Archive for the 'Interviews' Category

A Talk with Chad Gundersen
Onward, Christian Filmmakers

“So your buddy has made his first short? Great! But you want to bring that kid in as your gaffer?” prods Chad Gundersen, producer of Like Dandelion Dust and next month’s DVD release A Christmas Snow. “I’ll get you a gaffer who’s made Pirates of the Caribbean. I’ll give you that guy. I promise you. And they’re like, ‘Well, is he a believer?’ Who cares? Now, a big part of that is finding people you can trust so you know exactly what to expect of them. But why is the opportunity to be a witness on the set any different than the opportunity for the film itself to be a witness to the millions of people who see it?”

A Talk With Conrad Anker
Back for More: Anker, Mallory, Everest

“Well, the rewards are greater than the risks,” says mountaineer Conrad Anker about returning to the mountains that nearly claimed his life and killed his climbing partner on Shishapangma. “I just think that there are certain people who are hard-wired in their DNA to go out and take on more risk than their fellows. Look at Homer’s Odyssey: these great tales of leaving behind the family and going off into the unknown—and great risk of death or disfigurement. And then they come home and are heralded as heroes. It goes back into when we were hunter-gatherers. The men would have to go out and do this, and it is sort of the basis of how we have created society.”

A Talk with Rich Brauer
2009 Michigan Filmmaker of the Year Burns No Bridges

The handful of MTI Home Video’s titles that we’ve reviewed have been unmistakably low-budget films; and yet they’ve all been professionally and competently made—and better yet, have felt refreshingly different from the usual multiplex indies. When preparing to write my review of the latest, Mr. Art Critic, I discovered that director (and 2009 Michigan Filmmaker of the Year) Rich Brauer and I shared a mutual friend in Brauer’s fellow Traverse City resident Matt Kinne, an indie writer and producer who is also a colleague of mine at Hollywood Jesus. Matt connected me with Mr. Brauer, and we chatted over the phone for half an hour or so a couple of weeks ago.

A Talk with Michael K. Williams
A Talk With Michael K. Williams

“That was a tough time for me,” said Williams, who plays an important, small role in The Road. “there was a lot of darkness around my personal life and even though things seem really bleak you have to remember we have a choice in life. You have choices to choose the right path or the wrong path… and keeping the fire alive is hope, staying positive-minded and looking for the silver lining, I guess, with the fire; and I identified with that at that time. I still do, but I was really identifying with it then because it was kind of a very dark time for me during that film.”

A Talk With John Lee Hancock
Through A Glass

Director John Lee Hancock has established an oeuvre that is distinctly Southern… and yet warrants the use of such a hoity-toity word as “oeuvre.” His Hollywood coming-of-age was selling his screenplay for A Perfect World—which landed the talents of director Clint Eastwood and star Kevin Costner. He followed that up with the script for Eastwood’s version of Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil, and then returned to the director’s chair with The Rookie, The Alamo, and this year’s The Blind Side. In Los Angeles a couple of weeks ago for a Warner Bros. press junket for the latter, I had the fortune to sit down for a one-on-one interview with Hancock to talk about images.

A Talk With John Tesh
More Hope and Love, Please

among the swanky pleasures to be had in this biz, getting all four editions of Thou Shalt Laugh sent to me in the mail gratis over the last couple of years has ranked right up there with the best. I like to laugh, and I am mostly pained by stuff like Norbit, You, Me and Dupree, Click, and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry. The list could go on quite a bit. Better yet, with the release of Thou Shalt Laugh 4, which I reviewed last week at PtP, I also had the chance, courtesy of the film’s producers (who also happen to be my bosses, through a different corporate food chain), to talk with show emcee John Tesh about his involvement in the project. “I think a lot of what we do as Christians today, to be specific, is to build these giant churches that have their own food court, their own mall, their own basketball courts, their own school.” Tesh observes. “And so you get to the point where your kids come out of that, and what happens?”

The Tulsa Indie Scene
One God, Three Approaches to Film

This year, I’ve had the privilege of being in contact with three Tulsa filmmakers. Two of them, Tracy Trost and Titus Jackson, contacted us via our contact form to request that Past the Popcorn review their self-distributed films—Find Me, and Jesus Fish, respectively. Through Tracy, I was able to get in contact with Brian Shoop, who not only appeared in Find Me but directed Treasure Blind. Because these filmmakers’ films and approaches are so different, because they are all working in the same city, and because they are all fellow Christians, I thought it behooved Past the Popcorn to approach Brian, Titus, and Tracy about participating in a three-way interview. Amazingly, they all accepted the invitation!

A Talk with John Ratzenberger
The Two-By-Four Guy

John Ratzenberger is both a tireless worker—with dozens of films such as Pixar’s A Bug’s Life and several TV series to his credit—and a tireless activist. Success may appear to have come easy for the man most of us remember as either Cliff Clavin or Toy Story’s Hamm, but Ratzenberger himself wouldn’t chalk any of it up as mere happenstance. “As I was traveling for my Travel Channel show John Ratzenberger’s Made in America,” he says, “what I wanted to celebrate was the Judeo-Christian ethic of ‘get up in the morning, put your hand to something useful, and be responsible for yourself.’ … I figured someone’s got to be the Paul Revere and shout from the rooftops that it’s okay if your kid goes into vocational training.”

A Talk with Mark Freiburger
Good Art, Happy Accidents

Whether you apply the idea of “evangelical tool” to film or any other medium, the idea is problematic because even the Bible itself doesn’t view itself as a tool. Filmmaker Mark Freiburger keeps a good balance between medium and message. “I fell in love with film for film’s sake,” he says, “and went to a regular liberal arts conservatory to study film for four years. And it didn’t dawn on me until making Dog Days of Summer—when I started meeting all these other Christian filmmakers who were thinking of movies as evangelical tool—that film could be used for something else: that I could be making films that make a difference.”

A Talk With Ryne Douglas Pearson
Knowing More About the Story

“John has in essence not lost his faith completely,” says Knowing screenwriter Ryne Pearson of his story’s hero; “he is just is completely unsure of how things could happen to this point with God. You know, how could he lose his wife? How could his son be left alone with him? And he’s starting at that point. So I wonder and question, what was he like before? Was he closer to his father? Did he have a relationship with God and had he lost that? And so from that point forward where we start the movie, you know, I’m anticipating that he’s sort of almost at the down side of the hill and is now going to have to climb the next hill to get back to where he wants to be or should be.”

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