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Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #39: Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden Explore Friendship and Magic in ‘Mississippi Grind’

Meet the 2015 Sundance Filmmakers #39: Ryan Fleck and Anna Boden Explore Friendship and Magic in 'Mississippi Grind'

Mississippi Grind” marks Fleck and Boden’s fourth feature together — and it’s not their first to premiere at Sundance (their previous collaborations, “Half Nelson,” “Sugar,” and “It’s Kind of a Funny Story” all visited Sundance as well). The film stars Ryan Reynolds and Ben Mendelssohn as gamblers, and Alfre Woodard as an errant bookie. Now, really — is that something you want to miss?

What’s your film about, in 140 characters or less?

After a chance encounter in a Iowa casino, a down on his luck gambler (Ben Mendelsohn) teams up with a younger drifter (Ryan Reynolds) and they hit the road with dreams of winning big in a high stakes poker game in New Orleans.

Now, what’s it REALLY about?

Friendship, Loyalty, Magic.

Tell us briefly about yourself.

We met 15 years ago in NYC and have been making films together for almost as long.  

What was the biggest challenge in completing this film?

The same as almost every other film ever made. Casting and financing. Once those elements came together, the production challenges were minimal. This was the most fun we’ve ever had making a movie!

What do you want audiences at Sundance to take away from your film?

We want people to leave the theater feeling like they went on a real journey with these two characters — experienced the ups and downs, not just of the gambling, but of their personal journeys as well. Beyond that, we don’t care what they take away from the film, so long as they take it and keep chewing on it after its done.

Are there any films that inspired you?

“Five Easy Pieces,” “Scarecrow,” “California Split,” “Midnight Cowboy,” “The Last Detail,” and many others…

What’s next for you?

Working on a couple new scripts, including exploring an idea for a TV series. Writing for TV is so interesting and bizarre. Of the 4 features we’ve written/directed, we almost always start with an ending. It’s strange not to know where it’s headed this time, but that’s also what’s fun about it.  

What cameras did you shoot on?

Arricam 35mm 2-perf with Kodak stock

Did you crowdfund?

We didn’t. Probably because we don’t really know how to use the internet yet.  
Indiewire invited Sundance Film Festival directors to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the 2015 festival. Click here for more profiles.

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