Coming to selected theatres, VOD and Digital from writer/director Jessica Swale and IFC Films comes the story of reality and the line between to SUMMERLAND.
Alice (Gemma Arterton) is living in a house away from the town of Kent during World War II. Having the reputation as a grouchy recluse, she is constantly harassed by the local children and avoided by the local adults.
Her days are finger locked onto the keyboard of a typewriter discovering the mysteries and mythology of a place called Summerland. That is, until a knock on the door. The townspeople have all opened their homes to the children of the war and Alice is no different. Standing in front of her is Frank (Lucas Bond), a young boy from London whose father is a pilot and mother works for the government.
Alice is not thrilled by any stretch and makes it clear to Mr. Sullivan (Tom Courtenay) that he must find another place for Frank. Told it will take a week, a relationship slowly begins between Alice and Frank as, through her grumpiness, she shares her research. Much to her surprise, Frank is excited to know more.
This all brings Alice to think about a person from her past, Vera (Gugu Mbatha-Raw) who showed the writer more about life that she could have imagined. Frank has made friends with Edie (Dixie Egerickx) and everyone is finding their happiness.
Unless the sadness of war causes Frank to run towards sadness, Alice to follow and secrets to all be revealed.
Arterton as Alice is absolutely marvelous. She is a character that has sealed herself off from the world, doesn’t hold back her opinion on anything and has the town making sure to give Alice a wide birth. Watching her form an attachment to Frank is rough but slowly becomes a realization that her solitude has kept her from a true and fulfilled life. I just adored the pace of Alice and Arterton made that an amazing journey.
Bond as Frank is a young boy who knows he must be away from his parents. Unmoved by Alice’s attitude, he finds friendship with classmate Edie and explores his Kent surroundings. He is inquisitive, funny and sees so much good in the world. Bond’s performance is charming and opposite Arterton, steals the film.
Mbatha-Raw as Vera has a dream of her own and it becomes a wedge between she and Alice. Their friendship leaves a deep mark in them both and follows Alice until meeting Frank. Mbatha-Raw is lovely from beginning to end. Egerickx as Edie is a mini-Alice and Frank is okay with that part of their friendship as well. This young actress gave her character such depth and is as equally as guarded.
Courtenay as Mr. Sullivan is witty, charming and a man who clearly tries to understand Alice. His character is not judgmental and has such a way with everyone around him. His roles of late have been so endearing and a bit comical with wit and I am just thrilled he is on the screen.
Other cast include Amanda Root as Mrs. Lawrence, Jessica Gunning as Mrs. Bassett, David Horovitch as Albert, and Aoibhine McFlynn as Cass.
IFC Films is a leading distributor of quality talent-driven independent films. Some of the company’s successes include BOYHOOD, FRANCES HA, MY BIG FAT GREEK WEDDING, Y TU MAMA TAMBIEN, TOUCHING THE VOID, CHE, TINY FURNITURE and CARLOS. For more information on films from IFC please visit http://www.ifcfilms.com.
SUMMERLAND is a beautiful film about friendship, longing, war, loyalty, curiosity, mythology and the need for something tangible to explain the mysteries of life. I thoroughly enjoyed this film on so many levels that target those things that make us such complex and emotional carbon-based units.
The cast brings performances that bring tears, giggles and the realization that both Alice and Frank may be onto something regarding the quest we all have for Summerland. It is a lovely thought and even when the phenomenon is explained, it does not take away from the dream of such a place because, after all, that’s what we are – dreamers.
SUMMERLAND deserves all the recognition it can get for story, direction, cinematography as well as cast and crew for bringing this film to us. In a time of such harshness and grief, SUMMERLAND offers a respite in the midst of its own harshness and grief with charm, grace and, more importantly, love.
Coming from National Geographic Documentary Films, Imagine Documentaries and director Ron Howard bring the documentary telling the devastating story of REBUILDING PARADISE.
It is November 8th, 2018 and another bustling day in the small town of Paradise, California. Red flag warnings are announced through the media of high winds and warm temperatures. Later, that very afternoon in the Feather River Canyon, a fire starts. Within hours people begin to notice something strange all around them.
The winds knock down power lines and the call goes out when a fire is sparked. It is fast, it is furious, and evacuations are being called for immediately. The town’s response teams, fire fighters, police, the hospital – everyone evacuated as the skies became redder and redder filled with smoke.
Surrounding the small town of Paradise is an inferno the likes of which no one can remember ever seeing. In the morning, the skies were still as black as night. Families fleeing through streets in their cars with windows so hot they could not be touched. It is not until people see daylight and the sky can they believe that they have survived the nightmare.
After the fire is the reality that Paradise is no more.
Returning to survey the town, there is nothing but sadness, destruction and disbelief. Woody Culleton, the former mayor, drives down the streets to discover what is left and surprises as to what he finds. Smoke still rising from what is burned out and black. Officer Matt Gates loves this town and raised a family there. Telling the stories of what they experience the night before and the emotional toll.
Below the town, residents of Paradise must navigate finding a pace to sleep, eating and meeting with FEMA. The reality slowly sinks in that the life they have always known no longer exists. Having to leave everything behind, families are left with more questions than answers.
A month later, the residence of Paradise are allowed to go in and search through the rubble of their homes to find something – anything of their life. Visiting where the schools once were, the damage is extensive, and the memories are strong.
The Paradise Fire Department talk about how the ground has usually gotten some rain, but this November was different. The ground was dry, and the firemen agree that a fire such as this was going to happen. Lasting longer and being more extreme were part of the five-year drought and the belief they are on the front lines of climate change.
PG&E had an electrical transmission wire that was causing sparks and the fire followed. The citizens want the company to know what they have lost and how their lives have left them feeling shattered. Generations of families have lost their homes and there is a feeling that no one is listening.
James Gallagher, State Assemblyman feels that there will be people of Paradise who will not stay. Almost immediately the school district finds answers to get the kids into class. Mall space and other schools for classrooms they could use. For the kids it is sad that they cannot return to the rooms they loved but are rolling with the changes.
Officer Gates and his family try to bring Christmas to Paradise bringing the citizens together to share some holiday spirit. Three months later, FEMA delivers bad news and the citizens take on the town council. Bull dozers move in and the sound of chainsaws and log haulers move in. The red tape is extensive, and the meetings are a struggle and to add insult to injury – looters.
Enter the famous Erin Brokovich, and she tells the citizens it is time to hold PG&E responsible for the fire. Other attorneys are representing those who cannot fathom how the company does not take responsibility for the fire, the deaths and the after effect on the citizens.
Conservationists come in to help the town find answers regarding vegetation. The land management is responsible for what is in the forests instead of what was there before. Loggers did not replant and the forest structure changed. These changes explain how the fire sped through Paradise so quickly.
When PG&E comes to the town and faces the music, the townspeople want to know how they are going to be responsible and what financial assistance they are going to provide instead of worrying about their bottom line.
Now, drinking the water has an issue because of all the chemicals and going from the most drinkable water in the state to the most dangerous. The water contains Benzine which means showering or even having babies isn’t recommended. It could be years before that become manageable.
Neighbors get together to talk because that is the only way to handle what is going on around them. Relying on one another for support is what keeps them pushing forward, no matter how tired they may be, they want to stand together.
Six months later, the destruction is still everywhere but a few people have found their way – home. One-person, Woody Culleton finally has a permit to rebuild, the school gets to have their celebration and it feels as if there are bits of ‘normal’ in this small town.
Nine months later, a controlled burn in Paradise has the neighbors nervous but those who know this needs to be done are aware of what needs to be done. So, life goes on, high school is back in session, houses are being built and family dynamics changing and not always the way they should.
One year later, PG&E has a settlement agreement with the wildfire victims but that does not mean their troubles will be over. People coming back is difficult, some cannot bring themselves to come back. But some know where their heart needs to be.
National Geographic Documentary Films are committed to bringing the world premium documentaries that cover timely, provocative and globally relevant stories from the very best documentary filmmakers in the world. Furthering knowledge and understanding of our world has been the core purpose of National Geographic for over 130 years, and today we are committed to going deeper, going further, and continuing to push boundaries through the beauty and power of documentary filmmaking. For more please visit www.films.nationalgeographic.com
With an instinct for what stories matter, Ron Howard and Brian Glaser have created films, television shows and documentaries that go to the core material of lives and shaping storytelling to make a personal and emotional connection. For more please visit www.imagine-entertainment.com.
Watch the firefighters, police and emergency responders through the clips taken by the citizens of Paradise escaping is absolutely stunning in the fact that to see it is one thing, and it made me jittery, but knowing people survived all of it is nothing short of a miracle. The documentary follows Paradise from that moment until a year later and it shows the grit of this town.
My son-in-law is a wildlands firefighter, and this is as close as I ever want to be to knowing what it is that he and his fellow fighters experience. Trying to save everything around them is compelling and thanking them doesn’t seem quite enough.
This documentary will shock, jaw drop, cause uncontrollable tears, frustration, aggravation, knowledge but most of all – hope that in the midst of what they experienced, they still believe that they’d rather live in Paradise.
In the end – just like that horrible day, they will all find the light!
Coming to Digital and DVD this week from writer/director David Koepp, Blumhouse and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment comes a story of vacationing fear when YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT.
Theo (Kevin Bacon) is a man married to his young actress wife Susanna (Amanda Seyfried) and they share the very young Ella (Avery Essex). Dealing with his emotions of the past, he visits the set where Susanna only to have more pressure to be a good and supportive husband. This is especially difficult since the topic of people not liking Theo comes up.
He convinces Susanna that they need some time together before she heads for an 8 week shoot in London. That is when they drive up to a huge vacation home in Wales. It is spacious and minimalist in its furnishing, but the family is enchanted by the house and the surrounding grounds. But beauty can be deceiving…
…as Ella begins to see shadows. The next day Susanna and Ella talk a walk and the young girl asked the question she probably should not have, “why do people not like Daddy?” and the story is unraveled before her. Theo is furious that she subjected their daughter to the story, but Ella makes it clear she loves her father.
Theo goes to the grocery store where a shopkeeper questions him about their stay at the house. He finds the questions strange. It gets stranger when a woman asks him if he is spoken to the owner Stetler. Trying to chalk it up to the area, Theo has a dream that night that the house is changing, and that Ella is in harm’s way.
Trying to keep it together, the final straw is discovering that Susanna is not being honest with him and she leaves for the evening. Theo and Ella find ways to keep themselves amused and that is when he begins to suspect that the house has a bigger story to tell. Instead, the house turns against Theo with strange twists and turns making it impossible to leave.
What it wants from him might be more than he can take.
Bacon as Theo does an excellent job as an insecure husband mixed with a supernatural. One of my favorite films he has done is the 1990 FLATLINERS and the 1999 STIR OF ECHOES. As Theo, Bacon’s character delves into a life before Susanna and Ella and the strain of his own insecurities. The scene between Bacon and young Ella is something to have tissue for which is unexpected for a suspense/supernatural thriller.
Seyfried as Susanna is a young actress who finds herself taking roles that cause conflict between she and husband Theo. Seyfried seems concerned about her husband but also shuts herself away a bit when Theo can’t seem to control his insecurities. She pulls her weight in the film but does not get to get her hands dirty.
Essex as Ella is absolutely stunning! She is smart, doesn’t miss much, has a bit of a wild streak but also sees that her father is struggling, oh, and has her own issues with the house. This young actress is powerful and gives her little self a resilience that her parents should have taken a lesson from.
Other cast include Colin Blumenau as the Shopkeeper, Lowri Richards as the town Welsh Woman, Joshua Jackson as Susanna’s Production Assistant and Eli Powers as Susann’s Assistant.
Universal Pictures Home Entertainment has just added an amazing film to their library and making it available for us to all experience and re-experience in our own home theaters. There are films of every genre available from scary to drama to family films. For more of what they have to offer please visit http://www.uphe.com.
YOU SHOULD HAVE LEFT is a mind-bending story with some jumps that got me easily. Okay, I did holler once but I am sure you will holler even more. It is a cast of 2 1/2 that carry the film and they do it well. As the story starts to unfold it is a tad bit predictable but none the less fun to watch.
Might I suggest watching it in the dark as I did, you will get the full effect that is pretty cool, especially on a Friday night. Living in the times we are, it is cool to have a movie night at home and scary movies happen to be our favorite.
Don’t turn away from the screen or you will miss the small pieces of the larger supernatural puzzle.
Coming to Premium Video on Demand and director Andy Tennant and Lionsgate comes a story of family and unexpected connections with THE SECRET: Dare to Dream.
Miranda (Katie Holmes) is a widower with three children, teen daughter Missy (Sarah Hoffmeister), son Greg (Aidan Brennan) and youngest Bess (Chloe Lee). Doing everything for herself has not been easy but mother-in-law Bobby (Celia Weston) is always there with her two cents.
Dating local business owner Tucker (Jerry O’Connell) keeps the finances coming in as well as a storm that threats the town. Miranda has reason to worry as her house is in need of repairs, but she gets the kids to help hunker down for the storm. Greg does not tell his mother that there was a mysterious visitor earlier, Bray (Josh Lucas) who had an envelope for his mother.
Picking up her two daughters from school, a short argument with Missy is interrupted when Miranda smacks into the back of a truck. Immediately Bray offers to help fix the bumper and she reluctantly agrees. Imagine Bray’s surprise when they return to the very spot he was just at – Miranda’s home.
Fixing the bumper and an unexpected dinner, Bray has a chance to spend a little time with the family. As the storm really comes in, he leaves thanking them all. On his drive out he puts the envelope in the mailbox returning to his hotel room.
After a frightful night, Bray returns to discover all is not as it should be at the Wells home and again offers Miranda help in getting things right again. She cannot understand how a total stranger can be so kind in a world she is struggling with. Catching attention, Tucker wonders what Bray is up to as well.
As the days go by, there are revelations as to the mysterious Bray, Tuckers idea of a family and Bobby having more than two cents about it all but its Miranda that must decide what is right for all.
Holmes as Miranda plays a woman swallowed up with children, a home falling apart, not enough money to get by and trying not to get caught up in the memories of her husband. She has learned to trust no one and is not very good at accepting compliments or help. Holmes gives it the old college try and is sweet if undecisive.
O’Connell as Tucker is a businessman who happens to see a future with Miranda. He is a little uncomfortable when Bray arrives but then again – where is your chainsaw dude? Weston as Bobby is as every mother-in-law can be, full of advice that is not always what Miranda wants to hear.
Kids Lee and Brennan are adorable, inquisitive and trying to understand their mother’s frustration. Of course, being kids they just want their Mom happy but not quite old enough yet to understand how difficult that can be to do as an adult. Hoffmeister starts out as the stereotypical smart mouthed, disrespectful, whiny teen (which by the way is so played out that when I see it in a film I mute it) but by the end she mellows out a bit to become a regular whiny teen.
Lucas as Bray just takes my breath away, then again, he is such a calming force on the screen. Bringing his southern swag and deep well of convictions, he is not pushy but instead just tells the Wells family what he sees in life. Of course, he has a secret and that’s where things get a little dicey. I still truly enjoyed seeing him in THE SECRET: Dare to Dream.
Other cast include: Katrina Begin as Jennifer, Sydney Tennant as Sloane, Samantha Beaulieu as Charmaine, Yohance Myles as Devon, Rosemberg Salgado as Manny and Cory Scott Allen as Matt Wells.
The film is based on the best-selling book THE SECRET by Rhonda Byrne. The book has sold over 30 million copies and translated into 50 language which believes in the law of attraction. It is the belief that one’s thought can change everything in a person’s life.
THE SECRET: Dare to Dream is a charming film and one that families can watch together and even talk about after. There is truth in the belief that the negative power of thought can bring so much pain. I think most people would agree that there comes a time where you have to put out good vibes to get good vibes.
The film also gets into the pain a family goes through when losing a family member, for Miranda, for the kids and for Bobby. It seems they all are worried that they will forget Matt Wells and that being happy somehow would do a disservice to his memory.
It is Bray that shows them in a patient way that it is not a disservice to go but in fact a disservice not to go on. Sometimes it is hard for people to grasp that and it takes a good shaking to make that point. THE SECRET: Dare to Dream does that, it is a gentle shake to think about how short this life is and living in guilt is a waste of a gift.
Coming to drive-in theatres and soon on Digital from writer/director/producer Amy Seimetz and Neon is the twists of life when SHE DIES TOMORROW.
Amy (Kate Sheil) has a very serious problem and it has shaken her to the core. She is convinced that this is her last day on earth. Almost immediately she begins to plan how her death should go. From looking at urns to thinking of being turned into a leather jacket looking on the internet for someone who can do it. It is almost as if she accepts death without a thought.
Calling her friend Jane (Jane Adams) telling her of what she thinks is coming. Trying to help Amy with other explanations for her feelings, she warns her friend to be careful about what she is thinking. Leaving to finish her plans, Jane begins to feel a certain way about life and goes to see her brother Jason (Chris Messina) and wife Susan (Katie Aselton) while they are having a birthday party.
The emotional struggle keeps spreading and each is trying to find a connection and an answer but Amy keeps moving forward with her plans.
Sheil as Amy is a very different young woman. Instead of freaking out, although there is that moments at a time, she jumps headfirst into acceptance with urns and the Jame Gumb SILENCE OF THE LAMBS version of a skin coat. Yet, there is something fascinating about her portrayal with a quote I like to “keep your wits when all others around you are losing theirs”. That the performance that Sheil gives and I loved every second of it.
Adams as Jane is a woman who already has problems and now feeling at death’s door, she brings the fear to her brother. Brother Chris Messina as Jason cares for his sister and wants to see her through whatever it is she is experiencing. Messina gives his understanding but also has to deal with wife Susan.
Aselton as Susan isn’t happy about spending her birthday dealing with, what she considers, ravings from her husband’s sister Jane. She is irritated and wants to make it clear to husband Jason that her behavior is no longer acceptable.
Other cast include Tunde Adebimpe as Brian, Jennifer Kim as Tilly, Madison Calderon as Madison, cameos by Josh Lucas, Adam Wingard, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Michelle Rodriguez.
Neon is a film production company that is best known for such films as I, TONYA and one of the most incredible Oscar winning film PARASITE. With a total of 12 Academy Award nominations, Neon appeals to audiences that are looking for in-your-face storytelling. For more information please visit http://www.neonrated.com.
It is nice to see big named actors getting in on the storyline, it gives the message – at least to me – that not only are they supportive of the project but can’t take lesser roles and feel good about it.
This is definetly a trippy story that at the heart of is seems to be how each of the characters handles death and feeling as if they know when that will happen. One thing the movie does is forces us to question our own thought process about it.
The last time I felt this tripped out was the 1980 film ALTERED STATES and perhaps watching films from David Lynch. That being said I have an affinity for films that don’t follow rules and give something that requires the viewer to pay attention to the details.
SHE DIES TOMORROW gets in your face and doesn’t leave, not even after the final credits. It is clear that the fear of death is one thing, knowing what to do with that information is quite something else (skin jacket included).
So, answer the question out loud that we all wonder in secret.
The season begins eight years after season one and Vic is determined to destroy Charlie. He sets his sights on a person who means the most – Wayne. Currently on AMC and BBC.
First season is relatively faithful to the book, second two?
Joe: I think the second season is faithful to the book to the spirit of the book and the characters. I do think that with I think every single episode the show has become more itself. It has been more comfortable in its own skin and found its own particular approach, style and tone. I think nothing shows that like the intricately engineered fifth episode which is almost kind of a horror movie. I love the second season and I think in some ways the second season it more exciting and more emotional involving than the first. And it does do some different things but all those keep in the spirit of the novel. I think it is important that it’s not just that it has ideas, that it explores its own ideas and that it takes a few unexpected turns because you don’t want people who have read the book to be too comfortable and know what is happening all the time. I’m very happy with how the television show has expanded on and developed the mythology and the underlying concepts of the book.
Manx has become more terrifying and we learn his backstory.
Zachary: I think that’s one of the things that season two does is give much more context, particular for Charlie. It flushes out the journey he’s been on that led him to this place. IN addition to the novel, Joe also wrote a graphic novel called The Wraith which is more centered around the relationship with his car, daughter and wife and that’s something we incorporated into season two which I’m grateful for. We go back into Charlie’s life into his childhood to understand some of the traumas and the abuses and abandonments he’s struggled with over the years. The accumulative weight which breaks him and paints him in a more sympathetic light which is always good when you are playing such a reprehensible and morally bankrupt character like Charlie Manx. You understand that he didn’t start out that way and he had some unfortunate circumstances that befell him over the years that led him to this place. I did enjoy that stuff. It was fun to immerse part of the narrative into these different time periods and be able to explore some of those other relationships and the long-term impacts that they have.
There are new adults in season 2.
Joe: In the first season we visited Parnassus which is a nightclub of nightmares. It’s a place where nightmares hang out together and swap horror stories over a pint. That interests me. The world of Charlie and Vic have other people in it and I was curious to get into that. We have a character called Hourglass who is somewhat of a Charlie Manx fanboy and excited to do some business with him. So, we brought him into the story and he added an interesting wrinkle to what was there in the original novel.
Jami: In addition to the Hourglass who is the new villain who joins Team Manx but there is also Lou who met at the end of last season. We spend a lot more time with him this season as a series regular on the show and I think a fantastic character. He is a favorite from the book, he was one of my favorites from the book and think Jonathan does such a beautiful job playing him. He is just a good hearted, hardworking Dad and he loves Vic and loves Wayne. He doesn’t have a superpower, but Joe Hill told me once that his superpower is his humor and his calm. I think you really see that come out in the first few episodes. I mean in Episode 3 Charlie Manx almost gets Wayne and in the writer’s room the way we talked about it was the only reason why he doesn’t is because Lou is a good Dad. Lou realizes something is going on and his action is what thwarts Manx from stealing Wayne. That not a magical bridge, that’s just him and the forces of goodness within him.
He seems at home with the supernatural.
Jamie: Its tough because you can burn storytelling time. The audience so knows so those conversations are tough. Last season there was a line in an episode where Lou says to Vic after they have their encounter with Manx and they are in the hospital where he says, ‘listen, I read comic books, I know there is a lot of stuff out there’. I think that is such a great way to sum up that character and kind of move past the ‘so what now? You have a what?’
Joe: That’s my favorite line from the first season.
The relationship between Zachary and young star Mattea.
Zachary: The kids on the show are pretty spectacular, they are so professional and prepared and very funny. They are funny miniature adults. They have a precociousness fostered by working in this environment. Jason and Mattea have been at this for a while, they are old pros. It was cool, to have that psychological component to the character and figure out how to communicate in a way to make sure they are saved and protected. That is really important, so it was a cool addition to work with those guys more in Season 2 than the first.
How did you cast them?
Jami: They auditioned, Mattea send in an audition and Jason did in season two. They are both spectacular and you can see it on the show Zach was part of the casting process with Jason. Mattea, I think the kid is a star. Jason, you can see him becoming more and more comfortable as it went on and he ended up directing scenes. There is a scene later in the season and I won’t say with who because I don’t want to give anything away but it is with one of the adult actors who had a question and Jason was like ‘listen, you are mad at me because of this and we are going over here…’ and it was really charming.
Joe: One of the things that I think is really interesting is that Vic has a lot of unresolved feelings about her own mother and you can feel her discomfort and her struggling to figure out ‘how do I do this’. She is always questioning herself, ‘am I doing this well’ and you know she feels awkward. She would rather fight vampires than be a Mom. That she knows how to do, what the worse that can happen? The worse that can happen is she dies! What I think is interesting of course is the Charlie is totally confident around kids and kids love him. How can they not, he is the President of fun.
Working relationship with Ashleigh.
Zachary: I just love her; she is so deeply committed to her relationship with her character and everyone else on the show. She has got a really generous spirit and she is really concerned with the wellbeing of others and she is so enormously talented. You know this is her first big American television show and I think this is a significant moment for her. So, it’s been really interesting for me who has been at it for a while to witness that and find ways that I can support that for her. It’s been a real pleasure along the way and the pleasure was enhanced midway through the season when she showed up on the set with the absolutely cutest dog I have ever seen. She adopted a dog named Elton and my dog Skunk and Elton would have play festivals in our trailer when we were on set for long hours so that was really lovely as well. Ashleigh is just great and it has been an absolute pleasure working with and getting to know her. I’m also sorry she isn’t with us today but she’s pretty phenomenal.
Clutch of female characters.
Jami: You know they are all, with all of them we take our cues from the novel. The reason why I wanted to adapt the book is because I fell in love with Vic McQueen. I think that what is interesting about her and Ashleigh talks about this a lot is that it’s not a lot of necessarily a physical strength with Vic. She doesn’t work out all the time, she’s not a strongman and lifts stuff all the time but she has more courage than certainly than I do, almost more than anyone. Again there is a part in the book where I was like ‘I love this kid and I’m in’ was the first time she went to Sleigh House when she is after Charlie Manx and she finds a stranger stuck in the back of The Wraith that she has never met before and without thinking twice she just goes after this kid to try and save him which is what gets her into trouble with Manx and why she ends up caught in the laundry shoot which we dramatized in season one. I think that that heart and that courage was the thing that I found so refreshing about the character. Maggie as well, Maggie in the book is super smart, her strength is her ability to solve puzzles. She is a librarian; she is in the know and I would say her curiosity and her super powered brain are her strengths. You know the same with Tabitha, in the novel Tabitha comes in kind of later than she does in the book and she is a slightly different character, she is still I think fundamentally an investigator. She is still a person that is fundamental curious about the world who has an ingrained sense of justice and who cares about the people she works with. Those are our three main adult characters and again we just went with the book. Millie is not in the novel, actually she is in the novel a little bit at the end, but she doesn’t have as big a role in the novel as she does in the series. She’s also in The Wraith so we see some of her backstory. In the series some of it was being fascinated by her and the source material and kind of flush her out a little bit but also, she is a fantastic actor. When we saw her in season one, we were like ‘what else can we do with her? Her scenes with Zach are so great’. So we decided to open her up as well and that character, you know it’s funny because she is in Christmasland and her soul is drained so where can you go with this character really so we thought ‘maybe when Manx dies, that opens up a tiny little place inside Millie where she has room to think beyond Christmasland for just a moment. When she does, she takes advantage of it and of course in Episode 3 she meets the ghost of her mother and that kind of keeps opening, and opening and opening. She is starting to struggle with who she is and where she sits on the pole of with Mom and Dad. She’s been a Daddy’s girl her whole life and I think she’s starting to question whether or not it was the best choice.
Joe: In a way for me the second season is a way about growing up and about whether or not you can even accept growing up. I was thinking earlier while Jami was talking that in some weird way that season 2 is what would happen to Buffy the Vampire Slayer if she didn’t have to stay in high school for eight seasons. What if she actually had to graduate and go on and be a young woman and what would her life be like. Then I was thinking about Millie and I was thinking its also about you can’t stay a child forever. What does happen when you start to move away from childhood.
Your Henchman Darri who is always teasing and taunting.
Zachary: Darri is one of my favorite people that I’ve worked with in a long time. I absolutely love him and he’s so talented and so incredibly nice and smart. I really love him. On our Christmas break I actually had an amazing trip to Iceland for twelve days and got to spend time with his family there. He was so welcoming, and it was a magical place. It was incredible and I’m so grateful that the show introduced me to Darri and I got to travel there and I can’t wait to go back when we are allowed to travel again. I think the dynamic between the characters is rich and fun in season two, Manx is incredibly manipulative and he’s used to cycling through these rather either over ambitious or dimwitted and in some cases both kinds of assistants or henchmen. Bing proves to be more than meets the eye in season 2. At a certain point he gets mad as hell and he’s not going to take it anymore and we get to see the results of that which I think was really fun and the coolest things from this season and what we got to do together and how the narrative got flipped on its ear at a certain point along the way. I felt really happy to have him in this world with us.
Was there one plotline you were particularly happy about?
Zachary: For me it was Episode 5 when we got the script written by Tom Brady, I remember the sequence in the book and it was one of my favorites in the book so I was curious as to how it would play out in the show. When I got the script, I thought it was going to be a nightmare. The structure of it and the points of view of it. There is a lot of it that keeps changing and shifting and I thought that this was going to be impossible to shoot. How is this going to happen, but I can tell you its going to be miserable. It was actually the most fun episode of the season for me. I was watching it all come together and watching the director calculating everything she needed to capture. It blew me away with everyone working together. I don’t think that there was any experience in the two seasons that exemplified it more than this episode. It was all hands-on deck.
Joe: It’s just a masterful piece of storytelling. Tom Brady wrote such a great script and beautifully directed and it’s great when a show gets to have a moment like that where you feel like you are seeing something you haven’t seen before.
Jami: It is an iconic moment in the book when Wayne gets taken and I remember when I read it that ‘oh Vic gets to spend some time underwater here’. How are we going to do that? For season two when I was talking to our production designer, I asked, ‘can we even do this’ and was told yea we can do it. I wasn’t on set when they shot the episode and when the director’s cut came in I watched in in awe. I read it in the book and I thought we really have to honor this and when I read Tom Brady’s script I thought how the hell are they going to do this and then I kept waiting for the phone call from Rhode Island what said ‘Jami we can’t do this scene so lets cut it’ and that phone call never came. I think they did a phenomenal job and I’m echoing Zach that it’s really a testament to our team and I’m really proud of it. I also want to say I love the Manx backstory talking about the fun of the season.
Joe: I have a favorite, but I can’t talk about it because it would be spoilers. There is something that happens in 9 and 10 that I’ve wanted to see since I knew we were making a television show. I just remember and I want to add that when I read episode 5 and saw that Ashleigh was going to be spending time in the water, I remember talking to Jami and I said that’s pretty cool that she’s in the water for half the episode. She said they would be shooting in Rhode Island in late October and I said ‘oh’.
Jami: It was an indoor pool.
Joe: There you go.
Getting Tom Savini, prosthetic make up effect’s artist and actor.
Jamie: Joe! That was a character Joe pitched and we wrote it into the script and Joe said ‘I love him, he’s the best character in the script and I think Tom Seveni should play him’ and I said I said that would be great, do you want to ask Tom Seveni if he’ll do it. He did and – he did. So that was Joe Hill.
A King-Hill family friend>
Joe: I love Tom. So, when I was a kid I had a stint as a child actor and was the kid in CREEPSHOW which was shot in 1982 which was a different era. They didn’t have the same kinds of rules about child labor on television and film sets. So, they didn’t have a babysitter or a nanny or anyone to watch me when I wasn’t acting and they asked Tom Seveni to look after me. So I spent a whole week in Tom Seveni’s trailer watching him artistically disfigure movie stars and create amazing monsters. He was like my first rock star, he had this black leather jacket and these Spock on Star Trek eyebrows and he wore motorcycle boots and I don’t think he knew how to talk to kids so he just talk to me like I was an adult. On lunchbreak we would look at his great big book of autopsy photos and I just loved him. I was so glad decades later we were able to renew our friendship, he is a terrific filmmaker ad such a gifted comic actor and has done bits and bobs in a Tarentino movie. He really is just exciting to watch on the screen. He does a lot of hand acting and of course he is the master of gross out of special effects from DAWN OF THE DEAD and FRIDAY THE THIRTEENTH, he is one of my heroes so it was really great to pull him in.
Zachary: Yes, it was good to have him, I think we were all excited. I know Joe Harlow who is our makeup special affects leader was especially excited to have him. It’s always fun to watch that world, it’s such a close knit world and in so many ways, people align themselves in so many ways from the leaders in the field so I think Joe was inspired by Tom’s work and with me being from Pittsburgh I have a long history with Tom so I was really grateful to get to meet him. He was only there for a day sadly so it wasn’t a deep interaction but the main feeling was that I wished we could have been able to hang out longer, but it was great to have him there.
Jami: Zach, was there anything in a script that you were shocked by and made you think I can’t believe they did this?
Zachary: Episode 7 for me was something that I loved when I read it and the structure and the present-day Manx story line as it relates to the flashback Manx storyline. I wasn’t shocked by it and the way we were able to shoot it was a little bit like a movie. Jami, you had just come back from L.A. I really enjoyed that part of the process and also what I got to do with Darri in that episode, I wasn’t shocked but grateful for the structure and challenge of it.
Jami: I thought of it as a little play and an opportunity to watch you and Darri and I’m excited for people to see it.
Where is the prosthetic gross Zachary?
Joe: Its on your front door.
Jami: It’s in Joe Harlow’s warehouse for all I know.
Can you tease?
Joe: As bad as things seem they can always get worse.
Jami: You’re going to see some unexpected action from Bing. He is great in the first half of the season and you see him get a little more work to do in the second.
Zachary: I feel like the Bing stuff is some of my favorite that we have to look forward to. We are building to an ultimate showdown of sorts. I think we have been playing a lot in the track to this moment. The last half of the season is going to ramp up and drive us into the conflict between Vic and Charlie. I’m excited to share it.
A household of vampires living in Staten Island try to find their place in the world. For me, it’s the best comedy on television so get to it!
Haley: Thank you everyone for being with us today. Harvey, we left off Season one with a cliff hanger and an arc to the finale in season two. How did your character evolve?
Harvey: I didn’t know we were going in that direction I season one and the storyline has been awesome. I don’t’ think anyone expected it. Season two started with a bang killing vampires and evil from getting to my housemates. Guillermo is torn but being loyal to a T. He loves his housemates.
Haley: You had stunt work to do.
Harvey: That was fun, I didn’t know that was going to happen until Season 2. I started going to the gym and working out which is good for me but all the stunt stuff I did was like a dance. In that sense it was just like doing a musical. It looked cool on camera. People have been really responding to it.
Haley: Kayvan: There are a lot of ups and down for your characters with Guillermo. Do you think Nandor has turned a corner despite that big blow up?
Kayvan: That’s a good question. I would say that it’s a really dysfunctional relationship that they have. The way they have this codependency together, one hand Guillermo wanted to be a vampire and now he doesn’t need to be one because he’s a vampire killer. Nandor needs Guillermo so who is he going to boss around. Now that this big reveal has happened. I have no idea how this relationship is going to evolve. Nandoor basically has someone that can kill him. ‘m concerned.
Paul: Stephani and I have some ideas where its going but we won’t say.
Haley: It’s been green-lit for a third season as you write from your vampire hideouts.
Paul: We know what’s happening, but we can’t tell you.
Haley: Natasha you worked with a puppet version of yourself. I was lucky enough to see all the improve on set, was it hard to improvise with yourself?
Natasia: I did all the recording of the voice actually in lockdown so if it doesn’t sound that good, that’s why. It was easy to improvise with myself because I am a fantastic improvisor and actress.
Haley: I also did my ADR from this room; did you all do that?
Natasia: Its always been my dream to work against someone who is as good as me, so I finally got to do that with myself.
Haley: You and Matt had an extended musical episode in the club. How much was written from that episode and how much didn’t make it into the show.
Matt: I don’t know because I haven’t seen that episode. They are more or less 30 second long. They weren’t full songs, so I don’t know.
Natasia: I did see it and there were some amazing songs written in and a couple, I’m very pleased to say, that me and Matt penned in his little dressing room on a keyboard that also made it it. Yea, there were some amazing ones.
Haley: Mark, I heard you were very ill during the episode during your big promotion.
Mark: Yea, when you get sick filming and on location it sucks. You have none of your creature comforts with you. Too boot it is in Toronto Canada which is very cold. You take a lot of drugs and smile and you take the smooth with the rough. The flying was fun, it is a little painful as all the other vampires know more than I do. Yea, its work so you go to work and do it. Hopefully the episode didn’t suffer.
Haley: Do you think Collin is the most powerful vampire in the house.
Mark: We all have our own specialties that we play off of each other. If he gets them all in the room and they aren’t aware he can cause a lot of problems. Guillermo is very powerful now and Kayvan has his powers and Matt has his and Natasia is loud, so we all have things that are powers.
Haley: Stefani and Paul, how far in advance did you know that Jim the Vampire would be Mark Hamill?
Stefani: I felt like we had enough time, more than in the past. There is scheduling and visa issues and shooting close to the holidays its hard to lock people down. In this instance we knew ahead of time and had enough time to write the part specifically geared toward him.
Haley: Was the pool cue or light saber thing happen on set?
Stefani: That was one of those that happened on set, it was the stunt coordinators that came up with it during rehearsal and something that was designed for that specific space when they were blocking it all out.
Paul: We thought maybe they would hit pool cues at each other and on the day and we were shooting it and Mark Hamill picked up the pool cue everyone said, ‘oh my gawd’.
Stefani: I never saw Matt so giggly.
Matt: I was in front of Luke Skywalker and it doesn’t matter how cool you think you are or in character you are, you’re not, you are seven years old with Luke Skywalker in front of you. Pretty special.
Haley: About the directors, you can tell there is a different approach from directors so how do you work with that?
Paul: I’ll jump in, the interesting thing is that Kyle is great and our editor Yanna directed two episodes for the first time, but it was a really funny experience. She has seen every bit of film and knows how everything goes together and knew what we needed and what we didn’t need. You don’t usually get that from a first-time director.
Matt: You’d never know she was a first-time director
Natasia: No matter who the director is I send little bits of paper to the cast saying, ‘don’t f**k it up’. So, there are lots of directors but I’m always directing.
Haley: From this point on didn’t you say, ‘I refuse to be directed!’
Natasia: That was an actor that I worked with that said she was self-directing. She was so upset with production that she was self-directing like, ‘and action’, ‘camera one on me and action’.
Haley: This show as I found out in the few days that I was there was very nocturnal like its characters and cold when you are shooting. That is real snow you are working in, how challenging is that working through the nights and trying to sleep all day. Added to that all the time in the makeup trailer.
Stefani: A lot of Captain’s Oil.
Paul: I’m a nocturnal person so it doesn’t wear on me. I start at 6 pm to daylight, I can’t imagine being an actor doing it.
Natasia: It makes you made, but it makes you like a vampire but sometimes you are human and think ‘oh, I think I’m gonna die’. It’s a very surreal experience but it works for the show.
Stefani: There are waves and stages to it. It’s like a long-extended sleepover at a theatre camp with your friends, but there is a point where your body is shutting down and your body turns colors and you’ve only eaten deviled eggs.
Matt: It doesn’t help when they dye your hair black because you look even more withdrawn.
Mark: As much as we love Toronto, filming in a cold place doesn’t help when it’s the seventh week and your doing an outdoor night shoot and you can’t feel your feet. The crew isn’t as babied as the actors and they start falling and getting sick.
Paul: It doesn’t.
Haley: One thing that does make it on the screen is working in the vampire house. I have never seen so many lit candles on a set before which lends to the atmosphere. What is it like working in that environment?
Natasia: One of my favorite parts of the show, I still can’t believe it that it’s a weird vampire house. I want to take it on the road to have people visit.
Mark: I’ve never in any of my shows worked in such an elaborate and really beautiful set and it lends itself to your creativity which helps a lot.
Matt: I was asked this afternoon, its not only the best set I’ve ever worked on but the best set I’ve ever seen. We have a music room that was built and only on the scnee for like 11 seconds and it was incredible.
Natasia: The only issue with lit candles is you can’t stop and take a photo, or you will set yourself on fire.
Matt: The terror in their eyes was hilarious.
Natasia: Setting yourself on fire is so embarrassing.
Haley: Is there a policy about taking something from the set.
Matt: That’s from the Necromancers hut.
Paul: No one informed me about the policy, so I didn’t get anything.
Haley: I remember one night that someone’s teeth were misplaced. Do you forget they are there?
Matt: That’s not the issue, its forgetting to put them in before a scene.
Natasia: Forgetting to put them in after lunch and they can’t use it because I’m an idiot for not putting my teeth in. Matt tried to pull a prank on me putting red stuff on his teeth. To this day I don’t know what it was.
Haley: Harvey, how has your podcast with the show been with fans.
Harvey: It started off like a onetime thing and then after the first episode aired fans asked when will the next one air. So, I really just did it because the fans were asking for it. Sharing the videos and having fun and Natasia shared clips and to give fans something. The show is a 30 minute show and people want more so I did it as a ‘here’s something’ and I think we shot 14 episodes and we had the writers, directors, producers and Paul and hear the stories. I didn’t know where Paul grew up and we had a whole conversation like that. It was time consuming though. I was a five day a week thing with jokes, artwork from fans and my sister jumped on and produced it. We were working to stream through all social medias at the same time. It was a lot of work. I’m glad we did it.
Haley: We are doing this remotely so to talk about it, how has everyone’s quarantine been?
Natasia: I’ve been busy with a show called What We Do Before What We Do When What We Do In The Shadows.
Paul: Stefani and I have been busy editing and learning how to do things remotely and get everyone loop and ADR lines remotely and get Mark’s voice to sound like it wasn’t in a big echo-y room.
Mark: It was fine for everything else but for this it echoed.
Haley: Then I’ll throw this to everyone, most of our characters have had successful and romantic adventures. Can Nandor fine love in season 3?
Stefani: Good question Haley.
Paul: Yea, Nandor is lonely and if there is a preview of season 3 they are searching. Nandor is searching for love, there might be new duties – I’m giving too much away.
Haley: I’ll plow ahead, we saw a big broadening of the magical world and the creatures who live in it, what sort of creatures are still out there for the characters?
Paul: Yes there are. I’m trying to think of one to say that won’t spoil anything.
Stefani: There are creatures who live on edifices.
Natasia: Can you come up with some vampire puppies and kittens.
Paul: I will say the vampires get a hell hound to protect them.
Natasia: You thought we were going to get our animal guy back.
Mark: I felt like I was doing something wrong just standing next to him.
Haley: Have there been live bats on the set or is that CGI?
Paul: We’ve had a goat.
Stefani: I live racoon and a gecko.
Matt: A Small dinosaur of some sort.
Natasia: the bat quite often is a rubber bat on a stick and I’m always like very good, and they say ‘no, no that’s the bat’. Haley: It’s been great to see your faces, Harvey, Mark, Natasia, Matt, Kayvan, Stefani and Paul take care.
Keanu Reeves Alex Winter Samara Weaving Brigette Lundy-Paine William Sadler Director Dean Parisot Writers Ed Solomon and Chris Matheson
The boys are back, Bill and Ted!
Kevin: This movie is adorable, it makes people feel adored, hopeful and a time machine journey, references to old friends, it was a perfect movie experience. Stay through the credits. How did this begin?
Chris: It stated in 1983 and an improve group with some friends to play with the characters. The suggestion was two teenage boys studying history that don’t know anything about history. They struck us as funny instantly and we started playing with them.
Kevin: Before Keanu and Alex played Bill and Ted, you played Bill and Ted?
Ed: We took questions as Bill and Ted and everything was either ‘excellent’ or ‘bogus’.
Chris: We wrote letters and Bill and Ted and spoke like Bill and Ted. Long before we started to put them into a movie or anything like that, we just enjoyed them.
Ed: There is a story we told before which is that it was hard for us to imagine who would take the characters over and we were not involved in the casting project or anything. We were in Arizona where the movie was about ready to shoot and we were in a line at a McDonalds and we were complaining to each other like ‘gawd, I bet whoever they cast won’t be able to do it the way we hoped’ and all that. There were two guys in line in front of us at McDonalds goofing off and talking to each other and Chris and I were like ‘now THOSE should be the people that play Bill and Ted’ and we were on the set of the first rehearsal and it was Bill and Keanu. Unbelievable (to which Keanu gives the thumbs up!)
Kevin: It is a small world. Whose idea was it to turn the characters into a screenplay?
Chris: We were going to write a skit movie with a bunch of different skits because we just had a bunch of silly ideas and Bill & Ted were going to be one of the pieces in a 10-minute piece. It was my Dad, Richard Matheson who wrote I AM LEGEND, and I ran it by him, and he said you could make a whole movie about that’. We started looking at it that way.
Kevin: Richard Matheson is in the DNA of Bill & Ted.
Chris: In that respect yes.
Kevin: Bill & Ted became part of the pop culture and how quickly was a sequel which was called Bill & Ted Go to Hell, but you had to change that right?
Ed: Yea, the script was that they go back and have to take another test, an English test and Chris and I didn’t want to rehash that but we had this other idea, which was what if we kill them and just send them to hell and call it Bill & Ted Go to Hell and they were just not into it surprisingly. Until we flew to Massachusetts I think and Keanu was doing a play there, Shakespeare right?
Ed: We flew there and told them we have two ideas, the one they want us to do and this other one and if we didn’t have the backing of Alex and Keanu there was basically no way we were going to do the second one. We got to do the weirder version which I’m so grateful for.
Kevin: When did they say it had to be Bogus Journey and not Go to Hell?
Chris: I think that was the shooting title when we were in production, I think that’s what it was called. When it came time to release it they were not going to release it.
Kevin: When does FACE THE MUSIC come into your lives?
Alex: There wasn’t really a version years ago. We all went on our merry way and stayed good friends. It was some years ago now, some ten years ago that Chris, Ed, myself and Keanu were having dinner and they said they had another idea for a Bill & Ted and laid out this very summary version of a piss take of Dickens going back into your life finding out each reiteration of your life was worse than the previous. Pretty damn funny. None of us had thought of embarking on a third. Even that night I think we all kind of looked at dinner as ‘this isn’t really worth doing and no one really needs this unless its really great’ and we can magically hold on to the creative well enough that it maintained its integrity of that initial idea. Thus began a very long road to get us to sitting in front of you on our laptops.
Kevin: Let me take it to the boys. Did you have to audition for Bill & Ted?
Keanu: We went through a very vigorous audition process. The first audition I recall in the end there were ten artists and we would revolve doors playing either Bill or Ted and interacting with each other. There was a lunch and went to the end of the day.
Alex: It was a triathlon more than an acting audition. It was a grueling and somewhat unnecessarily prolonged experience. In retrospect, everyone who made the movie was super young. It was a nice way to say no one knew what they were doing. Keanu and I became friends through that process. Eventually we got to know each other a bit and very relived when we finally got it.
Kevin: When did you know that Bill & Ted were a pop culture phenomenon?
Keanu: I think as soon as people started yelling in the streets. I know when I was on the street people would yell, “be excellent!” and “party on!” so I was like, alright, cool.
Alex: I remember going to Paris on vacation right after the first one came out and being seeing a couple of skate-punk kids that were like 10, 11, 12 years old and they were talking like Bill & Ted and it hit me at that point that it had sort of seeped into the culture on some level.
Kevin: The extension of that story line, of course, into BILL & TED FACE THE MUSIC includes a new generation. Sam and Brigette, what is the process by which someone ascends to the position of B&T in the movie?
Brigette: We had to audition, it wasn’t as rigorous by any means that, we didn’t have a lunch. It was like a fifteen minute in and out. It was good, for myself personally I had never seen the film so and I didn’t want to see it before I went in because I wanted to go in blind. I watched it a two second clip of what their voices sounded like and I went in and was just as goofy as possible and the second time I got to read with Sam.
Ed: Wait, you did a whole two seconds of prep?
Sam: Yep, that’s how I got to where I am. I did my two second research.
Kevin: Everyone in the audience listening, that should be an inspiring story because everything your teachers told you about being prepared doesn’t matter.
Brigette: Trust me, that’s what I learned in high school, cram in the bathroom before and you’re good.
Sam: Just cram! I hadn’t seen the films either.
Kevin: Seriously? Neither one of you saw the movie.
Sam: No, I was born in ’92. I think it was quite, I could be wrong, I mean I know a few Ozzie’s that have seen it but I think it’s an American cultural phenomenon. I could be ignorant about that. I remember getting an email with the audition and what is Bill & Ted and my partner leapt off the couch and started doing this surfer voice I’d never heard before and started talking in a voice and that’s when I realized that this film had an impact on the culture of America. Jimmy was like ‘dude, you know, you have to do the audition bro!’ and I was like who are you and who did you just become. (Keanu is laughing) He immediately said, ‘you have to get this job and watch both movies back to back right now’. We had so much fun and I hadn’t seen films like that before, it was so innocent and so naïve and delightfully funny. Next, I’m in Santa Monica reading opposite Brigette and gave it my best shot. It was really daunting trying to fill Bill & Ted’s shoes but still trying to make the character different from doing an impression of them. That was the tricky part.
Kevin: In that respect did you study Alex and Brigette did you study Keanu?
Sam: I won’t speak for Brigette but for me I watched Alex’s performance and tried to study his physical way that held himself as Bill and try to bring that more into a feminine but different from Bill. To make it different but the apple not falling far from the tree.
Brigette: Totally like watching the movie but also like the experience of meeting you guys and becoming friends with you guys but secretly watching you all the time to see how you move your arms. The crazy part of being an actor. Billie and Thea are geniuses in the way that Bill & Ted and goofy and naïve looking for the answer, so I feel that’s where we found a way into those differences.
Alex: The first time we performed with you guys, I remember one scene where I was facing off with you guys, it was a really wonderful moment. It’s not saying we were worried about who was going to play these characters, but it was really important that they didn’t feel like knock-off’s of Bill & Ted and that they were their own people. We both sort of sighed at the same time at the performance because it smacked of family really more than imitating us. They are completely their own characters.
Kevin: The first thing that I was struck by was Bill & Ted was a PG venture. As I’m watching, they chose a PG 13 hand. When you get the script was there any trepidation Dean?
Dean: Yes, its daunting because they are iconic and it’s hard to come back after 30 years. All of that was part of the puzzle to put it together. To contemporize it and bring the characters back at middle age and with their daughters. At the casting there was no question. The weird thing was that it was obviously them and then we put up photographs of Bill & Ted against Sam & Brigette it looked like their daughters. It’s to their credit because they became their daughters and nothing else mattered.
Sam: I will say as young women with makeup it is easy to be too glam so they did a perfect job of making us still different but making us their daughters.
Dean: We looked at them as young musical savants. Everyone you just talked about got together to create those characters that weren’t glam at all but artistic.
Kevin: Movies are made up of moments, give me your favorite moment?
William: The very first shot of the take of the very first scene that I did I was supposed to be hopscotch and cheating at it and I tripped. I caught myself and sprained my wrist and I thought ‘this is a disaster, I’m off to such a great start’.
Dean: He did the rest of those scenes with a swollen wrist.
William: The really fun moment was when Alex and Keanu, we finally are reunited on screen. It was just gang busters from there. It was like we never left off.
Kevin: That will bring inflammation down.
Sam: I think watching those three have that very special moment, that was really touching and incredible and I felt incredibly lucky to be there to watch that. A close second was the first scene of the film where Brigette and I are watching our fathers perform. I never laughed so hard seeing Keanu Reeves go from John Wick to Ted dancing around and I was crying with laughter.
Brigette: Everyone who we find throughout history who is a musician is a brilliant musician. Watching them play, Patty Ann Miller is the most phenomenal drummer watching her use bones on a turtle shell.
Ed: The reason I was hesitant at first is that my two moments weren’t on set. One was a night where some of the actors who played some of the musicians played with us one night. It was a community. I think my favorite moment was on a day when we were shut down because of weather we were stuck in a town called Covington, Keanu hosted the cast and crew and it was a 1:00 performance of John Wick. Alex hosted a lunch after and we just hung out and none of us could work and I thought, this is amazing.
Alex: There are a couple but the first week, the movie was hard physically but we are older, and the script was more physical. It was super physical, and I remember half way through week on and we were shooting a scene and the whole family is there and people I’ve known most of my life. Keanu and I got into character and we just went off and I remember coming off set and thinking “Bill and Ted are back!”. It’s like you don’t know, not that we did a great job but internally they are really fun to play and you sort of have to let them go and do their own thing. There is a real ensemble thing, when that groove is happening and working, especially because the tone is so specific, that was it for me, the moment I felt that emotionally. Meeting with Billie and the girls at Death’s house, riffing with Sadler again, having him in my face and the baggage from our past and the kids there.
William: My favorite moment too!
Keanu: Sorry not sorry. There is nothing like, I can’t feel or laugh or do anything like the way working on this film does and working with Alex. That doesn’t exist anywhere else in the world for me. To partner up and work on the craft side of it and get to play these characters Chris and Ed have created and be their children. There is no other place where I can laugh like this. To the craft and play these characters, there are a few scenes stand out but every day as Al gives a wonderful performance. Playing older versions of Bill and Ted and getting to play off Alex and the situation and the words doesn’t exist anywhere else with the laughter and connection.
Kevin: How nice you don’t get to shoot people in a movie.
Keanu: What are you talking about, that’s fun to do that, what do you mean.
When was the last time you did anything like this for CONSTANTINE?
Keanu: Probably not since the film was released.
Francis: I think it was the premier junket was the last time.
How did you get involved Akiva?
Akiva: I had a deal at Warner Bros. at the time and convince people to let me be a producers. The script was laying around that I thought was so compelling. We started prepping the movie and then we stopped prepping and the movie went to sleep for a while. Slowly but surely the idea was durable enough and outlived what ever struggles it had. So began this restructuring of Constantine with the three of us playing various parts in order for us to get it up and alive again. I watched it again last night for the first time in a long time and it was really cool.
Was drew you to the character of Constantine?
Keanu: I wasn’t familiar with the character, I hadn’t read Hellblazer so I didn’t know the character. It was brought to me by my manager at the time. When it was brought to me, Akiva and Francis were already on board with the project. I did some research on the character and I was not hesitant but I’m not English and I’m not blonde and the character is. I had to reconcile that and part of that was what was at the base of the character. What could I bring to the character and why would I do it? It’s a wonderful and beautiful character, this kind of humanitarian, cynic, tired, world weary, tired of all the rules and morals and ethics and angels and demons but still a part of it. I loved his sense of humor. I had seen a few of Francis videos, I think the Lady Gaga video was the most recent. When I went to the meeting to meet Francis he had all the boards up and a vision was there of the film which I really loved. I was excited to have the opportunity to work with Francis and then got to meet with Akiva and get up to speed with the tea. I love the film, I love the character and it was cool to play that role and jump into it.
Francis: It took a while, my first meeting was with Bob Brassel and the script was brought to me and I went in and had to convince Bob that I had a vision for the movie and I was responsible film maker. I spent a fair amount of time convincing Bob and got past him and make the rounds to the producers. I went to New York to meet Akiva. Keanu was finishing up the Matrix sequels in Australia and it was about a nine month process. I met with Keanu a day or two after he got back from Australia. We had an epic four or five hour meeting talking about the characters and all that. I was very nervous but there was a ton of work in the presentation itself and some of my ideas were already integrated into the script. It would have been a giant bummer had it not worked. Look, I was a music video and first time director guy so there were definitely things to overcome, there was real convincing that needed to be done with every single person I met along the way.
Film came out in 2005 from the comic books?
Francis: I definitely wasn’t looking at comic book movies as references, I was looking a noir films like BLADE RUNNER over any comic book movie, like THE THIRD MAN or MALTESE FALCON. I wanted that o influence the aesthetic of the film itself.
Nolan’s BATMAN was filming as well, was that an issue?
Francis: In all honesty I think Warner Bros didn’t care that much about the movie at that time while we were making it. It all changed when they saw the first cut which was an amazing thing to see. There was a transition of power right as I got the job to make the movie so people at the top inherited the project and went along with it but I don’t think they had much faith in it so I wasn’t being noted by the studio at all.
Akiva: We were doing something weird. It was noir, it was stylish, it was horror and it was comic book. You could have comic horror, you can have science fiction comic you can have comic book romance but from the first frame of the movie you sudden go ‘oh sh*t, I’m in good hands’ and once Francis gets you and carries you to Keanu and that hallway and the possessed girl, you suddenly are in for a ride. And not one you actually expected so the studio said ‘hmmm, maybe we better pay attention now’.
Francis: I remember we cut together a 25 minute sizzle reel and had a screening and that was the most nervous I was. We were showing it to the new president at Warner Bros. and now we were on the radar, suddenly they were excited. It sounds weird because it wasn’t a cheap movie to make and we were off their radar till that footage. My first time at Comic Con we screened it in Hall H with the sizzle reel. The great thing Keanu did from early on was, we had set the story in Los Angeles and its still not often that you get to shoot in Los Angeles and Keanu, if I’m right, you put it in your deal that it had to be in L.A. Not Atlanta or Vancouver or one of these places to cheat it for L.A.
Francis: That battle was done long before we got the green light which was fantastic.
Keanu: I love L.A. and I love filmic L.A., I love being on the streets, I love the early dawn, I love the deep night, the color of the lights, people who are on the street, it’s got a good vibe.
Francis: Because we got to shoot in L.A. and thanks to Keanu that we got to shoot in L.A. I actually chose Naomi because she had done TRAINING DAY and I loved the set decoration and I saw that it wasn’t about going to the L.A. landmarks, its was getting into real L.A. like Koreatown and Echo Park, places people hadn’t shot in that much. She was great with all that.
Keanu: Shout out to Frank Capello as well, the roots of the tree.
Francis: There was good team spirit on this film for my first.
Keanu: You got spoiled.
Francis: Yes I got spoiled by all the love the cast and crew had for the project and the energy everybody had going forward. It’s not like that on everything and you don’t need too many spoiled apples to ruin the mood. This team did not have that at all. Great team spirit the whole way through.
How have you stayed grounded?
Keanu: I love what I do and I like going to work and I like being creative and we are all in it together. Just go play and have some fun. We had a really wonderful cast and to what Francis was saying everyone loved the material and working with him. It was one of those experiences where you get a relationship with the production design etc. and the world your moving in. The relationship between the operator and the first AC you work hand and hand in the ballet of the vision of the director and make the shapes and hit the marks. Mark Lebaunch was just awesome.
Francis: Pam was the first AC and Daryl on the dolly grip.
Keanu: A great L.A. crew, the best in the world.
Akiva: A part of why Keanu put L.A. in his deal, which is, if your going to shoot L.A. for L.A. and you are actually there, the city helps inform every piece of the production.
Was it always just going to be CONSTANTINE?
Keanu: Come on, you had Chazz, you had Midnight, what are you talking about.
Talk about bringing in other D.C. characters?
Francis: Not while I was on it, we were focused on Constantine’s world and not weaving in the other classic DC heroes.
Did you battle the R rating?
Francis: Originally when we started we thought it would be an rated R film and then Warner’s went through PG13 because of what it cost. We got a list of what you would and couldn’t do in a PG 13 film and we followed that list to a T. How many times you could curse, the blood, the violence and all these things. We screened it for the MPAA and five minutes into the film they put down their pads and said we got a hard R for tone. This was not something that was on the list. There was an overwhelming sense of dread is what I heard form the opening scene onward and they thought there was nothing we could do about it. So we had a PG 13 movie that was rated R. I mean we could really have gone for it with intensity and violent to get an R. rating so we got screwed on that. We did try to fight it but we obviously didn’t win that battle.
Would it get an R today?
Akiva: There is a weird subset of religious horror and that seems to get an R more quickly. What you learn is that no matter what the guidelines are its purely subjective and that’s subjectivity has sort of an ebb and flow based on the group designating the rating. We have a lot of demons and demons seem to trigger and R rating. There you have it, I’ve given prospective filmmakers the key to getting an R. rating, just have demons, you’re welcome.
Cigarettes or rain?
Keanu: That was fun. What are you talking about.
Francis: There were a couple of days were he went green from smoking those fake cigarettes.
Keanu: Oh yea that smoke from the spider in the glass.
Francis: But we got the shot and Keanu gave me this (holding up Constantine’s shotgun)
Keanu: The homies shotguuuuuuuuuuuun! Yes!
Francis: This is the best wrap gift I’ve ever gotten for a movie. Keanu had the prop guy make a second one of these. It’s made of bronze and weighs about 35 pounds. Do you have yours?
Francis: It’s probably in a Raiders of the Lost Ark box somewhere.
Keanu: I so enjoyed working with Francis and Akiva, just having Francis vision and Akiva’s story sense and humor and experience really, and then the crew that was assembled and the cast. Playing that role, I get to have these great moments with all of the characters in the films, throwing down with Peter as I’m bleeding out and that confrontation. Throwing town with Tilda Swinton chocking me with her foot on my throat, working with Shia LeBeouf and his dying scene. There were so many, and the dialogue is so juicy and that hard boiled thing and that mystery. For me at the opening in the film me back on a bed holding up a mirror and being flat to the ground. There were so may times working with so many artists. The costumes were great and the production were great. Everyone came in and rolled up their sleeves, working with Rachel Weiss and we had a short hand, working days, working nights – so for me there are moments working with everyone. Walking into those buildings and shooting on – FILM!.
Any additional pressure as first time director?
Francis: In all honesty the pressure I felt was to focus on the story, get the story right and to work with the actors. I feel like I wanted to focus on story and acting and let the 10-12 yeas of video be second nature. It’s a visual art and I like the visual side of things and images so I enjoy the world building aspect so I leaned into that. I felt the pressure to make things look good. I think people were worried that I would work on the story and character.
There is an after the credit scene.
Francis: That was Akiva’s idea which I thought was very cool. It wasn’t part of our initial photography. After the sizzle reel and we got them excited I went back and said we’d like to redo this and Akiva has an idea so they gave us additional money to get footage.
Akiva: There isn’t a lot of explanation on anything so it was a way to close that story and opening other stories should we every have gotten to do them.
Francis: There is the scene right before Constantine goes to hell and he sees the cat and puts it into his lap and he held its face and thought Keanu was going to peel his face back. In the world of Constantine it totally made sense. He has way of doing things and connections to thing. His line, “Gawd I hate this part”. When I first read the script, hell was this inky black voice and I wanted to play with time going to either heaven or hell. I pitched to Kiva that going to hell coming back would be like no time at all but you could be only be actually gone a millisecond. We shot about 360 frames a second, the wind on Rachels hair and the door shutting. The idea of hell wasn’t just a void, I liked the idea of giving heaven or hell a geography. Coming up with this idea that where ever you are there is a heaven, every where you are and a haven version of where you are. We sat her apartment next to the 101 freeway and gave it all a sense of geography and some relief and grounded it instead of it being a blank voice.
Akiva: Its Francis’s idea and an amazing idea, hell has geography – there is hell L.A., hell Brooklyn, hell your mother-in-law’s house, there is a whole earth that has hell. Now hell got to be new, entirely unexpected. In the original script it was the small hell but black and white. It’s something to think about, its disturbing and I love it.
Francis: We looked at nuclear bomb test areas so when heat hits the structure and you get this super high wind, heat incinerations, we thought that’s what hell should be like. That’s how we get that hell, forest fire, heat and really a nasty place to be.
Keanu: I remember being in hell and I remember being in the apartment. I remember the cat, I didn’t know what I was going to do with the cat till the cat woman told me what to do. (curling the cat’s face) Sometimes we didn’t know what we were going to do but we’d just do it. That scene plays to a lot of what you are talking about. I love that the demons had their brains gone so the seed of the soul had been scooped out like eating and urchin. That was interesting and fun and the way their joints moved backwards. Doing the wire jump, that was fun. That sequence has the half in and half out has the cinema, playfulness, humor, dread and has that what is going to happen. That sequence when you go in and go back out and coming back to John and steam coming off his back and the physical cost and the toll that ook him and then the drama flip. The sister and the reveal and the momentum of storytelling and the intimacy of Rachel and her sister.
Francis: Part of the idea is that it was always a bit surprising. One of the things that I’ve learned from Akiva is that a mistake some people make with scares and surprises that often you enter into a scene as a filmmaker specifically to surprise unless you feel that you are drawn in through a character moment and a connection where you feel like you are there not because a scare is coming. So when a scare or action comes in you are surprised.
A talk of a sequel then?
Akiva: It endlessly came up, we would probably make it tomorrow. We tried a lot of different ways, it was always to the studios a little bit of a feathered fish. The oddness which is a lovely thing about the film. It’s not really action packed its just action. Those seem to get harder and harder to make, as much as we’ve wanted to and we’ve had ideas. Yea, we’ve talked about it.
Francis: We talked about sequels more than the studios. The movies did fairly well and this is when people still sold DVD’s but it wasn’t a knock out success or critically acclaimed at the time. In the fifteen years since it’s release, every time I do junkets, I am signing CONSTANTINE dvd’s. People really love this movie and I think it’s found a sort of a new life in a weird way. I think people have discovered it recently weirdly, its had a cult fan base but people have discovered it in a new way. It sucked calling Michelle Monahan to cut scenes, we really liked the work she did. Constantine was in a relationship with Michelle’s character in the movie and we decided that Constantine was better alone without a companion to lean on. When we got to shoot the extra footage, we tried to fashion new scenes. I had to tell her we were cutting her scenes and we came up with some new scenes, we shot it and tried it but it didn’t work. The only piece that stayed in the movie was the moment at the end when Constantine lights the fuse. She hated that line and it was the only time in the movie. It was purely a story thing that made us cut her.
Was there talk of being blonde?
Francis: We never talked about it, in costumes too was the change of the coat and we ended up going with the black one and it was different than the graphic novels. There were slightly inconclusive test screenings. Religion is a very polarizing element in story telling. There are people that are very religious and might get offended by something and people who aren’t religious at all and feel like they are being preached at. There was a person who had me explain heaven and hell because he didn’t believe in either so he was confused by it all.