By Dayna Wilkinson
Last Days in the Desert, from writer-director Rodrigo García AB ’82, opens in theaters on May 13, 2016. The film stars Ewan MacGregor, Ciaran Hinds and Tye Sheridan. Pictured below: García and McGregor on the set.
Q. How did you conceive of this story of Jesus during his forty days of fasting and meditation in the Judaean desert?
A. I’m surprised the idea came to me at all, I wasn’t looking to make a movie about Jesus. The initial impulse was that Jesus would encounter a father and son with conflict between them, and that he would be compelled, consciously or not, to try to intervene. It’s not a religious movie particularly.
Q. Did the film turn out the way you expected?
A. I wanted the movie to examine whether you create your own your destiny, whether it’s pre-ordained or whether it’s determined by your parents and their wishes. As I wrote scenes, things became clearer—I added the character of the mother, for example. Then I realized I needed someone for Jesus to talk to who knew who he was. In the gospel, the only other being in the desert is Lucifer so I wrote him into the story. Eventually as I wrote, shot and edited the film, I discovered the things about the story that were personal to me.Read more
By D. Dona Le
Orphan X, the latest novel by Gregg Hurwitz AB '95, will be published on January 19, 2016. The book is the first in the Evan Smoak series that Hurwitz is adapting for Warner Brothers, with Bradley Cooper producing (and possibly starring). Recently, director Colin Trevorrow finished shooting Hurwitz's screenplay, The Book of Henry.
Read our special Q&A with Hurwitz about both of these upcoming projects below!
Q. There's been a tight lid on details about THE BOOK OF HENRY, but can you tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the idea and the choice to explore this dark plot with child-aged protagonists?
A. I can't even remember the inspiration since I wrote the first draft—literally—18 years ago. It felt like this pure, rare thing where I just thought of this single mom and her two kids stuck in a near-impossible predicament. I will say that Henry's voice (Henry is the 12-year-old prodigy at the center of the story) came very naturally. Not because I'm a prodigy or anything close to it but because sometimes my characters are smarter than I am, even in real time. I can't remember ever hearing characters' voices that distinctly right off the bat. Read more
Congratulations to the talented Brener Brothers, whose indie musical comedy The Rumperbutts—starring Mates of State duo Kori Gardner and Jason Hammel, Arian Moayed (Appropriate Behaviour, Rosewater), and Vanessa Ray (Pretty Little Liars, Blue Bloods)—was recently released in theaters and on Amazon, GooglePlay, iTunes, and Vimeo.
About The Rumperbutts: A married indie band duo (Mates of State) regretfully takes a job on a children's show The Rumperbutts. Despite money and success, their relationship turns to one of resentment. On one extraordinary evening, a magical man (Josh Brener) leads them on a path of rediscovery and gives them a second chance at happiness. Featuring original music by Mates of State.
Actor Josh Brener AB '07 (above, left) has appeared on Maron, The Internship with Vince Vaughn and Owen Wilson, and Workaholics. He currently plays Big Head on HBO's hit series Silicon Valley.
Marc Brener (above, right) wrote and directed The Rumperbutts. Marc is also known for his work on Say It Ain't Solo.Read more
By Sara Lynne Wright
THIS YEAR AT SUNDANCE, The Witch, produced by Jodi Redmond GSE '08, received the Directing Award: U.S. Dramatic and then was acquired by A24 & DirecTV (U.S. distribution rights) and Universal Pictures International Productions (foreign rights).
New England, 1630. William and Katherine lead a devout Christian life, homesteading on the edge of an impassable wilderness, with five children. When their newborn son mysteriously vanishes and their crops fail, the family begins to turn on one another. In his debut feature, writer/director Robert Eggers painstakingly designs an authentic re-creation of New England - generations before the 1692 trials in Salem -- evoking the alluring and terrifying power of the timeless witch myth. Told through the eyes of Thomasin, the teenage daughter (in a star-making performance by Anya Taylor-Joy), and supported by haunting camera work and an ominous score, The Witch is a chilling portrait of a family unraveling within their own fears and anxieties, leaving them prey for an inescapable evil.Read more
By Sara Lynne Wright
What attracted you to #POPFAN?
Lisa Hamilton Daly, a really smart, accomplished executive at Lifetime, brought the project to me to direct. When I read the script, I could immediately visualize the style I wanted to shoot. I saw pockets of practical light with bits of scenes disappearing into the shadows, and moving cameras shooting through layers of depth as we revealed the characters.
One of Lifetime’s goals is to bring in the twenty-something audience, so this film could be edgy – visually and thematically dark. The script also had very challenging acting roles for the actors. One of my strengths as a director is working with actors, so I love complex roles that actors can really dig into – characters I want to keep watching.Read more
Harvardwood Publishing is relaunching this spring with a whole host of new initiatives to develop and expand the imprint and its reach. Patricia Danaher is the new Director of Harvardwood Publishing, and she spokes to us about her plans.
I’m very excited to be announcing a wide range of new activities for Harvardwood. Late next month, we will be launching our first anthology, a co- publication with the Harvard Review, which will feature work from Seamus Heaney, Joyce Carol Oates, Sherman Alexia, Sharon Olds and Tony Hoagland, among many others. Harvard Review editor, Christina Thompson is working very enthusiastically with Harvardwood Publishing on this and other future collaborations.
Our first anthology will have the passage of time as its theme and is dedicated to the memory of Nobel laureaute Seamus Heaney who was a longtime friend of the Harvard Review and a member of its board. We will have launches in Cambridge, New York and LA.
Later this year, we plan to publish a second anthology, which will feature new work from a broad range of writers. We will announce the theme and the submissions criteria in April. Several future anthologies are planned.Read more
By Sara Lynne Wright
MARK GOFFMAN KSG '94 is the showrunner of hit series Sleepy Hollow, in addition to being a producer and writer on White Collar, The West Wing, and Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.
Q. How did the SLEEPY HOLLOW writers approach the first season, when you were still getting to know each other?
A. In the writers room, you get to know each other very quickly. We had a mini retreat and worked backwards from the finale. We spent a lot of time talking about elements in the pilot, the characters, our history, and an overarching theme for the season. We asked ourselves: What is the wildest way we can end this season? How can we leave each of our characters near-impossibly perched on a figurative cliff?Read more
By Sara Lynne Wright
CAMERON PORSANDEH KSG '04 is the Creator & Co-Executive Producer of SyFy's Helix.
Q. Where did the idea for HELIX come from? Do you write what you know?
A. I do write what I know, but more often it simply serves as the launching point for the story. I was in the Arctic Circle years ago and two things struck me:
It seemed like the closest to being on the moon that you can be on earth. It was stunning. The landscape was barren and haunting, and I thought someone should do a show set there. The kinds of people who would choose to live there are equally compelling. Werner Herzog did a documentary called ENCOUNTERS AT THE END OF THE EARTH about the kind of people who would inhabit a place like the base on HELIX. I wanted to do a show that took place in the Arctic Circle filled with people on the fringes of society who have found another community among themselves.Read more
By Sanyee Yuan
Q: Your documentary, The Skin I’m In, tells the story of your personal journey as a recovering alcoholic after you were found passed out in the Berlin subway tracks with your head split open. When and why did you decide to tell this story?
A. I had made other autobiographical video works in the past, some short works. I came out to California after Harvard to go to grad school, where I studied production at USC. Much to the shock of many of my professors and colleagues, I then went on to get a PhD from USC as well. To a lot of those people, critical thinking is completely separate from production. I began to make short works that were on a scale of production that was manageable while writing a dissertation, and I turned to using the technology at my disposal and a subject matter that was on call 24/7: me.
The first such short I made was in 2001, called Things Girls Do, which explores the gendered tropes around eating and body disorders. This was in 2001 in a pre YouTube, pre social media, pre Facebook moment. Since that film, it’s become a daily digital ritual for many to confess and reveal ourselves and to perform online. But all of that is instantaneous, with little retrospection or craft. My hope is to restore a sense of political urgency, critical reflection, artistry and play to acts of digital autobiography, using the self to ask bigger cultural questions.
In this film, I use my own experience getting sober and literally and metaphorically transforming my body through tattooing, to ask some hopefully resonant questions about identity and connection in a globalizing, digital world.Read more