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Cinequest 18 Press Conference - March 1st 2008 - Selected Highlights

Joint organizer of Cinequest 18, Jens Hussey, introduced the press conference on Saturday afternoon, noting that on the previous day, the festival had recorded its highest ever numbers for mid-week audiences. At this rate, the estimated total attendance of 80,000 people seems a strong reality.

The following segments from the 90 minute conference  should give you an overview of the talent involved in this year's festival.

Robert Peters (Director) - Half Empty

“It’s a musical filmed over eight days in Germany, and I’m very proud of it. We improvised the entire script and we did it for a reason. There’s actually an academy award category that goes unused every year because they don’t have enough films and that category is original musical. It has to be written by the same group of writers and as long as its original its eligible for that category. That was one of the reasons why we decided to make this film.”

Heather Veitch – Pussycat Preacher

 “The film follows my life as I start a missionary that reaches out to women in the sex industry. I had this concept to start going into strip clubs and start talking to strippers about God. I got so dissed and rejected by the church for this concept; I had people coming after me, death threats, people breaking into my house (over this). It turned into an interesting showdown between me and the Christian church to see if they would accept strippers and prostitutes in.”



Christopher Masterson, Brooke Burns, Tom Whelan (Director) – Art of Travel

Tom  “There were no star wagons or exclusive hotels out in the jungle, and these guys were stretched way beyond the usual contract. It took about a year to write the script. We worked with Chris on Malcolm in the Middle from  ’99 on and with Chris on board and then Brooke, it all came together quickly. We had been to Nicaragua, Bolivia and Peru and wanted to use those locations. We had considered shooting in Hawaii, but Hawaii’s really expensive. The most expensive day of the entire shoot was in LA”

Brooke “These guys (Tom and Christopher) are the real deal, they have the heart of a traveler”

Chris “When they said they had this idea I was really eager to hear all about it. The story was incredible and my first question was ‘do you know what all this entails?’ They had done so much leg work before hand that I just decided ‘alright, they can do it!’”





Craig Saavedra, Michael Shulman (Director) and Brooke Nevin – Sherman’s Way

Michael “James Le Gros was an amazing person to work with. He actually taught me to drive during the filming and how to climb a tree. I’m from NY, who climbs trees in NY?”

Brooke “(The film) was an adventure in so many ways. There’s a scene in the movie where we’re all in a lake skinny-dipping, and we had to re-shoot that scene in San Diego in the fall. Just to give you an idea (how cold it was) Craig and our DP were in wetsuits. It was a closed set, but the monitors weren’t turned off, and while we’re shooting the (skinny-dipping) scene I kept wondering ‘why is everybody huddled in a circle over there?’” 

Craig “James Le Gros said to me ‘Dude, I’ve been in so many films and I’ve never been naked in one before. I’ll do it for you but you’ve got one take. I said that’s fine; it’s going to be from the back. He starts running away from camera and he decides to take his pants down as he is running, not thinking it through. He totally tripped and did this somersault and we saw more than we wanted to so we cut a little bit of that. Let me just say, there are no small actors, only small parts (laughter). If James were here now, he could refute that.”

Olivia Hussey, Jim Cole (Director) - Three Priests

Jim “We filmed (it) a couple of years ago and just finished editing. Initially we wanted to use CGI for the apocalyptic fire scenes, but we were concerned with making that plausible on a low budget, in the end we hired the Montana State University fire training school to actually burn 20 acres for us, and then were able to take footage of this controlled fire and digitally composite it into other scenes.”

Olivia “I’ve been acting for a long time and I’m very particular, I don’t take roles so easily, and I loved the fact that everybody on that set was under 25 years old. It was really incredible to see these young filmmakers so devoted to their craft. For me it was an honor and a privilege to work with them.”





Shelley Cole, Chris Ford (Director), John Ratzenberger - The Village Barbershop

Chris “The film is based on a barbershop that was near my college while I grew up. This is my first time directing, I wrote the script 10 years ago and the only way I could part with it emotionally was to make it”

Shelly “The thing that attracted me to this character was that this is a person who gets knocked down and just picks herself up, I just love her.”

John “It’s a real simple film, it’s the antithesis of many films where they spend millions of dollars on special effects and nobody cares. This is a movie where you actually care about the characters. I liked my character because he loves his wife so much even after she’s passed, he still wears the ring, still honors her, and I think there’s a lot to be said for that, especially in this day and age of turnstile marriages”




Michael Keaton

After entertaining the throng of media types with a roll of gaffer tape, Keaton soon had the room laughing, enthralled by his engaging personality.

He first talked about his new directorial effort –  The Merry Gentleman

On star Kelly (No Country for Old Men) McDonald “Inside the film industry people have always known how good she is. She’s also out in something else in Europe right now and so that will certainly help (my film’s chances of distribution). Kelly actually came with the package, and that’s how the film came about. I was offered as an actor. My agent told me that he’d seen a really well written independent script and that Kelly was going to be in it, and I’d seen a couple of her movies, and she’s pretty great.”

On directing the film “ I had a conversation with the writer of the film who was thinking about directing at the time, and he ended up not being able to direct it, and it kind of sat there. I started wondering what had happened (to the film), so I picked it up and read it again and I just knew what that movie was; at least in my mind I saw it. I said ‘I know what this movie is, I know what the layers are’. One thing led to another and in a relatively short amount of time it was going. In fact it was too short a period of time to do it the way you should do it, it happened real fast. We had very little time to prepare this movie, but that turned out to be advantageous.”

On co-star, Tom Bastounes “Honestly, there should be a short book or a long, long article about how this film happened. (Tom) was also part of it. He had never really acted, he had some Second City experience way back, but he was a part of (the movie) because he was one of the financiers. That was tricky for me, I thought ‘wow, what if it’s just disastrous?’ He required more work, which was great experience for me, but he’s good in the film and I’m quite proud of that.”

On other directors “I really enjoyed being directed by Kenneth Branagh who is very hands on. He would have driven a lot of actors insane, but I loved it, I thought it was great. Steven Soderbergh is interesting because you never realize he’s doing anything. At first you go ‘this guy’s lazy’, but then you go ‘oh, OK, I see what he’s doing’ and then you see the finished scene and you go “shit, that’s pretty impressive!’ I don’t know how he does it.”


On receiving the Maverick Award “At first I thought I was getting it because I was one of the few people who sat through Maverick (laughter). I guess what it means is that on one hand I kind of am, and I’m not sure what that is exactly, it’s like being called a rebel. Frankly, I don’t have an answer because if I hear myself saying ‘well, I’m a maverick’ I just want to punch myself in the face. I don’t think about what I do. I just trust what I’m going to do next or I’m not sure what I’m going to do next or I’ll say ‘I can do that’. And then go ahead and do it. Frankly I always thought that was the idea of the job and I get bored otherwise. I’m not alone in this; I’m in the majority, I find, as I ask more actors.

If it’s a good thing, I’m glad to get it, why don’t we just say that?”

-- Neil Baker   Photographs: Kuldip Gill 


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