INTERVIEW: Jaron Albertin

Interviewed by Fiona Underhill

For our latest Sunday Spotlight interview, Fiona had the fantastic opportunity to chat with director Jaron Albertin, whose feature-film debut released earlier this week (9th November) in New York and Los Angeles after debuting it Zurich Film Festival last year.


FU: I want to ask you about the casting of Alessandro Nivola first of all, I notice that you saw him in the production of The Elephant Man in London (with Bradley Cooper and Patricia Clarkson), I also saw that production, what was it about that performance that led you to want to cast Alessandro?

JA: There wasn’t really anything in that performance at all, but we met afterwards and I did research, I watched everything I could find of his. My producer linked us up and she really rated him – he just got the character. I had never seen him in a role like this, so there was some hesitation there, but I just think he’s a wonderfully underrated actor [FU: I agree]. He was really into the idea of taking it on. What he had to say about it and his approach to it. I knew that, in a way, this film is so sparse, there’s not a lot of dialogue and the nuance that he had to get a hold of – I feel like he did a great job. He’s just a great guy too.

 

FU: What about Johnny Knoxville – I have to ask you how that came about?! I think it’s so interesting that he’s playing the voice of reason in the film and that’s not something you often connect with Johnny Knoxville.

JA: I thought he did a great job, actually. He’s from the South, he’s playing this foreman – working class, blue collar, I think he can pull it off – it’s kind of his world. He was the last person to come on board. We were having a tricky time with our financing, they needed somebody with a name. My producer knows him and knows that he’s been wanting to do more dramatic roles, so we put it in front of him. Initially, I was like (snorts incredulously) “Johnny Knoxville?! From Jackass?!” I was 14 when that came out and I was crashing balls over my head. But he was part of the reason why the movie got made, really. That was the primary reason, but then when we started to talk about it … he sucks you in, he has gravity.

 

 

FU: One of my favourite scenes in the film actually is when Ed (Knoxville) is talking to Joel (Nivola’s character) at the leaving party and he’s comforting Joel and kind of addressing themes of toxic masculinity, by saying “it’s OK to feel your feelings, it’s OK to give into them” and then the next second Ed is off getting a lapdance…

JA: It’s kind of rough, it’s off-the-cuff – it’s not an eloquent speech, but there’s something parallel to the end lines, about sleeping and waking, there’s something about him, in a backwards way, gets what Joel is feeling. It’s a direct line in to Joel and I think it works.

 

 

FU: And what about the kids – there is obviously an amazing performance from Eli Haley who plays one of the central roles – Will, but I also really, really liked his friend Carla (Phoebe Young) who talks to him about superheroes and says she wants to be the huntress. How did you go about casting but also working with the kids, with what are quite mature themes, I always wonder when you’re working with kids in a film that’s designed for adults, how do you not traumatise them, basically?

JA: I think you try to cast kids who inherently get it or understand it, it’s just an organic thing – the more they start to “act”, or they get a sense of what acting is, the more it starts to feel false. It’s got to be natural, as a kid, it’s the only way. You can’t look at a kid and see them as professional actors, I mean you can if they’re singing, dancing, jazz hands, Mickey Mouse Club. But when it comes to something like this, Eli I don’t think he’d ever read the script, I think it was day-to-day to him. His relationship with Alessandro – he was a little afraid of him and I think we just kept it as natural as we could. You don’t want too many takes, you try to get things quickly. But over the course of the film, new dynamics start to take hold and then people become your peers, then you feel like you’ve got to project something else onto these people, new relationships build and that directly manifests itself on screen, those natural relationships that you try to have. Particularly when the kids were together, with who is the alpha kid or whatever, you have to implement that feeling in a certain way because of the dynamic of the kids, which has nothing to do with the roles at all. It’s tricky – you never know what’s going to happen. Not a lot’s said. Eli doesn’t speak for the first 20 minutes of the film. 

 

FU: I think the first time Will speaks is when he has a paper bag on his head and that gives him the confidence to use his voice…

JA: Yeah and he doesn’t really move a lot either. He’s basically placid and sat or in a corner the entire time. There’s only two scenes where he’s walking. I was trying to cut out any part where he was walking or moving because it gave a different perspective on him, which is kind of strange to think about, that he’s just this mass, immobile.

 

FU: I really loved the cinematography, particularly the overhead shots, like the ones that were from the POV of a bird’s wing. I’m wondering how you achieved those shots and why you used them – what were you trying to say with them?

JA: I think I have a perspective on depressed realities alongside nature. Where you have the claustrophobia of the internal, you live without stepping back and looking at the bigger picture or the magic of what the natural world is. I grew up in a small potato-picking, hick town in Northern British Columbia, I went to school with First Nations kids and everyone would be drinking or huffing glue and living in this beautiful environment, but really repressed. But if you step back and look at the world, the reality of nature is so beautiful but we were sort of stuck. So Eli being trapped in his own body and the claustrophobia of that and then seeing this bird, it’s this idea of being able to project yourself onto nature, with the magic up and there and the freedom – it’s that contrast. Nature is unknown and random and scary but it gives us answers. We had a helicopter to shoot that, my producer has a relationship with one of the guys who does commercial shoots – a cowboy renegade helicopter pilot came up and I think we had an hour and a half, which in a way really lifted the film, kind of opened it up, we put the wing in afterwards.

 

FU: So you shot in upstate New York?

JA: Yes – two hours out of Albany, small town called Johnstown, an old gambling town, a beautiful old town, but there’s nothing there. They’ve got a great old town hall, but it’s all boarded up. It’s strange, you’re outside of New York, but you have communities that have nothing, they’ve sucked the industry out of everywhere and there’s no respect for anything. I mean, that’s a little depressing, but that was the case in Johnstown.

 

FU: I can think of 8 films that have come out in the last year dealing with rural poverty in America and I’m wondering if it’s subconsciously to do with trying to understand Trump voters or if that was far from your mind?

JA: It’s an interesting question, because to me: No. The rural poverty wasn’t something that was one of the themes for me at all. It’s more relatable for me, I wanted to shoot this film in the interior of BC in Canada and we just couldn’t do it because of practicalities. It’s where I grew up. And there, it doesn’t have the same social, political connotations. Things are rural, things are depressed, but it just is.

 

FU: I really liked the music, particularly in a scene where Joel stops his truck and goes off into a field to have a slash, there’s this haunting, almost choral music over it and I’m wondering what choices you made about the music and why?

JA: That song is by Julianna Barwick and I had that song in mind when we cut the scene, so that song was always in there. But I wanted at times, the music to be meditative, almost a contrast to what we are seeing. There’s a lot going on in that shot, the telephone poles warp and bend. He’s walking and  disappearing – something is compulsively driving him on. That’s a metaphor for a feeling of being isolated, not being able to communicate, to not be understood, to feel like you’re alone.

The music changed over time. I wanted something sparse, I wanted the music to be in situation for most of it, but there’s some abstract stuff. We find this kid called Clem Leek who lives in Chicago, he’s actually English, he’s brilliant. His piano music, it just connected, it just fit. The music is always tough, trying to limit it, trying to tell the story without it as much as you can without it and see how that works.

 

JC: Especially when you’re from a music video background?

JA: Yeah I moved to London in 2007 and made music videos there for 8 years, that was my background. Then I moved to New York about 5 years ago. But for this, it wasn’t easy – it’s not a film that actually demands music, in a way. So, for me, it was finding a certain type of music that matched and that took a while.


 

Weightless opened in New York and Los Angeles on Friday 9th November, and we’ll have a review up on our site in the very near future – but for now, take a look at the film’s trailer below!

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Action Point

Year: 2018
Directed by: Tim Kirkby
Cast: Johnny Knoxville, Susan Yeagley, Dana Schick, Chris Pontius

Written by Sam Comrie

As the summer blockbuster season begins it’s third act, we begin to enter the phase of late U.S releases. To fill the gaps before the final run of the year drops its high ticket adventures on us, Action Point is one of those movies falling into the cracks. Coming from TV and music video director Tim Kirby, in collaboration with Johnny Knoxville, comes a new excuse for Knoxville (assisted by fellow Jackass alumni Chris Pontius) to perform bone crunching stunts within a conventional slapstick narrative. Immediately from the one sheet, I got the feeling they were going for a throwback to the high output of National Lampoon movies from the late 70s onwards through the 80s.

Unfortunately, Action Point lacks any of the wit, charisma or talent behind some of the more successful National Lampoon ventures ala Animal House and Vacation (’83). I’m all for a slice of laid back slacker fun, however I found myself struggling to find a laugh amongst Action Point’s 85-minute runtime. A chuckle here and there maybe for Knoxville’s quirkiness, but never anything truly side splitting. Because of that lack of comedy, it really makes it apparent how thread bare the narrative is. Told in flashback orientated manner (with Knoxville Grandpa makeup included), D.C Carver (Knoxville) recaps his glory days at Action Point to his granddaughter.

The theme park is notorious in the local community for it’s various health risks and questionable management. Naturally, competitors want to demolish the park to acquire the land for further business ventures. In a bid to pay off the park’s mounting debt, Carver and his band of slackers set about promoting how outrageous the park is to drive up business. In an attempt to add emotional stakes, Carver’s daughter comes to visit for the summer, with news that will determine the dynamic with her father going forward.

As the story tries to use Carver’s daughter as the heart of the movie, it spirals into a pit of dull exchanges around the park, with the occasional stunt thrown in. I probably might have got more enjoyment out of this if the stunts (normally cringe inducing from Knoxville) had at least an ounce of the insanity featured in the Jackass franchise. It’s almost as if these are unused or scrapped stunts that had resurfaced, only to have a wafer thin plot to hold them in as opposed to a new Jackass venture.

Knoxville had stated to Vanity Fair that he had sustained more injuries on this production than any of his previous endeavours. While I applaud his boldness to put himself on the firing line when it comes to slapstick entertainment, this commitment doesn’t feel like it is reflected. It seems like Knoxville is playing it safe, which is a true shame.

If you’re looking for a movie with similar premise around raising money and stunts gone wrong, you’re better off revisiting cult favourite Hot Rod.

Sam’s Rating:

2

Weekend BO Report: ‘Solo’ Continues To Crash But ‘Action Point’ Is The Real Catastrophe

 

Written by Dapo Olowu

A second weekend at the top of the Box Office charts was a certainty, barring a freak collapse, but ‘Solo’ still only crawled to the finish line with a total of $29.4m, a major 65% drop from 7 days ago. It fared a little better internationally, where it fell by only 47%, but brought in just $30.3m here for a global total of $264.4m. Remember, ‘Solo’ comes from the same family of films as ‘The Force Awakens’, that opened in the U.S. alone to $248m in 2015 – a number that ‘Solo’ won’t reach in its entire domestic run. The gross it will finally end on is up for debate. Its second weekend drop mirrored 2014s ‘X-Men: Days of Future Past’s 64% fall, but while the latter was able to nab a 2.58x opening weekend multiplier, the upcoming ‘Incredibles 2’ and ‘Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom’ will surely cut ‘Solo’s Box Office legs short. Could we see ‘Solo’ crash and burn at under $200m domestically? It’s looking more and more like reality as each day passes.

Deadpool 2’ is now just $2m away from a global gross of $600m, with still enough left in the tank to close in on $700m. The duo has confirmed themselves as the biggest R-rated franchise of all time, overtaking the ‘Fifty Shades’ trilogy’s $1.32bn worldwide gross, with $1.38bn. It’s a little difficult to ignore the diminishing returns here; ‘Deadpool 2’ is currently 11% behind its predecessor at the same point in its run, but with bucketloads of profit already assured, Fox won’t be too displeased. Its third weekend showed an interesting similarity to MCU films ‘Thor: Ragnarok’ and ‘Iron Man 2’; all three by the third weekend had/have domestic totals in the region of $250m. A finish nearing $310m for ‘Deadpool 2’ is thus likely, a fantastic return for the merc with the mouth, and for the studio willing to take the risk on the comic book hero.

The biggest new release of the weekend went to ‘Adrift’, which sailed steadily to an $11.6m total, in-line with our below-teen prediction on Friday. Its solid 70% on Rotten Tomatoes, and B on Cinemascore should give it the legs it needs to reach the shores of profitability, and it gets a further boost from the lack of any meaningful competition in the coming weeks. Still, the production cost of $35m, and heavily-skewed audience (69% of viewers were over 25), lands it in choppy waters with little room to grow. It’s a mixed-year for STX Entertainment thus far; ‘Gringo’ flopped with a $5m gross, whilst ‘I Feel Pretty’ and ‘Den of Thieves’ both performed decently, with over $70m each from $30m budgets. Its upcoming Mark Wahlberg shoot-em-up, ‘Mile 22’, and Melissa McCarthy comedy, ‘The Happytime Murders’, probably won’t buck the trend either.

Infinity War held on strong this weekend to bring in $10.5m, but the real story this comes from China, as it dropped only 25% this weekend for a total of $356.2m – the 3rd biggest Hollywood film in Chinese history. Its current global total is $1.97bn, and although $2bn is guaranteed, reaching ‘The Force Awakens’ $2.07bn total seems like a step too far. Fifth spot goes to ‘Book Club’, which again boasted the lowest drop of the weekend, by only falling by 30% to take home $7m. Even with potential competition in ‘Adrift’, the rom-com is comfortably over $50m globally at the moment with a clear schedule ahead.

Now for one of the biggest surprises of the weekend, ‘Upgrade’ smashed expectations by grossing $4.7m in its first three days – enough to be BH Tilt’s second biggest opener ever, and needing just a multiplier of 2.3x to become their biggest ever domestic hit. The sci-fi horror opened in under 1,500 cinemas but was able to boast the 4th best per-cinema average of the weekend, with $3,206. Both ‘Life of the Party’ andBreaking In’ continued their similar runs by bringing in $3.5m and $2.8m each, with domestic totals reaching $46.4m and $41.3m respectively.

No words can really describe just how badly Johnny Knoxville’s ‘Action Point’ did this weekend. It bombed, bringing in just $2.4m of a $19m budget. Far away from our hopeful $9m start, ‘Action Point’ suffered from the lack of advertising, 19% on Rotten Tomatoes (and C+ on Cinemascore), and no tie-in with the ‘Jackass’ franchise that launched Knoxville’s career. Paramount likely knew this would flop from a while back, and thus limited their exposure by spending as little as possible on promotion, which only raises the question: did they attempt to sell this to Netflix? Like they did with ‘Annihilation’ & ‘The Cloverfield Paradox’? The final film rounding off our top ten list was ‘Overboard’, which brought in $1.9m, just $170k off of ‘A Quiet Place’ in 11th.

Next weekend sees the horror ‘Hereditary’, crime thriller ‘Hotel Artemis’, and star-studded heist comedy ‘Oceans 8’ enter the picture. How will they get on against our current top ten? Let us know your thoughts on Twitter and Instagram – we’re at @JUMPCUT_ONLINE.

 

Rank Last Week Rank Film Total U.S. Gross Weekend Gross Weekend drop Jumpcut’s prediction Difference Week number
1 1 Solo: A Star Wars Story $149m $29.4m -65.2% $33m $3.6m 2
2 2 Deadpool 2 $254.5m $23.2m -46.7% $22m $1.2m 3
3 Adrift $11.6m $11.6m $12.5m $0.9m 1
4 3 Avengers: Infinity War $643m $10.5m -39.2% $9.4m $1.1m 6
5 4 Book Club $47.6m $7m -30.1% $7.3m $0.3m 3
6 Upgrade $4.7m $4.7m $3.8m $0.9m 1
7 5 Life of the Party $46.4m $3.5m -34.9% $3.6m $0.1m 4
8 6 Breaking In $41.3m $2.8m -34.4% $2.5m $0.3m 4
9 Action Point $2.4m $2.4m $9m $6.6m 1
10 8 Overboard $45.5m $1.9m -37.8% 5

 

 

 

Johnny Knoxville Gives The Middle Finger To Safety In The First ‘Action Point’ Trailer

“Everyone’s favorite daredevil Johnny Knoxville is back to his hilariously painful antics in the upcoming comedy ACTION POINT. Knoxville stars as D.C., the crackpot owner of a low-rent, out-of-control amusement park where the rides are designed with minimum safety for maximum fun. Just as D.C.’s estranged teenage daughter Boogie comes to visit, a corporate mega-park opens nearby and jeopardizes the future of Action Point. To save his beloved theme park and his relationship with his daughter, D.C. and his loony crew of misfits risk everything to pull out all the stops – and stunts – making for another wild ride from the star of BAD GRANDPA and JACKASS.”

Directed by: Tim Kirkby

Starring:  Johnny Knoxville, Brigette Lundy-Paine, Eleanor Worthington-Cox, Chris Pontius

Release Date: June 29th, 2018