By Basil Tsiokos | Indiewire May 13, 2010 at 3:08AM
This week's production column, "In the Works," takes a closer look at Lynne Ramsay's new film, "We Need to Talk About Kevin," starring Tilda Swinton, John C Reilly, and rising star Ezra Miller; then turns the spotlight on four interesting new projects seeking crowdfunding success on Kickstarter and IndieGoGo.
EDITORS NOTE: "In the Works" is a weekly column taking a look at upcoming films, in addition to projects in production. It spotlights films in development, as well completed films that are taking creative paths towards distribution and occasionally ventures away from films to look at other types of projects, such as interesting new film distribution, funding, or exhibition mechanisms.
"We Need to Talk About Kevin"
In 2002, director Lynne Ramsay followed up her BAFTA-award winning 1999 debut "Ratcatcher" with the similarly lauded "Morvern Callar." Adapted from Alan Warner's 1995 novel, the film starred the invaluable Samantha Morton in a hypnotic performance that won mass critical acclaim. Over eight years later, Ramsay is finally back - and again taking on another beloved contemporary novel while matching her own skills with that of an actress that who simply can do no wrong.
"We Need To Talk About Kevin" - based on the Orange Prize-winning 2003 novel by Lionel Shriver - stars Tilda Swinton as Eva Khatchadourian, a mother who recounts the events leading up to and following her son's massacre of students and teachers at his high school. Described by producers as a "psychological thriller," it should come as quite the anticipatory project for fans of Ramsay or Swinton's work, or of the book itself.
An impressive team of folks are joining the duo on the project. John C. Reilly has been cast as Swinton's character's estranged husband, while up-and-coming actor Ezra Miller ("Afterschool," "City Island") will star in the titular role. Behind the scenes, there's director of photography Seamus McGarvey ("Atonemnent," "The Hours"), editor and Werner Herzog-collaborator Joe Bini ("Grizzly Man," "Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans"), and production designer Judy Becker ("I'm Not There," "Brokeback Mountain"). It also has quite the array of companies collaborating to bring it together: It's being presented by BBC Films and the UK Film Council in association with Footprint Investments LLP, Caemhan Partnership LLP and Lipsync Productions, and is an Independent/Jennifer Fox production in association with Artina Films and Forward Films. Jennifer Fox is producing the film alongside Robert Salerno and Luc Roeg, while Ramsay, Swinton and Steven Soderbergh are among the films' executive producers.
Fox (who was the producer of "The Informant!" and "Michael Clayton") has been on board since 2006 when Swinton introduced her to Ramsay in the midst of shooting "Michael Clayton."
"Lynne had already acquired the book and set up at BBC Films," she told indieWIRE. "She asked me to read it and I instantly knew the combination of gritty authenticity, character propelled narrative, and poetry that permeates her films would be a great match for Lionel Shriver's psychologically rich book."
Swinton officially came on board shortly after.
"I felt strongly that Tilda was the perfect person to play Eva," Fox said. "The role requires an incredibly complex mix of intelligence and empathy. Tilda is so strong at conveying a character's impulses and often unconscious desires. She's absolutely riveting. When watching her, one is never certain what will happen next and it has nothing to do with typical cinematic or genre conventions of suspense. When Lynne cast Tilda in the role, the project truly took on a life of its own. It was very exciting."
Currently shooting in Connecticut for a release sometime next year, Luc Roeg - who is also producing the film - said the obvious plan is to take the film to festivals (it has distribution in the UK through Artificial Eye, but beyond that is up for grabs).
"The timing will dictate which festival that will be," Roeg told iW. "But we definitely have a couple in mind."
While perhaps a year from now is bit too far off, it's possible "Kevin" could be the film everyone's talking about at next year's Cannes Film Festival. Both "Ratcatcher" and "Movern Callar" premiered at the fest, and Swinton is no stranger to the Croisette either.
Either way, though, audiences should be in for something special whenever "Kevin" ends up being released.
"Hold onto your hat," Tilda Swinton said of the film. "I think it's going to be what the Americans might call a 'doozy.'"
"One Night Stand"
Logline: "A Chorus Line" meets "Project Runway" in this documentary presenting an intimate, behind-the-scenes journey from the blank page to the live stage, as top Broadway and television writers, actors, and directors produce four original short musicals, all within 24 hours.
The team: Elisabeth Sperling & Trish Dalton, Producers/Directors; Albert Maysles, Nara Garber, Luke Meyer, Joshua Weinstein, Joshua Bee-Alavia, Alex Stikich, Ian Dudley, Mia Barker, David Soll, & Hannah Rosenzweig, Cinematographers; Karen Weinberg, Editor
About the film: Sperling and Dalton explain that the time constraints of the project was actually a boon when faced with the all-too-common problem facing documentarians: "How do you find a story you can commit to? The answer is: set a deadline so short that you have no time to second-guess yourself; get a great collaborator; and forget about money." The pair not only worked with an impressive list of cinematographers, including the legendary Albert Maysles, but also secured backstage access to a host of brilliant thespians, including Cheyenne Jackson, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Rachel Dratch, Richard Kind, Mandy Gonzalez, Tracie Thoms, and Nellie McKay.
Current status: The documentary is in post-production, with the producers very close to finishing a rough cut. They are nearing the end of a Kickstarter campaign to assist with the costs of post.
For more information and to support the film: http://kck.st/cjvB2U. As with all Kickstarter projects, the filmmakers will only receive donated funds if they reach their target goal of $18,000 by the end of the campaign on May 22nd.
Logline: Legendary New York City disc jockey Bob Fass revolutionized free expression on the airwaves with his long running FM program which has served as a cultural hub for music, politics, and audience engagement for nearly 50 years. "Radio Unnameable" documents Fass’ eventful and controversial career and his involvement with some of the most gripping cultural movements of our time.
The team: Jessica Wolfson, Director/Producer; Paul Lovelace, Director/Producer/Editor; Ryan Harrington, Executive Producer; John Pirozzi, Cinematographer
About the film: Lovelace initially learned about Bob Fass and his radio program through the subjects of his previous documentary, "The Holy Modal Rounders... Bound to Lose," frequent guests on the show. When the director pair later read a New Yorker profile on the influential figure, they were inspired: "Not only did it lay out his fascinating story and how he revolutionized radio, but it also told a larger narrative about the limitless possibilities of free expression and how the airwaves can bring people together for the common good." They made a cold call proposing developing a documentary, and quickly won him over.
Current status: The project is in the early stages of post-production, with the aim to finish the film by the end of the year and premiere in early 2011. The producers are near the end of an already successful Kickstarter campaign.
For more information and to support the film: http://kck.st/95usWL. While the Kickstarter campaign has already met its fundraising goals, additional contributions can be made through May 26th to support the project.
Logline: A recently outed soap opera actor crosses paths with a recently divorced gay marriage activist, forcing them to confront the price of fame and the fickle nature of celebrity within the gay community.
The team: Rob Williams, Writer/Director/Producer; Rodney Johnson & Matthew Montgomery, Producers; Mike Justice, Editor; Ruben Fernandez, Cinematographer; Jake Monaco, Music; Cast: Steve Callahan, Matthew Montgomery, David Pevsner, Brian Nolan, Matthew Stephen Herrick, and Jim J Bullock
About the film: Multi-hyphenate Rob Williams has quickly gained a following among gay film fans, debuting his four previous films ("Long-Term Relationship," "Back Soon," "3-Day Weekend," and "Make the Yuletide Gay") on the LGBT film circuit. His new film's themes are inspired to some extent by his experiences as a producer of gay media: "I was inspired to make ROLE/PLAY because of my perception of how gay media outlets support (or in many cases, do not support) our own community. I hope the movie will spark discussions about the changing role of gay media, about the outing of celebrities, and about the idea of separating one's private and public lives." Frequent collaborator Matthew Montgomery, another fixture on the LGBT film fest circuit, returns as both producer and actor, opposite real life partner Steve Callahan.
Current status: The project has just wrapped principal photography and is currently in post, with several work-in-progress festival screenings planned to help the producers determine the final cut. Rights will be made available internationally, while the filmmakers will self-distribute in the US. The producers have successfully completed a Kickstarter campaign, and are currently in the midst of an IndieGoGo campaign to cover post-production, marketing, and festival costs.
For more information and to support the film: http://www.indiegogo.com/ROLEPLAY. The campaign deadline is just over five weeks away.
Logline: An intimate view of the most famous exotic dancer in the Southeastern US,“AKA Blondie” takes a comprehensive look at the career and passions of the 53-year-old African-American icon known for dancing at Atlanta's notorious Clermont Lounge.
The team: Jon Watts, Director/Producer/Camera/Sound/Editor; Brantly Jackson & Emily Halevy, Producers; Jim Baxter, Sound
About the film: First time feature documentary director Jon Watts met Blondie on his first trip to Atlanta's infamous strip club/bar on his 25th birthday. He explains, "Ever since then, I've been fascinated by who Blondie really is. So many people know her as Blondie, and only that, but I want to show what she's like when not working." Befriending the Clermont Lounge's owners, bartenders, and other strippers, Watts set out to gain his subject's trust and participation in his project. When Blondie learned that his goals were to go beyond the surface persona she's crafted over the years, she agreed to work with him.
Current status: "AKA Blondie" is currently in production, with the aim of producing a cut that is 60 minutes or shorter. The producers are running an IndieGoGo campaign to help cover costs associated with the production and post-production.
For more information and to support the film: http://www.indiegogo.com/akablondie. The campaign deadline is just over five weeks away.
Also currently In the Works:
Principal photography has begun in Atlanta on "96 Minutes," produced by Perfect Weekend, and written and directed by first-time feature helmet Aimee Lagos, who also has an untitled thriller set up at Screen Gems. "96" stars Brittany Snow (“Hairspray,” “Prom Night”) and Evan Ross (“Pride”) in a story of four young people who must struggle to survive a terrifying carjacking.