filmschool, Nathan Callahan, Mike Kaspar, independent film news and interviews, KUCI, film school
filmschool, Nathan Callahan, Mike Kaspar, independent film news and interviews, KUCI, film school


March 25, 2008
An interview with John Sayles, one of America’s most distinguished independent filmmakers. Beginning with his first feature, Return of the Secaucus 7 (released in 1980), Sayles’ movies have helped define the 'other' that exists beyond Hollywood. Despite an unwillingness to tailor his subject matter and style to the dictates of the mainstream, he has managed to direct 15 feature films including The Brother from Another Planet, Matewan, Eight Men Out, The Secret of Roan Inish, Lone Star, and Honeydripper. Sayles began his career as a storyteller as a writer of fiction, authoring the novels Pride of the Bimbos (1975), Union Dues (1978, nominated for National Book Award and National Critics' Circle Award) and Los Gusanos (1990) and short story collections The Anarchists' Convention (1979) and Dillinger in Hollywood (2004). In this interview from June 14, 2005, we talk to Sayles about writing, politics, journalism and the business of the movies.


March 18, 2008
An interview with TOM STERN, director, co-writer, and producer of THIS IS A BUSINESS - an indie feature in the truest sense. Made on a modest budget and completely outside established studio channels, THIS IS A BUSINESS is an Ionesco-esque comedy about a shipping clerk named Turtletaub who starts his own business knowing only that he intends either to create a product or to provide a service, and whichever one it is, he pledges, it will be good... for everyone. Turtletaub hires an awkward, kind day laborer (Ernesto) as his assistant and a confident yet conflicted salesman (Baltimore) as his sales force. Now all that Turtletaub needs is to figure out what it is that his business will do. But there is constant noise streaming through the vent in the ceiling of Turtletaub's unit, and the landlord keeps giving Turtletaub the run around, and his salesman has somehow started bringing in investment money even though they do not know what it is that their business does, and Turtletaub is not sure what it is, exactly, that he owes these investors. As the pressure builds and things start to move, Turtletaub seems farther and farther away from having his idea. Until one night, it hits... and it's great... Stern has also directed, produced, and written six short films and a number of plays. His short films - BLUE ME and THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF TOM STERN, CHAPTER SIX: THE NEW SCIENCE - have been programmed in festivals on both coasts (Imagefest, LA Shorts, Independent Exposure 2007), and his stage production of FEIFFER'S PEOPLE was performed at The International Fringe Festival in Edinburgh, Scotland.


March 11, 2008
An interview with Neil Mandt the director and writer of Last Stop for Paul. Cliff and Charlie live boring lives in LA. In an effort to spice up their existence, Charlie suggests they go to the famous Full Moon Party in Thailand. Cliff agrees to go on the condition that they purchase around the world tickets and see the globe first. Along they way he wants to sprinkle the ashes of his recently deceased childhood friend, Paul. Together, Charlie, Cliff and the remains of Paul, embark on a trip of a lifetime as they travel to the Caribbean, South America, Europe and Asia. Shot in over 20 countries, Cliff and Charlie have unbelievable adventures in every location and their lives are changed forever. Winner of 45 film festival awards, Last Stop for Paul is the "Most Award Winning Independent Film of 2007."


March 4, 2008
An interview with Sara Lamm director / producer of Dr. Bronner's Magic Soapbox. Dr. Emanuel Bronner was a master soapmaker, self-proclaimed rabbi, and, allegedly, Albert Einstein’s nephew. In 1947, after escaping from a mental institution, he invented the formula for “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soap,” a peppermint-infused, all-natural, multi-purpose liquid that can be found today in every American health food store. On each bottle of his soap, he printed an ever-evolving set of teachings he called “The Moral ABC,” designed, in his words, “To Unite All Mankind Free!” A human story about a socially responsible company, “Dr. Bronner’s Magic Soapbox” documents the complicated family legacy behind the counterculture’s favorite cleaning product — Bronner’s son, 68-year-old Ralph, endured over 15 orphanages and foster homes as a child, but despite difficult memories, is his father’s most ardent fan.


February 26, 2008
An interview with Brett Morgen director of Chicago 10 — an animated docudrama about the 1968 Chicago Democratic National Convention anti-war protests. Mixing animation with archival footage, Chicago 10 explores the build-up to and unraveling of the Chicago Conspiracy Trial of 8 activists set up as scapegoats by the US government. The mash-up film is a parable of hope, courage and ultimate victory, the story of young Americans speaking out and taking a stand in the face of armed oppression. Starring the voices of Hank Azaria, Dylan Baker, Nick Nolte, Mark Ruffalo, Roy Scheider, Liev Schreiber, and Jeffrey Wright, Chicago 10 premiered on opening night of the 2007 Sundance Film Festival. Morgen is an Academy Award nominated producer and director. His credits also include the Robert Evans biopic The Kid Stays in the Picture (2002), which he wrote, produced, and directed (with Nanette Burstein).


February 19, 2008
An interview with Dan Klores the director of Crazy Love a documentary about the obsessive roller-coaster relationship of Burt and Linda Pugach, which shocked the nation during the summer of 1959. Burt, a 32 year-old married attorney and Linda, a beautiful, single 20 year-old girl living in the Bronx had a whirlwind romance, which culminated in a violent and psychologically complex set of actions that landed the pair's saga on the cover of endless newspapers and magazines. With the cooperation of the principles, Burt, now 79, and Linda, 68, Klores examines the human psyche and the concepts of love, obsession, insanity, hope and forgiveness. Crazy Love had its world premiere at the 2007 Sundance Film Festival, earned the Best Documentary award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival and is nominated for Best Documentary at the Independent Spirirt Awards.


February 12, 2008

An interview with Jon Bloom, Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences Short Films and Feature Animation Branch Executive Committee Chair, regarding this year's Oscar nominees for Best Animated Short Film and Best Live Action Short Film. Bloom is an Oscar and Emmy nominated filmmaker with broad experience as a director, producer, writer, cinematographer and editor. With almost four decades in the motion picture industry, Bloom is a renowned specialist in entertainment marketing. His early work experience includes stints as an assistant director to Robert Wise and Robert Altman, and an assistant editor to Francis Ford Coppola on Godfather II. On Friday February 15th, Magnolia Pictures will release the 10 Oscar nominated live-action and animated short films to screen across the US and locally at the Landmark in West LA and Laemmle’s Playhouse 7 is Pasadena.(Above: I Met the Walrus, a nominee for the year’s Best Animated Short Film.)


February 5, 2008
An interview with Marjane Satrapi writer and co-director of Persepolis — the Cannes film festival Jury award-winning coming-of-age animated film about a precocious and outspoken young Iranian girl that begins during the Islamic Revolution. It is through the eyes of Marjane that we see a people's hopes dashed as fundamentalists take power — forcing the veil on women and imprisoning thousands. Clever and fearless, she outsmarts the “social guardians” and discovers punk, ABBA and Iron Maiden. Yet when her uncle is senselessly executed and as bombs fall around Tehran in the Iran/Iraq war, the daily fear that permeates life in Iran is palpable. As she gets older, Marjane's boldness causes her parents to worry over her continued safety. Satrapi originally published Persepolis in 2001 as a graphic novel. She grew up in Tehran in a progressive family. Her family was involved with the communist and socialist movements in Iran, prior to the Islamic Iranian Revolution. She attended the Lycée Français there and witnessed, as a child, the growing oppression of civil liberties and the everyday-life consequences of Iranian politics, including the fall of the Shah, the early regime of Ayatollah Khomeini and the first years of the Iran-Iraq war. Persepolis is an Aacademy Award nominee for a Best Animated Film.


January 29, 2008
An interview with Diana Zahn-Storey the producer of the Film Independent Spirit Awards show which will take place on Saturday, February 23, 2008 telecasting uncut on IFC with an edited re-broadcast on AMC. The Awards are presented by Film Independent, a non-profit organization dedicated to independent film and independent filmmakers. Nominations for the 2008 Spirit Awards include Crazy Love, Manufactured Landscapes, Fire in the Lake, The Diving Bell and the Butterfly, I'm Not There, Juno, A Mighty Heart, Paranoid Park (trailer above) Ramin Bahrani, director of Chop Shop, Lee Isaac Chung, director of Munyurangabo and Ronnie Bronstein director of Frownland.


January 22, 2008
An interview with Bill Haney, director, producer and screenwriter of The Price of Sugar. In the Dominican Republic, a tropical island-nation, tourists flock to pristine beaches unaware that a few miles away thousands of dispossessed Haitians are toiling under armed-guard on plantations harvesting sugarcane, much of which ends up in U.S. kitchens. They work grueling hours and frequently lack decent housing, clean water, electricity, education or healthcare. Narrated by Paul Newman, "The Price of Sugar" follows Father Christopher Hartley, a charismatic Spanish priest, as he organizes some of this hemisphere's poorest people to fight for their basic human rights. This film raises key questions about where the products we consume originate and at what human cost they are produced.


January 15, 2008

An interview with Alex Gibney the director of Taxi to the Dark Side — an in-depth look at the torture practices of the United States in Afghanistan, Iraq and Guantanamo Bay, focusing on an innocent taxi driver in Afghanistan who was tortured and killed in 2002. The documentary delves into the opposition to the use torture from its political and military opponents, as well as the defence of such methods; the attempts by Congress to uphold the standards of the Geneva Convention forbidding torture; and the popularisation of the use of torture techniques in shows such as 24. Gibney is the writer, producer and director of the 2006 Oscar-nominated film Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room, which also received the Independent Spirit Award and the WGA Award. In 2003, he served as the Series Producer for The Blues, an Emmy-nominated series of seven films in association with executive producer Martin Scorsese. Taxi to the Dark Side has won the Best Documentary Award at the Tribeca Film Festival.


January 8, 2008

An interview with Dan Cox director of Running with Arnold — a documentary on Arnold Schwarzenegger's gubernatorial campaign in California. Running With Arnold is a politically-charged film that tells the fascinating and humorous story of one of the most famous men of our time. From his childhood in post World War II Austria, through his days as a weightlifting champion and action movie star, the film exposes Arnold Schwarzenegger's life in all of its sordid glory. We watch how Arnold's ambition for fame and power have led him on a 'take no prisoners' political career that resulted in his winning a circus campaign to become the leader of the world's fifth largest economy as Governor of California. Cox is an award-winning journalist who has worked for Reuters News Agency, Variety/Daily Variety, New York Post, CBS News, City News of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles Business Journal. He has directed and produced theater in New York with the company Tyrannosaurus Rep.















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