Chris Gethard: Career Suicide

Chris Gethard is a multi-talented comedian and actor (Don’t Think Twice, “Broad City”) who’s worked extensively in NYC’s improv scene at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater as well as having his own successful public access show, aptly titled “The Chris Gethard Show”. This weekend Gethard premiered a much more personal type of special on HBO with Chris Gethard: Career Suicide. In this touching, and darkly hilarious special, Chris uses comedy to detail his lifelong struggles with depression and anxiety including his brushes with suicide. The show held a special screening and talk-back at New York’s Tribeca Film Fest, featuring Chris, fellow comedian Pete Holmes (HBO’s “Crashing”), and moderator Ira Glass (NPR’s “This American Life”). I spoke with them on the red carpet about the development of the show and using comedy to cope with more difficult issues.

Besides hosting NPR’s “This American Life” podcast (which Gethard has appeared on), Ira Glass produced Don’t Think Twice.

Lauren Damon: Working with Chris on Don’t Think Twice, did you see the development of his show at all?

Ira Glass

Ira Glass: I mean, it’s funny, Don’t Think Twice…Chris is such an amazing actor. He’s so for-real in Don’t Think Twice, and that character does have a lot of overlap with who he is in real life. And who he is in this special. My main thing with the special is I’ve seen him develop it. I saw like a super early version in the basement in Union Hall, and then saw when it was up on stage. So I’m really curious how it translates to video.

LD: With the heavier themes, I feel like we have a need for that in comedy because things seem sort of dire in general…

Glass: It’s true…But I feel like the whole trend in comedy has been comedians getting super real about stuff that’s going on, you know. And I feel like when you look at the people…who are doing the most work right now, it’s like Louis CK and Tig Notaro and Mike Birbiglia, Aziz [Ansari]…You know that’s people talking about stuff that’s pretty real. Which I like because I like a real story. I think when somebody can tell a story that’s super funny but also is really a real thing, and emotional, it’s just like what could be more entertaining? That’s everything a person could want.

LD: That’s basically the best episodes of “This American Life”…

Glass: On a good day, yeah. On a good day. The formula on “This American Life” is we want it to be really funny, with a lot of plot at the beginning, then it will get kind of sad and sort of wistful at the end, then like throw a little music under it, you’re done!

In Don’t Think Twice, Gethard played Bill, a comedian coping with a hospitalized father on top of dealing with general anxieties of where he fits into his shifting improv group.

LD: In Don’t Think Twice, your character did a lot of the heavy emotional lifting, was your show already developing kind of around that time?

Chris Gethard: It’s funny because [Don’t Think Twice director] Mike Birbiglia was the one who kind of threw down the gauntlet and said ‘You should do a show about this side of yourself.’ I would talk about it to a degree in my work, but he was the one who was like ‘You got something here, go for it.’ So the experience of Don’t Think Twice and this show kind of went hand in hand. I was opening for Mike on the road, he developed the film on the road [and] during that process is when he really said ‘You should really go for it, I promise you, give it a shot.’ Really the first time I attempted the show was in an effort to sort of prove Birbiglia wrong and say like I don’t know if people are going to laugh at this. But I have learned never to doubt Mike. And those things really did dovetail nicely and springboard off of each other.

Chris Gethard

LD: How did Mike respond to it?

Gethard: Oh he’s been so supportive and I think he was–he also, as far as these off Broadway shows that are kind of comedy but that go serious, I think he really has helped pioneer that in the past few years. So I think he was very proud and flattered. I always give him a lot of credit as far as walking in his footsteps. So I think he was very psyched that I went for it. i think he also had a little bit of glee that his instincts were correct and mine were not. So thank god for that.

Pete Holmes had his own hilarious HBO comedy special (Faces and Sounds) as well as starring in their series, “Crashing”

LD: How do you know Chris?

Pete Holmes: It’s funny, I thought more people would ask, but here we are at the end of the line and you’re only the second person to ask, so it’s still fresh! It’s still a fresh answer. I was a fan of Chris, I would see him at UCB –actually not far from here, right around the corner. And then I took improv classes at UCB and Chris was actually my level 3 teacher because I had heard that he was so wonderful. And he was. I actually think Chris likes to downplay what a wonderful improv teacher he is because obviously he loves to perform more. But it’s almost a shame that we can’t clone him, because he’s such a great improv teacher.

LD: Your stand-up is a lot more silly and irreverent in contrast to the work Chris is doing in this special and I love that there’s space for both

Holmes: That’s nice, there is space for both! And I really love this show. It’s not the sort of stand-up I do but I also on my podcast [“You Made it Weird”] love to get very deep and weird and uncomfortable so I love seeing it in the live version with the laughs.

Pete Holmes

LD: On “You Made it Weird”, have you had any especially surprising guests?

Holmes: That happens all the time actually. For example The Lucas Brothers, the twin guys from 21 Jump Street movie…I [didn’t] know them that well either and they’re kind of low energy [in the film] and then they came on and were like the most high-energy, introspective, eloquent amazing guests. And you know, I didn’t really know them that well. So one of the things that I love about the podcast is that happens over and over. Your expectations just get completely blown out of the water.

The better answer would be Aaron Rogers, the quarterback for the Greenbay Packers…I didn’t know him either, but here comes a quarterback. And J.J. Redick who’s a basketball player just did it. And whenever these athletes come on and just kill it just as hard as the comedians, it makes me happy.

LD: With Chris being your teacher and then you had an HBO special and series first, is that kind of funny to you?

Pete Holmes: [laughs] I beat my teacher! It’s so funny, Chris and I had another thing where I did a talk show for Conan–he talked to me about this on his episode of my podcast. [Chris] was like when they gave you the talk show after Conan–which lasted about a year–he was like they were talking to me about [doing it] Like we’ve been competing in ways we didn’t even know! So I’m happy that now we’ve both landed at HBO, it’s not one or the other, but we can both be here. [laughs]

Chris Gethard: Career Suicide is now available on HBO, HBO Now & HBOGo

“Genius” Red Carpet at Tribeca Film Festival

Tonight marks the premiere of the National Geographic Channel’s first ever scripted series, Genius. From director Ron Howard, Genius follows the life of Albert Einstein as portrayed in his youth by English actor Johnny Flynn and later in life by Geoffrey Rush. The first episode screened this week at the Tribeca Film Festival as part of their Tribeca TV series. The pilot seamlessly time jumped between Flynn energetically fighting to become a physicist in his own right without the rigidity of his early school and the elder Einstein beginning to encounter the rise of Nazis later in life.

I got the chance to speak with some of the actors from the series at this red carpet New York screening about their characters and how working on the series changed how they see Albert Einstein.


English actress Samantha Colley portrays Mileva Maric, a physicist and Einstein’s first wife.

Lauren Damon: How much research did you put into playing Mileva?

Samantha Colley: Quite a lot. What I focused on was their personal letters–so the personal letters between Mileva Maric and Albert Einstein but also Mileva Maric and her best friend Helene Savic. When you google Mileva Maric you see these kind of black and white pictures of someone very [Colley stiffens her back] sitting erect on a chair. It’s kind of impenetrable and she seems very severe and harsh. But actually her letters reveal her to be very vulnerable, and loving and soft and riddled with self-doubt but deeply loyal. But it was the letters I focused on.

LD: How important do you think it is that you portray a female scientist, considering the general need for more women in STEM fields?

Colley: It’s enormously important! I mean Mileva Maric is an example of one of many many many women who have been snubbed by the scientific world and their works not being properly credited. There’s a school of thought that Mileva Maric was instrumental in some of Albert Einstein’s fundamental works and never cited. So using her as an example and shedding light on her is enormously important. And I hope it does inspire girls today to go ‘yeah that’s not going to happen to me, I’m not going to let that happen.’

LD: You share your scenes primarily with Johnny Flynn, how was he to work with?

Colley: Amazing. He was one of the most generous actors I’ve ever worked with and we had a real sense of play and trust early on and it was wonderful.

Richard Topol plays fellow scientist Fritz Haber, a man instrumental in the weaponization of poisonous gas in World War I.

LD: So you play Fritz Haber–dubbed the “Father of Chemical warfare”, a pretty daunting title, how much research did you do?

Richard Topol: I did as much as I could about what we know about him and I mean I had a lot of conversations with the writers and the directors and the producers about why would somebody do that? Right? …Like if you imagined living in a country that was at war with the countries all around it and you’re running out of ammunition. And if you ran out of ammunition, your country would be taken over, what would you do?

So to me, it was like he came up with an idea and his pitch was the same pitch that Einstein, you know that the Manhattan project and everybody who invented the atomic bomb came up with which is like ‘Look, we invent this thing, we show people how scary it is, use it once, it’ll never have to be used again.’ So that’s the way I thought about it that made it less daunting to me.

LD: Did you have any misconceptions about Einstein that working on this dispelled?

Topol: I didn’t really have any strong conceptions about him so they weren’t really dispelled. But I was like oh, I was excited to know that this guy was like a kid who never wanted to grow up. So I learned some fun things about him…Also I learned he had a really complicated personal life that I had no idea. And I think that’s one of the interesting things about the show: We know about his genius, we don’t know a lot about the personal and political problems that he had to face.


Mad Men’s Vincent Kartheiser appears in the premiere as an officious member of the US State Department 

LD: How much more did you learn about Einstein in working on this series?

Vincent Kartheiser: I mean I think you’ll hear from a lot of these people, he was a lot more of a scoundrel than anyone ever really–at least that I know–knew. And he was just kind of…he had this ability to lock out all things around him and just focus on the work. So you know, his kid could be slapping him on the leg and his wife could be hollering at him, and the dinner could be burning and he would just focus on the equation. And I think that’s really interesting in today’s world where there’s millions of distractions for all of us and we’re all constantly trying to figure out how to deal with it. He never had to battle with that. He was just always able to focus.

LD: How was working opposite Geoffrey Rush?

Kartheiser: It was wonderful. He’s such a giving actor, and he’s phenomenal. I mean, you’d be having a conversation and he’d be like [calmly] talking about the role, talking about the scene and then they’d go ACTION! And he’d just snap right into it. Just always exploring, always finding new things during the scene, and lots of fun.

LD: Were you also playing a scientist?

Kartheiser: No no, I was playing a person who works for the state department trying to clear his Visa so he could get into the United States…His visa wasn’t something that was just rushed through. I mean relative to today. These special visas…that have been in the news, you know that is these kind of people. Albert Einstein was someone who came in on a visa because of his talent, and his ability to teach, and his ability to give back to our community here in the states. So it’s a good example of how these kind of programs and the visa system works.

Genius begins tonight at 9 on the National Geographic Channel

Christian Bale, Oscar Isaac and “The Promise”

Director Terry George’s new film The Promise, which opened April 21st, sets a love triangle between an Armenian medical student (Oscar Isaac), an American journalist (Christian Bale) and the Armenian-born but raised-in-Paris Ana (Charlotte Le Bon) against the backdrop of the end of the Ottoman empire. The drama unfolds amidst the oft-under discussed Armenian genocide that took place beginning in 1915. It is a controversial subject that George and his cast hope the film can shed light on, even going so far as to donate all the film’s proceeds to human rights charities.

The cast, which also includes James Cromwell and Westworld’s Angela Sarafyan, gathered at their New York press conference to talk about what the film meant to them and some of the pushback making a movie on this subject can draw.

Conference discussion edited for article length.

Why did you decide to take this movie and what kind of approach did you take to your role?

Oscar Isaac

Oscar Isaac: For me, to my shame, I didn’t know about the Armenian genocide before I got the script and spoke with Terry. So it was new to me. And to read about that–to read that 1.5 [million] Armenians perished at the hands of their own government was horrifying and that the world did nothing…Not only that but to this day it’s so little known, there’s active denial of it. So that really was a pretty significant part of it. Also the cast that they put together. And then to learn that 100% of the proceeds would go to charity was just an extraordinary thing to be a part of.

My approach was to read as much as I could to try to immerse myself in the history of the time. And also in LA there’s a small museum that a few of us got to go to and see some stuff. And then for me, I think the biggest help was I had these videos and recordings of survivors that would recount the things that they witnessed as little boys and children. Whether it was seeing their grandmothers bayoneted…or their mothers and sisters sometimes crucified–horrible atrocities and to hear them recounted with, almost they would sound like they had regressed to those little kids again, and that was heartbreaking. So I did feel some responsibility to try to tell their story.

Christian Bale: And for me, continuing off what Oscar was saying, you know he was talking about the documentaries where you can see survivors talking about these horrific experiences that they’d seen their loved ones, families, that had been very barbarically killed…And to try to get into that mindset, to try in a very small way to understand the pain that they must have gone through, and the fact that people were telling them they were lying about what had happened. And they had witnessed it with their own eyes, had all of that emotion, but there were people who refused to call it what it is, a genocide. There are still people who refuse to call it that. We have yet to have any sitting US president call it a genocide–Obama did before, but not during–the Pope did, recently. But it’s this great unknown genocide, and the lack of consequence may well have provoked other genocides that have happened since. And for me, it became startlingly relevant because as I was reading the script and in the same way as Oscar was, learning about the Armenian genocide as I reading this–embarrassing, but I think we’re in the same boat as many people– I’m reading about…Armenians who were being slaughtered under siege on this mountain, and I’m watching on the news and it was the yazidis under siege, being slaughtered by ISIS… And just thinking this is so relevant…and so tragic, it’s very sad that it is still relevant.

Charlotte Le Bon

Charlotte Le Bon: By watching documentaries, I talked a lot with Armenian friends that I have in France…Also it was really present, just like Christian was saying–A couple months before the shooting I was in Greece just on a holiday, I was on Lesbos Island, who is the door to Europe through Turkey, and it was the beginning of the massive arrival of the refugees. And they were coming like a thousand per day, it was really really impressive. And I didn’t know about it by then. And I just remember being in the car and watching hundreds and hundreds of people walking by the street…and it was really really moving to see that. The only thing I could do was just like give them a bottle of water, you don’t really know what to do. And a couple of months later I was on set and recreating the exact same scene that I saw just a couple of months before.

Angela Sarafyan: I had known about the Armenian genocide because I grew up hearing stories from grandparents–the stories they had heard from their parents about their grandparents. So doing this film was very very close to my heart because it was a chance for me to give some light to that world in a very different way. It’s never existed on film, it’s a very controversial issue. So what I got to do was really look at the time and look at what it must have been like to live in that time. The simplicity of what that village was. And kind of survival and the romanticism of living in a small place. And learning how people survived in the atrocity. I didn’t really have to go through some of the horrendous things that you see, but I loved being able to kind of investigate that simple life. And I read more, because Terry had introduced so many books and scripts and material on it. So that was it.

Did the Turkish government give you any problems? Any kind of pushback?

Christian Bale and director Terry George

Terry George: I had a very healthy exchange with a Turkish journalist in LA, a representative of the Hollywood Foreign Press, who presented that the Turkish perspective is that a genocide didn’t happen, that it was a war and bad things happen and lots of people died on both sides…I pointed out to him that that’s exactly true but in the case of the Armenians, it was their own government who was killing them. So we talked…and you know, we had this thing where IMDB was hijacked, we had the sudden appearance of the Ottoman lieutenant movie four weeks ago that was like the reverse-mirror-image of this film right down to the storyline. And there’s a particular nervousness in Europe about the film and about the current situation…So it’s an extremely embroiled subject. But our idea, as always with any of these subjects, get it out there, let some air in, let’s discuss the thing. I’d be more than willing to sit down with any representative of any Turkish organization and talk this out in terms of our different perspectives and present our perspective on it. So we want to bring air to the subject rather than hide away…let’s have this discussion.

Bale: Maybe I shouldn’t say this but don’t you think also though that’s there’s kind of a false debate been created–a bit like climate change, you know?–as though like there’s as strong evidence on one side as on the other? There isn’t. There isn’t as strong of an argument. And then similarly with this. The evidence just backs up the fact that it was a genocide.

Was there a scene that particularly moved you?

Bale: Terry and Survival Pictures decided not to show the full extent of the barbarity of the violence that was enacted during the genocide. There were multiple reasons for that that I’ll let Terry explain. But there was one scene where Mikael, Oscar’s character, he sees many of his family members and also members of his home town who have been slaughtered…that was a very emotional one I think for many people that day. So seeing Armenians who were directly connected, or had family members who knew that their origins had come–that their families had gone through that previously–that was a very affecting day for I think for every single one of us on the film.

George: …Just as I did on Hotel Rwanda, I was determined that this be a PG13 film. That teenagers, schools, people who might be squeamish about the notion of seeing an R-rated genocide movie, that the horror be psychological. And that put the burden–and carried magnificently by both Oscar and Christian on that scene–the horror of the genocide is told through how Oscar conveyed those moments of what he found in his face…

Christian, your character is a journalist who experiences questioning over everything that you’re reporting, did the relevance of that today go through your mind?

Christian Bale

Bale: Yeah yeah of course I mean that was sort of developing during filming and then obviously has become much more present in the news–What’re we calling it now? “Post-truth” era? Just how important it is to have a free press for any democracy. So yeah, that’s another aspect of the film that’s become much more relevant.

I’d love to know more of your thoughts of the web hijacking of IMDB and RottenTomatoes against this film, who do you think organized this or do you think these are individuals?

George: You know it can’t have been 50,000 individuals decided, after we had two screenings in Toronto, to [rate] us 1 out of 10. Seems like a miraculously spontaneous thing to happen. So I definitely think that was a bot, or a series of bots that were switched on…Then we had the contrary reaction from, which I genuinely think was 25,000 votes from the Armenian community–because we didn’t have a bot going–voting 10 out 10. It brought in to highlight the whole question of, not only IMDB, Rotten Tomatoes…just the whole question of manipulating the internet, and manipulating reviews and people being swayed by that. And it’s a whole new world.

For any of the actors, in your research, can you talk about any of the unsung heroes that you found out about? Secondly, can you talk about how this movie may have changed your outlook on specific causes you’d want to support as a person?

Bale: There’s Aurora Mardiganian , she’s a real Armenian national hero…who the award is named after as well, who’s a phenomenal woman who went through real tragic circumstances but came through and told her story with film as early as 1919…She was phenomenal. I mean talk about a fierce, strong woman who overcame phenomenal tragedy. She was very inspiring.

James Cromwell

James Cromwell: I think Morgenthau [Cromwell’s character] is pretty impressive, I didn’t know anything about him when I started. And also you can’t leave out the fact that there were consular officers all over Anatolia who were also sending briefs back to Washington. And that’s one of the reasons that we have the record that we have. Morgenthau’s biography, his memoirs, and these reports which were eyewitness reports.

It strikes me as amazing that today there are no people with that sort of moral outrage as part of our state department. There are ambassadors to Yemen, there are ambassadors to Sudan and Somalia and Assyria and Libya and you hear nothing. No one stands up for the people who are being oppressed all over the world now as far as taking responsibility in the way Morgenthau took responsibility. Wilson was supportive, but not the legislature, not congress. Congress was against him. And after Wilson, Hoover was very much against him, against supporting his work and against establishing the Armenian state.

So as far as a cause is concerned, it just shows us that at the top, down to the average citizen, we have been so desensitized to the suffering of people, that we cannot recognize ourselves in the other. Which is one of the reasons you do a film like this. That it has a narrative at the core, so that the audience can come in and feel what other people feel. And that by doing that you do what Shakespeare said: ‘Hold a mirror up to nature; to show virtue her own feature, scorn her own image, and the very age and body of the time his form and pressure.’ That’s what we do…

Oscar Isaac and Angela Sarafyan

Sarafyan: For me personally, it would be in my family, the orphans really. Because all of my, I guess great great great grandparents were orphaned. They didn’t have parents left, they were all taken away. So the mere fact that they were able to survive and then able to kind of form families…One of them fled to Aleppo actually to start a family in Syria, and it seems like it’s coming full circle with people today fleeing from Syria to find refuge in other countries. So I find them personally as heroes in my own life. And the mere fact that they were able to survive, form families, have a sane mind–because I think that kind of trauma changes you genetically. So I guess they really would be the heroes and for me doing the film was kind of continuing that legacy and making it kind of live forever. Instead of it just being a story that was told, it kind of lives in cinema and it will be an experience for people to watch and have as their own.

NYCC 2016: Adult Swim’s DREAM CORP LLC

Have you made your appointment with Dream Corp LLC yet? The mind-bending new series from creator Daniel Stessen is currently admitting new patients every Sunday night at 11:45pm on Adult Swim. Starring Jon Gries (Napoleon Dynamite), Stephen Merchant (“The Office”, “Hello Ladies”), Nick Rutherford (Balls Out, “Drunk History”) and a host of guest stars, the series follows a strip mall clinic that uses advanced technology to invade its patients dreams in order to solve their real life problems. At New York Comic Con this year, the Adult Swim panel was treated to the first two episodes of Dream Corp which blend live action sci-fi and trippy rotoscope animation.

Accompanying the new series to NYCC was creator Stessen with stars Gries, Rutherford and Merchant (who also serves as an executive producer on the show). I sat down with them to talk about this new addition to the Adult Swim lineup.

How did you develop Dream Corp?

Daniel Stessen: I had the concept, been developing it for a while, and created this world and kind of came over to Steve for a little guidance as to how to make it more palatable to a larger audience. Being that he has some–

Stephen Merchant and Daniel Stessen

Stephen Merchant: I think he’s being immodest–or he’s being too modest, I should say, that’s not right. Too modest. I was there as just a friend of Danny’s…to do a voice for this robot [T.E.R.R.Y] that’s in the show and inevitably whenever there’s anything creative going on, I like to start meddling, and just offering thoughts. And we started talking more and more. And it was just for me, it was something I would have done as a friend anyway…but I just thought, you know, let’s try to screw these guys for some money. (Both laugh)

Stessen: And the robot, we love the robot, he was built by Jim Henson Studios…That was one of the more validating moments of my last ten years on Earth, just getting that call that they were on board to build Terry the robot.

Merchant: There’s a really strong visual sense to the whole thing, again largely down to Danny. He’s just got an incredible visual imagination. And so you see that both in the real world–where you see this kind of twisted, eccentric sort of laboratory– and then also when you enter that dream world. And that’s done with the rotoscope animation. When you go on the set, it’s you know, it’s bits of cardboard and people with fake cardboard wings and cardboard jaws and things. All of which is going to eventually going to be animated but which only [Danny] can really see. So a lot of people I think are just stood there and like ‘you want me to what? I’m drowning in spaghetti now?’ And he’s like ‘Trust me.’ So it’s sort of extraordinary, an extraordinary kind of vibe there. Wouldn’t you say people were confused [on set]?

Stessen: It’s just, when people would walk on when we were shooting the dream world stuff, people would walk into an empty room and I would just be like ‘this is going to feel super weird, just trust me, it going to look real cool.’

Can you speak about your characters?

Nick Rutherford and Jon Gries

Nick Rutherford: I play patient 88–
Jon Gries: Nick!
Rutherford: Yeah, Nick as well, who comes to the office to work on erectile dysfunction and pretty quickly realizes that the office itself is kind of dysfunctional.
Gries: What happens is that he has to work for us because he can’t pay for his procedure
Rutherford: Yeah I can’t pay for the procedure and you think that it’s a confidence issue and I don’t have a job so you say–
Gries: A job?
Rutherford: Why don’t you work here? And I’m like this is a terrible place, but I kind of go along with the flow.
Gries: So he’s really the eyes of the audience. Because obviously he’s come into this place that is so–well from some perspectives, would be ridiculous and crazy. It’s not from my perspective.
Rutherford: It’s your life’s work.
Gries: It’s my life’s work. Dr. Roberts has this vision that this is the most transforming and necessary procedure but he’s lost his funding. So now he’s working out of a strip mall because he believes and he knows that it’s working. He knows that he’s changing people’s lives. There’s a little problem here and there but–
(Both laugh)
Rutherford: There’s a lot of problems.
Gries: There’s a couple of bugs that get worked out of the system. But it could be because the system’s really old and we haven’t had the money to update it.
Rutherford: And I think Nick, Patient 88, comes into it and kind of sees a family forming. Because everybody trusts and loves each other. Like there’s, Stephanie Allen plays Joey, his protégé–
Gries: My intern for nine years. No pay!
Rutherford: (laughs) Yeah, Nine year intern. Who loves him and obviously thinks he’s the most brilliant guy ever and he just does not give her the time of day. And Mark Proksch plays kind of the navigator of sorts, I don’t know if you know his work–
Gries: He’s amazing. And he doesn’t ever leave the building. For fifteen years he doesn’t leave the building.
Rutherford: So he’s incredible. And then [Ahmed Bharoocha] plays kind of the nurse and he’s just this big stoner who doesn’t even really care. So Everybody relies on each other in a nice way. So the meat of the story is us working together and growing together and me being thrown into this world. And it being very dangerous, but also fun. And then bringing in these amazing guest stars and throwing them into that.
Gries: He gets attacked by June Squibb at one point. She stabs him.
Rutherford: Yeah she stabs me in the neck with a a screw driver. I’m kind of like the Kenny, I get hurt a lot. (both laugh)

Have you ever had a weird celebrity dream like with [episode one guest star] Dave Coulier?

Rutherford: Yeah that was really surreal.
Gries: I did, I had a weird celebrity dream. I was very nervous, I was about to do a movie years ago and I dreamt that I was in a barbershop. And I was sitting and the man sitting in the next chair was Fred Astaire.
Rutherford: Really?
Gries: True story. And he looks at me and he goes, “Are you worried about something?” And I said “I’m just a little uncomfortable” And he said “Have fun. Just have fun.” I swear to god! And that was like two days before I started shooting Fright Night Part 2.
Rutherford: Have fun out there.

What was it like working with the rotoscope animation?

Dream Corp LLC/Adult Swim

Rutherford: It’s really fun because everything is so grand. You know it’s like now you’re falling off of a hot air balloon, or now you’re running away from your bullies in high school. So you’re playing these large characters, so you just kind of jump into it. Like, I remember thinking when I was very young and being an actor, how it must be really hard to shoot like Jurassic Park when you’re in front of a green screen and then they’re like “and THAT’S a velociraptor” and you’re like “ahhh!” I didn’t feel that at all during the production that that those scenes were difficult thing to do. Because they’re just so silly and fun and you’re wearing kind of a half costume so they can animate it later. Like I’m dressed up like Legolas–
Gries: And literally it was sometimes it was pieces of cardboard, you have cardboard on you almost like a really bad–
Rutherford: Like a play
Gries: Like a kid’s play. But you know it’s all for reference and they’re gonna draw on top of it. And the thing is, knowing how beautiful the animation is also gives you the impetus that when you’re in it, you understand what it’s going to look like, so it helps, it augments. Whatever decision or choice you’re going to make, you can go further with it because you just have that confidence behind that animation. It’s almost like ‘pay no attention to me, it wont be the real me, it will be a better me.’

Stessen: The inspiration came from working with his name’s Michael Garza [of Artbelly Productions] out of Austin, Texas. He worked on A Scanner Darkly, and then a couple other guys on the crew are Scanner Darkly. And one of the woman who was an animator on Waking Life. Which I’m a huge fan of. I saw Waking Life a while back and watched it over and over and over again. Huge inspiration. And we made a short film together that did well in festivals and kind of, we started developing that style in trying to evolve it and I think we’re pushing it forward a little bit and figuring out that we can build things out of cardboard. And make a dragon face. Because all he has to do is draw what’s there. Not that’s all he has to do–his job is to draw what’s there. So we could draw you [all] here and now you’re on a volcano, you know what I mean? So it gives us a lot of flexibility and the fact that with where we are, with little funds, we could do a ton.

What can viewers expect for the rest of the series?

Gries: Surprise after surprise after surprise. I’m not kidding you, it’s different every time!
Rutherford: Yeah it really is. I mean there’s this kind of thread of these different guest stars coming in and getting their therapy as our relationship progresses and as the interrelationships between Joey and Ahmed and…Randy–Randy’s arm gets cut off (laughs)–
Gries: There are things that happen, there’s a continuity within the core group and yet at the same time it’s absolutely ridiculous what happens–but it still stays, it still answers that continuity. And yet the people that come, the patients that come, their stories individually are so different from week to week that it just gives us a whole other area to run through.
Rutherford: yeah There’s like a couples therapy–a gay couple comes in to get like couples therapy. June squibb comes in to quit smoking but then finds out that really just she just wants to have sex.
Gries: And have a baby–and she’s never had sex in her life.
Rutherford: So Roberts appeases that in the dream world–
Gries: You know he says, it’s been a while!

Dream Corp LLC is on tonight and every Sunday on Adult Swim at 11:45pm, with the premiere episode currently streaming at AdultSwim.com

For photos from Adult Swim and many more NYCC panels, make sure to check out our Facebook page!

 

Paul Bettany discusses “Shelter” with stars Jennifer Connelly and Anthony Mackie

Paul Bettany may be known as one of our finest English actors, with roles in such major films as A Beautiful Mind, Master and Commander, The Da Vinci Code and of course, Marvel’s Avengers franchise. What he also is however is now a fifteen year resident of New York City with Oscar-winning wife (and Beautiful Mind co-star) Jennifer Connelly. The city, which Bettany loves, is currently facing a homeless crisis which sees 60,000 people seeking public shelters nightly. The majority of them families.

The actor had been developing a story about judgment and redemption for his feature directorial debut, but it wasn’t until Hurricane Sandy hit his home city that Bettany honed in on filtering his story through the lens of the homeless experience. The result was Shelter, which Bettany describes as a “moving optimistic story,” and stars Connelly as Hannah and Anthony Mackie (Captain America: Civil War) as Tahir, a pair of homeless people from completely different worlds now residing in New York City. They come together to help each other face their pasts and the everyday trials of living on the streets. An impassioned, opinionated Bettany joined Connelly and Mackie this week at the New York press conference for the film.

One particular homeless couple focused Bettany on where his story would go:

Paul Bettany: “I live in a really nice apartment I moan about because I’m now a New Yorker…outside this apartment was this homeless couple. A black man and a white woman, she was blonde. And I would see them, we would see them, we would pass them on the school run. My children would say hello to them, they’d say hello to us, and that was kind of the extent of it. And I have to, I’m ashamed to say, that day by day, their poverty became more and more acceptable to me and they became invisible. Before they actually disappeared. And then Hurricane Sandy hit and we never saw them again. There was a mandatory evacuation of our area of Tribeca and they used to live in a tiny little piece of like a ‘park’–it’s laughable, it’s smaller than this room–on the corner of Canal Street and the West Side Highway. And they used to live under a plastic tarpaulin and I noticed that they seemed to complain a lot less about their circumstances than I did and I admired that. And then I really couldn’t see them anymore and I felt the instinct to write about them. But I didn’t know who they were. And then I thought, well wait a second, maybe that would be a really good way to discuss judgment because I find our response to homelessness really puzzling. It’s a peculiar response that people have.”

This “peculiar response” was loudly voiced this week by New York’s own Police Commissioner Bill Bratton who had advised city dwellers to ignore panhandlers and not spare them any change in order to get them off the streets. At the press conference Bettany, who spent three years developing the script for Shelter and by extension working with and researching organizations that support the homeless, was asked to address this idea, firing back:

Bettany: “I’m not one to say anything rude about anyone else but, that’s a fucking stupid idea. To ignore a homeless…The homeless. Especially when there’s 60,000 of them on the streets—staying in shelters—in a city that’s home to more billionaires than any city on Earth, you know…I can’t believe that someone would say ‘ignore homeless people.’ And frankly, it’s absolutely the reason I feel it’s urgent. Obviously I spent three years bleeding it into a movie that’s trying to talk about exactly that. So forgive me if I get a little bit heated about it. Because that sort of mentality just drives me up the wall.

They’ve been ignored for too long. I’ll just tell you this, if you are a family on the brink of eviction, you’re 80% less likely to be evicted If you have legal counsel. But there is no right to legal counsel in a housing court. It would cost the city $12,500 to grant that family legal counsel. The average stay in a shelter for a homeless family once they have been evicted costs the city $45,000. So not only does it seem to be morally the right thing to do, it also just seems fiscally a smart thing to do, right? You’re thinking outside the box…

All of these figures that I have my head you know because I’ve been really thinking about this for a long while, I say them in front of audiences and I can just—I know that they’re mind blowing and then kind of numbing and that’s the interesting thing about narrative. Narrative can breath life into those figures that can be baffling. And peculiarly they become more meaningful the smaller they get. Which is why Shelter is just about two people. And two people who need forgiveness and who are deserving of forgiveness. Cause you know what? It’s not just those 24,000 children [staying in shelters] because when I say it, I always I feel the audience go ‘[gasps] Not children!‘ but actually we’re all innocents. We’re all worthy of forgiveness. And we’re all fundamentally deserving of a home”

For Connelly and Mackie, working on Shelter refocused their perspectives on the struggles people face.

Jennifer Connelly: “There’s no group of people that isn’t entitled to the same basic human rights as the rest of us…It reminded me how much I need to strive to remain aware and to keep seeing those people. And to keep seeing what’s happening around the world. And to keep you know, to be conscious of how blessed we are to worry about the silly things that we worry about most of the time. When people are worrying about where they’re going to sleep and how they’re going to feed their kids and will they make it through the day. Important to think about.”

Anthony Mackie: “The level of judgment and the lack of humanity I saw in myself was disgusting. Every time I would walk past a homeless person I’d be like ‘Get up, get a job! Get off drugs!’ I never took into account what that person had been through or what happened to get that person to that place. And it just really blew my mind, you know, learning what I learned about homeless shelters and just the idea of finding a warm place to sleep at night, it reminded me of the prison system. And the idea or the lack thereof of rehabilitation in the prison system. You know just trying to get a good night sleep within incarceration… And it was just troubling and eye opening. And I never really took into account the number of families.

You know when I was a kid we used to do this feeding the hungry at my church every other Saturday and it blew my mind one day when I was you know, like scooping out food and this kid from my school was there. I was like ‘Holy sh—shibbity jibbit! That dude we go to school together!’ And somewhere between that moment of realization and appreciation for what my dad sacrificed for us to have and me becoming ‘Anthony Mackie’ I lost it. And this movie really made me realize. And it was very humbling and very sickening to see that within yourself. And so now I make my kids go and scoop chicken on the weekends. And if they don’t do the right thing, I take their shit from them and give it to other kids. [laughs]”

Connelly immersed herself in organizations that reached out to those struggling:

Connelly: “Coalition for the Homeless, that group of people were really helpful to me. I spent time with them, talking to them and visiting shelters and going out on their food runs. Which, every night they deliver meals and stop at set points around the city and people rely on those meals so you can meet people coming in. And I heard a lot–I met and watched and learned from a lot of people. There’s a place called the Lower East Side Harm Reduction Center, which started out just as a needle exchange program, and it still is and also has health support services and outreach programs, and overdose prevention and a number of other programs. I spent a lot time there at their location, and going on their walkabout talking to people. Yeah, people were very generous with their stories and with their time. So I was really listening to people, watching people and hearing their stories.”

As for the actual making of the film, Bettany made the considerable leap from acting to directing. I asked him if he’d turned to any of the impressive directors he’s worked with in the past (a list including Joss Whedon, Ron Howard and Peter Weir) for advice when he began this project.

Bettany: “No. No I didn’t but they were the biggest resource for me in showing them early cuts of the movie. Ron Howard, Darren Aronofsky, lots of people that I know–David Koepp, and not just directors, Joss Whedon, Johnny Depp…Just loads of people that I’ve worked with and trust and really whose–who I really admire. But I did that afterward.

You know, I really kept my eyes open as an actor, I’m really interested. You know I see it, you see it when you meet a young actor first day on set, you can see whether they’re gonna be the sort of actor who’s gonna bullshit that they know what they’re doing [laughs] or asked loads of questions. And I was really inquisitive and I wanted to know ‘hey, what’s that do?‘…I was that sort of an actor when I was them at that age. And so I’ve been watching and one of the things that I’ve really noticed with the great directors and actually I first saw this, recognized in Peter Weir, is he knows who’s telling the story. Whether it is the actors holding the responsibility or whether it’s the camera crew holding the responsibility. And if it’s the actor holding the responsibility, every take is the actor’s. And by that I mean there is no complicated techni-crane move that’s going to move in on you during your speech and come in and catch a tear rolling down your cheek and eight out of ten of them are out of focus. ‘Cause all of those takes are for the crew, because there’s this complicated camera. Every scene that is held by the actors is just simple simple camera work. Nothing can be out of focus, every take can be going to you the actor. Just generous, every take. Every take. And then when it’s the camera crew, you better be on your fucking mark. Because they’re the ones telling the story, right, they’re the ones responsible for it. So I thought about that a lot and tried to figure out who was the most important. (It was me. [laughs])”

Connelly was asked if she’d like to turn the tables and direct Bettany eventually, but it seems unlikely:

Bettany: “Do you want to direct me? I can’t imagine anything worse, I’m very difficult.”

Connelly: “I have no eminent plans to direct anything although I’d imagine it’d be something that I’d find–it intrigues me but I’m not nearly ready to, I don’t think–”

Bettany: “I’d be terrified!”

Shelter opens in limited release and on VOD November 13th

2015 Tribeca Film Festival Red Carpet Interviews

The 14th annual Tribeca Film Fest was held from April 15th to 26th in lower Manhattan. Media Mikes had the opportunity to speak to many of the creative minds behind the films making their premieres over the course of the Fest. You can read my coverage by clicking on any of the posters below and check back to see more additions:

About the Tribeca Film Festival:

The Tribeca Film Festival helps filmmakers reach the broadest possible audience, enabling the international film community and general public to experience the power of cinema and promote New York City as a major filmmaking center. It is well known for being a diverse international film festival that supports emerging and established directors.

Founded by Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal, and Craig Hatkoff in 2001, following the attacks on the World Trade Center, to spur the economic and cultural revitalization of the lower Manhattan district through an annual celebration of film, music, and culture, the Festival brings the industry and community together around storytelling.

The Tribeca Film Festival has screened more than 1,600 films from more than 80 countries since its first edition in 2002. Since inception, it has attracted an international audience of more than 4.9 million attendees, and has generated an estimated $900 million in economic activity for New York City.

Interview with Sushi Girl’s Destin Pfaff, Kern Saxton, Neal Fischer & Suren Seron

Assembly Line and Level Up Productions are responsible for the new film “Sushi Girl”.  The film stars Tony Todd, James Duval, Noah Hathaway, Andy Mackenzie and Mark Hamill. The men behind the film are Destin Pfaff, Kern Saxton, Neal Fischer, Suren Seron.  Destin is known for his work on “The Millionaire Matchmaker” TV series.  Kern Saxton is the director of the film but wears many other hats on this film (read more about that below).  Neal is a producer of the film, as well as Suren.  Media Mikes has been covering this film extensively with interviews from many of the cast and crew and had a chance to chat with the guys to find out some cool behind the scene stories about making the film “Sushi Girl”.

Mike Gencarelli: You all produced the film “Sushi Girl”, how did you divide up the tasks? Anyone the leader of the group?
Neal Fischer: I don’t think that we really had discussed about a leader during the film. I think we each brought the characters to life. For me, I really didn’t want to make this as a smaller movie. So I brought in the financing to make the movie the way it should be made. But also at the same time we wanted to make a movie that would be respected and for us to be proud of. It just got better and better along the way.
Destin Pfaff: On the topic of leadership, the amazing thing that Kern (Saxton) did was bringing the four of us together. I like to think of us like Voltron. We are these four individual robotic tigers that come together to form this giant. We had this wonderful magical synergy working together, like brothers. I think we would be happy if we only make movies with each other for the rest of our lives.

MG: Kern, you not only had your directorial debut, you also took the role of Editor, Producer, Co-Writer, was it hard to juggle?
Kern Saxton: They all grew out of necessity. I wanted to do a project like this. Destin and I had this crazy idea and we were actually working on another screenplay. A couple of years later…here we are. I knew that budget-wise, I was going to have to take on many different roles in order to make it happen. I think that being the Co-Writer, Director, Producer and Editor, it is not out of some place where I creatively have to do those jobs. Editing is easier for me for projects that I have directed. It is just quicker at the end of the day. We had to do every stage of production very quickly in order to save money and time. It was decided by the group that I would take on the editing. That is the whole game we are playing with this film is to get the biggest impact with the least amount of resources.

MG: What was your biggest challenge to overcome in the process of shooting?
KS: For me it is getting the project funded. I knew once we got a budget we could do some damage. I have worked with Destin on a bunch of short films. It was apparent to us that we were doing very ambitious things with no money. Once we got in the right direction…we were off!
DP: I think think the biggest challenge for me was working with an ego-maniacal director like Kern Saxton that we had on the film…I am kidding [laughs]. I think every hurdle that the four of us faced was handled in such an amazing way.

MG: Destin, during filming having co-wrote the script, where you able to assist with each scene?
DP: Kern and I luckily share a single brain as for what something is suppose to look or feel like in a particular scene. Even if I wasn’t on set, I knew that whatever Kern was doing would be exactly what I would do. I’ll give kudos to Kern.

MG: Tell us about how to got Noah Hathaway to return to acting?
Suren Seron: We had a couple of interesting stories from how we got a few people in this film. Noah is a good one and Mark (Hamill) is also a good one. We had an actor on board who previously was set to play the role of Fish. At the last minute we decided to go another direction and I said out loud “How about Noah Hathaway from ‘The Neverending Story'” . I just happened to be Facebook friends with him, since someone suggested I friend him since I was such a big fan. He accepted and we actually talked. He was living in Amsterdam and working as a tattoo artist. I sent him a random message outlining the cast we already had on board and to see if he would be interested. I ended the conversation saying that we were working with “so and so and oh…Sonny Chiba”. He wrote back “Sonny Chiba…I love Sonny Chiba.” I sent him the script and a day later he wanted to do this. We did the audition over the internet from Amsterdam. We were really excited to get him on board. So he got a plane, came down to California and that was the end of his life in Amsterdam.

MG: During post production, who was the most involved?
NF: Yeah that would be Kern!
KS: If it comes to editing, color corrections, sound design, music…yeah I think I had a hand in it [laughs].
DP: We have successfully destroyed Kern Saxton’s life during the post-production process. He has become this completely nocturnal creature that can’t even look straight anymore.
KS: Due to scheduling with the studio, we had to write music from 2am to 10am. I became completely nocturnal.

MG: Neal, this was your first go as producer, what do you have planned next?
NF: Well for me, it was a really interesting experience. I work for a larger company. I had access to all these tools from working on films like “Resident Evil” and “Silent Hill”. I had this experience but it was all for a company and with big producers and so they weren’t mine. For me making “Sushi Girl” was a way to not only get to use these tools that I have been learning but also show what I can do. I used to live in Japan and I had some experiences with the Japanese mafia.  That led me to write a couple of scripts from those, so that is one of my top priorities and definitely in my future.

MG: After “Sushi Girl”, what do you guys have planned next?
SS: “Calaytic” is hoping to be one of our next projects with Tony Todd. Tony told us about two scripts he wanted to get going on. We definitely wanted to do it and he always wanted to direct. We are most excited about getting that started and work with Tony Todd again.

"Monsters" Interviews Series with Gareth Edwards, Jon Hopkins, Scoot McNairy & Whitney Able

October is usually swarmed by horror/sci-fi genre movies, some are good…most are not. This October, we have had the following genre films released, “Case 39”, “My Soul to Take” and “Let Me In”…so far all disappointing. We only have “Paranormal Activity 2” and “Saw 3D” to finish off the month, expectations are weary. Luckily for us “Monsters” is also being released. It is a micro-budgeted film from first time director and visual effects artist Gareth Edwards…and it kicks ass!

“Monsters” is easily one of the best films I have seen this fall – Click here to read my review.  Movie Mikes has had the chance to interview the cast and crew from the film.

MONSTERS INTERVIEWS:

This film is following the footsteps of other low budget sci-fi films like “Cloverfield” and the upcoming “Skyline”, very small budget but high production value. The film was made for around $100,000 dollars and with another $400,000 spent in post production. The film itself has computer graphic effects that could easily pass for a multi-million dollar film.

The cast in the film features actually real life husband and wife, Scoot McNairy and Whitney Able. Their chemistry in the film is so fantastic and you find yourself memorized watching these characters. Jon Hopkins composed and performed the score for the film, which is so fantastic. Jon’s music sets the mood for the whole film and really makes the film move well. I cannot wait until they release the score on iTunes, it is a must buy for movie score fans!

The film is set for US release on October 29, 2010. Make sure you go out and support the film and all independent movies. Check out the trailer below for those who are not familiar with this gem.

Interview with Alex Winter

Alex Winter is best known for his role in the “Bill and Ted” series.  Alex though has spent most of his career behind the camera, directing and writing.  Alex is directing the upcoming remake of the classic horror film “The Gate”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Alex about his career and his upcoming work.

Click here to purchase Alex’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: What was the best part of working on “Bill and Ted” series?
Alex Winter: It was along time ago but the best part was the fact that everybody working on it, me, Keanu, the writers Chris (Matheson) and Ed (Solomon) and both directors had a really friendly relationship.  It was definitely hard work and quite strenuous.  But it was a lot fun.  Everyone just got along and had the kind of same vision. They were both independent movies so there wasn’t a lot of pressure or interference from studios.  We were able to have that free-spiritness that people enjoy, especially kids.  They really dig those movies.  It was just a genuinely good time and I think that came off on-screen.

MG: Which do you prefer more, “Excellent Adventure” or “Bogus Journey”?
AW: It is funny they just screened the movies at the New Beverly in LA, I haven’t watched them all the way through in a long time.  I used to think that “Bogus Journey” was my favorite.  After watching it recently, I started to think that first one was my favorite [laughs].

MG: Prior to “Bill and Ted”, you played Marko in “The Lost Boys”, tell us about working on that film?
AW: It was a real blast.  I was in NYU film school when I made that movie.  It was just great for me to have a job during college for starters.  It was also great to be working with such incredibly talented people.  Michael Chapman, the Cinematographer on the film, was an idol of mine.  He also shot films like “Raging Bull” and all this great stuff.  It was just a lot fun and a great experience.

MG: How was it juggling between directing and acting in “Freaked”?
AW: That was called insanity.  Tom Stern was directing partner on that film.  So luckily, I didn’t have to do all of the chores on my own.  There was no way I would have been able to direct that movie on my own.  Just my makeup alone took like six hours of my day everyday.  It was crazy, it was like four hours to get in and like two hours to get out.  It was one of the best times I have ever had in my life though.  We were just young and completely stupid.  We just put out bodies through a lot.  But overall it was most challenging probably due to the makeup.

MG: Do you prefer directing to acting?
AW: I have mostly been a director my whole life.  I primarily write and direct.  I enjoy acting, I really do.  I stopped acting professionally in 1993 though.  I love what I do, very much.  Will I act again?…Maybe? If the part was right, if it seems interesting.   Certainly my main focus is filmmaking.

MG: What made you get involved with the show “Ben 10”
AW: It was really something I originally did for my kids.  I’ve got three boys and they are all “Ben 10” fanatics.  So I was the expert on “Ben 10”.  A friend of mine worked at Cartoon Network, who I was working with on another movie, he told me I should come in and do something with him.  So I looked at what they were doing and “Ben 10” I knew really well.  I do a lot of commercial work also that is effects orientated.  I have been doing that for long time.  So I pitched them a way to do a live action version of “Ben 10”.  We all jumped in and did it together.  I even got my kids involved with the design process, which was really great.  It was like a “bring your kid to work day” job [laughs].

MG: Tell us upcoming the upcoming remake to “The Gate” which you directed?
AW: It was a really great opportunity.  I have been working on it now for a couple of years just in concept and design.  The script is really great.  Not every movie is right for a remake and not every movie is right for 3D.  For me this movie is a great remake and a great 3D movie.  I was approached by Andras Hamori who produced the original “The Gate”.  This film is all being done with people with a fondness and connection to the original film.  It is not just a cynical rehash.  The idea was really to make the kind of kids movie they really do not make anymore.  Which is what the original “The Gate” was. “Poltergeist” was one of these.  “The Goonies” to some extent was one of these.  Movies that have some scares and some edge and are children friendly.  That is something I have really wanted to do.  It is the kind of movie I would like when I was a kid.  When I was young we had movies that were rated PG but had an edge on them.  “The Gate” was originally rated PG.  You do not see something like that anymore.  Today if they make a movie like that it is “Saw” and rated R.  It is great but not for a certain age group.  The idea was to make something really ballsy, creative, scary, funny, edgy and has the kind of spirit that those movies used to.  The effects are going to be really cool.  We have been working on the 3D design for a long time.  We have great people on our team.  I am really excited about this project.

Click here to purchase Alex’s movies

Interview with Bill Plympton

Bill Plympton is an animator best known different approach to animation.  Bill has created such feature films as “I Married a Strange Person!”, “Mutant Aliens” and the upcoming “Idiots and Angels”.  He also has worked on various short films including “Your Face”, which was nominated for Academy Award.  Bill is also the subject of the upcoming documentary from filmmaker Alexia Anastasia, called “Adventures in Plymptoons!”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Bill to discuss his work, his inspiration and his current projects.

Click here to purchase Bill’s movies

Mike Gencarelli: Out of all the characters you have created, do you have a favorite?
Bill Plympton: Well the “Dog” is a particular favorite.  I was shocked with the reception the “Dog” got when I first screened “Guard Dog” at a Baltimore Film Festival.  The audience went crazy and they all mobbed me afterwards.  They just loved the “Dog”.  I never had that kind of experience before.  I thought it might be nice to do a sequel.  So I did the film “Guide Dog”.  That was equally well-loved.  I did “Hot Dog”, where he worked in a fire department.  “Horn Dog”, when we fell in love.  We are doing a new one now called “Cop Dog”, where he sniffs out drugs in an airport.  You know that is going to turn bad.  Throughout his life, he is looking for love, affection and someone to take care of him but he always screws it up.  That film will not be done till next year though, they take a while to make them.

MG: What has been your inspiration for your work?
BP: I have been influenced by so many people, both teachers and fellow animators.  Certainly Walt Disney and Tex Avery have been huge inspirations.  Preston Blair, Charles Adams, R. Crumb, Milton Glaser…I could do on and on.

MG: Tell us about your latest short “The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger”?
BP: It was inspired by a trip I took a couple of years ago in Oregon.  I was driving through this cow country.  I saw thes cows eating grass and I was taken by how intensely these cows were eating this grass.  It seemed like they were trying to buff themselves up in order to make themselves as good of a hamburger as possible.  I thought that could be a funny idea for a film.  When I got back I started playing with that idea.  I thought about it for a year or so. Last fall, I started Bill Plympton’s School of Animation and I was teaching a class, and I thought it would be a great teaching tool to show the process of me making a film from beginning to end.  I wanted to show the students the process a filmmaker goes through in creating a film.  I used “The Cow Who Wanted to Be a Hamburger” as a teaching tool.  Each week we would have a different step in the process.  One week was doing storyboards, then layouts, then character design, then backgrounds etc.  They loved it and thought it was great.  The only problem was the original ending I had did not work very well.  It was not a good ending.  So I went back to the beginning of the film and realized the beginning actually held the secret to the ending.  It was the mother’s love.  That is how I came up with the ending.  People, especially women, think it is so emotional and all about love.  People have really responded well to the film.

MG: What is your creating process for coming up with these ideas?
BP: The ideas are just haphazard.  Like I said it could be something I see through my travels.  The idea for the “Dog” films came when I was running around Madison Square Park and I saw this dog parking at a bird.  I wondered why is this big dog afraid of such a tiny bird.  A lot of these ideas are sparks by mysteries of life.  Why is this? Why did this happen? Why do people do this?  How does this come about?  Answering those questions always leads to very wacky ideas.

MG: How do you feel about computers and CGI taking over animation world so to say?
BP: I think a lot of that computer films are quite nice.  I loved “How to Train Your Dragon”.  “Kung Fu Panda” was fabulous.  “Toy Story 3” was great.  I think there is room for all sorts of styles of animation.  There is Nick Parks and claymation.  Then you have Henry Selik and Tim Burton with stop-motion.  You have Japanese (Hayao) Miyazaki with drawn animation.  I think there is room for everybody.

MG: Tell me about the documentary “Adventures in Plymptoons!” directed by Alexia Anastasio?
BP: I have known Alexia for around ten years, maybe longer.  She works with a friend of mine, Esther Bell, who is a filmmaker.  We keep running into each other in film festivals and Comic-Cons and things like that.  Last year, she came to me and said “Someone should do a documentary about you, you are a interesting creature.  You are single handedly making these animated feature films when no one else can do it”.  I said “Yeah that would be really cool.  I would like that”.  So she has been following me around for about a year.  Not just me, she has been interviewing a lot of important people in my life such as filmmakers and actors that know me.  The list is pretty impressive, Terry Gilliam, Gus Van Sant, Sarah Silverman, Matt Groening and Michael Moore.  She also has interviewing my family, my brothers and people I went to high school with.  I think she has about 70 or 80 interviews.  It will be very comprehensive.  I can’t wait to see how it turns out.

MG: Do you have any plans to make another feature film any time soon?
BP: I am actually working on two feature films as we speak.  One film is called “Cheatin”.  It is  about these lovers who become jealous of each other and try to kill each other.  It is sort of along of the lines of “The Postman Rings Twice”.  It is a great dark film, very noir.  It is very similar in style to “Idiots and Angels”.   The other film, I probably should talk about much it is very early in stages, but it is about a whale named Tiffany that wants to be a super model.

MG: Tell us about the upcoming release of “Idiots and Angels”?
BP: This is the newest animated feature I just finished a few years ago.  It has been doing the festival circuit for a year or so now.  We are very excited about it finally getting released in the states.  It got a great release in France, Germany, Spain and Portugal.  America is very difficult to understand animation for adults.  They certain love Pixar and rightfully so.  Dreamworks as well and all the other sorts of kids animation.  But once you start putting adult topics in feature animation a lot of people are afraid, especially the distributors.  They feel there is no big success for something like that.  They feel that animation is primarily a children’s art form.  That really pisses me off because there are so many great ideas you can do with animation and adult topics.  Especially with love, jealousy, fighting and sex for example.  I am hoping I will be able to break through this sort of ignorance about animation as an adult art form.  It is strange Quentin Tarantino, who is a genius filmmaker, can have all sorts of sex and violence in his films.  I try and put the same thing in an animated film and people are like “Oh my God, you can’t do that.  You are going to destroy kids brains”.  I am trying to fight that stereotype with “Idiots and Angels”.  I think that this is my most mature film to date.  It is very spiritual.  It is a morality tale.  It also has great music.  We are very excited about this film.  It open in NY and LA starting October 6, then platforming into Chicago and across the country throughout the Winter and Spring.

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Interview with Dee Wallace

Dee Wallace is a movie legend.  She has appeared is so many great films such as “Cujo”, “The Howling”, “The Hills Have Eyes” and “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial.  She is an author, a teacher, a healer and radio host.  Dee does it all and does it really well.  Movie Mikes had a chance to chat with Dee about her amazing career and how she does everything she does.

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Mike Gencarelli: Have you always been a fan of the horror genre?
Dee Wallace: At the risk of blowing my cover, I am a real fan of doing them. Not so much of watching them. Seriously, since I was little they have scared the shit out of me. As an actress though, you get to go on a great ride and get to play a really great arc.

Mike Gencarelli: After starting your career with intense horror films like “The Howling” and “The Hills Have Eyes”, how was it taking an extreme 360 to “E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial”?
Dee Wallace: Acting is acting, dude. You want to get a good part and hopefully a good project with good people and good director. I have been been really lucky and able to create that in my career. Who would not want to say that they worked starred in “E.T”? You would have to be nuts! It is really the two sides of who I am. Most of my fans know I am deep into the healing work. I have my own radio show on Voice America. I have my third book on healing coming out in April. “E.T” was a healing movie, it was a heart movie. It was all about getting about getting home and love. Then their is the other part of Dee, which is horror, screaming, sci-fi conventions and raunchiness. It is all part of who I am, depending on what I am called to do in the moment.

Mike Gencarelli: Then you went right back to horror with “Cujo” which was such an intense role, was it a difficult film to work on?
Dee Wallace: It was the most difficult film I have ever done. They actually treated me for exhaustion after that film. It was relentless. We shot it Northern California. It looks like we were dying of the heat but we were freezing. They actually had to put heater in the car. I was working with a four year old kid and a dog. I got to be “on” every single moment and every single take. It was a highly emotional role. It was just really physical and emotional difficult but it is the thing I am the most proud of.

MG: You always seem to put in 110% into each project, how do you prepare for each role?
DW: I studied with my mentor Charles Conrad. His technique is very specified and actually a lot more people like are starting to work with it now. It gets your energy very high.  So high in fact, that it actually passes your conscience mind. What it does is that it opens you up as a channel, so you can channel the character or channel information. The best way to enchance that is not to work on a part. The technique is very specific but part of the challenge is you want to play it safe, do a lot of work and make a lot of choices. But if you do it limits a lot of the possibilities where you can emotionally go. A lot of people go “Well, how hell can you be a real actor if you do not prepare?”. It is a different technique that makes acting joyful, easy, simple and trusting in the moment. But you have to be really disipline to stay out of your fear and allow yourself to go on that ride.

MG: You act, you teach acting, your always out meeting fans at conventions, tell us how do you find time to do everything?
DW: I do not know dude, seriously. I wonder myself. I really do attribute it to the healing work that I do.  I have cleared out so much stress in my life. I have more energy now than I did ten years ago, lots more. Today I taught acting for five hours, I had a business meeting, then I rushed home and we are talking now. Every day is really different and I am just tap dancing around a lot of really great things, that I love. When you love things it is not work, it feeds your energy.

MG: Tell us about some of your upcoming projects you are working on?
DW: If there is such a thing as a poetic zombie film, this is it. It is called “Exit Humanity”, I am shooting in October. I am also doing a little family film that I am also shooting in October as well. I will be at several of the sci-fi conventions coming up. My next is Rock and Shock in mid-October with my dude Rob Zombie. I am also working on my third book which like I said will be out in April, called “Bright Light: Spritual Lessons From An Actor’s Journey”, which is awesome she says humblely. This is all just from the month of October. All this stuff is up at my website http://www.officialdeewallace.com.

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Interview with Olesya Rulin

Olesya Rulin is known for her role of Kelsi Nielsen in Disney’s “High School musical” series. She is currently starring in “Expecting Mary” which was recently released. Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Olesya about her working with Disney and her new movie.

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Mike Gencarelli: Tell what it was like working on the “High School Musical” series?
Olesya Rulin: It was the best 3 1/2 years of my life and was a really great experience. I got to meet some amazing individuals. Working with Kenny Ortega, the rest of the cast and the amazing choreographers was amazing. It was an opportunity of a lifetime. Plus I didn’t walk at my high school graduation ceremony, so doing “High School Musical 3” allowed me to have that same experience. I lived a lot of my personal life through those films as well. I enjoyed every minute.

Mike Gencarelli: Your role got bigger with each film, did you enjoy playing Kelsi Nielsen?
Olesya Rulin: I liked playing her a lot, but I am definitely not a musically savant. I have never played the piano in my life. It was really fun to step in those shoes and pretend to do the things she could. I do where glasses and a lot of hats in real life, so I just got to wear things I like every day. It was really fun. I was pretty nerdy in middle and high school, so I think my own personal characteristics came through.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell us about your recently released film “Expecting Mary”?
Olesya Rulin: It is a wonderful film. It is about a girl that kind of loses her way and is very much alone. She goes on a journey to try and find her dad in Los Angeles. While on journey hitchhiking from east coast to LA. She gets picked up by Elliot Gould’s character, Horace. He takes her to this truck stop/Indian casino, where she meet some of the best characters and changes her life. They teach her what love is, what faith is and what a family can be. It doesn’t have to be blood related, it can be your friends and people that love you. It is really great and emitts a wonderful moral. It’s hilarious as well. Cloris Leachman does a great job of putting a lot of comedic relief in there.

MG: Is it excited to have a starting role in the film?
AR: Yeah! It was really exciting. It was a very short shoot. We shot the whole movie in 18 days. It was insane. We had a small budget. But we had such a wonderful crew and cast. Everyone was so professional. It was seamless. Their was no problems or issues. Dan Gordon, our wonderful writer and director, knew exactely what we needed to get at the end of the day. We moved through the script very quickly. It was long hours but it was really fun. You really can’t complain when you are working with Elliot Gould, Linda Gray and Cloris Leachman [laughs]. Being the star is a different territory for me. I just had to make sure I was on top of my game. Linda Gray would help me every single day. Same with Dan, if I had a question with the script or if one of the lines didn’t seem like something Mary would say. They made it really easy for me.

MG: What was like working with such a fantastic cast?
AR: I auditioned for the film and got a call back. I had no idea the cast will be made up with such great individuals…such great Hollywood legends. I was blown away that Linda Grey and I would be in almost every scene together. On my first day I met Elliot Gould I was shaking, I said “Hello, Mr. Gould, I am Olesya” and he said “Don’t call me Mr. Gould, its Elliot”. He is such a wonderful person.

MG: What else do you have planned next?
AR: I just shot a movie called “Apart”, which I play a scizophrenic. That should come out probably around December/January. I shot an episode of “The Mentalist” which comes out in October. I’ve got a movie shooting in January called “The Family Weekend”. I am keeping busy [laughs].

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Interview with Adrienne Barbeau

Adrienne Barbeau is known best for her roles in films such as “The Fog”, “Creepshow”, “Swamp Thing” and “Escape from New York”.  Besides acting Adrienne is also a author.  She has written a memoir “There Are Worse Things I Could Do” and just finished a second novel “Love Bites”, a sequel to her first novel “Vampyres in Hollywood”.  Movie Mikes had a chance to talk with Adrienne about her books and her movies.

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Mike Gencarelli: What was your inspiration for your novel “Vampyres in Hollywood”?
Adrienne Barbeau: I was approached by the man that became my co-author on it, Michael Scott.  He has many books published in the UK and Ireland about Irish mythology, vampires, sci-fi, horror and all that.  He also had a background in marketing and book sales.  I had just written by memoir which made the L.A Times bestseller list.  He came to me and said “I think you wrote the wrong book.  I think you should right a book for your horror genre fan base.”  So I guess you could say the inspiration was money [laughs].  I love writing a memoir, I had such a good time. I was so excited by the response it got.  I never considered writing a novel though.  My first hesitation was that there is a big difference in writing fiction and non-fiction.  I wasn’t sure if I was a storyteller.  I can write the characters, the dialogue and the scenes but wasn’t sure if I could do it.  So Michael said that he would help me.  We sat down and I came up with a character that is pretty much like most of the women I have played over the years [laughs].  She is a scream queen but also happens to be a vampire, which gave me the opportunity to write a really strong woman’s character.

Mike Gencarelli: Tell about about its follow-up “Love Bites”?
Adrienne Barbeau: I wrote that one by myself.  Michael was working on other projects.  When we sold “Vampires of Hollywood”, we sold a two book deal.  It is a sequel but it can be read as a stand-alone novel. I have been getting great reviews from romance magazines, which is great.  But I never thought of it as that.  It is a mystery, its funny (I hope), sexy and romantic [laughs].  “Love Bites” is a very contemporary vampire novel, in the style of Christopher Moore.  It is about the scream queen who is head of a film studio, think Roger Corman, that produces low budget horror films.  She is also happens to be a head of clan of vampires, most of whom are A-list actors.

Mike Gencarelli: Would you ever consider making this into a movie?
Adrienne Barbeau: You know we had an offer for “Vampires of Hollywood” but it wasn’t the way I wanted to go with it.  So we turned it down.  We have got Charlie Chaplin in there, Orson Welles, Mary Bickford who is dressed up as Cindy Lauper.  It would definitely be visual.  The problem is some of my villains are agents so [laughs] I am not sure how they are going to feel.

MG: Since your career was built from the horror/sci-fi genre, were you always a fan?
AB: You are making the assumption I am a fan of horror [laughing]. I am a fan of acting in them.  I have had a wonderful career doing horror films and I love every character I have portrayed.  And I love doing them, they give an actor an opporutnity to go places chick flicks don’t.  As an audience member I do not like to be scared.  I like action-adventure, espionage, sci-fi but I do not want things jumping out at me.

MG: How do you feel that most of the movies that started your career are being remade i.e “The Fog” and possibly “Escape from New York”?
AB: If they are remade well it wouldn’t bother me at all [laughs]. If the reason why in fact they were remade was to make them better and not just cash in on the original, that would be fine too.  But so many of them do not bring anything new to the screen.

MG: Tell me about your recent role on “General Hospital”?
AB: I tend to be identified with strong women and she is a strong woman. I playing an ex-journalist who was so disturbed with the explotation of children, she founded a charity called ‘The Alliance to Save Exploited Children’.  She has hired a character on the show, Brenda Barrett to be the spokesperson for the charity.  Because of her work, she has a lot of people that want to put her “out of business”.  I am there to protect her, be her mentor and guide her.  I am having a good time so far.

MG: Do you have any further plans to do anymore writing?
AB: I am tossing some ideas around in my head.  Since I started on “GH”, it has taken all of my time.  In my mind, I will settle down in late October and give it some serious thought.

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"The Last Exorcism" Interviews Series

At Media Mikes, we are a big fan of horror movie genre. When I heard that “The Last Exorcism” was coming out, I knew I needed to get interviews from that cast. I set out to contact everyone that I could get a hold of and below we have some amazing interviews from the cast of the film.

I really hope everyone enjoys these interviews as much as I did doing them. These people in the film are so great. Each and every one of them has fantastic stories from the film and they were a pleasure to interview. I would hope that I could have the opportunity to talk with them again very soon.

Enjoy and please leave comments!