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Interviews

Sean Porter D.P || Rough Night ||

I interviewed Sean Porter for the first time early last year about his work on Jeremy Saulnier's slasher/thriller Green Room. The second time around was a bit brighter, a beach-side domestic dramedy: Mike Mill’s coming of age epic 20th Century Women. And here we are at interview three with his most expensive film, the Sony funded studio comedy Rough Night starring Scarlett Johansson, Kate Mckinnon, Zoe Kravitz, Jillian Bell, Ilana Glazer and which was directed by Broad City’s Lucia Aniello & cowritten by Paul W. Downs. In the gamut of the three, I’ve no clue where to place it. 

 

On a technical, on-set structure spectrum I’ve got a better idea. Rough Night moved the fastest. Sean opens up about his first experience on a big budget studio film, how he managed to light at a breakneck multi-camera TV-style pace with bare minimum prep, and the perks of industry veteran reinforcements. Outside the indie/studio comparisons, we talk form: how to photograph a comedy, and how the 2.39 Aspect Ratio can elevate the genre. 

 

Ansel Elgort's Destiny 2 Impressions and His Starring Role in Baby Driver

Ansel Elgort came by after attending  the L.A Premiere of Edgar Wright’s Baby Driver (which world-premiered at SXSW) to rep Destiny 2 at Activion’s big booth in the South Hall of E3. In the film, he stars as the titular “Baby” and I got to sneak some film related questions in before segueing into our overwhelming videogame surroundings.  We hung out in the private booth and got to play some Destiny 2 afterwards.

SXSW - We Interview The Heroes From Served Like A Girl

Served Like a Girl premiered at SXSW last week and it is a documentary that follows five female veterans and how they create a sort of sisterhood to help the rising number of stranded homeless women veterans. We got the chance to sit down with a some of the female veterans and filmmaker Lysa Hayland Heslov.

Heslov's friend told her about Miss Veteran America which is a competition and pageant for female veterans. It highlights their courage, strength, and intelligence but also reminds us that they are mothers, daughters, sisters, and wives. The documentary follows these veterans as they help with homeless vets and prepare for this competition. “I thought what a brilliant way to tell these women's stories and go on this journey with them as you're leading up to this great competition,” explains Heslov. The competition is about raising awarness and funds to homeless female veterans so it all ties in. 

The story of female veterans is not an easy story to tell. Although they have served and fought for their country, once they become vets medical care and the government kind of tosses them aside. Marissa Strock who served in the United States Military describes it by saying “We're a used toy now.” They received all the care and everything they needed when they were in the service, but once they were done serving, they were done with the help. 

To say that the treatment of veterans is frustrating and wrong is an understatement. It is pretty obvious as to why these women wanted to take part in a project like this, “We were able to tell our story through our own words and no longer have people to talk for women veterans who have no understanding of what we actually do while we serve and the sacrifice related to our service and also our struggles once we take the uniform off,” says Jasboothe who served in the army for 17 years and is currently a major in the reserves.  

Many of these women started serving because it was essentially a family business, their parents are in it, their grandparents were in it, and their kids are in it. 

Some had other reasons: “I was just tired of where I was, I was working 120 hours a week – 3 jobs – and I wasn't going anywhere, I wasn't going anywhere fast,” says Hope who served 11 years in the Navy, “if I was going to keep doing what I was doing I would have gone down the wrong road. […] It turned out to be something I was good at, and I knew that I was in the right fit once I joined.” 

Jasboothe grew up in the projects of Chicago and she wanted to show her son that just because she is a single mother doesn't mean she can't do what other woman or man can do. “I look at the military for one of the toughest professions in the world and I wanted to show my son that I can do it, and now he also serves his country,” explains Jasboothe.

It's a struggle to say the least, wanting to fight for your country but then after fighting for your medical benefits which is why films like this are important to get the word out. “I feel like the military mirrors American society, I think we still have a long way to go in American society when it comes to women and so we can't get there in the military until we first get there in the country that we serve,” says Jasboothe. Hopefully films like this will give our country a little push in the right direction. 

 

SXSW Free Fire Cast/Crew Red Carpet Interviews

A24's Free Fire brought its U.S Premiere to South By Southwest. Anarchic Writer/Director Ben Wheatley (High-Rise, Kill List, A Field In England) and cast, Armie Hammer (The Social Network, Lone Ranger) & (the insane) Sharlto Copley (District 9, Chappie), were in attendance. And the film's promotional presence was appropriately subversive. Press had the opportunity to barbecue with Armie and paintball with Sharlto at the explosive 'Stunt Ranch' which featured plenty other daredevil diversions. 

The Q&A's on either end were no less distinct. Ben will shoot a dumb question down with his deadpan shorthand, Sharlto with his charming abrasiveness, and Armie with his cool formality. The laughter provoked through the film persisted into the Q&A. 

But before things got too rowdy, I was able to talk with Ben a second time (the first a discussion on High-Rise) and with Armie Hammer for the first, about their creative approach to my favorite film of the fest. 

Writer/Director/Star || Ana Asensio || on || Most Beautiful Island || SXSW'17 Best Narrative Feature

Ana Asensio writes, directs, and stars in this formally astute exercise in anxiety and release. It settles on one woman's hustle, Luciana, from Spain, but acknowledges the plight of other NYC women who have migrated from their home countries for all their own reasons. Luciana, financially broke, and shattered by a past guilt that may have drawn her here, wanders Manhattan utterly vulnerable and desperate to make it. 

The wrong kinds of people, or perhaps just equally desperate people, take notice and use her to their advantage. Ana draws much of Luciana's struggle in  Most Beautiful Island (SXSW’17 Narrative Feature Competition Winner) from her own experience, which is at least identical emotionally. 

And for a directorial debut, what a mastery of form. Every aesthetic decision has been premeditated, and every seemingly arbitrary action and pattern holds their own arc and emotional reflection. 

In our discussion, I acknowledge some of these patterns. Ana elaborates.

Toby Oliver ACS || Get Out || Interview

Get Out, a genre sleeper hit rightfully boasted as having spawned ‘From the mind of Jordan Peele’, has seized online review aggregators & the box office as its own. Making back ($33.4m), already, nearly 6 times its budget ($4.5m) in its debuting weekend, Get Out looks to grow in the comings weeks and has, as of March 3rd amassed a $57.8 million gross revenue. Careers have been secured.

Sean Porter D.P || 20th Century Women || Interview

Sean Porter photographed two of my favorite films of 2016. Released first was Green Room, a brutal siege horror exercise, which we talked about earlier in the year, and the other is 20th Century Women, which, during comparison, he describes as “a coming of age, sun-drenched, family dramedy”. They could not be more different. Although, in terms of his approach to exposure, are relatively same. Sean deflates the conceptual stigma surrounding a fluid, less controlled set (and their practical limitations) and brings to light their ability to let intuition breathe. 

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