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Back to One, Episode 79: Tim Heidecker

I didn’t know if Tim Heidecker was going to show up for this interview, or if I was going to get his boorish, abusive, dim alter ego, Tim Heidecker. Luckily Tim Heidecker leaves Tim Heidecker in the On Cinema universe. That project he started with Gregg Turkington is comprised of an ongoing series called On Cinema at the Cinema, various spin-off series including The Trial of Tim Heidecker, special episodes, segments, tweets, songs, and now the feature film Mister America. In this half hour, I ask Heidecker to lift the hood on his performance style and the evolution of his […]

Back to One, Episode 78: Cassidy Freeman

The wise and talented Cassidy Freeman plays Amber, wife of Danny McBride’s character Jesse, on the hilarious new HBO comedy series The Righteous Gemstones. She talks about the wonderful troupe mentality on that show, what acting in 60+ episodes of Smallville did to build her craft early in her career, the importance of creativity for the actor, plus much more! Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and Stitcher. And if you’re enjoying what you are hearing, please subscribe and rate us! Photo credit: Catie Lafoon

“The Sadder We Made It Look, the Funnier It Became”: Gaffer Daniel April Lights The Death of Dick Long

I first saw The Death Of Dick Long at a press screening at Technicolor Postworks. It is the second feature film from one of Swiss Army Man’s co-directors, Daniel Scheinert, whose kooky debut portends the mercurial sensibilities of Dick Long, a cotton state comedy of errors with a hushed twist. The film’s gaffer, Daniel April, the sought after lightsmith of New York indie film, still hadn’t seen the film, so I invited him to attend A24’s special screening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Downtown Brooklyn, featuring free wine and popcorn, the common bribes. April had just gotten off the set […]

Back to One, Episode 77: Josh Pais

One could easily call Josh Pais a scene-stealer, but that’s not accurate. He actually feeds the other actor in the scene, and they both grow. Check out Leaves of Grass with Edward Norton, Synecdoche New York with Philip Seymour Hoffman, Lynn Shelton’s Touchy Feely, and his recent work on Ray Donovan, to name just a few of his dozens of credits. This fall he’s in Norton’s Motherless Brooklyn, and Joker with Joaquin Phoenix. In this episode he talks about finding the character in his body, counting on spontaneity, partying in the unknown, creating not recreating, and Committed Impulse, his high […]

Back to One, Episode 76: Carroll Baker

Carroll Baker’s work in Elia Kazan’s Baby Doll and Jack Garfein’s Something Wild is just as impressive and valuable as any performance delivered by her legendary Actors Studio contemporaries Marlon Brando and James Dean. So why isn’t she talked about in the same way? After the simultaneous sensation and scandal of Baby Doll (it was condemned by the Legion of Decency), Baker became a star, but she spent most of her career either avoiding sex-symbol roles or begrudgingly accepting them. Despite a handful of other great performances (Giant, Cheyenne Autumn, The Big County, Station Six-Sahara), conflicts with studios, producers, and […]

“If a Director Feels the Need to Move the Camera Simply to ‘Make It Interesting,’ It’s Likely an Indicator the Scene Itself Isn’t That Interesting”: DP Erik Messerschmidt on Mindhunter, Season Two

When David Fincher transitioned from music videos to feature films in the 1990s, the descriptors “glossy,” “slick” and “stylized” were frequently affixed to his work. Those adjectives were often aimed as pejoratives, categorizing Fincher as a technical virtuoso who created shiny but hollow thrillers. Watching the second season of Netflix’s Mindhunter—executive produced and partially directed by Fincher—the evolution of the filmmaker’s aesthetic is striking. As FBI profilers Bill Tench (Holt McCallany) and Holden Ford (Jonathan Groff) interview America’s most notorious serial killers, the camera rarely moves. Instead, it unobtrusively observes.  What hasn’t changed over the years is Fincher’s unwavering exactitude, […]

Back to One, Episode 75: Kaitlyn Dever

Kaitlyn Dever’s sophisticated comedic instincts were on full display throughout her teens in the sitcom Last Man Standing. This year she took it to another level, starring with Beanie Feldstein in the hit comedy sensation Booksmart. And now we get to marvel at another side of her incredible acting talent in the powerful new Netflix limited series Unbelievable. In this episode, she talks about how she dealt with the emotional weight of the material in that series, and one compelling monologue in particular where restraint was a key ingredient. Plus she explains how being a “moldy person” helps her work, […]

Back to One, Episode 74: Wyatt Russell

Despite growing up in a Hollywood family, Wyatt Russell didn’t seriously consider pursing acting until an injury ended his professional Hockey career. In a few years he’s managed to cultivate a subtle and distinct style in comedies (22 Jump Street), dramas (Overlord) and a unique and unclassifiable series that lies someone between (AMC’s Lodge 49). In this episode, he talks about embodying the lovable Dud in that series, embracing an enunciation lesson from Joe Wright, getting “caught watching” Michael Parks, plus much more! Back To One can be found wherever you get your podcasts, including Apple Podcasts, Google Play, and […]

Back to One, Episode 73: Michaela Watkins

A Groundlings and Saturday Night Live alum who has evolved beyond her improvisational prowess, Michaela Watkins continues to surprise us. The Unicorn, Search Party, Transparent and Casual are some of her television highlights. And I loved her in movies like Afternoon Delight, Person to Person, and the important and inspirational Brittany Runs A Marathon. We talk about the vital role she plays in that film, and what, if anything, has changed in regards to meaty roles for woman. Plus she talks about being Jill Soloway’s muse, and the importance of embodying a whole person. Back To One can be found […]

“We Decided Early On That There was Never Going to Be A Single Lock-off Shot”: DP Erik Wilson on The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

The original Dark Crystal was released on December 17th, 1982 , four days before my fifth birthday. I don’t remember exactly when my mom took me to see it. I can only tell you that when she did, the movie–and its lizard-like villains, the Skeksis—scared the crap out of me. There is a generation of kids who were similarly terrified and enthralled by the film, which was much darker than unsuspecting parents anticipated from Jim Henson, the man behind The Muppets and Sesame Street.  Erik Wilson—the cinematographer of Netflix’s new 10-episode prequel The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance—was not among […]

“Imagine Making a Movie Without Tape”: DP Brett Jutkiewicz on Ready or Not

In Ready or Not, a bride spends her wedding night playing a deadly game of hide and seek with her new in-laws, a clan of board game magnates beholden to a curse that requires them to dispose of the newlywed before dawn. The film unfolds almost entirely at the wealthy family’s estate, an opulent expanse shot mainly at the historic Parkwood Estate near Toronto. Ready or Not’s $6 million budget and 26-day shooting schedule are modest for a wide theatrical release, but for cinematographer Brett Jutkiewicz the scale is downright gluttonous compared to past efforts like Benny and Josh Safdie’s […]

Back to One, Episode 72: Lee Pace

Lee Pace has one of those dream acting careers where he gets to be painted blue or dons elf ears to play Ronan (Guardians of the Galaxy) or Thranduil (The Hobbit films), sparking the imagination of countless fans around the world, and then he hits the Broadway stage and knocks ‘em dead as Joe Pitt in Angels in America. I ask him if he takes stock of that aspect of his career, and we talk about a curious note Barry Sonnenfeld gave him while making Pushing Daisies that he still uses to this day. Plus why he’s not bothered by […]

Back to One, Episode 71: Jake Lacy

I first took note of Jake Lacy’s exquisite comedic delivery in The Office and How to Be Single, and was pleased to see him shine while going deep and dark, like in this year’s Diane, and last year’s I’m Dying Up Here. He even stands out playing opposite heavyweights like Rooney Mara in Carol, and Michelle Williams in Fosse/Verdon. I gathered from past interviews that he spoke with an authenticity that was going to work very well on Back To One, but I was not prepared for the level of comfort and delicacy with which he opened up to me […]

Back to One, Episode 70: Greg Kinnear

He started out as a TV host in the ’90s, but Greg Kinnear quickly made the transition to leading man thanks to legendary directors like Sydney Pollack and James L. Brooks investing in his acting talent. An Oscar nomination for As Good As It Gets followed, and he’s been making movies ever since, Little Miss Sunshine, Auto Focus, Little Men, to name just a few. This Summer he has three movies out — Brian Banks, The Red Sea Diving Resort (Netflix), and Phil, which he also directed. In this episode, we discuss the importance of tone, his penchant for playing […]

Jennifer Kent on Shooting The Nightingale One-Camera, Contractually Obligated Aspect Ratios and Directing from Handheld Monitor

Australian filmmaker Jennifer Kent’s first two movies present different parental nightmares. In The Babadook, a mother’s fear that she doesn’t love her son manifests itself in the form of the titular monster. In her latest, The Nightingale, a young woman explores the extremes she’s willing to go to in order to punish someone who’s harmed her child. Set in the early 1800s, The Nightingale stars Aisling Franciosi as Clare, an Irish prisoner finishing out the final days of her sentence in servitude to brutal British soldier Hawkins (Sam Claflin). When Hawkins rapes her and attacks her family, Clare sets out […]

“There Is No Video Village”: DP Robert Richardson on Shooting Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood in 35mm

During lunch break on a Western TV series, fading star Rick Dalton (Leonardo DiCaprio) settles into a director’s chair next to his nine-year-old co-star. The young actress is armed with a Walt Disney biography, Dalton a pulpy Western novel. The girl asks Dalton about the story in his book and he recounts the tale of an over-the-hill bronco buster that eerily mirrors his own circumstances. Once Upon a Time…in Hollywood is a loving valentine to an era of studio filmmaking that was coming to an end in 1969, but it’s also a rumination on the inevitability of aging and mortality […]

Back to One, Episode 68: Damon Herriman

It’s rare for one actor to be cast as the same real-life character in two different productions almost simultaneously. When that real life character is Charles Manson, that makes some news. Australian actor Damon Herriman has taken on this challenging role in both Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon A Time… In Hollywood and the second season of David Fincher’s Netflix series Mindhunter. Herriman is perhaps best know for playing Dewey Crowe in the series Justified and currently plays Paul Allen Brown in Perpetual Grace LTD. We talk about the character of Manson, how good writing makes for good acting, and why […]

Panavision’s Dan Sasaki on Customizing Lenses for Once Upon a Time In Hollywood

If you’re reading this story in hopes of gleaning the magic recipe behind Panavision’s increasingly popular “detuning” process, sorry to disappoint you. Panavision Senior Vice President of Optical Engineering Dan Sasaki will divulge no such details.  “I wish I could. Unfortunately, that is a process we like to keep secret,” said Sasaki, who began his career at Panavision in 1986 as a lens service technician. “What I can say is that it’s a process that is continually evolving.” Sasaki will, however, happily talk about being a second-generation member of the Panavision family, the storied history of the C Series anamorphics, […]