Michelle Walshe’s documentary film Chasing Great is already the highest grossing documentary film in New Zealand history. It tells the story of rugby great Richie McCaw as he enters his final season of his professional career. I spoke to Michelle about the film and what it was like to document and follow a sports icon and the challenges and triumphs she faced along the way.
Michelle did a heck of a job with this documentary. She really does a great job depicting the essence of what it’s like to be a top level athlete staring right at the end of their professional life. As I stated, I wasn’t very familiar with the sport of rugby, but this film really gave me a good perspective on it. Richie McCaw is very comparable to a Tom Brady or Michael Jordan of rugby. He’s the best. What Michelle accomplishes with this film is give people a unique inside look into Richie’s final season as a pro and a behind-the-scenes look into his life outside the sport.
Some interesting takeaways from the conversation with her. I was really intrigued with the mental aspect that was depicted that Richie had to deal with. The ups and downs and pressures of the final season as an athlete chasing a championship. Michelle found that aspect compelling also and made sure to shine light on it in the film.
My favorite question to ask during interviews is when I can find out about interests outside of the industry. Interestingly Michelle likes to clear her mind by getting involved with finances. It’s the complete opposite of the entertainment industry. I’d imagine others like to relax and do something to ease their mind, but Michelle seems to like using it in another way. Very interesting how creative people think and the things they do for fun.
The film is definitely a worthwhile watch. Even if you know nothing about rugby, it’s a compelling look into the sport, but mainly into the life of one of its greatest stars. It’s well shot shot, well documented and it even has the drama to back up all the stakes it’s presented with.
CHASING GREAT is out now in select theaters in NYC
The intense thriller The Forgiven, based on the Michael Ashton play ” The Archbishop and The Antichrist”, is out now in select NY and LA theaters. I had a chance to speak to the writer of the play and the screenwriter of the film version, Michael Ashton. Michael has a fascinating story and background. In the interview Michael is very candid and opens up about the play, the film version and why he didn’t attend the premiere of the film. Hear about it and more in this interview with Michael.
I loved how cool Michael was. The interview reminded me immediately of the time I spoke to Duncan Falconer who wrote Stratton. There is just something special about these ex-soldiers turned writers. Their personality and wealth of knowledge combined with unique life experiences. It’s also in large due to their candid honesty.
How wild is it to start a convo and hear that the person on the other end isn’t attending the premiere of their film, because they are bedridden to a foot injury.
A big reveal came early on when he told me that Piet Blomfeld was a fictitious character. I just like many others assumed he was real. Learning that did change my perspective a bit. Credit to Michael’s impeccable writing and creativity.
What I really appreciated besides the great insights Michael provided, was how candid he was with me. Speaking about his addictions and being forthcoming about how it affected people around him. It’s a pretty remarkable story of a man who changed his life around.
Michael was very forthcoming and I greatly appreciated it. The interview was cut short due to technical issues and time. There was a question I asked about Erica Bana and Forest Whitaker’s performances, Michael thought they were great and shared an interesting note that there were talks for John Travolta to play the role of Blomfeld. In the end the right men were cast for these roles. You’ll understand why when you see the film.
‘THE FORGIVEN’ is out now in select NY and LA theaters and comes out on VOD and Digital HD with additional theatrical expansion on March 16, 2018
Journey’s End releases in NYC and LA theaters on March 16 (March 30 in Chicago). It’s a raw and gritty war drama starring Sam Claflin, Asa Butterfield and Paul Bettany. Recently I had a chance to speak to the director of the film, Saul Dibb (The Duchess). Saul talks about the making of the film and his inspirations for it. He also reveals what music he listens to. Listen to the interview with Saul and find out all that and more.
Some interesting factoids from Saul. The first one being that the he was inspired by documentary movies and Alien. Hard to imagine that Alien would inspire a war drama, but the more I thought about it and listened to Saul, it makes a lot of sense for this film to emulate it. The claustrophobia and tight spaces, just spacing in general used in both of those movies makes them a lot more similar than anyone could imagine.
Watching the movie I felt a a certain level of authenticity that you don’t get from many movies of this genre. The characters just felt raw and vulnerable and the performances matched that. Saul explains that he wanted to create the environment for the actors that would match the real life struggle the characters would face. You know he meant it when he describes the conditions the actors had to be in, including the cold temperatures and mud they had to deal with. I can only imagine how it felt for the actors to have to pick up an oil lamp in order to have light.
I loved hearing how he’s into hip-hop music and how he listens to late 80’s and 90’s hip-hop to clear his mind. That’s the kind of tidbit that no one would have know, unless they personally know Saul.
I found Saul to be an interesting guy who has an interesting perspective and approach, at least from what he said about this film. I’m interested to see his upcoming projects. I’d like to see another war themed movie from him.
‘JOURNEY’S END’ releases in NYC and LA theaters on March 16 (in Chicago on March 30)
Chicago based Kartemquin Films is represented well at the 80th Oscars. Steve James’ feature documentary Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and Laura Checkoway’s documentary short Edith+Eddie. I had an opportunity to sit down and chat with Laura about her film and what she took away from it.
Laura was so sweet and nice. She was shy and endearing. I really enjoyed talking to her. Such an accomplished person, yet so humble. She really seemed invested in the film and I could tell the passion she had for it as she spoke about it.
The film Edith+Eddie is an incredible story of an elderly couple who marry in their 90’s and sadly things don’t go well from there. It’s a sweet story of love, but it’s also heartbreaking. It’s really a must-see documentary. Such a powerful story told so well in just 30 minutes. Fingers crossed Laura comes away with a deserving Oscar.
Steve James is one of the best documentary filmmakers around. He directed acclaimed docs such as Hoop Dreams and the Roger Ebert movie Life Itself among many other. His latest movie Abacus: Small Enough to Jail just was nominated for an Oscar. Recently I had a chance to sit down with Steve to talk about Abacus, his Oscar nomination and a lot more.
I’m grateful for a fantastic opportunity to talk to a filmmaking legend. Steve had a lot of interesting points that he made. It was great to pick his mind on what he looks for in a project and how it affects him. As you can tell Steve seems to be a humble guy who really has deep passion for his projects. He has affected many lives. I sure hope he ends up with the Oscar, but either way he’s a winner already.
Steve, hope you enjoyed that sandwich I was keeping you from eating.
Congrats to Chicago based Kartemquin Films for representing Abacus: Small Enough to Jail and the documentary short Edith + Eddie
The Vanishing of Sidney Hall is set to release in theaters on March 2. In anticipation of the theatrical release, I had a chance to speak to the writer and director of the film Shawn Christensen. In the interview Shawn speaks about his original vision for the film and the acting approach Logan Lerman took to the film. Check out my interview with Shawn and listen to the audio of it below.
I apologize for the audio issue the static noise on Shawn’s end. Must have been something with the line connection. He revealed some interesting tidbits during production, such as Logan Lerman being so set and faithful the the scrip, while Nathan Lane didn’t hesitate and went off from the script. Two very skilled actors with two different takes. Shawn also revealed that he wrote the film with no intention of it being directed.
Another great reveal was that Shawn wanted to be an actor and wrote characters he could play. One of my favorite questions to ask is the one about the passions and interests outside of filmmaking. Shawn’s answer was music. He enjoys creating music in his spare time. I found that to be neat, for a guy that is a jack-of-all trades in the entertainment industry, add music to the list of his talents.
A soft-spoken and very interesting person to talk to. I enjoyed speaking to Shawn and really curious to see his projects going forward.
THE VANISHING OF SIDNEY HALL is out in theaters March 2, 2018 and available now on DIRECTV
When Thomas Middleditch isn’t pitching Verizon to you on TV commercials, he starts in interesting movies such as Entanglement. Diana Bang stars alongside Middleditch in the movie. I spoke to Diana about the film, her role and working with Middleditch.
What attracted you to the role and script of this film:
DB: Definitely just driven to the story and script. When I read it I was like oh this is a good script, I like it, I think for me for whatever reason being in a rom com indie film has been always high on my bucket list. So that already was a check for this film. The twist was really surprising and compelling to me. It was the story that drew me in.
What did you take away from the questions the film poses:
DB: Yeah, I mean what I got out of it is that we need each other. For me it’s kind of a story about self-love. My interpretation, I don’t know if it’s true or not, is that Hanna and Tabby are different versions of him.
It was easy to grasp that Diana definitely has a definitive quirky fun personality. I can totally see why she’s ideal for comedy films, especially romantic comedies. It was interesting to hear about her experience working alongside Middleditch. She described his acting as dark, depressing, interesting and playful. That’s a thoughtful and unique description that I wouldn’t have expected to have heard. Usually you’d hear something like hilarious or sarcastic, but dark and playful is an new one to me.
I had no idea she was into dancing and takes classes for it. This is the kind of information I enjoy learning about actors, as some of their hobbies off-set. Diana’s honesty and straightforwardness is refreshing and appreciated.
As far as the film goes, it’s one of these films that’s a bit out there. Just the questions it poses and approach it’s interesting as it is strange. Worth checking out for sure.
ENTANGLEMENT is out now in select theaters, Digital and On Demand