Is it wrong to say that even though I've never seen one of his films, I'm inspired by the legend of Jack Smith? I have seen many a Guy Maddin film, and Maddin has made a lovely homage to both Smith and Kenneth Anger's films (THE LITTLE WHITE CLOUD THAT CRIED), available via one of my favorite art commentary web-sites, GLASSTIRE, founded by the shrewd connoisseur Rainey Knudson. Although what we are up to w/ FOURPLAY is quite different, I think it is some sort of second-cousin to Maddin's works, which are highly subversive yet playful with their representation of gender roles and sexual expression, disguised as they are in a veil of camp. Anyway, just a toss off thought (and video) for the day. - Kyle
Friday, April 30, 2010
Monday, April 26, 2010
Second part of my interview w/ FOURPLAY producer Jason Wehling (pictured above on the set of AUSTIN). Forgot to mention last week that we are both Rice University graduates. There aren't that many of us in the entertainment biz! - Kyle
3) Having now worked as a producer/director on many low-budget shorts, commercials and several features (e.g. AUGUST EVENING), what advice/tips would you give to budding producers who are producing their first films?
I think something that’s really helped me grow is keeping a humble spirit, and I’d push this on anyone who’s interested in working in this world. Ego is important - making a low budget film is a huge undertaking, and it you don’t believe in the project and in yourself, you’ll never stick with it long enough to finish. That said, the same ego that gives you that drive can be the thing that keeps the project from succeeding. Don’t just go forward believing that you know how to make the perfect film by yourself, because you most likely do not. But if you surround yourself with talented people and stay humble enough to really listen to their advice on your script, your schedule, your edit, etc..., you’ll be amazed at how much better your film will turn out.
4) A particular story or moment you'd like to share from the production of AUSTIN last summer?
I think one of the key elements in AUSTIN is the scene that takes place in a porn store, and one of the most difficult parts of the project was finding the right store. We figured this could be problematic, especially given the nature of our story, so I took a broad approach and called or walked into almost every single store in Austin. I’ll say now that I hadn’t been into many of these places, so I was quite curious. Obviously, some were quite tame and more oriented towards sexing things up for couples, but we were looking for something that could conceivably have video booths in the back, and the only places in town that really have booths wanted nothing to do with us. In my search though, I found myself in a AAA News shop, and it had a terrific look – like a clean, well-lit drug store full to the brim with aisles and aisles of porn videos. I knew it was perfect, and when I showed my stealthily gathered location photos to Kyle, he agreed. Unfortunately, getting permission wasn’t easy, so we came really close to faking the location with our own weak substitute. I wouldn’t give up though, and must have made at least 20 calls and talked with 10 different employees before I finally got through to the owner - when I did, he was amazingly generous, and his trust in us helped make the film!
Also, I got to stick my finger in a fleshlight - wow!
5) Any question you'd like to answer that I haven't asked?
Not really...I do want to say that I’m super excited about TAMPA. A lot of my friends shake their heads when I describe Carlo’s story about a lonely man seeking companionship in a public restroom, but I think it’s completely touching, and totally hilarious, and I can’t wait to show it to everyone of those head-shakers!
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
Directing/producing for Arts + Labor, a production co-operative in North Austin, as well as writing/directing his second feature film, the animated Jesus zombie flick THE THIRD DAY, Jason Wehling is known as the producer of such films as Indie Spirit Award winner AUGUST EVENING and associate producer on the 2010 SXSW hit THE HAPPY POET. He's pictured above on a VERY hot set (as in over 100 degrees) for AUSTIN last summer waiting to hold up a bounce board while dripping in sweat. That's the kind of producer he is, ready to pitch in where needed at a moment's notice.
1) Why did you become involved in FOURPLAY as a producer?
I’ve been a fan of Kyle’s for a long time. We both went to the same small university (though Kyle graduated just before I started), and he was an example I wanted to follow – both his early docs (AMERICAN COWBOY and UNIVERISTY, INC.) were quite inspiring in both their technique and their ambition. I finally met Kyle 10 years later, after spending time working in commercial production in LA and for PBS in DC, when I moved back to Austin in 2005 to produce AUGUST EVENING. I made it a point to look him up, and after getting together a few times to talk about both indie film and corporate video, he asked me to get work with him on FOURPLAY.
I have to admit, when I read the script for the first short, SAN FRANCISCO, I was a little surprised by my own enthusiasm. Obviously, I wanted the chance to work with and learn from Kyle (and Carlos, PJ, Caroline and the rest of amazing crew), but the material itself was what sunk the hook. Part of the reason I fell in love with film is that it gives me a chance to do wildly different things, and this material presented exactly the sort of challenge that intrigues me.
2) What personal connection, if any, do you have with the shorts?
I’ve found myself connecting with each of the projects more intensely as we’ve worked on them. Except for AUSTIN, they’re each way outside my normal realm (sexually speaking), but all of the shorts are guided by a clear emotional journey that I can really relate to. The characters in FOURPLAY, like most of us, I think, struggle with issues of belonging and acceptance, and while I may not seek out the exact same situations as them, I identify completely.
I mentioned AUSTIN before, because I do have a very personal connection there. Lily, the main character in AUSTIN, is unhappy with her life’s lack of direction, and she deals with her insecurities by making a giant decision that could really set her on a track (getting pregnant). I’m not saying I’ve had the same process as Lily, but when you work in indie film, it’s tough to have a lot of stability. My wife and I dated for 9 years before we finally got married, I think it’s partially because we both were putting career building ahead of family building. At some point, that got a bit ridiculous, and we both decided to make family a goal too. We’ve since gotten married and just had our first child (last week!), and what we’ve found is that it hasn’t hurt our careers at all...Instead, I think it’s focused us and given even more reason to do important things with the time we have.