique quality of Korean cultural assets and continue making films.
On the Universality of Minari
disappointment: This is a movie about the Korean American experience, but it's a story that everyone can relate to. What about this movie makes it so universal?
Han: I guess because everyone has their childhood. And because they can relate to Jacob at times and at times, relate to Monica or to Soonja. Especially if you have the memory of having a grandmother like Soonja then it will resonate particularly more. Another thing is that there is not a single bad character in the film. Everyone is so innocent, and there is nothing that is mean or bad or hurtful in the film. They all have the warmth in their hearts in the film. I guess that's what makes this film special. One of the great virtues of this film is that rather than forcing certain emotions on the audience, it gives the audience that room to distance themselves, take a step back, and gaze at what's happening because what happened in this family is told in such a very calm manner.
disappointment: And for my last question, what do you hope audiences learn the most from your character after watching Minari?
Han: The feeling of love. That strong root of the feeling of love that Monica has is the power that binds this family together and prevents them from splitting up. I want the audience to take away that feeling, and I guess that's what makes the root of Minari strong. And although Monica's character cries a lot in the film, I think she's the strongest character in the film. And I want the audience to take away that love that Monica has.
Minari will be in select theaters February 12 and on VOD February 26.
Interview by Sean Boelman
In anticipation of the release of his new anthology Welcome to the Blumhouse, disappointment media got the opportunity to speak with producer Jason Blum. Featuring four films from underrepresented voices, this anthology challenges viewers to find horror in unexpected places. Check out the interview below!
On the Changing Nature of Film Distribution
disappointment media: So my first question is that horror is typically something that's seen as a communal experience. But right now, given the circumstances, obviously, seeing a scary movie in a packed theater isn't really something that's possible. What is it about these four films in Welcome to the Blumhouse that you think will allow them to thrive despite not having this experience?
Jason Blum: Well, that's a good question. Three of the four films were produced and bought and designed specifically for streaming. So we had different boxes we were looking to check. I think when you're looking to do a theatrical, scary movie, you know, there's certain guardrails that you've got to hit, even, you know, Get Out, or Split, or The Invisible Man, you know, there's got to be jumpscares, they've got to be timed in a certain way. And one of the great things about doing scary movies for streaming is that you're relieved of that, you can tell stories slightly differently, you can really lean into making the stories more unnerving and unsettling, as opposed to jumpscares. And actually, I think that it allows a broader canvas for our filmmakers. So in that sense, you know, one of the reasons I was really excited about doing this was the idea that I was going to get to tell horror movies that I didn't have to worry about opening weekend, which is a big relief.
disappointment: Welcome to the Blumhouse is the beginning of what should be a fruitful relationship between your company and Amazon Prime. What else can we look forward to from this collaboration?
Blum: I don't really remember what else is announced or not, but we have three or four projects. One finished movie that hopefully will come out next year with Amazon and then three or four projects in development with them, both on the series and the movie side. So I'm looking forward to doing a lot more with them. I was extremely happy with how this show was introduced to the world. I thought the marketing on it was great. I love the poster. And all of that 100% came from Amazon. I love the trailer. As a producer, you work so hard on these things, you want to feel like your distributor's taking care of it. And I felt very well taken care of by these guys. So hopefully, there'll be a lot more to come.
disappointment: Yeah, that's awesome. I look forward to it. And also Blumhouse has kind-of been at the forefront of the changing landscape of film distribution in recent months. What do you see as the direction in which the industry should be heading?
Blum: Look, I think everyone should adopt the PVOD model. I think that premium VOD, eventually is going to keep the theatrical-going experience alive and well and relevant. I know, that's a relatively controversial thing to say, but I believe it. And I think we have to give exhibition their fair share. And I'm sure that's, you know, what some of what the holdup is, but I really believe, not for all movies, but there are a lot of movies now that are going straight to streaming. And I think a lot of those movies would play in theaters if we could agree on, you know, this shorter window. And I think, I think in a world where all the exhibition chains and all the studios agreed to what that window would be, you'd see many, many, many, many more movies playing in movie theaters for a much, much, much shorter period of time. But I think you could potentially see more business in movie theaters and the consumer would have more choice. You know, consumers always complain. You know, the only thing that's in the movie theaters are tentpole movies and horror movies, our movies. I understand that. You know, it's largely true. And I think if we could get exhibition and studios to agree, that you'd have a much wider variety of movies. If every movie to play in the theater had to open to $20 million, you took that pressure off, you know, you could see a much greater variety of movies playing. So I'm very hopeful for it. It's almost happened, but it hasn't quite happened yet, but I have big hopes for the new theatrical window.
On Welcome to the Blumhouse
disappointment: I think one of the really cool things about Welcome to the Blumhouse is that three of the four films are directed by people of color, and two of them are directed by women. Could you talk about some of the work that Blumhouse is doing to promote diversity and horror?
Blum: Yeah, for sure. Well, this series was one of the big things we have. We have The Craft coming out later this month, directed by a woman, we had this movie called Run Sweetheart Run, which is directed by Shana Feste, another woman. So for instance, [since] the beginning of Blumhouse, we've been mindful of making movies about race and gender and ethnicity, and less mindful about the people behind the movies you know, looking different than I look. And in the last couple of years, I'd like to say, you know, before we had to, and certainly this, this started two years ago, I put a big emphasis on the importance of having the storytellers behind the camera represent our audience, and our audience is less than fifty percent white. And you know, this show is the best example to answer your question.
disappointment: So one of the things that ties these four Welcome to the Blumhouse films together is the idea of family. And so what about this theme really resonated with you?
Blum: Well, to me, if you task a filmmaker with doing something, you know doing a horror movie and don't give them a lot of money, as soon as you say money is no object, they start talking to you about what the CGI, what the monster is going to look like, or killing fifty people, right? But when you take money out of the equation, it focuses the filmmaker on making it tighter and smaller, and how do I scare people without special effects. And the way to do that is, the most effective way to do that, I think is you take what's most sacred to everyone, which is their relationships to their family, to their parents, or their kids, their husband, their wife, their brother, their sister, and you threaten it with some kind of exterior event. And I think you see that in all four movies to a certain degree. That you have some kind of human relationship and you have this exterior event and it threatens it and then you watch and see how people react. And I think that's very satisfying. It's very satisfying as an audience member, I find that always fun to watch and exciting to watch and satisfying to watch and satisfying to say like, hey, how would I do this differently? Or what would I do? And then also satisfying to twist things around like, you know, with The Lie you think the parents are great people protecting their daughter and they turn out not to be. With Evil Eye, you know, you think that she's this overbearing mother who's out of her mind and she turns out not to be. And I like that too. I like twisting, twisting things around like that, like our filmmakers did.
disappointment: One of the things that I think makes Welcome to the Blumhouse really unique is this idea of programming it as an anthology. What was the appeal of this to you guys?
Blum: There's a big appeal when you can go to the world and you can say, look, we have eight slots, I have eight slots for movies, they have to be scary, the filmmaker has to be from an underrepresented group. But otherwise, you know, anything else goes and the amount of incoming material we had was great. We had a ton of different things to look at, and a lot of really quality things and a lot of really talented people. And you know, my hope is that this series is successful. And every October you can see four new Welcome to the Blumhouse movies from us and Amazon, I really hope that's what happens. But that's the advantage of instead of looking for one offs and being able to say we have it, every year we have four of these to fill and it becomes a self-fulfilling thing. So then when a representative or an artist is like "Ooh, you know I have a movie that would fit Welcome to the Blumhouse, better send it to Jason." So you get more and more, it's you know, the opposite of diminishing returns, the longer it goes, the better it gets. So hopefully we'll be able to do it for many years to come.
disappointment: Another really cool thing about these films is that they partner rising stars with legendary performers. What did you like most about setting up these pairings?
Blum: You don't want to make everyone a kid right? Or just starting out, I should say. So you know a lot of times our talent on the acting side were actors of note who've had terrific careers. I think in a lot of cases, they would help mentor the filmmakers and vice versa. With Veena [Sud], a mentor to the actress in her show. And I think that makes for interesting work. You know, when you have people who were at the beginning of their career and people who were established working together, I think it makes for more interesting work, sometimes tense conversations, but it leads to great work.
On the Blumhouse Legacy
disappointment: A lot of people initially think of Blumhouse as a horror company, because that's a lot of what you guys do. But you guys also make thrillers and other horror-adjacent movies like The Lie, which isn't quite a horror movie. Why do you enjoy telling these types of stories?
Blum: I like kind-of exploring dark theme things on the TV company, you know, it's much broader, even than that we did The Loudest Voice, which is definitely not a horror movie, but about someone in my mind who was very horrible. I mean, Roger Ailes, you know, horrible guy. And why, I don't know, but I'm interested in exploring dark themes. I guess, I'm interested in shining light on people who are doing things that are wrong, and, you know, letting the public decide about it. And so that's kind of the filter that we look through to decide if something should be Blumhouse. It's mostly horror, you're absolutely right, but I think there's room for other things that touch on horrible issues. Whiplash is not a horror movie. But JK Simmons was certainly not a nice music teacher.
disappointment: You mentioned Whiplash, and with Whiplash and now Nocturne, you've produced two films about obsession in music conservatories. What do you think about this premise is so terrifying?
Blum: I don't know, I haven't mandated that. I haven't said to my people, like find other music conservatory scary stories, but I think people get passionate. It's like what I was talking about, you know, your tightest relationship is with other people. But I think that same passion exists, especially in musicians, you have to have, you know, something that most of us including me don't have to become a professional musician. And interfering with that drives people crazy. And that's a fun thing to watch.
disappointment: It was recently announced that you were going to be doing an adaptation of Firestarter. Are you excited to tackle this iconic Stephen King story?
Blum: Oh God, I really am. I mean, we've been working on this a long time. It's taken a long time for all the pieces to come together in the right way. But I'm a huge Stephen King fan and we've got a lot with him going on right now. And I'm really psyched. I love this script and I can't wait to make the movie.
disappointment: Yeah, I'm very excited for it. Blumhouse often takes pre existing material and puts a spin on it, like The Lie is a remake of a German film, you've got Firestarter, and you've got The Craft. So how do you focus on the filmmaker's voice coming through?
Blum: You tell the filmmaker to take the existing IP and make it their own. I think that's how you do it. I think the idea is not to rip off the first version of it but not to divorce yourself completely. Otherwise why are you using it, but to kind of walk this fine line in between those two things. But it's very important that the filmmaker find their own voice using whatever IP we're using. And we did that with David Gordon Green with Halloween, you know, we said, "What is David Gordon Green's version of Halloween today?" And he said, "Do I have to take into account all the rest of the movies?" I said, "No, you know, you have to take into account the first movie, what you do after that is up to you." He chose to take into account one and two. But I think you have to get the filmmaker in the world of the IP that you're dealing with for a while, and then tell them to forget it, and do your own thing. That's what I think.
disappointment: And low budget sci-fi is another thing that you guys do a lot. And so you did Upgrade and Black Box is also low budget sci-fi, but it's a very difficult genre to pull off. Do you have a secret to success for that genre?
Blum: The Purge is low budget sci-fi too. Uh, you know, I look at it like a low budget horror, which is if you take the sci-fi out of it, is there a drama that can work? I think that all three movies, that it's true that if you took the sci-fi out of the movie, there would be a drama that still works. Even in Upgrade, a guy coming to terms with recovering from an accident? I mean, and how the accident happened and losing his wife. I think that's the key. And we don't always succeed at this, but I think the key to making a good genre movie, whether it's horror, or sci-fi, or even action, is that if you take out the action, or you take out the horror, you take out the sci-fi element, if there's a great dramatic story that stands on its own without that, that's the key to making a good low-budget genre movie of any kind.
Black Box and The Lie are now streaming on Amazon Prime. Nocturne and Evil Eye stream on Amazon Prime beginning October 13.
Interview by Sean Boelman
In anticipation of the release of their newest film Black Box, disappointment media got to sit down and talk with actors Mamoudou Athie and Phylicia Rashad. In the interview, we discuss the film's script, the dynamic between the rising star and the acting legend, and the role of people of color in Hollywood. Check out the interview below and watch Black Box streaming on Amazon Prime beginning October 6!