Sunday, August 30, 2009
As we move into fall, Scottish Screen has now released another feature worth reading (the film version of course I posted about months ago). This newest one now features Scottish TV including some great updates,interviews and a closer look at some of the fine companies now part of the Film City Glasgow family. I have these up now on my flickr to read, or you can download the entire thing (large file warning!) here via this link (PDF). It was so great to see Tiernan Kelly and co highly praised by all the companies who are now located in that wonderful old Govan Town Hall in Glasgow, and are helping make Glasgow the flourishing new focus of film and television production in the UK.
Of interest is this new interview with Gregory Burke on the forthcoming Silver River production of "One Night in Emergency" starring Kevin McKidd, along with Jamie Sives, James Cosmo, Gary Lewis Ewan Bremner and more due later this fall on BBC.
Also very cool is a new interview with Kahl Henderson of Savalas Sound, part two is here. Savalas is of course one of the longtime trifecta of awesome at Film City Glasgow (now two lol), where Mr. Henderson talks about the importance of a post sound facility at FCG that offers top of the line facilites and production, thereby making the home of Sigma films all the more practical and a fabulous one stop choice when seeking a base for film production. We learn that indeed Savalas will be doing work on the recently completed Neds from the always wonderful Peter Mullan . You can also learn more about the new residents of Film City Glasgow including
KeoNorth and Crocodile Media,
If there is someone else I should have added to this I fail and my apologies, please let me know what else needs a mention!
Finally, always very good to hear from the ever fabulous Dawn Steele, who of course starred as the much beloved Lexi in Monarch of the Glen with Alastair. Rock on Dawn, fingers crossed your luck with the new show holds out!
More on area here from Undiscovered Scotland, and
at this link as well----see pic of rock framed beach below:
This information comes directly and most certainly courtesy of Achiltibuiecottage, (cheers and thanks!) where they have some places to rent in this absolutely gorgeous part of Scotland. The Eagle of the Ninth will be based out of Film City Glasgow in October, with this far out location filming in the beautiful highlands also due that month. Meanwhile, as heralded by the press release last week, filming is currently in the outskirts of Budapest, Hungary; all is being met with much interest, stay tuned~
UPDATE: If you are in the area and own places to rent,
PLEASE CALL Claire Murray on:
07970 924 860 or 0141 440 5620
for further information
as they are in need of extra places for crew/cast to stay on COIGACH PENNISULA
from September 29-October 18
Friday, August 28, 2009
Second, author Ewan Morrison has given a very lengthy new interview where the topic of "Swung" is discussed. As readers will recall, Sigma Films of Glasgow optioned the book some time ago, but we've heard very little on this topic since. While this new article is a very fine and as usual quite candid interview about all of his novels, Mr. Morrison only briefly mentions the upcoming film:
On the film front a feature script for Swung has been developed with Sigma films and Director David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Spread, Hallum Foe). I think if I ever stepped behind a camera again to direct I’d have a heart attack, so I’ve decided to leave it all up to those who are tough enough and smart enough to survive in what is one of the hardest, most ruthless businesses in the world.
No word on when the film might actually be made.
Triage will screen on September 12 at the Toronto International Film Festival, with Danis Tanovic and Colin Farrell due to attend.
Thanks much Jamie for doing an official site. Im afraid my blather here about this marvelous actor (and frankly pretty great guy and human being) will long continue lol sorry! I am also very confident many people will really love this official site and it will be a huge success for you; all best with that. Of course my offer to help remains forever lol but somehow Im thinking you have it covered.
Journalists/bloggers/inquiring minds who have been looking for info on Jamie Sives due to the upcoming Toronto Film Festival, you can learn more about his work in Valhalla Rising and Triage via my interview with Jamie at this link; my pics here at my Flickr with his officially released video online here at Youtube. Jamie also sings in a band the Conegatherers, which you can preview here.
Wednesday, August 26, 2009
First on a Film City Glasgow note, there's been a marriage ... Awww! Yes, the Trifecta of awesome has now become a Dynamic Duo as Serious and Savalas are now as one :)) Proving that HELL YES INDEED INDEED FCG has it all, they two have now partnered to create an excellent and complete picture and sound post film service. Congratulations!!! and lol love match indeed ;)
Second, as noted before, Sigma's own David Mackenzie is about to embark on another film, this called "The Last Word," written by Kim Fupz Aakeson and will star of course Ewan McGregor (Young Adam). The film is well into pre-production, and is to be based out of Film City Glasgow. Little else is known other than Tom Sayers is back as production designer and I think the costume designer is the same; not sure if Kahleen Crawford is doing casting either-sorry folks who've emailed! Hopefully an IMDB page will soon arrive or something. While I am uncertain too how much location filming will take place in Glasgow, please as always, ANY INFO (even yes annoy) is welcomed at all times and I will be happy to post it here to help get the word!!! You can mail me too at
Frankly though, I do not believe there will be much coverage of this film, certainly not the hoopla paparazzi coverage like David's last film lol, as it will likely be a quick shoot through September, but I will endeavor to bring as much credible information when I can, stay tuned!
The ever impressive Gillian Berrie will be serving again as producer on the movie, and I hear things are indeed very busy and exciting as they prepare for the movie. I have little doubt that with Gillian behind the scenes again, this will be nothing but another great quality film from Sigma. Fingers crossed for a great shoot!
Related: For those who are relatively new to the blog, be sure to check out a candid interview with Gillian where she speaks to the great hurdles she, Sigma and frankly all Scottish filmmakers have to overcome to produce these quality films in Scotland. With recent news that Scottish Screen is being folded into Creative Scotland with a lessening of funding, plus the UK film council is facing its own battles, times are proving a hard slog for those esp in Scotland and notably Sigma Films who continue to churn out these fine, small yet superb pieces of films. Funding is a hell of a major issue, even long time actor James Cosmo (Braveheart, upcoming Rounding up Donkeys, Outcast w/James Nesbitt) voiced his concern, seen here in this video on STV. Sigma is creative in finding ways to get funding such as doing the last word with Zentropa but still, the future remains very uncertain to say the least!
Captain Reynolds requests your presence for those at home this Friday at 9am and who have access to the Syfy channel for a rebroadcast of the classic Doctor Who: Tooth and Claw. Jamie Sives of course stars as the yummy Scottish commander who risks it all, fearlessly taking on the werewolf
OMG HES A HERO YES HE IS! :D yes yes of course I bought this episode from iTunes and lol have watched it several times, but this friday, nothing like a cuppa in the morning with the commander now eh? :0 wheeeeee!
Ps EXCELLENT opportunity to point out that with all those incredible videos on youtube now, the elusive & clearly in the know mr chossyman posted a great clip of Jamie in action from the show below :)
Tuesday, August 25, 2009
VALHALLA RISING will premiere Sunday September 13 2:30PM at Ryerson
Luckily for us peasants who have no chance in hell in getting those tickets to the premiere, VH will screen again on Tuesday, Sept 15 at 4, followed a third time on Sept 19 at 12:15pm.
More info on this here.
Refn's Valhalla Rising was filmed on location in Scotland, and based out of Film City Glasgow, starring long time Sigma friend, the great Mads Mikkelsen as well as my personal favorite, the truly wonderful Jamie Sives. UPDATE: Vertigo Films has now launched a website for the film, but all it says is "coming soon" and has nothing else at this point.
Jamie is also star of another very anticipated film
TRIAGE which will premiere on
Saturday September 12th 8:30PM at the Winter Haven Theater
then again on Monday September 14th 9:15AM: Info HERE.
Individual Tickets go on sale (non jumbo big expensive package prices ones that is, and the student ones are sold out) on Sept 4th. I will go out on a limb and predict most of us have zero chance of getting in to this premiere lol.
Last but certainly not least and most noteworthy is word that FISH TANK, Andrea Arnolds (Sigma's Red Road) new film, will screen first on Friday, Sept 11 at 9pm, followed on the 12, then the 19th. More info here. Be sure to check out the recently launched website here.
Monday, August 24, 2009
A fun bit of news today regarding a four footed friend of Sigma ;)
Thanks to Angela (and hinted at earlier by the director) we know that Luci, star of Colin Kennedy's upcoming short, "I Love Luci" is an OUTCAST...thats right, Wilson the dog also makes an appearance in Outcast w/Kate Dickie and James Nesbitt as "Bran" belonging to Mary and Fergal. ---------------->
WOOT! I love it! :) Thanks so much for the info Angela! :D You can read more about the making of I Love Luci here at the official blog.
I've heard from Colin recently and word is that hes is hard at work on another script (OOOH MORE PLEASE). Luci is in the final stages with some fine tuning at hand, as Colin hopes to be finished in September. GREAT NEWS COLIN, thanks much for that update. Cant wait to see the film!
According to my friends at Coming Soon, here is the Eagle write up:
Filming begins today on the Roman epic adventure The Eagle of the Ninth directed by Academy Award winner Kevin Macdonald and produced by Duncan Kenworthy. Shooting entirely on location in Hungary and Scotland, the film is co-financed by Film4 with Focus Features, which holds worldwide rights excluding U.K. free-TV.
The cast is headed by Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra, the upcoming Dear John), Jamie Bell (HALLAM FOE), two-time Golden Globe Award winner Donald Sutherland, and Mark Strong (the upcoming Sherlock Holmes and Robin Hood). Macdonald is reunited on the new film with Jeremy Brock, BAFTA Award-winning screenwriter of his 2006 film The Last King of Scotland, who has adapted the screenplay of The Eagle of the Ninth from Rosemary Sutcliff's classic novel of the same name.
Duncan Kenworthy, an Academy Award and Golden Globe Award nominee for Four Weddings and a Funeral, developed and is producing The Eagle of the Ninth through his Toledo Productions. Caroline Hewitt is co-producer. Focus senior vice president, European production Teresa Moneo – who with Focus Features International president of sales and distribution Alison Thompson brought the project into the company – is supervising the film's production with Film4 head Tessa Ross.
The Eagle of the Ninth is set in the dangerous world of second-century Britain. In 140 AD, twenty years after the unexplained disappearance of the entire Ninth Legion in the mountains of Scotland, young centurion Marcus Aquila (Tatum) arrives from Rome to solve the mystery and restore the reputation of his father, the commander of the Ninth. Accompanied only by his British slave Esca (Bell), Marcus sets out across Hadrian's Wall into the uncharted highlands of Caledonia – to confront its savage tribes, make peace with his father’s memory, and retrieve the lost legion's golden emblem, the Eagle of the Ninth. Sutherland portrays Marcus' uncle Aquila, who has retired in Britain; Strong is cast as Guern, an ex-soldier who holds crucial information about the Ninth.
Anthony Dod Mantle, who won the Academy Award earlier this year for his cinematography of Slumdog Millionaire, is director of photography. 2009 Academy Award winner Michael O'Connor and Academy Award nominee Michael Carlin (both of The Duchess) are the film's costume and production designers, respectively. Justine Wright will edit the film, marking her fifth consecutive feature collaboration with Mr. Macdonald.
"All of us at Focus are thrilled to be once again collaborating with our colleagues at Film4 – their support for the most exciting voices in British filmmaking is unparalleled," said Focus CEO James Schamus.
Film4 head Tessa Ross added, "We're incredibly excited to be working again with the wonderful Kevin Macdonald and his brilliant collaborators on this great project – Duncan, Jeremy, and our colleagues at Focus."
Thursday, August 20, 2009
Several pieces of news today out of Toronto regarding two films (NOT Sigma films sorry but ones that I care about) playing at the film festival next month. New writeups/descriptions of the films have been posted along with a confirmed guest list. 500 big name stars, press pics ahoy forthcoming!
*Valhalla Rising: Director Refn and star Mads Mikkelsen again confirmed to attend (and no not surprised that Jamie Sives is not on list; he usually avoids these things like the plague although I wonder if he is shooting the Bonny Boys since they updated that as in production-no idea tho) Now listed with a 90 minute run time, the TIFF writes:
One of the most daring and audacious directors in Europe, Nicolas Winding Refn is probably best known for the epochal Pusher trilogy, which transplanted the gangster film to Copenhagen and gave it a tragic import and epic scale. (It may be the only gangster series that evokes not only Martin Scorsese and Brian De Palma but also Shakespeare's Henry IV plays.) His most recent effort, Valhalla Rising, is possibly even more ambitious, since it tackles one of the tawdriest genres in cinematic history – the viking movie – and elevates it so significantly that the film bears almost no relationship to its forebears.
Valhalla Rising begins on a desolate coast where the heads of warring clans meet in battle. For years, the most fearsome and successful fighter has been an enigmatic figure known only as One Eye (played by the inestimable Mads Mikkelsen, star of the first two Pusher films, as well as Casino Royale and Coco Chanel & Igor Stravinsky, also playing at the Festival).
Silent and lethal, One Eye has defeated everyone he's encountered, but he's treated more like an animal than a warrior. The only person he has any relationship with is the young boy who brings him food and water daily. Constantly caged and shackled, One Eye has drawn the attention of a new force now sweeping the countryside and displacing the society's leaders: Christians.
Determined to claim territory for his faith, the leader of a band of Christians sets sail on an ill-fated odyssey to the Holy Land with One Eye and the young boy in tow. Referencing masters like Akira Kurosawa and Sergio Leone with a touch of Andrei Tarkovsky thrown in for good measure, Valhalla Rising shows how carnage, once invoked, has no fealty but to itself. Little separates the Christians from their pagan predecessors – they're just as bellicose and bloodthirsty.
The film's landscapes look so foreign and desolate that Valhalla Rising might as well have been shot on the moon. By emphasizing the distance between these characters and us, Refn paradoxically makes the events seem closer and more immediate. Rarely has a film exposed so succinctly the specious, often theological justifications for war."
*Triage: Director Danis Tanovic and star Colin Farrell confirmed again to attend. Listed with a 99 minute runtime and rated 14A, their write up reads:
The actual date of screenings have not yet been released, and have no idea when they will be alas. “It is only the dead who have seen the end of war.” This quote from Plato shadows the story of Triage, Danis Tanovic's latest exploration of how battle alters the human heart. But unlike his Academy Award-winning No Man's Land, this new drama follows not the soldier but the chronicler. Colin Farrell plays Mark Walsh, a war photographer in the late eighties. Home in Dublin between assignments, he shares a few laughs at the pub with his friend and fellow photographer David (Jamie Sives) and the women in their lives, but they all know it's only a matter of time before Mark's no-nonsense editor (Juliet Stevenson) sends him back into the fray. This time it's Kurdi-stan – and David goes with him. High in the arid mountains pursuing a war without borders, Mark and David witness and capture horrendous images, from combatants pulverized by ammunition, to a doctor who works heroically to save the wounded but shoots dead those he knows he can't help. Worse, the friends begin to disagree over whether to stay or flee the chaos. Eventually they separate and lose contact, and Mark must return home to Ireland alone. The scene where Mark arrives back in Dublin to surprise his Spanish wife, Elena (Paz Vega), is a lovely, erotic interlude. But soon the tension builds again. He is increasingly alienated and volatile, and startlingly thin (Farrell lost over forty pounds for the role). Desperate, Elena brings her grandfather over from Spain. As played by the legendary Christopher Lee, Dr. Joaquin Morales is a fearsome man. A psychiatrist who worked under Franco's fascist regime, he specialized in healing murderers. In a series of gripping encounters that are the real heart of this film, he challenges Mark to release his guilt over what happened in Kurdistan. Triage is a slow burn, gathering more and more emotional impact as it goes. Working at the centre of this moving character study, Farrell is terrific. But it is Lee, in perhaps his most detailed dramatic performance of a very long career, who is the revelation.
“It is only the dead who have seen the end of war.” This quote from Plato shadows the story of Triage, Danis Tanovic's latest exploration of how battle alters the human heart. But unlike his Academy Award-winning No Man's Land, this new drama follows not the soldier but the chronicler.
Colin Farrell plays Mark Walsh, a war photographer in the late eighties. Home in Dublin between assignments, he shares a few laughs at the pub with his friend and fellow photographer David (Jamie Sives) and the women in their lives, but they all know it's only a matter of time before Mark's no-nonsense editor (Juliet Stevenson) sends him back into the fray. This time it's Kurdi-stan – and David goes with him.
High in the arid mountains pursuing a war without borders, Mark and David witness and capture horrendous images, from combatants pulverized by ammunition, to a doctor who works heroically to save the wounded but shoots dead those he knows he can't help. Worse, the friends begin to disagree over whether to stay or flee the chaos. Eventually they separate and lose contact, and Mark must return home to Ireland alone.
The scene where Mark arrives back in Dublin to surprise his Spanish wife, Elena (Paz Vega), is a lovely, erotic interlude. But soon the tension builds again. He is increasingly alienated and volatile, and startlingly thin (Farrell lost over forty pounds for the role). Desperate, Elena brings her grandfather over from Spain.
As played by the legendary Christopher Lee, Dr. Joaquin Morales is a fearsome man. A psychiatrist who worked under Franco's fascist regime, he specialized in healing murderers. In a series of gripping encounters that are the real heart of this film, he challenges Mark to release his guilt over what happened in Kurdistan.
Triage is a slow burn, gathering more and more emotional impact as it goes. Working at the centre of this moving character study, Farrell is terrific. But it is Lee, in perhaps his most detailed dramatic performance of a very long career, who is the revelation.
Erstwhile Scottish based filmmaker David Mackenzie (Young Adam, Hallam Foe) kicks off his US career with this fascinating update of Paul Schrader’s American Gigolo with Ashton Kutcher as a self-centred toyboy to the rich women of LA. Jason Dean Hall’s screenplay based on his own short story goes off the boil towards the end with Kutcher’s Nikki getting both his comeuppance and cheesy epiphany in a horrible montage sequence but there is plenty to enjoy along the way. Anne Heche as sugar mummy Samantha is fantastic. Give this lady a gong. Out Fri 27 Nov.
Wednesday, August 19, 2009
Second, longtime Sigma reader and blogger Anna has written another reflective and thoughtful review on "Spread," which you can read on her excellent blog here. As usual Anna writes with clarity and clearness on the film, notably the much ballyhooed sex scenes as follows:
In her review, Anna had a final sentence that read: "A final note of thanks to David Mackenzie - as always - he manages to film sex scenes in an egalitarian fashion - without unequally long, lingering, lusting shots of female curves etc. without equal attention to the bodies of their male partners."
Again, I quite agree. David is always unflinching with his camera in both directions ie women AND the men. Plus, David never has made a film yet I dont think, where sex is between two people who genuinely love and care about each other, not really or as noted is just fleeting .
Random thoughts now: I wonder if he will ever make a film where the couple who have been together for years and they both have wrinkles with she of cellulite and stretch marks and imperfect looks and non-gleaming white teeth, and the guy is slightly greying/ balding, has a scruffy beard he has to shave every day, and actually has hair on his back too or is super skinny bonny or worse has a bit of belly and wobbly knees. Look at the great Peter Mullan and Brenda Blythen in One a Clear day-they didnt show them having sex but there was a clear and rather interesting relationship story between a long established couple floating around in that film. Anyway rant rant blather blather, and most certainly its not just David though I would love to see him make a film with an honest romance in one of his character study pieces-perhaps not as they antagonists, but part of the story. No, I suppose the demands on making films where this is the case just isnt there or all that interesting I suppose, pity. (This rant brought on in part by having just watched time travelers wife-yet another romance with two impossibly beautiful people AGAIN, book is MUCH better btw. Ok Im done now)
Monday, August 17, 2009
OK crazy from the heat, crazy from the excitement, crazy with adoration (or plain crazy ;p ) I can no longer keep quiet....... :D
LEND AN EAR AND YOU SHALL HEAR actor JAMIE SIVES SINGING
The Conegatherers myspace music page is now live~~
Jamie Sives provides the vocals, and plays the acoustic & electric guitar.
ALL SONGS written by Jamie
The Conegatherers are:
Jamie Sives, John Mercer and Rich F
*explodes with happiness*
Meanwhile, star Ashton Kutcher has issued a personal call to action of fans in the States and elsewhere who can see the film TO SEE IT again or tell your friend about it, SPREAD THE WORD, or as he pointed out, it simply wont generate enough money to warrant the further expansion in the US.
Finally, if you have seen the film, join in with others and vlog your review. Mail your review DIRECTLY to Ashton firstname.lastname@example.org and it will be uploaded to the official Spread Review channel, here. Im so hesitant to vlog my report but think its another very clever move on their part to engage the movie going audience. If I do anything, I might do a ustream chat on all things Sigma Scottish film, ok a touch of Jamie ;would anyone show up for that, now that is the big question!
Saturday, August 15, 2009
Scans forthcoming, but I'm betting my friends at Madsonline will have it sooner woot :) The Sunday Herald piece says that "Total Film describes it as "jaw-dropping," and continues:
Director Nicolas Winding Refn made Bronson, the recent biopic of the notorious long-term prisoner. Refn has given Valhalla Rising a dark, gritty, documentary feel, rather than the glossy values readily associated with historical epics. He shot last summer in Glen Affric in the Highlands and Glen Croe in Argyllshire. Cast and crew had to contend with atrocious weather, dense midge swarms, and lengthy journeys to mountain locations. "It was possibly the most arduous conditions I have ever filmed in in Scotland," said Karen Smyth, "but the results are phenomenal."The film-makers acquired a Viking longship from a re-enactment group in England, effectively refurbished it, and shot close-ups in a Govan boatyard and on the water at Glen Affric. Actors went on a course to learn how to row.
[OHO I seem to recall an earlier role for Mr. Sives who rowed in fine style, course he looked mighty fine the whole episode, even if he played a racist jerk paramedic lol :D]
Important were these wee nuggets buried at the end esp ABOUT HAVING A BRITISH DISTRIBUTOR
Toronto had originally offered to stage the film's world premiere. Then Venice expressed proposed a screening earlier in the month. Toronto were so keen to have the film that they settled for the North American premiere. "It's just unbelievable," said Smyth. "I think it's great for Scotland." Scottish Screen, the national film agency, has invested £500,000 of lottery money in it. Carole Sheridan, head of talent and creativity, said: "The film made a significant impact on Scotland's screen sector."Valhalla Rising already has a British distributor. Intended for release this year, it may now go in 2010 to allow for a more ambitious publicity campaign. AS REMINDER, please check out THE INTERVIEW WITH JAMIE SIVES who discusses working on Valhalla Rising HERE. For those inquiring minds, you can check out my extensive coverage on this film via this link; pics/scans here on my flickr, the Valhalla Rising video production diary here, the newest trailer below and the on set visit video from the great guys at Digital Guerillas here. I strongly recommend the great crew at MADS ONLINE for extensive pics of Mads.
Friday, August 14, 2009
David Mackenzie's latest film "Spread" starring Ashton Kutcher and Anne Heche is released today in the US and Canada. In limited release, you can determine if the film will be showing in your area at this link.
MANY International posters for the film can now be purchased here at Moviegoods.com, including the Brazilian poster, French, Italian, Danish, and more (you can also order a few old Hallam/Mister Foe posters, Jamie Bell (including a slew of Sigmas Dear Wendy and more)
CONGRATULATIONS DAVID MACKENZIE, ASHTON KUTCHER and the entire cast and crew of Spread.
I should also like to send another word of personal thanks very much to those at Katalyst who have been unbelievably cool AND HELPFUL and actually responsive. They have a very astute and smart grasp on the reality of the movie marketing world, how the internet actually works, and unlike some caught in their old ways, are not haughty and dismissive of bloggers tweeters youtube and most damming of all AN ACTUAL FAN omg the horror.. More importantly Katalyst will work with everyone to help get the word out, which is why they are successful and worthy of respect even if you dont care for their films/tv shows; these people showed class and I thank you; BRAVO.
If you are interested in reading more on the filming of "Spread," click here for my extensive coverage. No word alas if there is to be an actual soundtrack, seems unlikely at this point, no idea though. The film is already in cue for Netflix , will probably show eventually on Starz/Showtime, and should be out on DVD in November.(November 17 probably)
Wednesday, August 12, 2009
With just a few days to go before the release of David Mackenzie's Spread, I have some of the press material for the movie, including great new comments from stars Ashton Kutcher, Anne Heche and more on their new film. While the film has just screened recently in the Hampton and in NYC, you can also see brand new clip on Hulu (boots in the bed lol) plus this interview with Ashton. Best part: I have some really cool broll and behind the scenes looks of the making of Spread, including footage of David Mackenzie at work YAY! I LOVE these things, so grateful they make this footage available to us woot!
Here is just one of the clips featuring that well publicized clip of Ashton picking up Anne's character at the bar-sooo cool to see how they filmed that and god bless that camera man on the steady cam or whatever eeeep if he fell!; the other also here including loads of David, plus Ashton in the pool (what a gorgeous home they filmed at too!). In terms of the press material, included below are comments on the sexuality contained in the film, and working with Sigmas great director David Mackenzie.
For the actors in Spread, starring in the film meant a chance to explore some fascinating characters. To join the cast meant diving into their roles head-on and explore a realistic, more intense side of modern day romantic and sexual challenges. It was an actors’ dream, and the cast relished the opportunity.
Ashton Kutcher plays Nikki, the film’s charming but conflicted lead. In discussing his character and his motivations, Kutcher says, “I’m playing an ego booster, basically. Nikki is a guy searching for love in all the wrong ways. When he finally finds it, all the wrong ways in which he tried to find it come back to haunt him.”
Describing why he felt an immediate connection with Nikki, Kutcher says it was partly because he himself understood much of what Nikki was going through. “I understood the pain of the character,” he says. “I understood what he was ultimately seeking. I played ‘the game’ for long enough to know it doesn’t end well. The only way to win is through compassion and love, and trying to find the way to give to someone in the greatest way you possibly can.”
Kutcher also felt energized at the thought of playing a kind of role he hadn’t done yet. “It’s fun to dive into a character,” he says. “A lot of movies I get asked to do, I’m asked to play myself, or a character I’ve already played. Having the liberty to create a new kind of role is refreshing, liberating, and fun.”
Having British director David Mackenzie at the helm was another new experience for Kutcher. Kutcher found there were some differences working with Mackenzie when compared to some of the American directors with whom he’s collaborated. “English directors come in with an expectation that you’re going to deliver. When you do, you’re doing your job. And when you don’t, you’re failing,” he laughs. However, Mackenzie’s style energized his own performance. “I always knew when David wasn’t happy, but I never knew when he was happy, which was fantastic – it helped drive me,” he says.
In preparation for the film, Kutcher did a lot of character work, building a profile for Nikki and making sure he knew the character backwards and forwards. He says, “I found a voice for him, a posture and a truth for him so that once we were shooting, if things didn’t go the way I thought they’d go, I’d be able to handle it in character as Nikki.”
At the opening of the film, Nikki is a man who lives as he likes by finding women to fall in love with that will take care of him, financially and sexually. It’s the actual emotionality of a relationship Nikki doesn’t much concern himself with. “Nikki is a guy that really doesn’t know about compassion,” says Kutcher. “He’s a guy that doesn’t know about being there for someone, and as the film progresses he’s having to learn the lessons of that kind of life through his mistakes and through hard knocks.
“Nikki targets women that are caretakers,” he continues. “Women that are going to feed him and support him and be there for him. He does as little as he possibly can, but enough for them to buy into that fantasy for awhile.”
Sprinkled with comedy, drama, and true-to-life relationship scenarios, Spread is full of sex as well – lots of it – and the couplings are portrayed more realistically than in most mainstream movies. To ground the characters’ relationships in reality, the filmmakers wanted to portray the sex between them as realistically as possible – which meant Kutcher would have to be completely naked for many of his scenes. It was something he wasn’t initially prepared for.
“The sexual content in the film was really aggressive at times,” Kutcher says. “I have my own insecurities about my body. I’m from the Midwest, I’m from a Catholic family and a relatively conservative environment, so for me to be that artistically liberal and free was really challenging. It got more comfortable as I did it, but it gave me a lot of respect and reverence for people who’ve done it before me. The courage it takes to lay your sexuality and sensuality all the way out there scares me.”
Just as Kutcher found himself unclothed on set, Heche had to be willing to go places she hadn’t gone. “It’s been a trippy, trippy, naked ride,” she laughs. “I certainly can say I’ve gone further in this movie than I ever have before. Why didn’t I do this when I was twenty-two?”
What made such bravery possible for Heche, though, was that she didn’t find the film’s sexual situations gratuitous – the sexual situations and their necessity to the script are what made her feel fine about portraying them. “Adult lives are sexual lives,” she says. “We’re given these films all the time where people aren’t really talking truthfully about what goes on in people’s sex lives. You get these scenes where people come together and they kiss and fall down on a bed, and then we’re supposed to imagine what’s going on. But people’s sex lives are extreme. I certainly haven’t seen a truthful portrayal of an adult sex life in a film in awhile, and it’s bold to be able to do that. It may be uncomfortable, it may be sexy, it may be heartbreaking. Maybe disturbing. But true stuff.”
For her part, when commenting on the sexuality of the film, Levieva says, “The sexual part of it was always very real and important in telling the story. There is a lot of sexuality in the movie and a lot of people having sex, but it’s necessary to the script.”
As for her feelings on having to shed her clothes in the film, just like Kutcher and Heche, Levieva says, “I’d never done nudity in a movie.” And how did she get over her nerves? “Honestly, I just thought about the people I was going to be working with. I really respect David, and I was really excited to work with Ashton. It was unreal – very comfortable and everyone’s just been so supportive and making sure I was okay with it.”
“We’re just being truthful in those scenes, and these people are in love,” she laughs. “Things happen when you’re in love.”
With a story as much about image, wealth, and artifice as it is about attraction, sex, and romance, there’s only one place the film could be set: Los Angeles. L.A. serves as a character unto its own in the film, the perfect place for an iconic look at the lure of sex, money, and access that Hollywood offers to its beautiful residents.
Los Angeles is often the customary site for mythmaking in the American cultural iconography, and with good reason. The city provides slick and luxurious home settings as well as thumping nightlife backdrops for Nikki’s high times. It also has glimpses of seedy, fleabag motels and waiting-for-dreams-to-come-true apartment crash pads for when Nikki has nowhere else to turn. In his Spread adventure, Nikki runs the gambit of Hollywood dreams and nightmares.
When asked why he feels L.A. was such an appropriate place for Spread’s story to unfold, Kutcher says, “I think Los Angeles is a place that trades on cosmetic effect. It's a place where people that look a certain way have a wealthier lifestyle with more access, just based on physical appearance. We’re capturing in the film a place where people are just trading on their looks, and a dark underbelly of reality that really exists.”
Levieva agrees. “I think it’s a very L.A. story,” she says. “All the characters in it exist, especially in L.A. And we filmed in all the real locations, which was great because we really got to explore L.A. From the wardrobe to the characters and the locations, it’s very L.A.-based and very real.”
DAVID MACKENZIE (DIRECTOR) is one of Scotland's leading film directors. David Mackenzie started his film career making shorts. He first won an award for “California Sunshine” (1997), a 20-minute film about a pair of small-time drug dealers that starred his younger brother, actor Alastair Mackenzie. In 1999, he won an Audience Award at the Brest European Short Film Festival for Marcie's Dowry. In 2000, he placed second for Best Short Film at the Dresden Film Festival for Somersault (1999). Having completed nine shorts and a documentary, Mackenzie's first feature length film was the low budget The Last Great Wilderness (2002), which he co-wrote with his brother Michael Tait. But David didn't gain international attention until he wrote and directed Young Adam (2003), based on the 1954 novel by Alexander Trocchi starring Ewan McGregor and Tilda Swinton. He won a Scottish BAFTA for Best Director, as well as awards at Edinburgh and the London Critics Circle. Mackenzie went on to direct Asylum, starring Natasha Richardson, followed by Hallam Foe (2007) starring Jamie Bell which Mackenzie co-wrote for the screen, directed, and produced. The film went on to win awards at the Berlin Film Festival.
Sunday, August 9, 2009
Check it out, our first look at Sigma's own the ever fabulous Alastair Mackenzie
in his new film MONSTER MUTT
HOT HAIR BABE, and lolz to those flipflops ahahaha
Pictured with Al is Rhiannon Leigh Wryn. Alastair Mackenzie (co-founder of Sigma Films and yes thats him, the normally gorgeous laird from Monarch of the Glen) plays the part of "Monty" in this new family film from director Todd Tucker. You can see the whole cast list here via IMDB, importantly, find this pic and a slew more
HERE at the new official Facebook page for the movie.
Filming has now wrapped on the movie, which was shot on location in Santa Clarita California, and is due for release sometime next year. According to this article the Monster is described by the producer as a "giant, Clifford-type animatronic dog," which requires five people to operate. "We're trying to use as little digital as possible," he said. One of the challenges in making the film, Tucker said, was coming up with a believable monster dog that wasn't too scary for kids.
The film is being shot completely within the city of Santa Clarita, and Tucker, Lowry and line producer Seth William Meier had nothing but good things to say about working with the city's film office.Additionally, Lowry said the production commandeered Tucker's neighborhood for several days of shooting and wound up using several local kids as extras."This place films amazingly," Tucker said of Santa Clarita.
There is also a website, but dont get your hopes up with that script link-you need a password and I strongly suspect they wont be giving it to wee fans like us lol!
Friday, August 7, 2009
A few weeks ago I posted this news regarding the October 19th DVD release date set for Richard Jobson's New Town Killers, which of course stars Dougray Scott, and Sigmas own Alastair Mackenzie. You could also pre-order from Play.com
DVD Times has more now on the DVD this week, confirming there will indeed be a directors commentary, as well as "Behind the Scenes: ‘New Town Killers – the story’ " You can also pre-order the standard edition and the Blu-Ray from Amazon.co.uk (which I do all the time, shipping is not too bad to the states), as well as from Borders, with fans in Australia also able to pre-order here. The Amazon descript reads as follows:
Cat & mouse thriller tells the story of two bankers who offer Sean the chance to clear his sister s debt on the condition that he can hide from them for 12 hours on the streets of Edinburgh. Sean accepts the offer and soon realises it s a tragic game of life and death that the bankers will stop at nothing to win.
With a premise that suggests an early 21st century variation on David Fincher's paranoia classic THE GAME (1997), NEW TOWN KILLERS stars Dougray Scott as Alistair, a slimy, icewater-veined financier who gets his kicks and thrills by targeting human prey. His modus operandi involves bringing in an innocent young candidate for a new job, Jamie Stewart (Alastair Mackenzie) and demanding as a prerequisite that the two play a mysterious game together. They must find a down-and-outer and challenge him to escape from their clutches over the course of one long and fateful night. The "prey" on this occasion is Sean McDonald (James Anthony Pearson), an inner-city teen with a serious problem on his hands: his pregnant sister risks being killed by the thugs to whom she owes gambling money. Alistair informs the young man that if he manages to evade them in their chase, he will receive enough money to clear off the towering gambling debts of his pregnant sister; if he loses, he will be killed. Out of concern for his sister, Sean agrees to the contest, though victory seems impossible for two major reasons: first, the crafty Alistair has closed all major exit routes from the city without informing Sean of this, and second, Alistair secretly plants a tracking device on Sean that the young man isn't aware of.
Thursday, August 6, 2009
Quick update today as the Spread rollout across the US continues. Last night, Ashton and Co hit Las Vegas for that premiere at the Palms Hotel, with loads of huge pics here via Vegas News.com. Also while in town, Ashton taped a podcast for the very cool Diggnation and Kevin Rose; you can see pics of that taping here (think the show will be up later this week) Finally, as first posted here back in June, Spread ala Toy Boy is already in theaters in France. Box Office Mojo shows the film by director David Mackenzie is doing well over seas, with the latest numbers (from end of July) showing the film has already netted $2,033,758. Not sure if the numbers here will be as impressive as the film is opening at only 100 theaters, but still am hopeful David will do well with this film.
Next up: Hamptons this weekend.
Reminder: Ticket info for Spread in US can be found at this link.
Spread opens in the US next week on August 14th.
Next week: Denmark, Sweden and Norway will see the release, followed by Russia on the 13, Finland on the 14th w/ US, Spain on the 28th. Brazil will see it on September 25th, Portugal on Oct. 15th and finally Germany on Oct 25th.
It was one of those small tiny but GREAT things, a wee gesture, nothing but a thing to some perhaps, huge in meaning and enjoyment to others.
It was. a CD. of music.
FROM JAMIE SIVES.
HIS FIRST CD omg. YES. really Jamie's music. His voice, his guitar, his band.
IN MY HAND,NOW ON MY IPOD, AND FOREVER IN MY HEART.
WHAT AN INCREDIBLE GIFT!!! I AM SO SO SO FREAKIN LUCKY, I can scarce believe it. THANK YOU SO MUCH JAMIE!!!!
I LOVE YOU
I LOVE THIS MUSIC!
Its with his band, The Cone Gatherers. Acoustic guitar, vocals GORGEOUS, haunting soul baring, heartbreaking, gorgeous rhythms, well produced, beautifully sung, beautifully written by Jamie, played Jamie, John Mercer and Richard F.
I don't want to give too much away or I dont think I should (hoping for a myspace soon please!!!!), but there are ten songs, two of which are labeled demos and frankly they are my two FAVORITES! although two others are too beautiful that Ive listened too several times. PLUS on one, JAMIE SINGS IN FRENCH *swoons swoon swoon so unfair to a fan girl dang it J! ;p* I am unfamiliar with the book the Cone gatherers, and am uncertain given the rope symbol on the front if it has to do with the book, but the music is all very personal and all songs were written by Jamie. (random: The artwork, black with the gold lettering, and gold rope designed by J, and done by Ross Hammond who seems to be his friend behind the chossy youtube channel, so THANK YOU ROSS!) This is most definitely NOT mainstream pop hop you will hear on the radio, it's music and reflections of an intimate nature, of the heart, perhaps his broken heart over a past relationship, but at same time hopeful, with may layers and lovely sounds. Jamie sings, plays the acoustic and electric guitar, with others bringing in light and added depth (not every song) with some bass guitar and keyboards. I dunno if I should write more about each song or list the names etc (ok title of CD is "She Who Shall Remain Nameless"), but its varied yet very much an acoustic CD like you listen to with a glass of wine at night. Its not all quiet stuff though if that makes any sense (one seems very moulin rouge) one frankly scared the hell out of me and haven't listened to it since eep!, one definite reflects Celtic influence and sings of Scotland, and one well I defy you to listen to it and not feel your heart ache over the loss of a parent.
Its odd really, but I actually thought this was a very very brave and beautiful thing he did. Sure hes an actor, an old hand at putting it all out there, but this, well this seemed like it was HIM, not a role, not someone elses words in another script, not someone else's vision of who he is to be for the moment, but Jamie Sives: his heart his mind, his voice his gift. As someone who once wanted to sing, and learned hard painful humilating lessons that I have zero ability in this area, I get that it takes a lot to put yourself out there, and I am forever grateful we are getting the chance to see more of his talent and that Jamie is willing to put it out there with his music too. Hopefully everyone will hear this music soon, but in the meantime Im keeping this close to my heart. THANK YOU AGAIN JAMIE SO SO SO MUCH, I will cherish this forever. Lots of LOVE LOVE LOVE xoxoxox
Tuesday, August 4, 2009
With the film due to screen next month at Festivals in Venice and Toronto, there is a brand new trailer now online for Nicholas Windig Refn's Valhalla Rising with Mads Mikkelsen and Jamie Sives. This is a reworked, seemingly shorter version of the first one (NO shot of Jamie either boo!) but here you go! Note: graphic shots, including the one of decapitated head, sorry.
Currently splashed everywhere around the world are the following pics from the LA premiere of "Spread," with stars Ashton Kutcher (and his beautiful wife Demi), Anne Heche, Margarita Levieva, Sonia Rockwell, Sara Paxton and more in attendance. Its prob me, but I got the weirdest vibe of some unhappiness (Marg please learn that NEVER chew gum during red carpet press!) You can now watch
Ashton's red carpet interview segment here via his ustream channel. Update: You can now watch a slew of videos here and esp here on Youtube.
Monday, August 3, 2009
THANK YOU SO MUCH ASHTON KUTCHER!
Not sure if he actually saw my tweet-I think maybe he did but its just good pr regardless- but during the live press junket (noted below) Ashton Kutcher just gave a great few minutes interview where he spoke in high praise of Spread director David Mackenzie! Yes! Ashton spoke about after finding the script, the search that lead him to David, and noted David's fine work with Young Adam and Hallam Foe. He praised David's sensibility and wit in his current and past approach to these characters, shooting frank uncomfortable sex scenes in a classy manner, citing Hal Ashby along the way. He also praised David a great deal in relation to working on a tight budget and creatively figuring out how to shoot each scene as one (as opposed to extensive shoots of each scene) -all in all very enjoyable to watch Ashton speak with appreciation of the talent and input a director brings to the scene, in this case David Mackenzie and Spread.
Also, he spoke several times about David being from Scotland, so he perceived LA as a tourist and brought a fresh unjaded look to the film, as well as praising David for bringing a Indy filmmaker ie HONEST approach and look to the movie-very cool! :)
Twitter and technology pwns all today, as we can all watch LIVE RIGHT NOW the dread press junket lolol and the endless barrage actors/crew have to do for the release of a new film. CLICK HERE ASHTON LIVE RIGHT NOW ON BLOGTV
Wonder if I can get in a question on David Mackenzie? wish me luck!
Plus: New Interview: Ashton on Seacrest here
Screenwriter Jason Dean Hall talks "Spread"
UPDATE: ATTENTION HELGE and friends! Website for Spread now in Russia, complete with Russian David Mackenzie lol xxxx
He has chosen the village of Achiltibuie, on the western mainland opposite the Summer Isles, as his location, and he hopes that the locals will be a ready source of extras.
“They were a more indigenous folk than the Celts, who were from further south,” he argues. “They were probably small and dark, like the Inouit, living off seals and dressed in sealskins. We are going to create a culture about which no one knows much, but which we will make as convincing as possible. We are basing it on clues gained from places like Skara Brae and the Tomb of the Eagles in Orkney, so that we will have them worshipping pagan symbols, like the seal and the eagle....He is also exploring early Celtic dance and music, including the eerie sound of the carnyx, which he described as ”a Scottish didgeridoo” and was memorably recreated and played, to the consternation of the Queen, at the opening of the Museum of Scotland in 1998. The tribes that the Romans met were Celtic, as described by the historian Tacitus in his biography of the Emperor Agricola,” Macdonald says. “They may have been Picts, of course, but most of the tribes were also Celtic.”Since the history of the Picts has been described by the historian Michael Lynch as “a mystery story with few clues and no satisfactory ending”, Macdonald has a fairly free rein in recreating his ancient tribe; but he is determined to be as authentic as possible, with the tribesmen in the movie all speaking Gaelic. In order to achieve a little contemporary symbolism, the Romans will be played by American actors."
Also as reported previously, filming for this movie which marks a return of Jamie Bell (Hallam Foe) back to Scotland will commence later this fall in October -basing out of Film City Glasgow, on the heels of David Mackenzie's The Last Word which will commence photography next month. BE SURE TO FOLLOW Achiltibuie Twitter where we all learned that crews were in the area seeking to rent cottages for Oct/Nov.