SideKickBack Radio

Tag Archive: film

Episode 45: Winter Has Come with Janet Graham Borba

janet graham borba game of thrones production




On the latest episode of Sidekickback Radio, I get to chat with HBO’s Senior Vice President of West Coast Production, Janet Graham Borba. As an executive, Janet plays quite a major role in the making of some of HBO’s wonderful projects, the most notable of which being the grand epic series known as Game of Thrones (sorry GOT fans, no spoilers in this one. Well maybe one…) Additionally, she recently wrapped production on the upcoming feature film The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks, starring Rose Byrne and Oprah Winfrey in the adaptation of Rebecca Skloot’s book of the same title about an African-American woman whose cells are used in trailblazing medical research in the 1950’s . In our episode, Janet and I chat about the rapidly shifting landscape of subscription-based television, what makes a great line producer, and how Pizza Hut might have changed Janet’s life forever.

Some of her earlier projects include Hackers (starring Angelina Jolie and Jonny Lee Miller) and one of my personal childhood favorites, Camp Nowhere (starring Christopher Lloyd and Jonathan Jackson).

The Game of Thrones production machine is without a doubt one of the most massive undertakings in television history. As evidenced by such scenes as The Battle of the Bastards (into which Janet gives us some insight) the process can take months to prepare and weeks to rehearse, with so many factors like seasonal weather and actors’ schedules creating a giant jigsaw puzzle that someone like Janet has to piece together. Game of Thrones production is now under way as they film its 7th season and as Janet tells us in the episode, with such a great writing team led by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, the production crew is firing in sync on all cylinders, ready to deliver the final episodes of a truly epic era in television.

Catch up on Game of Thrones season 6 with HBO GO here!

Episode 44: Director of My Own Journey with Rich Delia

One of the first steps in the filmmaking process is the somewhat mysterious, often underappreciated art of casting. On the latest episode of Sidekickback Radio, I sit down with Casting Director extraordinaire Rich Delia.  You can see his fine work in such films as Dallas Buyers Club, Short Term 12 and currently in theaters, Lights Out. We chat about how he transitioned to casting director from acting, what it takes to find that perfect actor for the role in the casting process and some suggestions for actors strugglin to break through

Coming soon, Rich’s upcoming projects include:

Transpecos – with Clifton Collins Jr. and Gabriel Luna, directed by Greg Kwedar, 2016’s SXSW Audience Award winner tells the story of three border patrol agents that make an unnerving discovery revealing possible betrayal amongst their own unit.

Fist Fight starring Charlie Day and Ice Cube as two high school teachers who have a score to settle…in the parking lot, after school.

To the Bone – from previous guests of the podcast, Mockingbird Pictures, To the Bone stars Lily Collins as a young woman dealing with anorexia who meets an unconventional doctor (Keanu Reeves) that challenges her to face her condition and embrace life. Written and Directed by Marti Noxon.

The Masterpiece – directed by James Franco, the star-studded cast includes Seth Rogen, Josh Hutcherson, Bryan Cranston, Sharon Stone and Franco himself as they recreate the behind the scenes “magic” that led to the cult classic that is considered to be one of the worst movies ever made, Tommy Wiseau’s The Room.

Stay up to date with his IMDb here!

Episode 43: Put The Toppings On It with Drew Kilcoin

In this episode of SideKickBack Radio, I sit down with Highway to Havasu‘s radass editor Drew Kilcion.  As a lead editor, he has cut some great projects such as the fascinating documentary Craigslist Joe, episodes of FX’s gone-too-soon comedy Legit with Jim Jefferies and Split, soon to be released on iTunes. Drew also assisted Jeremiah O’Driscoll on Robert Zemeckis’ films Flight, The Walk and Drew is now at Illumination Entertainment, working on the upcoming animated feature film Sing starring Matthew McConaughey, Reese Witherspoon and Seth MacFarlane.  We chat about his approach to cutting a scene, what its like to have a dream come true, and why his trips to the bathroom got quite dramatic at one point.

Check out Craigslist Joe on Hulu!

Check out Drew’s website!

Check out Drew’s IMDb!

 

Episode 40: Keep Your Eyes Open with Jessica Howell

My guest on this weeks episode is the lovely actress, writer, producer Jessica Howell. She’s been a part of such great projects as Eleanora: The Forgotten Princess, the phenomenal stage production of Re-Animator: The Musical and Showtime’s Masters of Sex. Her latest short film, Susie Sunshine, will be premiering at the LA International Women’s Film Festival on March 25th. We chat about running a successful Indiegogo campaign, the quality of life in Los Angeles vs. New York, and how we have both always been old people.

Grab your tickets to Susie Sunshine at LAWIFF here!

Mind Blown: 99 Homes

For those who know me, I am not a fan of New Year’s Eve.  A night usually filled with grand plans later supplanted by disappointment (I knew I was not alone!), I decided to take it easy and watch a New Year’s Eve movie or two with one of my roommates.  After Bridge of Spies, a solid film starring one of my favorite actors, we still had a few hours to kill before midnight and I was running out of options in my collection of SAG screeners.  Despite its not so festive nature, Ramin Bahrani’s 99 Homes was sitting there intriguing as hell and featuring one of my other favorite actors, Michael Shannon (especially after his little surprise turn in The Night Before, the Gatsby moment being one of the top comedy movies moment in recent memory). Grim looking vibe aside, we went for it agreeing that if we weren’t feeling it we would turn it off. But this film is just too damn provocative.

It follows blue-collar, single-father handyman Dennis Nash (Andrew Garfield) who loses his house to foreclosure and attempts to get it back by making a deal with the possibly sociopathic real estate broker Rick Carver (Shannon), an accomplice in the eviction that took Nash’s family home. Nash’s end of the deal? He only has to evict people from their own family homes.

Despite some moments of a-little-too-forced improvisation and “just because emotion” shouting, the film buzzes with a gut-wrenching authenticity, especially evident in the expected montage of Nash having his first run-ins with his prey.  Casting Directors Douglas Aibel and Tracy Kilpatrick did an incredible job in finding hauntingly real-seeming actors and combined with Bahrani’s scintillating direction, their woes pack so much gravitas onto this film.  The feeling it gives reminds me of what beachgoers feel after Jaws.  Owning a home today seems absolutely terrifying, especially for this generation, and as the fallout of the 2008 subprime mortgage crisis settles, stories like 99 Homes and The Big Short have emerged, making it clear that there are far more dangerous sharks than great whites.  Without giving too much away (but still, just in case, slight spoiler alert) the ending is rather vague and doesn’t give much of an explanation as to where the hell we should go from here. There is one thing though…

“Don’t get emotional about real estate.”

Carver repeats this as a sort of demi-mantra for Nash and his devilish nature is frequently slightly outweighed by Shannon’s inherent likability as a very smart actor; he fools you for a second or two into thinking these and some other great quotes he rattles off are sage words as to how to stay afloat in the fraudulent system that ruined the lives of millions (that system fascinatingly portrayed in the already mentioned The Big Short by the way…seriously check that one out too). As far as 99 Homes is concerned, many families became homeless by trying to hold onto unaffordable real estate because of emotional attachment. But of course these poor people were being completely and utterly dicked over.  And therein lies the conflict that holds you steady for the entirety of this movie, that those responsible for the crisis are kind of smart men and women who took advantage as a means to succeed and survive.  Sometimes they seem right, most of the time they are completely wrong but trying to survive financially in a society led by the morally f**ked up while maintaining a healthy/happy life is an increasingly immense balancing act, isn’t it?

Episode 35: Let Us Stumble with Chris Aquilino

My latest chat features Chris Aquilino who has appeared on Jane the VirginBones, House of Lies, and will be seen on Amazon’s Bosch and in the upcoming Mockingbird Pictures independent feature film The Sweet Life (starring Chris Messina and Abigail Spencer). We chat about what success looks like, being swept up in the do-it-yourself generation, and what food truck offerings appear on a TV set after success at the Emmys.

Check out Chris’ website here!

Mind Groan: Steve Jobs Pulled from 2,072 Theaters

It is upsetting. Frustrating. So much so that I feel an obligation to begin an entirely new section of this site, one that contrasts my usually positive “Mind Blown” series. I don’t like to be negative but I cannot sit idly by whilst an injustice must be brought to light.  Thus we have our first “Mind Groan.”

When I saw Steve Jobs a couple weeks ago, I instantly understood why it got an awkward release despite the all-star cast, commercially successful writer/director duo, and the fact that it is just a damn good movie.  Everyone, including and especially Universal Pictures, was taking a huge risk by putting this film out there. It is not a standard biopic. In fact, writer Aaron Sorkin dislikes the association with that word…understandably so.  It is a magnificently written, superbly acted play that was filmed like a movie, that is based on real life people/events, combining Sorkin’s signature high-speed dialogue with a Chekhovian structure. And this is why it was pulled from over 2,000 theaters on Monday; it’s just too refined, too smart for the masses to handle.

“America is getting dumber.”

I’ve heard a lot of filmmakers from all sides of the camera, from each type of office chime this sad statement. And it’s just getting truer.  In a world of poorly written comic book movies and uninspired remakes, Universal tried to challenge audiences to reach a little higher for an intellectually stimulating experience centering around the man who touched the lives of every single person in the computer-using world and beyond.  I applaud their efforts, avoiding a straightforward rise-to-power story and opting for a unique structure in which the messages of the film are morally challenging and not spoon-fed. They tried to break the negative feedback loop we appear to be trapped in, a growing gap between the filmmaking community and the audiences for whom they create; as we try to make smarter and emotionally richer content, the masses demand less thoughtful work, at least according to the numbers.  There was hope in Straight Outta Compton, a film Universal distributed with Circle of Confusion as the production company.  But Steve Jobs was their earnest attempt to bridge this gap, and it backfired; costing $30 million to make, it has only drawn around $17 million according to the most recent box office results.  Universal has called retreat.  Making matters worse will be the enabling numbers of another Universal film, Jurassic World, which has pulled over $650 million domestic. Don’t even get me started…

 

Mind Blown: The Dirties

I’m not sure if this next installment is influenced by current events, perhaps its basic coincidence, but I guess that’s another way of saying it was simply meant to be. I recognize that when I watched The Dirties on Sunday night, the timing of seeing it was an important factor but perhaps that is the point.  Shot in a found-footage, documentary-like style (be prepared for some very shaky-cam) this festival darling follows two high school students making a home movie about taking down the bullies at their school, Quentin Tarantino style, guns a-blazin’.  As the film progresses, one of the young men takes the joke to uncomfortable heights.

I first heard about The Dirties during a Kevin Smith interview in which he also gave a shout-out to Blue is the Warmest Color. I mention this because while these two films are so different in so many ways, they have one very important thing in common that makes them fantastic: as Mr. Smith puts it, the feeling of watching a camera being dipped into real life. Two very different stories, two very different styles, one very overwhelming and sometimes physical response.

In The Dirties, writer/director/editor/producer Matt Johnson stars as Matt alongside his best friend Owen, played by Owen Williams; already reality has become a head-scratcher. The film opens with a purely accidental scene between Matt and two real life passerby kids asking about the movie that’s being filmed. There are scenes in which Matt sits down to edit the very movie we are watching.  There are the sudden moments of frighteningly real bullying, the kind that is psychological and paralyzing.  Going into watching the film, I knew there was a mixture of real people and actors partaking in the action and it is absolutely impossible to distinguish who or what is real or fake. Sometimes, catalyzing events happen that I felt like I missed because it wasn’t set up in a way that the camera could catch it perfectly, leaving me to wonder if it was staged or not.  There is a constant changing of mood and tone; one moment Matt is being his usual zany jokester self and the next he is reading Columbine by Dave Cullen; one of several incredibly brilliant and sobering ways Johnson reminds us of the anchor that holds this whole story in the real world.  The never-ending questioning and shifts lead me to feel perpetually unsettled by every person and everything they did, wondering if life is imitating art or vice versa.  Who is going to be the one that pushes this narrative over the edge?  I felt as though the story was going to betray me, that the harsh truths of bullies and school shooters would end up on my screen in a very unsettling way no matter how bad I wanted everyone to get along.  It was a unique feeling I don’t think a film has ever given me before.

The Dirties is a riveting, provocative and bold film made for very little by some very daring people and it brings to light just how bad we can be to each other at our most sensitive and volatile ages.  At a time when school shootings are the source of incredibly heart-breaking frustration, The Dirties offers a no-nonsense view on the matter that feels just too damn important.

 

Episode 31: The Power of Belief and the Desire to Belong with Justin Kelly

This week’s episode features Justin Kelly, the writer and director of I Am Michael (starring James Franco and Zachary Quinto). We chat about the years of work it takes to climb the film-world ladder, Michael Glatze’s reaction to a film about his life, and the oddities of airplane gasoline.

Justin’s upcoming projects include King Cobra (also starring James Franco, Christian Slater, and Molly Ringwald), Welcome the Stranger (starring Riley Keough and Abbey Lee) and JT Leroy (starring Kristen Stewart).

Stay up-to-date on all of Justin’s projects by following his IMDb page here!

Episode 30: What’s in his Lungs? with Victor Levin

This week I get to sit down with Victor Levin, writer/director of the marvelous film, 5 to 7 (starring Anton Yelchin and Bérénice Marlohe).  We chat about the lost art of writing letters, the realities of running a TV show and the French view on relationships.  5 to 7 is now available on VOD and iTunes!

Check out the trailer here!