Archive for the 'Interviews' Category
A Talk With Jeff Parker
“Hopefully, our programs are entertaining for adults as well as kids,” says animator and humorist Jeff Parker, “because if you had kids, you’d know that adults end up seeing the shows as much as kids do. If you can make it through the fiftieth viewing without pulling all of your hair out, then maybe, just maybe, we’ve in some small way succeeded.” In this interview with Greg Wright, Parker talks about many of his projects: 3-2-1 Penguins!, Jungle Jam, and the rollicking Old West comedy Little Dogs on the Prairie programs. If you haven’t heard about Parker and work yet, you ought to!
Growing a Marriage Can Be Painful
“The anger meter was way up in the red zone in some of these domestic violence scenes,” acknowledges Cameron, who portrays firefighter Caleb Holt in Fireproof. “And even though it might be disturbing for some of your kids, if they’ve been seeing that in your own house, it might just be upsetting to see because it rings true. It’s reality in far too many homes. And the beautiful thing is that you see this guy realize that unless you can be a hero to your wife before anyone else you’re not a real man. And the way to get there is by first humbling yourself, getting right with God, and then you can start to understand what love is and begin to win back your wife’s heart.”
A Slice of Italian-American Life
The Dukes is a rare bird: a film that features people of faith pressed into doing wrong. “You find people like that,” says director Robert Davi. “It’s a combination of their own circumstances and just being lost, in terms of being able to re-enter once something is taken away. I mean, look at what the car industry is going through right now, and the totality of the economy. What if those guys got laid off? And this is not a harsh reality, because most people don’t have that: not one where there’s actually a survival aspect to their lives. They’ve still got things together in some way. But I find it funny that you consider them schlubs. To me, they’re just regular guys.”
In Search of Great Superficiality
Director Jessica Yu made Ping Pong Playa, in part, to address what she felt was a void in Asian-American cinema. “This is kind of dangerous territory,” she cautions, “because I don’t want to suggest that I’ve actually seen all Asian American films that have come out. But I would say that when you go to Asian American film festivals, there are a lot of really good films; but they do tend to be on the heavier, dramatic side. A lot of them—although this is changing somewhat—have been quite earnest in tone. So we were looking for something that was maybe a little more irreverent and a little more subversive. And also something that was filling that void of great, superficial comedy in Asian American film. That’s one thing that’s been missing.”
No Crying Over A Bad Hand
“I feel like everybody is dealt a certain hand, so to speak,” says Gil Cates, Jr., the director of Deal, just out on DVD. “And it’s up to you how you want to play it. You can’t just look down and go, I’ve got an Ace-King, so I’m definitely going to do this, or I’ve got a Two-Seven, the worst starting hand in poker; I’m definitely going to fold. There might be an opportunity, or a reason— You know, Joe Hachem won the 2005 World Series of Poker with a Three-Seven, and then a Four-Five-Six came on the board. But you just don’t know. It’s all circumstantial. So that is kind of the way that I like to live life.”
What's the Big Idea™?
“The line that I sort of walk,” says Mike Nawrocki, the 3-2-1 Penguins! spokesman for Big Idea, “is wanting to make sure that the stories that we tell have biblically-grounded messages in them, so they can be a resource for their parents to pass values along to their kids. That’s at the core. And then we’ve got to be really funny, really entertaining, and have really great music. And then just hope that people are going to want to see them. And keep enabling us to keep doing that—with Veggietales, and with 3-2-1 Penguins! It’s a tricky thing. Entertainment itself is a very tricky business, and then when you add the ministry aspect to it—the faith aspect—it gets even trickier.” Look for Save the Planets! on DVD come September 2.
A Producer In The Director’s Chair
“You just want your movie to get out there,” says Gary Wheeler, director of the award-winning film The List, disagreeing with the notion that the Fox Faith label is a kiss of death. “I think that Fox, as a distributor, is also learning about the market; and they have a sincere desire to stay in this market, and hopefully make better and better films. So I think what they’re doing now is using the Fox Faith label as more of a seal of approval to Christians; and then when it’s released in Blockbuster or other places, it then comes under Fox Home Entertainment. So I think where they’ll end up is that Fox Faith will come to be seen like the Dove Awards, or a Movieguide recommendation. But for the general market—for the Wal-Marts, the Targets—you’ll see things come from Fox Home Entertainment.”
A Talk with Stanton and Burtt
There’s little doubt in my mind, after all is said and done, that—for the filmmakers—moviemaking really is all about the story… even though they might not have thought through the cultural satire very deeply. And yet my own personal experiences with Disney’s very effective, entertaining, and enjoyable commercial ventures leave me convinced that moviemaking is also very much about good business. If Pixar didn’t make good movies with broad commercial appeal, they’d still be just another footnote to entertainment history… as would Disney. And I really doubt their success is purely accidental. Still, is director Andrew Stanton right that cynical critics like me read far too much into all this stuff? Probably. Almost definitely.
One Part Anger, Two Parts Cheer
“I don’t get offered scripts that much,” says the irascible Wallace Shawn, “because filmmakers don’t like me that much. I get a certain number of scripts in the course of the year, and the scripts that nauseate me I don’t do. And the ones that are left over, I do, basically. In other words, there are quite a few that disgust me and that offend me too much, and that seem to me to make the world a worse place. And the ones that are left, I do.” So this makes everyone want to ask: Where does the Toy Story franchise fit on the Shawn disgust scale, and what does he really think of Kit Kittredge?
Dan Merchant is an ordinary guy… as ordinary as a guy can be, that is, if you’ve spent several years working in TV production, put everything you own in hock to make your own movie, spent months walking around the country with inflammatory and contradictory bumper stickers pasted onto your coveralls, and then assembled it all into a powerful, moving, insightful, often hilarious, and yet somehow good-hearted skewering of the religious debates that have gripped America’s politics for the last two or three decades. We daresay: if Dan Merchant’s Lord, Save Us From Your Followers gets much exposure, Bill Maher’s Religulous—which has now slipped to this fall’s release schedule—is going to look quite petty by comparison.
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