Today’s journey through cinematic awesomeness took me from the vineyards of France (and China) to the horrors of theme park whales to a movie about a life-changing train ride. Let’s take a look.
I started off the day with “The Girl on the Train,” directed by TCFF regular Larry Brand and produced by Leland residents Rebecca Reynolds and Jim Carpenter.
I must stop here and explain that Rebecca is my “real friend.” We met for coffee recently and I couldn’t contain my excitement at meeting someone in person, face-to-face, talking like real people used to talk rather than online, which is where so much of my life is these days. So now whenever I see Rebecca, we’re all like, “Hey, it’s my real friend!”
I LOVE this movie, and I’m not just saying that because it was produced by my real friend. It’s a thriller, a drama, a comedy, a noir mystery, a movie within a movie, and it even has shades of horror here and there. You’re never quite sure what’s real and what’s not. That’s the beauty of it.
The story follows documentary filmmaker Danny Hart (Henry Ian Cusick), who boards a train at Grand Central Station with no expectation of anything beyond a pleasant ride to upstate New York. Well, you know right away there’s more to that story. The title of this movie is a dead giveaway.
Danny meets a mysterious woman (Nicki Aycox) with whom he trades banter and suddenly, he’s swept into a world of danger, intrigue, and Stephen Lang grilling him in a bleak interrogation room about a murder! Will there be blood? Yes, there will be. Along with an eye shot clean out of a guy’s head, a girl on a deadly mission, a concentration camp story, and a box of chocolate. Honestly, this film keeps you guessing, which is why I love it.
Rebecca, Jim and Larry did a Q&A after the film. Here are some highlights:
On the challenges of producing an independent film: “We call it ‘the train, the pain and the rain,” Rebecca quipped. The film was shot in 17 days in New York City; it was supposed to be 14 days, but because of traffic issues, weather issues, and other logistical problems, it took longer than anticipated.
On improvising and “making do”: Much of the film was shot in the production office, including the scenes in Danny’s office and the interrogation room. “We’d just move the catering table to the other side of the room,” said Rebecca. Larry added, “Sometimes not having the right thing there actually saves you time, because you learn to improvise … You really have to make the shots count.”
On the challenges of filming in an old age home. “The other residents kept turning in the actor for being in the lobby in a robe and pajamas,” said Rebecca. “I said, ‘I’d better take a picture of you with my iPhone in case they whisk you off to a room.’”
On working with Stephen Lang: “You just let him do what he wants to do,” said Larry. “He’s Col. Quarich [from "Avatar"]. I’m not going to argue with him.”
On staying focused: “It must be noted that I did not see a single play while we were shooting in New York,” said Jim. “It killed me.”
On working with famed costume designer Pat Field: “She’s done ‘The Devil Wears Prada,’ ‘Sex and the City…,’” said Rebecca. “But she always wanted to shop a show with New York thrift shops.”
On distribution deals: “The whole independent film world has changed drastically since we did “Christina” [their 2010 film],” said Jim. “We’re launching a big distribution deal that will include Video on Demand, DVDs, North American markets … it’s a lengthy process, and we’ve just begun.”
On [their 2012 documentary] “The Coexist Comedy Tour” being available on iTunes Aug. 13: “Every time you download, we get a dollar … or you could just give me the dollar on the way out and I’ll describe the movie to you,” joked Larry.