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Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival


The Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival (FLIFF) reels out over 200 films from around the globe. Filmmakers and celebrities attend many of the screenings and events during the festival. Parties and gatherings at area "hot spots", on board yachts, and on the beach will provide audiences an opportunity to hob knob with film talent and other movie buffs.

 

 


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Interview With Chris Bradley of PITTSBURGH

Saturday, November 4---Following the triumphant screening of the Festival Centerpiece Film PITTSBURGH last evening at the Parker Playhouse, Online Festival Dailies Editor Sandy Mandelberger sat down with Chris Bradley, the co-director and co-cinematographer of the entertaining mockumentary, in the lounge of the official Festival hotel, the Gallery One Doubletree Suites.

Bradley and his production partner Kyle LaBrache are the principals behind International Orange, a Los Angeles-based production company. Honing their craft in music videos and television commercials, the creative team’s first documentary feature JON E. EDWARDS IS IN LOVE (2003), a stirring portrait of soul rocker Jon Edwards and his struggles to succeed in the cut-throat music world, won a Special Jury Award at the South By Southwest Film Festival.

The film attracted the attention of Jeff Goldblum, who was looking to become involved in a film that mixes improvisation technique and documentary style. The result is PITTSBURGH, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival, and is currently doing the rounds of film festivals and markets. Their newest documentary project FIRED is a trenchant look at the Hollywood creative community that stars Tim Allen, Harry Shearer, Fred Willard, Sarah Silverman, and Illeanna Douglas. The duo recently completed their first fiction feature, tentatively titled ILLEANNARAMA, about a supermarket in an alternate universe that employs famous actors, including Illeana Douglas, Justine Bateman, Ed Begley Jr., Jeff Goldblum, John Heard and Jerry Mathers (of LEAVE IT TO BEAVER fame).

Sandy Mandelberger (SM): So, tell us how PITTSBURGH came about.

Chris Bradley (CB): We were introduced to Jeff Goldblum by his manager Keith Addis, who we knew from all our earlier film JON E. EDWARDS IS IN LOVE. Keith knew that Jeff was looking for a project that would mix documentary and improvisational technique, and when Keith saw our film, he thought that we might be good partners on this because of the tone of the film. From the start, we talked with Jeff and collaborated on a few ideas…..different incarnations of whether it would be Jeff himself or a character. We talked about the Cassavetes and Altman films, which mix real situations and people in a fictional context, and used that as a roadmap of what we wanted to do.

SM: When did the idea of focusing the film on Goldblum and his relationship with his fiancée, which prompts him to do the stage production of THE MUSIC MAN come about?

CB: Well, we were already in discussions with Jeff when he met this young Canadian actress who was touring in the musical 42ND STREET, and this kindled his interest in musical theater. They started playing music together. Her agent comes across the possibility of a production of THE MUSIC MAN in Pittsburgh, which is Jeff’s hometown. We had been discussing the idea of him doing a project that would bring him back home, and this seemed to be a good one.

SM: When Goldblum approached the Pittsburgh Civic Opera Company about playing the lead in THE MUSIC MAN, what was their reaction?

CB: We thought they would say “great, come on board”, but they didn’t. They were initially quite hesitant and didn’t know if Jeff was right for the role. They wanted to make him audition, and we realized that this would be good for our film. We filmed the actual audition, and no one was sure if he would actually get the part. But he did, and that started us all on our journey.

SM: The scenes of the auditions and rehearsals were very entertaining, with Goldblum really sweating through it and the director giving him a lot of grief for not giving his all. Was all that for real or just made up for the camera?

CB: No, it was quite real. Jeff really had to work hard, outside of his usual comfort zone. There’s a scene where he is rehearsing the choreography where his entire shirt is wet with sweat, and people have said, oh that seems so exaggerated, but it was absolutely true. The other scene that people comment on is the one where on opening night, Jeff is sitting in his dressing room and is crying and praying to God. That was not rehearsed and really captured the tension he experienced of just six days of rehearsal. It was grueling for Jeff, because he is such a hard worker and he takes the craft of acting very seriously.

SM: Was any of the film scripted or talked through in advance? Some of it seems that way.

CB: There definitely was a story outline that we had before shooting and certain story beats that we knew in advance that we wanted to hit. We didn’t know how all the elements would work or how it would all unfold, but other things we did know in advance, and worked with the actors to find the right rhythm. They had a lot of input as to how their “characters” would unfold and how the storylines progressed. In that sense, we were crafting a kind of fictional film set against the backdrop of real events in real time.

SM: Documentary purists might criticize this approach as being too engineered, too fake. Where do you think your film falls in the documentary genre?

CB: We never set out to make a documentary per se, we set out to make a fiction film in a real background. I don’t know exactly what genre this falls into…it’s not exactly a mockumentary, it’s a hybrid of all these techniques, and the goal is to create an entertaining piece that is fun to watch that has an arc to it that pays off for the audience. We shot over 400 hours of footage, so this was really a film that was put together in the editing room…finding its own particular beat and rhythm. I’ve seen the film referred to as a “bio-mock”, which is a new term to me, but not a bad one.

SM: Was there any point that Jeff Goldblum had a reversal where he felt that the film was getting too personal and was revealing too much, more than he had bargained for?

CB: I think he knew going in that the film was going to be personal. He had a lot of trust in us, which was great. His manager Keith Addis was concerned at how intimate it would get. But at the end of the day, they liked what they saw in the film.

SM: Since there was so many unknowns in the project, what was for you the biggest and nicest surprise that you were not expecting?

CB: Well, the biggest surprise for me was the director, Richard Subelico, who took his role so seriously. He was able to stand up to Jeff and push him, all with the goal of getting the best production that he could. He didn’t coddle him as a movie star, but treated him as part of a larger ensemble. The tension and comedy there was really a nice dynamic in the film. We didn’t know going into it who was going to be chosen to be the director of this production of THE MUSIC MAN, so we were really lucky to have someone who had a lot of grit and personality, and was a great counterpoint to all the actors. He turned out to be such a rich character.

SM: What is the festival and distribution strategy for the film?

CB: We premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival last April and had a really strong reception there. It hasn’t been our goal to take the film to many festivals, but fortunately we’ve been invited to quite a few. We showed the film at the Three Rivers Festival this past week in Pittsburgh, and had a great reception, including Jeff’s mother and step-father, who are also in the film. The film is being sold this week at the American Film Market, so we hope that goes well. It is a challenge to get any indie film out there, but we’re hoping to get a theatrical run for it, followed by television and dvd sales. I was impressed with the attendance at last night’s screening, and the beautiful Parker Playhouse which is a dream venue for a filmmaker. Also the party afterwards, I wasn’t sure what to expect, but it was really elegant and spirited, which was nice.

Comments (1)

i have only seen about 5 of

i have only seen about 5 of the movies at FLIFF so far but i have to admit i was very pleasantly surprised by this piece. I thought Jeff was very very funny. We had a great time.

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About Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival

Mandelberger Sandy
(International Media Resources)


Online Dailies for the 24th edition of the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival , October 23 - November 11, 2009


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