Matt Stawski (Blue's Big City Adventure)
Matt Stawski grew up a Detroit punk fan, shooting his friends' bands with equipment from a local TV and radio station. So of course he was the ideal person to direct Blue's Big City Adventure, the new Blue's Clues movie.
It's actually not as weird as it sounds. Blue's Big City Adventure is packed with light, color, and music. And Stawski found his way to it after directing videos for bands like Anti-Flag, which led to jobs directing videos for Fall Out Boy, Snoop Dogg, and CeeLo Green — including the latter's giddily colorful 2010 video for "Forget You."
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Sharon "Rocky" Roggio (1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture)34:10Filmmaker Sharon "Rocky" Roggio is a lesbian filmmaker who hopes to someday change her Christian pastor father's mind about homosexuality.Like many Christians, he believes that the Bible condemns it. But her new documentary, 1946: The Mistranslation That Shifted Culture, argues that mistranslations at a 1946 gathering led to widespread misunderstandings used to justify bigotry and violence.It's a scholarly, fascinating film, but also an achingly personal one. Roggio takes a love-your-enemies approach to trying to end the weaponization of the Bible against LGBTQ people — starting in her own family.
John Carney and Gary Clark (Flora and Son)33:17John Carney and Gary Clark tell stories of scrappy amateurs trying to break into the music industry — because they've both been there. Flora and Son is about a working-class young Irish woman (Eve Hewson, magnetic) who picks up a guitar for her son, and ends up learning to play it herself with help from an American teaching lessons online (Joseph Gordon-Levitt). Because Carney is also the writer-director of the gorgeous Once and Sing Street, you can be assured that Flora and Son will make your heart soar and get some incredibly catchy songs stuck in your head.Clark and Carney discuss the art of writing a great song — versus writing an OK one, on purpose, our current weird version of nostalgia, and how they hope their work will get you to start making your own songs.
Steven Holleran (Sympathy for the Devil)38:05Cinematographer Steven Holleran doesn't do anything the easy way. For A Boy. A Girl. A Dream: Love on Election Night, he shot one continuous 90-minute film while racing down Sunset Boulevard. For Missing, he handed off cameras to the actors. And for his latest project, Sympathy for the Devil, he found ways to make a car ride with Nicholas Cage and Joel Kinnaman freakishly compelling.
Sam Hargrave (Extraction 2)32:11Extraction 2 director Sam Hargrave thought long and hard about how to top the 12-minute nonstop action sequence in the first Extraction, and thought of one way to do it when he saw a weather forecast calling for snow: "What if we light Chris Hemsworth on fire?"Here's our full talk with Hargrave about stunts, Oscars, the writer's strike, and yes, fire. And also the insane prison break sequence.If you enjoy this episode, be sure to check out our previous interview with Sam Hargrave about 2020's original Extraction.
Marc Levin (It's Basic)41:31The new doc IT'S BASIC examines how the idea of Universal Basic Income – giving people money to do with as they please —plays out in the real world. The doc by Marc Levin explores how innovators like former Stockton, California mayor Michael Tubbs have helped introduce programs that get money directly into the hands of those who need it. What do they do with this money? It's not what cynics would expect.Pictured: Marc Levin, left, and Michael Tubbs
Sav Rodgers & Alex Schmider (Chasing Chasing Amy)36:36Sav Rodgers was a 12-year-old queer kid in Kansas when he first found his mom's VHS copy of Chasing Amy, the Kevin Smith film he credits with saving his life. It also inspired Sav's triumphant TED Talk and now the documentary Chasing Chasing Amy, which premiered at Tribeca.In this episode we talk with Sav and Chasing Chasing Amy producer Alex Schmider about films that serve a perfect purpose despite their imperfections, and making movies with representation that aren't just about representation. Photo: Kevin Smith and Sav Rodgers
Nardeep Khurmi (Land of Gold)40:38Nardeep Khurmi wrote, directed and stars in Land of Gold, a cross-country, cross-cultural road trip exploring the dynamic between a Punjabi American truck driver (Khurmi) and a Mexican-American girl named Elena (Caroline Valenicia) whom he finds hiding in his trailer."Can you get more American," he asks, "than two communities of color, who have been marginalized by the country they want to call home, banding together to find their piece of the pie?"The film arose in part from his fascination with the intersection of Indian and Mexican immigrants in Southern California, fueled in part by a chance encounter with a very good restaurant.
Ali Afshar (Casa Grande)52:45Ali Afshar has one of the most unique origin stories in Hollywood. His family moved to Petaluma, California after the Iranian Revolution of 1979, and he sought peace against a backdrop of tragedy by wrestling and street racing. A stuntman older brother helped him make his way into acting, and he soon became a producer as well. His latest project is the bilingual upstairs-downstairs family drama Casa Grande, now airing on Amazon's Freevee.But that barely scratches the surface of a story that includes racing success, shooting Christmas movies in a converted barn, and his goal of eventually telling the story of the German heavy metal band The Scorpions. His production company is ESX Entertainment.
Alex Convery (AIR)33:30Alex Convery grew up in the Chicago suburbs in the 1990s, when Michael Jordan was a superhero. He watched the Jordan doc THE LAST DANCE during pandemic lockdowns, like everyone else. But unlike everyone else, he saw an amazing movie idea about the creation of Nike's trademark sneaker, Air Jordans.Two years later, Convery's script has been made into a movie directed by Ben Affleck, starring Affleck, Matt Damon, Viola Davis and other A-listers. It's a fascinating, fun film that looks like the first surefire Oscar contender of 2023. We talked to Convery about how he pulled it off, his love of William Goldman, and using VHS for masterful expositition.