Monthly Archives: March 2013

Interview: Admission Director Paul Weitz

Tina-Fey-Paul-Weitz-AdmissionFor a guy whose college essay was about being an underachiever, director Paul Weitz really came out on top. He’s got credits like “American Pie,” “In Good Company,” “About a Boy,” and more to his name and, with his latest film, “Admission,” Weitz could strike the ideal union of a modestly scaled production with a very wide appeal.

“Admission” will strike a chord with anyone who’s gone through or plans to go through the college admission process. It stars Tina Fey as Portia Nathan, a Princeton admissions officer dedicated to the institution’s strict standards. When the opportunity for a promotion arises, Portia is determined to get the gig. However, when she attempts to impress her superior by expanding her annual recruiting trip by visiting an alternative high school, she’s forced to recognize that there may be bright young minds outside of Princeton’s cookie cutter idea of the ideal prospective student.

In honor of “Admission’s” Friday, March 22nd debut, Weitz took the time to sit down and talk all things college admissions. He dished on his own experience applying to college and the trajectory he’s got in mind for his kids. Weitz also delved into the challenge of meeting audience expectations while also exceeding them, working with his ideal cast, and more. Check it all out for yourself in the interview below.

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Interview: Admission’s Nat Wolff

Nat_Wolff_AdmissionYou may know Nat Wolff for his work in Nickelodeon’s “The Naked Brothers Band” and his flourishing music career with his younger brother, Alex, but Wolff is also hitting it big within the film industry and, with a number of projects in post-production, the upcoming release, “Admission,” could mark the start of a strong, extensive run on the big screen.

Wolff stars alongside Tina Fey and Paul Rudd as Jeremiah Balakian, a kid adopted by loving parents, but ones that didn’t breed him for Ivy League college competition. When the time comes for Jeremiah to think beyond his alternative high school, New Quest, he’s totally unprepared with abysmal grades from his run at a more traditional school and zero extracurricular activities. However, thanks to the head of New Quest, John Pressman (Rudd), Jeremiah gets the opportunity to meet Princeton admissions officer Portia Nathan (Fey) and even though he’s not traditional Princeton material, Jeremiah makes a strong enough impression to entice her to reassess her school’s sky-high, ultra rigid standards.

While Wolff delivers a notably natural performance as the eccentric yet lovable Jeremiah, behind the scenes, Wolff is a particularly intense performer, doing everything and anything he can to prepare for a role so he can let loose when he hits the set. Check out what Wolff had to say about his preparation methods, the pressure of making a movie about getting into college while going through the process himself and more in the interview below, and catch him in action when “Admission” arrives in theaters on Friday, March 22nd.

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Before & After: What It’s Like to Have a Movie Playing the SXSW Film Festival

Child_EaterBEFORE

Our short film Child Eater plays to an adoring crowd, we get up and charm the audience further during our Q&A, someone from Blumhouse Productions approaches us post screening with interest in the feature version and BOOM! – Child Eater the feature gets a green light.

Hey, a girl can dream, right?

Just over a month ago I was shocked and overjoyed to find out my Columbia University non-thesis short Child Eater was accepted into SXSW and was set to play in the Midnight Shorts program. We’d already gotten a great reaction at the Columbia University Film Festival, were named an honorable mention at the Reykjavík International Film Festival and had the privilege of screening before Scream and a Wes Craven Q&A at the New York City Horror Film Festival, but SXSW was something else. Not only has the festival become one of the biggest in the country, but it’s a place where something really could happen, whether it be finding that magical person eager to propel the feature version into production, meet future collaborators, or even just simply get our names out there. Whatever fate is upon us, we’re going to do whatever it takes to ensure we get the most out of this experience.

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Review: The Call

The-Call-PosterDirector Brad Anderson and writer Richard D’Ovidio definitely have something here, but “The Call” falls into B-movie territory with a mix of notable highs, but also a handful of rock bottom lows.

Jordan Turner (Halle Berry) is an all-star 911 operator, but when her call with a home invasion victim ends poorly, she feels responsible and opts to step away from the call center. Six months later, Jordan is busy training an incoming class of operators when a call comes in from a young girl who’s been kidnapped. When the operator who receives the call panics, Jordan must put the past behind her, step in and do whatever she can to bring Casey Welson (Abigail Breslin) home alive.

The life of a 911 operator is surprisingly thrilling. The day-to-day happenings as presented in “The Call” are likely far slicker than in reality, but it makes for an ideal central environment for film. We all know and have possibly used a 911 call center, but for those who don’t work in law enforcement, the inner workings of the facility are probably a mystery. D’Ovidio uses the unknown to his advantage, dishing out the bear minimum, satiating curiosity while keeping the information digestible. Anderson and editor Avi Youabian take it from there, turning what could easily have been a stagnant, dull presentation of that call center and giving it life through an appropriate amount of camera movement and some stellar editing. Anderson excels on the opposite end of the spectrum as well with solid action coverage and a number of memorable shots that highlight the true horror of the situation, too.

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The Best – and Worst – Movie Trailers of the Week

Kick-Ass-2Star Trek Into Darkness makes another strong play, delivering a brand-new teaser trailer that’s equally as thrilling as the rest. But even though the piece achieves an equivalent level of proficiency and excitement, it’s still the same in a sense, leaving room for three fresher feeling trailers to slip their way into this week’s Best Stuff.

The Best Stuff

1. Kick-Ass 2Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl are back, and this time around they’ve got an entire brigade of superheroes (sans superpowers) behind them. The plot follows the expected progression towards Red Mist-turned-Motherf***er’s revenge, but brings the series to a whole new level, loading up on striking costumes, highlighting far more intense battle sequences and expanding the cast with a variety of new characters, most notably a pleasantly less recognizable Jim Carrey as Colonel Stars and Stripes.

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SXSW Interview: Loves Her Gun’s Trieste Kelly Dunn

Loves-Her-Gun-PosterAs though being front and center in a film from beginning to end isn’t challenging enough, “Loves Her Gun” star Trieste Kelly Dunn filmed every single scene of the SXSW selection with nothing more than a story outline.

Her character Allie lives in Brooklyn, but after a vicious mugging, she makes the split second decision to relocate to Austin, Texas. Her lifestyle is unstable at first, sleeping on couches and mooching off new friends, but even once she secures a job and starts building serious relationships, Allie still can’t shake the memory of the attack. When alcohol and pills don’t help her sleep through the night, she decides the only way to get peace of mind is by protecting herself with a gun.

While director Geoff Marslett did offer Dunn a great deal of guidance, when that camera rolled it was up to Dunn to wholly become her character, listening and engaging in unscripted conversation, something that required her to truly become Allie. Check out what Dunn had to say about the unique shooting format, the pressure of essentially carrying a film, the challenge of exploring a timely and touchy topic, and much more in the video interview below.

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SXSW Interview: Nikki Reed, Thomas Dekker And The Directors Of Snap

Snap-Jake-Hoffman-Thomas-DekkerYoussef Delara and Victor Teran gave themselves quite the challenge with “Snap.” Not only does the story have roots in disturbing true events and a touchy mental condition at the core, but then they infuse it with an exceptional dose of style and set it all to a beat, ultimately making the film feel as though it has a pulse.

Jake Hoffman leads as Jim, an antisocial shut-in who expresses himself through music, making beats, uploading them to the web and amassing a following all from the comfort of his own home. When Jake gets a gig fixing an office computer and crosses pathes with Wendy (Nikki Reed), she inspires him to try to come out of his shell. Trouble is, when their romance doesn’t exactly pan out, Jim can’t handle it and his inner demons assume control.

For the sake of a brief introduction, we can boil “Snap” down to that cut and dry synopsis, but, in full, the movie is much more than that. Delara and Teran never spoon-feed information, making viewer interpretation a major part of the experience. In order to do that successfully while putting every little bit of their tight budget and schedule to good use, the pair had to be exceptionally well prepared, as did their cast.

While celebrating the “Snap” world premiere at SXSW, Delara, Teran, and stars Reed and Thomas Dekker sat down to discuss the challenge of handling the material in a sensitive manner, infusing the film with a degree of authorial expressivity, and much more. Catch it all in the video interview below.

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