Autumn is in the air! It’s been a rather cool September, especially the past week, but I LOVE the crisp Fall air as the leaves are turning. In fact we’re going to drive up north this weekend to see some gorgeous Fall foliage.
Well September have been quite eventful, thanks to Twin Cities Film Fest special screening of the indie drama The Trouble With the Truth. It was so fun to get to meet (and interview) Lea Thompson and director Jim Hemphill. The film is available on Amazon Prime and it’s got a stellar reviews, so check it out!
October press screenings include The Girl On The Train, The Accountant, The Space Between Us, and Certain Women. Oh and of course a slew of films screening at TCFF! So excited about the lineup this year, so I’ll definitely be watching a ton of great films in October!
I’ve been working on a list of films by female directors I can’t wait to see, so be on the lookout for that in the next couple of weeks!
Naturally most of my re-watches revolves period dramas 😀
My hubby got me the 25th Anniversary edition of Beauty & The Beast so of course I watched it as soon as it arrived in the mail. It made me look forward to the 2017 live action version even more just to see how they’d pull it off!
MOVIE OF THE MONTH
Queen of Katwe
This film is such a pleasant surprise. A based-on-a-true-story that’s uplifting and inspiring and so full of heart, yet it’s not afraid to show the darkness of the protagonist’s story. My full review will be up next week!
Well that’s my viewing recap of September. What’s YOUR favorite film of the month?
Though it hasn’t officially starts until October 19th, the festivities of Twin Cities Film Fest has begun! Last Wednesday I got the chance to meet Lea Thompson just before her MN theatrical premiere of her indie film The Trouble With The Truth. I got to meet both Lea and the film’s writer/director Jim Hemphill, here they are at red carpet that night:
I’ve posted my interview with its director Jim here if you haven’t read it yet. I’m glad MN film fans got to see the film on the big screen, and they did a Q&A afterwards.
Thanks to Dallas & Jake for the great shots!
… Meeting Lea was definitely the highlight of my week! I was waiting for her at the Showplace ICON lounge waiting to talk with her and was chatting with a couple of people when she approached us. Being from Rochester, Minnesota, she certainly still has the warm Midwestern manner. It’s so lovely meeting her, I mean I grew up watching her films in the 80s… All The Right Moves, Back To The Future, Some Kind of Wonderful, etc. It’s been three decades since her big break in Back To The Future, yet she still looks as beautiful and youthful as ever, she didn’t look a day over 35! But it’s her wonderful, warm personality that will make me a fan of hers forever.
Speaking of Back To The Future, that very movie was playing on one of the TVs right above us. How cool is that! So here’s the transcript of my interview with the Lea:
Let’s talk about The Trouble With the Truth. I love your role as Emily. I find that as a female audience, I find that there are so few meaty roles for women out there. She’s not just the girlfriend, or the wife of so and so.
It definitely was a meaty part. When I got the script, I couldn’t put it down. I just couldn’t believe someone had written a part that interesting. I mean, her perspectives keep changing. At times it seems like a male perspective, and sometimes he’s got the more female [perspective]… So it’s very interesting which is like real life, because people often want to put us into little pigeonholes, but all of us are a lot more complicated than that. So it’s very rare to get great parts like that.
I’ve had four really great parts in my career. One is Lorraine from Back to the Future, this one [in The Trouble With the Truth, I’ve done Sally Bowles in Cabareton Broadway, and also the role in a TV movie called The Substitute Wife. So those are my great parts.
I also think Amanda Jones in Some Kind of Wonderful is a pretty great part. I mean initially you think she is this way but she has a certain depth the more you get to know her in the movie.
Yeah, Some Kind of Wonderful is close, but not as great as those other four. I do love that movie.
It is timeless. As a lot of John Hughes’ movies are.
It is. People love it. People love the music, the costume, etc.
… So back to The Trouble With the Truth. Is it because of the strong female role that made you want to sign on as producer?
Yeah. I helped cast it, I helped getting it together in some way. So yeah, I’m proud of that. I’m really proud of this film. Y’know, it’s hard to get films that weren’t made by studios to be seen by people, so it’s great to have these independent film festivals where they embrace it. They get people a chance to see it, talk about it, discover new filmmakers and meet new filmmakers. It’s so exciting and I’m so happy that the Twin Cities has a film festival now I spent time at the Guthrie, the Children’s Theater, MN Dance Theater, Chanhassen Dinner Theater, the MN Orchestra is wonderful, so it’s great to see films celebrated too in MN.
There’s a lot of dialog and long takes in this film. How do you approach a role like this? Was there any improvisation or ad lib at all?
There’s hardly any ad-lib, it’s all script. There’s only tiny bit parts when we got up and move to a different location, there’s a bit of improv there, but we stayed to the script. The process was that we rehearse every day for like 2 hours. I mean the shooting was fairly simple but the takes was like 12 minutes long. The takes was hard but it was fun. They had a camera on hand and a camera on me, so it was easier to improv things, not on the words but on how you act it. I can laugh in one take, and cry in another in the same place. So I don’t have to do the same things all the time.
I have to mention Caroline in the City which I love.
Oh thank you, thank you.
You worked on another TV series, Switched At Birth [on ABC Family], which was on fairly recently.
Yes, I’ve been doing that for the past five years. We still have 10 more episodes they’re going to air in January.
Is that season 6?
Yes and I directed the 100th episode which was really nice.
Between working in TV and movies, which one do you prefer?
Oh I’m happy to get whatever job I can get. I mean, I’m directing TV stuff, I’ll be directing The Goldbergs [ABC] in two weeks, and I’m also acting in Scorpion [CBS]. I also just finished my own independent film The Year of Spectacular Men.
I was just going to ask you about that.
So yeah, my daughter Madelyn Deutch wrote The Year of Spectacular Men, she also starred it in and scored it. My other daughter Zoey is starring in it along with myself. It’s a family project and I spent the last year doing that.
Is it too early to talk about the synopsis of it?
It’s about a young girl struggling to figure out what life is after graduating from college. So it’s a Millennial movie. It’s also a story about sisterhood, it’s a love story between two sisters and five horrible boyfriends. Something everybody can relate to.
Is your husband [Howard Deutch, who directed Lea in Some Kind of Wonderful] involved at all in this movie?
He’s a producer, but he doesn’t do too much. I kept him out of the way.
Now that you have two of your daughters in the business. What tips did you give them when they told you they wanted to act?
Well it’s an ongoing thing. I’m always giving them advice, I’m kind of their acting coach. Y’know, we’re kind of contemporaries, we’re at times doing the same job. I’ve been through what they’ve been through or what they’ll go through. I know the ups and down of the business, so it’s nice in that way. I think a lot of people like to hire children of people who have had some success as the kids know it’s work and you have to keep at it. You never just get your big break and everything’s gonna be great. Look, we’re doing an interview under Back to The Future playing on TV right now. I did that 31 years ago and I’m still out here handling my movie that I’m doing.
It’s a testament to your talent and the fact that you’re so prolific in the business!
It’s about the work. It’s not about the fame and all that stuff that’s fake. It’s all about the people you meet and get to meet, the audience. I mean without art, the world is gonna be a complete disaster. We need to make people compassionate, we need to make people feel things, to help people understand how another person live and not be so quick to judge. Artists and stories are super important and I feel that it’s a noble profession. I feel honored that I get to do this for 32 years… no actually I started my first ballet I did here in MN when I was 11. So it’s been 40+ years that I’ve been in the biz.
THANK YOU so much Lea for taking the time to chat with me. It’s such an honor and privilege meeting you!
Hope you enjoyed the interview! What’s your favorite Lea Thompson role(s)?
Just a month away until the film festivities begin, Twin Cities Film Fest is hosting a Minnesota theatrical premiere of the indie drama The Trouble With The Truth.
Starring Minnesota native, Lea Thompson and written and directed by Minnesota native, Jim Hemphill. Both Ms. Thompson and Mr. Hemphill will be present for a Q&A session following the screening!
Date: Wednesday, Sept 21st @ 6:30pm Location: Showplace ICON Theatres, The Shops at West End
$20 per ticket (click image for more info & to purchase tickets)
Synopsis: Musician and starving artist Robert reconsiders his own failed marriage to Emily after his daughter announces that she’s engaged.
I had the pleasure of seeing the film last week and I really enjoyed it! The key to creating a film set in a single night with just two characters is that the script has to be extra sharp to keep your attention. Kudos to Jim Hemphill as The Trouble With The Truthcertainly accomplished that. The dialog feels very effortless and natural, and I found the conversations engaging. The story gets even better as the film progressed and never overstays its welcome. It certainly doesn’t hurt that they have to charming leads in a role that utilized their talents and charisma.
Jim Hemphill is an award-winning screenwriter and director whose films include THE TROUBLE WITH THE TRUTH and BAD REPUTATION. In addition to his filmmaking endeavors, he is a regular contributor to American Cinematographer, Filmmaker Magazine, and the Talkhouse Film site, among other outlets. He is also a programming consultant at the American Cinematheque in Los Angeles, where he has moderated discussions with Peter Bogdanovich, Jane Campion, William Friedkin, Elliott Gould, Barbara Hershey, Michel Legrand, Adrian Lyne, David Mamet, Paul Mazursky, Ron Shelton, Jim Sheridan, Paul Verhoeven, Wim Wenders, Haskell Wexler, and many others.
Check out my Q&A with Jim Hemphill below on how the story came about, the casting process, challenges of making the film, and more!
So you started out as a critic and script reader for David Fincher, did you start writing then? What inspired you want to make your own films?
Directing was always the primary goal, from when I was around nine or ten years old. I was a movie nut from a pretty young age, and as a little kid I was particularly obsessed with Clint Eastwood. At some point I realized that I was responding to something in his movies beyond his on-screen persona…I wouldn’t have been able to articulate it this way at the time, but I was connecting with his philosophy as a director.
At around the same time that I became conscious of Eastwood’s role behind the camera as well as in front of it, I also discovered the movies of filmmakers like Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma, John Carpenter, Martin Scorsese, Walter Hill, and John Landis – I didn’t completely understand what a director did, but I could feel continuities in their movies that made me aware of the fact that there was an author responsible for the ideas I was responding to. By the time I was in high school the floodgates had completely opened and I was studying directors constantly – via their movies, interviews, books, etc. – and I always wanted to follow in the footsteps of my heroes. Script reading was just a way of paying the rent, and I wouldn’t really call my writing about films criticism… I’m not a critic the way that somebody like Matt Zoller Seitz or Violet Lucca is. I’m more of an enthusiast – or even a kind of evangelist, beating the drums for movies I feel passionate about. It’s a little more personal and less analytical than what a real critic does, though obviously some of our best critics are very personal writers.
How did the idea of The Trouble With The Truth come about for you? Can you share what inspired you to the story and/or the characters?
First off, I wanted to avoid the mistakes I made on my first movie, which was a teen horror flick called Bad Reputation. On that film I was straining against my resources the whole time – I was trying to make what should have been a $5 million-dollar Blumhouse or Screen Gems movie for ten grand. I think there’s a lot of good stuff in that movie, but it feels very, very ragged, and the unpolished look of it always bugged me. So for my second film I wanted to write something that I knew I could make look great even if I didn’t have an enormous budget. That meant minimal characters and minimal locations, because the fewer people and company moves the faster I could shoot the movie. So I knew off the bat I wanted to do something like My Dinner with Andre or Talk Radio, where you’re essentially in a few rooms the whole time.
In terms of coming up with the characters, Robert is slightly based on my grandfather, who was also a jazz pianist who kicked around playing in hotels and things and lived the life of the bohemian – some might say starving – artist more or less until the end. But really both characters are different sides of me…I certainly have a lot of the same fears and interests and feelings, though John Shea’s character represents my more realistic, cynical side and Lea is kind of the less rational, romantic part of me.
How did the casting of Lea Thompson & John Shea come about? Their chemistry is amazing and totally believable. Lea is the producer also, did you know her prior to making this film?
My only interaction with Lea prior to the movie came when I interviewed her on stage at a Back to the Future screening in Hollywood – I moderate these Q&As at the American Cinematheque, and Lea came to speak during a Back to the Future marathon. I always fantasized about making a movie with her, because when I met Robert Zemeckis in film school he said Lea was his favorite actress he ever worked with. This guy’s made movies with Meryl Streep, Michelle Pfeiffer, Jodie Foster, and other pretty major actresses, so that statement always stuck with me. I gave her the script for The Trouble with the Truth in the usual way, sending it to her manager or agent or somebody, and after we talked a little and I convinced her I wasn’t insane she agreed to do the movie.
The producing thing came about because over the course of the project she became more and more involved both creatively and just getting the damn thing out into the world, which is tough these days if you don’t have a multimillion-dollar marketing budget. Probably the most important thing she did was suggest John Shea – I have to give her full credit for that. When she came on board we talked about potential male leads and she gave me a list of four or five guys she thought would be good. John was at the top of her list, and I immediately loved the idea.
I had been a fan of his since Missing and was particularly fond of a movie he made with Alan Alda called A New Life, which as a great movie about marriage and divorce kind of influenced The Trouble with the Truth. John had worked with Lea before on a miniseries and was eager to do so again, so he agreed to do the movie and we were off. The fact that they knew each other saved me a ton of time and work, because they just jumped right in and, as you say, had instant chemistry.
The conversations, all the bantering between Robert & Emily is engaging right from the start. How long does the writing process take for you from the time you came up w/ the idea?
This was probably the fastest I’ve ever written anything in my life, aside from a couple for-hire writing gigs where I was under a tight deadline. It’s certainly the fastest I’ve ever written anything good. Once I had the general idea mapped out I gave myself a rigid schedule of writing four pages a day, no matter what – that way I knew I would have a first draft in a month. I wouldn’t be able to do that on every script, but for this one I could because everything was coming more or less out of my imagination – there was no research or anything like that. After that first draft that took me a month I rewrote a little, but the script didn’t change that drastically…I would say altogether it was a few months of writing.
I always think that films that take place mostly in a single night & a single location are tricky. What’s the biggest challenge as well as inspired moments of making the film for you?
The biggest challenge is convincing everybody else that it can work, to be honest with you – there were times where I think the actors and crew were skeptical that the movie would remain interesting from beginning to end. But, you know, I don’t think you need a lot of locations or razzle-dazzle to make something interesting if the writing and acting is solid – I mean, that movie where Ryan Reynolds spends the whole thing in a box buried underground [Buried – ed.] is great! I think the upside of doing a movie like this is there’s a kind of concentrated emotional power; if the movie works on you, it’s because you’re so intensely focused on these two people and their issues, with no distractions.
There’s a lot of dialog in this film, which I found very natural and has an effortless flow about it. But I notice there’s no background music at all when they’re talking, despite the fact that Robert is a musician. Is that a deliberate decision? If so, why?
That sort of speaks to the no distractions idea; we actually had more music in the movie, and it was all terrific – the composer, Sean Schafer Hennessy, is incredible, and I’m hoping maybe he’ll get some of the unused cues out on iTunes as a soundtrack album or something. But throughout the post-production process, my editor Michael Benni Pierce kept stripping things away to focus on the essential, and I think it was the right choice – we had two great actors, and I felt like the way to go was to follow Ingmar Bergman’s example and just make the movie about these people and their faces and voices. So a lot of the music got dropped in the mix, though there is a lot of great jazz throughout the opening bar scene if you listen closely – you can hear it better in a theatre, where the sound mix comes off the way it’s supposed to.
You’ve directed and written your last two films. Which one do you enjoy the most?
Directing, by far. I don’t really like writing, but it’s something you have to do in order to have something to direct. But to be honest with you, the only part of the filmmaking process that I actually enjoy is being on a set and working with the actors and cinematographer. Everything else is kind of an ordeal.
You’ve tackled horror, drama and your next one is an adventure fantasy. Is there a genre you’d love to work on?
Well, I’m not doing an adventure fantasy, though I did work as a writer on a Hercules movie for, as Nicholas Ray would say, bread and taxes. Without question my bucket list genre is the Western – I have one I’ve written that I’d like to make if I can raise the money, and I might write a few more in the near future. I like all kinds of movies, but if I had my way I’d probably do nothing but Westerns, melodramas, and musicals – I’d have been a lot better off working in the Hollywood of the 1950s!
As a writer/director, who have been your inspirations (is Fincher one of them)? Would you share your top three fave films of all time?
There are so, so many, and certainly Fincher’s one of them – I think Gone Girl and Zodiac are two of the greatest movies ever made. Aside from the people I listed above, I’m inspired by the work of Francis Coppola, Oliver Stone, Sam Peckinpah, Ron Shelton, Paul Schrader, John Ford, Yasujiro Ozu, Kathryn Bigelow, Blake Edwards, David Lynch, Brian Trenchard-Smith, Paul Thomas Anderson, Budd Boetticher, Peter Bogdanovich, Michael Cimino, Nicholas Ray, Joe Dante, Elia Kazan, Steven Soderbergh, Alfred Hitchcock, John Cassavetes, George Romero, Terrence Malick, Michael Powell, Paul Verhoeven, Orson Welles… God, the list never ends. I hate to make one since I leave so many people out.
As far as my top three favorite films of all time, that’s a little easier: Boogie Nights, The Age of Innocence, and The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance.
The Trouble With the Truth is currently available on DVD from Amazon and Barnes & Noble, as well as streaming on Amazon Prime, iTunes, and Vudu. |||
Thank you Jim for taking the time to chat with me about your film!
Hope you enjoy the interview! Thoughts on The Trouble With The Truth and/or the interview?