Spotlight on ‘It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong’ + interview with director Emily Ting

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It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong

Synopsis: Ruby and Josh spent an unforgettable night together in Hong Kong a year ago, and now their brief encounter is about to get a second chance. As effervescent as a perfect first date, this charming walk and talk romance takes full advantage of the chemistry of its leads, the playfulness of their exchanges, and the magical landscape that is Hong Kong at night.



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There is something about real-time romance drama that I find intriguing. Perhaps because it automatically made me think of the Before Sunrise trilogy. Now, this film is set over the course of two nights, but for the most part it takes place a year after the first night they met.

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Ruby is a Chinese American toy designer from LA who visits Hong Kong for the first time on business. I think that’s so cool to see an unusual profession for the female lead, and the more I spend time with her, the more I like Ruby. As she was stranded trying to get to her friends’ party, she runs into Josh, an American expat who ends up escorting her to her destination. The more time they spend talking through the vibrant and colorful street of Hong Kong in the nighttime, they find themselves being more drawn to each other.

I feel that perhaps there was an instant attraction the moment they met, but it’s obvious there’s a connection. Jamie Chung and Bryan Greenberg are a couple in real life, so perhaps that helps make Ruby and Josh’s connection so palbable. There’s an effortless chemistry between the two, even though all they do is talk and having drinks in public. I’m familiar w/ Jamie but this is definitely her strongest performance I’ve seen from her. On the other hand, this is the first time I saw Bryan in a film and I definitely want to see more of his work.

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The second time they find each other again, a year has passed and there have been changes in their lives. Ruby’s got a promotion and is now in a relationship. Josh has left his job in finance and now pursuing his dream to be a novelist, something Ruby suggested in their initial meeting. I LOVE great dialog in movies, and It’s Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong is full of them! I find myself nodding as I witness their conversation, and think about them long after the film’s done. Ruby asked Josh the difference between being an expat and an immigrant, for example, why he is considered an expat living in Hong Kong, whilst her Chinese parents making a new life in the United States is considered an immigrant. I also like how the film plays with stereotypes, as Josh can speak Chinese whilst Ruby can’t as she grew up in California, that sort of thing.

Emily Ting‘s done a lot of short films prior to her feature debut and I must say I’m impressed in the way she crafted the story. Everything flows nicely and in a natural way, the actors seem comfortable and fit the roles perfectly. But the strength of the film is in the dialog, which comes to life as the night wears on. The combination of the undeniable chemistry of the leads, set against the backdrop of the glittering lights of the city is rather intoxicating. I never thought of Hong Kong as romantic, but it certainly feels that way here.

The ending might frustrate some as it doesn’t tie things nicely in a big, red bow. But that’s the idea. The filmmaker is set on asking the question, ‘What happens when you meet the right person at the wrong time?’ Well, that question will certainly linger with you long after the end credits roll.

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Interview with Emily Ting

Q: Before I jump into the questions specifically about Already Tomorrow in Hong Kong, I have some general questions about you as a filmmaker. There’s been much [welcomed] discussion about the blatant gender inequality in Hollywood, even FBI is now involved with an investigation into gender discrimination. What has been your experience as a female filmmaker, do you encounter much hardship in getting your projects into fruition?

I actually think this is a great time to be a female filmmaker right now, only because there is so much welcomed discussion about the issue.  But I do hope that someday being a female filmmaker would just be the norm and not the exception to the rule. As for my own projects, because they’re all independently financed and many of them self financed, being a woman didn’t really factor much into the equation. But it would be interesting to see what kind of opportunities I may get going forward. And that is why it’s important to support indie films because they provide a platform to voices that are often underrepresented in Hollywood. 

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Filming w/ Bryan and Jamie

You’ve done several short films before this one, what made you decide to make the jump into feature film?

I think that most filmmakers dream of making a feature at some point in their career. But I do think that it’s important to learn the process and hone your skills on shorts before you jump into your first feature. Even with several shorts under my belt, I still felt extremely nervous tackling my first feature!

How’s the experience been in directing your first feature? Please tell me what your biggest challenge or most memorable moment making this film.

Making my first feature was both extremely satisfying and incredibly terrifying. And making that first feature in a foreign country only made it that much more challenging – from working with mostly a foreign crew to shooting most of the film in an uncontrolled environment. I think the biggest challenge for me was to overcome the hurdle of my own insecurities as a first time director. The majority of my set crew had more experience with their respective jobs than I did, which was a daunting but exciting feeling.  Sometimes, I would let that knowledge get inside my head, but I also learned to let go and really listen and trust my crew and cast. It gradually became a very collaborative process.

I love the premise of this film, where did you come up w/ the idea? Is it something personal to you or something that came about through someone you know?

I had lived in Hong Kong for 5 years as an expat prior to moving back to the US. As much as I found the city exciting and gorgeous, I never quite felt at home there. I found it quite hard to connect to people for some reason.  I’ve always wanted to make a film about two people connecting in this occasionally alienating city and build a love story around that. The idea sat with me for a long time until one night, I actually met a fellow expat, and we spent a night wandering around the city and talking together. I thought we were building a connection, but then, I found out later that he had a girlfriend. I felt like a fool for making this flirtation up in my head. So, I went home and wrote the screenplay that eventually became the film.

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Shooting on the Mid Levels Escalators

Sounds like you shot the film on location in Hong Kong. I read that The Avenue of Stars is currently closed for revitalization, so that must be a relief you’ve captured it on your film. Tell us about the filming process, how long it took, the challenges, etc.

Yes, the Ave of the Stars is a major location in our film and I can’t believe that it’s being closed down for so long! And I am so happy that we were able to capture it on film for the time being. If we had gone into production now, we would’ve lost the most beautiful location in our film. Shooting in Hong Kong definitely came with a unique set of challenges. We shot at the start of Monsoon season and it would rain every single day. But some how we got really lucky and it would always stop raining when we would roll cameras. It was really easy and cheap to get permits, but we didn’t have the budget to close down any streets so my two actors were constantly just acting amongst the real crowds of Hong Kong.

The film is designed to have these really long walk and talk sequences that’s meant to all be done in a single take, but they were often ruined by people on the street waving to the cameras. And sometimes people were downright hostile, yelling at us to get off the street. We would either go and appease them or change location on the spot. But all those challenges were worth it because we now have a beautiful looking film set in the gorgeous city of Hong Kong, which totally sets us apart from so many other films out there. 

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Lastly, how did the casting process go? Did Bryan Greenberg and/or Jamie Chung audition for the roles?

I got really lucky with the casting of my first film. I’ve always wanted Jamie for the role of Ruby. And I had a relationship with Bryan already, having produced two films with him. At the LA premiere of one of the films, I was telling him about this script I had written, and he mentioned that his girlfriend would be perfect for the role. And it turns out that he was dating Jamie at the time! Talk about serendipity! I sent the script to him and two weeks later, they signed on. Casting your first film really doesn’t get much easier than this!


Thanks for the interview Emily, it was lovely meeting you at TCFF!

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Thoughts about the interview and/or the film?

Spotlight on FINDING NOAH doc & interview with director Brent Baum

This year’s Twin Cities Film Fest could very well be a Documentary Film Fest given how many of them are screening in 2015. I’m glad this one is one of them as not only is the subject matter close to my heart, but it’s an insightful and beautifully-shot film.

A group of intrepid explorers go on a journey of discovery and excitement as they climb and live atop Mt. Ararat’s 17,000 ft. summit in Eastern Turkey to conduct a scientific expedition to determine the final resting place of Noah’s Ark. 

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Shot in never-before filmed locations and in the harshest of conditions, this unprecedented feature-length documentary shows just how far men are willing to go to discover the truth. Narrated by Academy Award nominee Gary Sinise, FINDING NOAH is more than a quest for answers, it is a testament of the human spirit, where belief and the need for exploration transcend risk and limitation.

Check out the trailer:

I have to include one of the songs featured in the doc by Aussie Christian band For King & Country:

 


TCFF Screening Time(s): 
10/25/2015 (12:00 PM)
10/31/2015 (10:10 AM)


I had the privilege of chatting with director Brent Baum about the challenges of bringing this film to light, collaborating with Gary Sinise and For King and Country, and the origin & significance of the film title.

THANK YOU Mr. Baum for taking the time to share these wonderful and fascinating insights about your film.

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What inspired you to tackle this project? I’d love to know how the initial process was, how you came to find the arkeologists/explorers/experts etc featured in the film?

Like all people who grew up hearing the story of Noah in Sunday School, ​I had always been curious as to these stories surrounding the remains of Noah’s Ark. Don’t I read every few years how it has been already found?  Well, one day I got a random call from an acquaintance who ​was part of the excursion team…the Arkeologists as we like to refer to them. He mentioned that he was going and asked if we would like to buy the rights to film the expedition. My interest was certainly piqued. Wanting to go film this incredible journey was not the hard part, finding the funding to do so was the most difficult.

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Brent Baum (in baseball hat) on the set of Finding Noah

As you can imagine, sitting in front of a group of investors and asking for money to film the search for Noah’s Ark is not an easy thing.  But we were blessed with open minds who understood from the beginning, that this movie was not about finding a piece of wood, rather an opportunity to look into the hearts of those men who feel compelled (by science, faith, a sense of adventure or whatever their reason) to go and look for this immensely significant artifact.

What’s been the most challenging aspect of making this? The climb itself looked incredibly daunting, not to mention the fact that the Kurdish Rebel pose a threat to the explorers. Was there any filming delays due to unforeseen circumstances, be it weather or other political issues?

​Well, yes, first and foremost is the simple fact that we had no agreement with Mother Nature to play nice with our crew and timing. Climbing a peak the size of Ararat is a feat on its own, yet to live at 17,000 feet and work for 30 days is a whole other realm of physical and mental demands.

We were in the middle east for three months, 2.5 of which was in East Turkey on and about the mountain.  We had members of our team on the summit at varying times, the longest of which were up there for 30 consecutive days. The remainder of which was spent filming in Israel, Jordan and Armenia.

 The Kurds are the good guys… On one side of the hill they are fighting ISIS in Iraq and Syria, on the other side of the hill they are considered terrorists because of their decades long battle with Turkey for independence. Hence the uproar when the Turkish air forces would bomb Kurd positions on their way back from NATO sorties against ISIS in recent news.

For most of us, the Ararat experience is a metaphor for life and for faith. Mountains are put in front of us and we can chose to climb them or succumb. On Mt. Ararat I was honored to film those who chose to bravely climb them one step at a time exercising their faith with each dangerous step.

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The documentary addresses spiritual/faith aspects of the expedition as well as the science/archaeological aspects, was that a conscious decision on your (and/or the producers) part?

​Yes, from the very start of the film, ​we made a conscious decision to walk down the middle, to tell the science and the spiritual sides of this story.  I remember sitting in the production office and telling the crew over and over that in regard to this film, we had to operate more like a news room than a film production. There is just so much science and religion, historical sightings and myth, false claims and intrigue surrounding the story of the Ark; we had thousands of years of history to break down. So off we went to interview world experts on volcanoes, glaciers, wood preservation, satellite imagery, and the history of the region as well as leading scholars from Christianity, Judaism and Islam. Our first cut of the film was 4 hours in length.  There is just so much information and intrigue surround this story.

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I love the narration by Gary Sinise and the music by For King & Country. How did those collaborations come about?

​Gary and the 4K&C guys did such a wonderful job. We have been big supporters of Gary and the work his foundation does on behalf of veterans over the years.​ ​So when we were looking for a narrator and he just seemed like the best choice. He has a very distinct voice that we thought would lend to the thoughtfulness and tone of the film.​

With 4K&C it was a bit more round about. We had been searching for months for a song for the end credits of the film and could find nothing I was happy with. I was in a meeting with our lawyers discussing an entirely different film and they asked me if I would mind taking a call with one of their friends who was producing an independent movie that had a faith-based theme to it. So I spoke with the producer and he told me that he was working on a movie with the guys from the band 4K&C. When I got back to the office, I asked the staff to look up the band and their songs. We were just amazed at how uniquely the message of their music fit with the tone of our movie.  It is as if the lyrics were written for us. We immediately called the band and went to see them in concert…ever since we have all been big fans. We ended up putting three of their songs in the movie.

Lastly, what’s the significance of the title ‘Finding Noah’ which focuses more on the spiritual journey as much as the physical one in finding the Ark?

​Finding a title for the film was one of the most difficult parts of the production. We agonized over this.​ ​The Search for Noah’s Ark was such on over-used title in media over the years for movies and History Channel Unknown Mysteries type of shows.  It was just about so much more than the Ark. I found myself saying to people along the post production process something along the lines of: When you search for the Ark, you find a piece of wood; but when you search for and find the metaphorical Noah, you find something much deeper. In the Bible, Noah alone was chosen (because of his faith) to restart humanity in a world that had become corrupt and evil. And much like Noah, many of the men on this journey got a chance to start their lives again.


What are your thoughts of Finding Noah? 

My interview with ‘The Old, Old Story’ director Samuel Hathaway + lead actor Charles Hubbell

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I LOVE seeing directorial debuts of up and coming filmmakers being represented in TCFF. And one of the screenings today is an indie drama that’s ripe with lots of food for thought to ponder afterwards.

On the morning of a young woman’s engagement, a stranger shows up and begins to debate the meaning of life.

If you love great dialog on film (and who doesn’t?) you wouldn’t want to miss this! One of the lead actors is the talented and most prolific Minnesota-based actor Charles Hubbell. Surely you’ve seen his work even if you can’t tell his name, as is the case with a lot of skilled character actors. Check out my Q&A with director Samuel Hathaway and Charles Hubbell who have kindly shared their insights and experience in making the film.


TCFF Screening Time(s): 
10/24/2015  (2:15 PM)

Check out the trailer:


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Interview with Samuel Hathaway

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Spotlight on The Dust Storm movie & interview with co-director Ryan Lacen + actress Kristen Gutoskie

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Last Thursday, I got to hang out with the filmmakers of The Dust Storm, Ryan Lacen and Anthony Baldino and chat about their film. The intimate romance drama is set in Nashville, starring ABC’s Once Upon A Time‘s Colin O’Donoghue and The CW’s Containment‘s Kristen Gutoskie. Both Anthony & Ryan are so friendly and fun to be around, two of the nicest people one would’ve had the privilege to hang out with! We went to Cooper’s Irish Pub across the street from Showplace ICON Theater, which is the kind of pub I’m sure the lead actor Colin, an Irishman, would surely love!

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Me w/ Ryan (with the baseball hat) & Anthony


TCFF Screening Time(s): 
10/24/2015  (9:15 PM)

Check out the trailer:


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Romantic films are tricky because it’s SO easy to get into corny and mushy territory when it’s not handled well (*cough* Nicholas Sparks *cough*). But the smaller, more intimate romance dramas like the Before Sunrise trilogy, John Carney’s Once, can be truly moving and heartfelt.

The Dust Storm follows that similar formula, focusing more on the characters and how the sudden presence in each other’s life irrefutably change them. I also love the premise of lost love, the idea that there’s a history between the characters and how tough it can be for someone to let go.

I’m not going to go into the story as it’s best that you discover Brennan and Nora when you see it for yourself. I do want to comment on the performances and the wonderful chemistry of the two actors. I’ve only seen Colin in a few episodes of Once Upon A Time where he plays this swashbuckling, sexy pirate, so it’s interesting to see him display his vulnerable side. Brennan wears his heart on his sleeve so much he may seem rather weak or even clingy, but you can’t help but sympathize with him. It’s apparent that he was hurt deeply in the past and the more I spend time with the two characters, it’s easy to see why. Nora is this beautiful, carefree and confident woman who’s effortlessly dominant in a relationship. I have to admit I don’t always like either characters, but yet I still find myself drawn into their whirlwind time together.

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One thing I noticed is there’s a TON of drinking in this movie, I guess as I don’t like alcohol it’s hard to relate to that but in a way it explains to the state of mind of the characters. Some drink for fun, and some drink to escape and I think in the case for Brennan & Nora, it’s the latter. The film certainly works largely thanks to the wonderful casting of Colin and Kristen, and Jim O’Heir also provide a great supporting turn as Brennan’s colleague. He’s definitely the comic relief here.

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I think Colin’s fans would love seeing him here, given that he’s pretty much on every scene and he also gets to sing & play guitar. He’s clean cut in most of the film, but don’t worry, there are scenes of him w/ some scruff as well 😉 Both he and Kristen have such a lovely voice and the musical aspect is used well in the film. Nashville itself is pretty much a character in itself too, taking advantage of the city’s vibrant music scene in the way Dublin was in Once. The title is definitely perfect to describe how something or someone in this case can come into your life unexpectedly and you can’t control the effect it has in your life. Brennan is definitely engulfed, if you will, in the emotion he has for Nora. The story is definitely relatable as who hasn’t dealt with a broken heart in their life.

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Interview with Kristen Gutoskie

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Spotlight on The Last Great Circus Flyer doc & interview with director Philip Weyland

There’s something so inherently fascinating and magnetic the first time I heard the name The Last Great Circus Flyer. It’s one of the seven documentaries playing at TCFF I look forward to the most. The film focuses on Miguel Vazguez, who performed ‘the greatest feat in all of circus history’ during a Ringling performance in 1982. Vazquez’s “Quad’ was a premiere attraction at Ringling Bros., and the largest circuses in Europe until 1994, when, at the apex of his career, Vazquez unexpectedly quit flying.

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Check out the trailer:


TCFF Screening Time(s): 
10/23/2015  (10:30 AM)  |  10/25/2015  (7:00 PM)


I had the privilege of chatting with director Philip Weyland about the genesis of the project, approaching Miguel about making it, his opinion about circus as a form of entertainment, and more!

THANK YOU Mr. Weyland for taking the time to share these wonderful and fascinating insights about your film.

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Q: What motivated you to film a documentary about trapeze performer Miguel Vazquez?

A: As a kid in the 1950’s and 1960’s, I’d been fascinated by circuses. The circus was the place to go to see people perform all sorts of mesmerizing and “impossible” feats. During that time (and for many previous decades), trapeze was THE most important act in the circus.

The triple somersault was considered to be the most difficult trapeze trick until the early 1980’s. There were very, very few performers who could do the triple somersault. It was said by circus historians that more trapeze artists perished from attempting the triple than any other circus act.

LastGreatCircusFlyer_YoungMiguelI was very aware of the history of trapeze and when I read in 1982 that a 17 year old performer, Miguel Vazquez, had completed a quadruple somersault in performance with Ringling Bros. with his brother Juan as the catcher – it was – well – rather unbelievable! I had never even heard of Miguel Vazquez or his flying troupe, “The Flying Vazquez”. It was all over the news – Tom Brokaw reported this first Quad for NBC, the New York Times covered it extensively, etc.

In the years following, Miguel became the master of this “Quad” trick. There were a few trapeze performers who eventually did a Quad – but they never approached the frequency and consistency with which Vazquez performed it. I remember a quote from a circus historian who described Miguel as “…being alone in his greatness”.

In about 1994, I used one of the early internet search engines to see where the Vazquez act was performing. Someone had incorrectly posted an entry – with Miguel’s photo – reporting that he had died in a trapeze accident. Unknown to me, the poster had confused Miguel with a different performer. I thought he’d died. I stopped going to the circus.For 14 years.

In 2008, on a whim, I searched YouTube to see if there were any old clips of Miguel doing a Quad. Didn’t take long to discover that the 1994 post was wrong. Miguel was alive. I couldn’t believe it. I searched the internet for additional information – and surprisingly, there was very little to be found.

I thought it was bizarre that so little was known about this great athlete, someone who had been a huge draw for Ringling for nearly a decade performing what had been called “The Greatest Feat in all of Circus History”. I thought it would be a great subject for a documentary. It was and is.

Q: How did you approach Miguel about making the film? Was he immediately on board the project?

A: After tracking down Miguel, I wrote him a long letter detailing my interest in doing a documentary. He and his brother Juan agreed to meet with me. I flew to Las Vegas from LA to meet them. There was some reluctance. They had left the world of circus and trapeze behind. My impression was that they couldn’t understand my great interest and passion for the project. I think they were a bit wary… of the project and me. I got the impression that they would just rather let the past stay where it was. They had no great desire to tout their past accomplishments. But I did.

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To help alleviate this “wariness”, I invited Miguel to come to LA for the day and visit the set of “Boston Legal” where I was working at the time. Miguel met Bill Shatner (who was quite interested in Miguel’s career) , spent a few hours on the set meeting my co-workers and watching the filming. My goal was to convince Miguel I wasn’t addled. I guess I was successful because shortly after that, we agreed to go ahead with the documentary. I figured it would take about 5 years to do the documentary. I sure didn’t tell them that. It took six years to complete!

Q: Congrats on your directorial debut. What are some of the challenges as well as best moments of making this film?

A: Oh – I could speak for hours – days – about the challenges and “best moments” of making this film.

I figured out early on that the fewer number of people involved in the making of the documentary, the better. After the initial stages of the filming, I shot most of the film myself. In an interview situation, I found that the interviewees were far more relaxed when it was just me in the room.

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I felt honored during the interviews and location filming that so many performers openly shared their thoughts about the past and the present.

I quickly figured out that I would have to edit the film myself. I had certain POVs and story points that I wanted to emphasize and only I could really put it all together piece by piece and be happy with the final version. I’d edit and then work with a tech person who’d put my edit together cleanly.

Funding! Always a challenge. About half way through the filming, I was very fortunate. I showed a rough cut of what had been shot to a longtime friend, Mark Charvat. He really liked what he saw and provided the additional funding to complete the film.

While I wanted to document the Quad and the athletic feats Miguel and his family accomplished, I also wanted to show the audience what they were doing now. It’s like when you see someone from college and say “hey…what’s so and so doing now?”. In the beginning, that was one of the things I was most curious about. However, during the initial concept of the film, I did not know how this would be fully accomplished. But – fortuitously, there were several events that took place that solved most of this problem. We also filmed at Ringling Bros., Cirque du Soleil. “Le Reve” at the Wynn Hotel in Las Vegas, Circus Vargas and several other locations to assist in answering the “What are they doing now” question.

One of the best moments was filming Miguel’s youngest son Christian from the ages 4-9 and his “experiences” with trapeze. It’s one of the highlights of the film.

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Q: Would you tell me a bit about your background working in the entertainment industry and whether or not it influences your interest in circus, particularly the trapeze acts?

A: I went to Texas Tech and majored in theatre. After college, I worked as an Equity director and actor for about 10 years before moving to Los Angeles. I occasionally appeared as an actor on TV and movies. I also worked as a dialogue coach on several of the “Star Trek” motion pictures and on the television series “T.J. Hooker”, “Beverly Hills 90210” and with William Shatner on the 2011 comedy series “S#*! My Dad Says”. When not working as a dialogue coach with William Shatner, I’ve worked as his stand-in for over 30 years.

My theatrical background has had no influence on my interest in trapeze. What interests me is people who can do or create things I could not possibly do. We all have our own talents. Trapeze isn’t in my repertoire!

Q: With the exception of shows like Cirque du Soleil, the traditional circus like the Ringling Bros. Seems to be a dying form of entertainment nowadays. What are your thoughts about that.

A: Circus is certainly changing. All forms of entertainment are changing. As an example – many lament the dearth of intelligent, adult movies claiming that superheroes have captured the focus of movie studios and left the intelligent films behind.

The circus too is striving to appeal to an audience that differs greatly from the past. Many now lament that the circus of the past had far more big acts that featured “star” performers. The circus of the past catered far more to adults than the present incarnation. The circus of today is geared more toward a younger crowd – children that would rather view a fire-breathing dragon than a wire walker or trapeze performer.

I myself don’t consider Cirque a circus. It’s a magnificent theatrical display that features gymnastic elegance and ability, choreography and a more “sophisticated” – maybe that’s not the right word – production that may or may not contain some traditional circus acts. For me – it’s really a different form of theatre rather than a different form of circus.

As a result of the change in the artistic direction of traditional circuses comes the meaning of the title – “The Last Great Circus Flyer.” The late 1980’s marked the end of the “star” performers with Ringling. Miguel and “The Flying Vazquez” were featured and billed performers. That era has passed. And with the passing of that era – no matter what a trapeze performer may accomplish – he will never gain the public acclaim that once was achieved beginning with Jules Leotard and continuing with Alfredo Codona, Tito Gaona and ending with Miguel Vazquez. A young trapeze performer once said to me “Someone could do a quintuple somersault – and nowadays – no one would care. And Tom Brokaw would not bother reporting it.”

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Q: What do you want people to take away from this film?

“The Last Great Circus Flyer” is about people that have their high moments and low moments – as we all do. It’s a film about people. Good people. Talented people. It’s about a performer who accomplished what was considered “impossible” – and was able to continue doing the “impossible” until 1994. The film is not just a “tribute” film. The film touches upon circus and trapeze subjects that have never been discussed, to my knowledge, in any other circus/trapeze film. When you leave the theatre, it’s my hope that there will be an understanding and an appreciation and most of of all a respect for these trapeze performers that would not otherwise have existed had you not seen the film.


Are you a fan of circus and/or trapeze acts? Let me know your thoughts about this film and the interview

Weekend Roundup + Mini Review of Bridge of Spies (2015)

What a weekend it’s been! It’s just three days until Twin Cities Film Fest kicks off Wednesday night 10/21 so naturally my week and the entire weekend is filled with preparation for the festivities.

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ve likely seen me tweeting up a storm about TCFF, so yeah clearly I’m excited 😛

The TCFF programmers have traveled to Austin, Los Angeles, & New York in search of great movies this year… the result is an awesome lineup of more than 100 premieres, including a bunch that have huge awards buzz. I’ve highlighted some of those must-see films here, but I’ve also made a list of MN-connected films that I can’t wait to see – from comedies, dramas, thrillers, docs, there’s definitely something for everyone, cinephiles or otherwise.


This weekend happened to be a perfect Fall day here in MN, with seasonably cool temps and ample of bright sunshine both Saturday and Sunday. So I did get a chance to get out and be outdoors before I’m cooped up inside a theater watching a whole bunch of movies. I LOVE Autumn in Minnesota… the fall colors is just absolutely gorgeous!!


BridgeOfSpies

The last Steven Spielberg film I saw was War Horse, which was back in 2011. I haven’t got around to seeing Lincoln but for some reason, I haven’t been um, compelled to see it. Spielberg is back to yet another based-on-a-true-story historical drama, about an American insurance lawyer who’s recruited by the CIA during the Cold War to help arrange a prisoner swap when a rescue a pilot is detained in the Soviet Union.

Bridge of Spies is the kind of slow-burn espionage thriller in the vein of a John le Carré’s adaptation, so if you’re expecting an action-packed movie a la James Bond or Jason Bourne then you’re likely disappointed. But the lack of action doesn’t mean there’s lack of suspense and the Cold War intrigue is ever present. I don’t think a film needs to be violent to build tension, and Bridge of Spies is proof of that. The film lives up to the title as well as the pivotal scene on the Glienicke Bridge is certainly memorable.

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Tom Hanks is perfectly cast as James B. Donovan, channeling Jimmy Stewart as a virtuous and effortlessly likable everyman who’s more shrewd and skillful than meets the eye. There’s an unsubtle message about defending an American value that everyone deserves a fair shake, but yet it doesn’t feel preachy thanks to Hanks’ portrayal. Hanks is in nearly every frame of the film, but English actor Mark Rylance is equally brilliant as the Soviet spy Rudolf Abel. In fact, he’s quite the scene stealer right from the opening scene. Abel’s relentlessly-unperturbed demeanor is part of what makes his character so intriguing. I love that the film also takes the time to show us the unlikely friendship of these two characters.

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Out of a decent ensemble of supporting cast, Amy Ryan stood out as Hanks’ wife, a role that would’ve been utterly forgettable in less capable hands. The script is co-written by the Coens, who infused it with a dose of wity humor to break the tension that make all those dialog scenes sprightly. Visually speaking, the set design looks realistic, especially all the Berlin scenes just right after WWII. The cinematography by Spielberg’s frequent collaborator Janusz Kaminski is stunning to look at, especially the rainy scenes that echoed a memorable scene in The Road to Perdition that also starred Hanks. The music by Thomas Newman perfectly complements the tone of the film, I’ve come to expect that Spielberg movies usually have memorable scores.

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There are slower moments, but overall this film was pretty engrossing. This is definitely another Spielberg/Hanks fruitful collaboration and clearly the two have formed a great rapport over the years. I didn’t know anything about the protagonist, but Mr. Donovan’s story is definitely worth telling. Unlike some of le Carré’s spy stories though, this film is pretty straightforward and easy to follow. There’s an earnest quality about Spielberg directing, the lack of cynicism in the way he tells the story that some people might call conventional. But I admire that sincerity that Spielberg and Hanks are known for, and there’s a great deal of measured and astute work from the both of them.

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Have you seen Bridge of Spies? Well, what did you think?