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SxSW 2016 Interview: Meet the team behind THE ARBALEST!

by Jason Whyte

Alex Orr: Boy meets girl, girl hates boy, boy obsesses over girl in unhealthy and hilarious manner for years and years.
Mike Brune: I'll let Adam take this one.
Adam Pinney: It's about the inventor of the world's greatest toy, and his decade long obsession with a woman who hates him.
Tallie Medel: Ooh I want to try! A shy toy inventor has a very intense night in a hotel and everything changes for him in a huge way. Then he won't leave a bad bitch alone." -- The team behind THE ARBALEST, screening at South By Southwest 2016. efilmcritic.com talks with director Adam Pinney, producer Alex Orr and stars Mike Brune and Tallie Medel.

I am thrilled for all of you for THE ARBALEST showing at SxSW and that this is your first time here! Are you planning to attend your screenings?

Mike: Absolutely! I am thrilled to death and will be at the premiere screening.
Tallie: I'm so excited I have been thinking about it every day since we were accepted. I'll be there for the premiere and the Tuesday screening.
Adam: Thanks! I'm beyond excited for the screenings. I will be at the premiere on March 14th, as well as our second screening on March 15th.
Alex: I have never been to SXSW before. CAN'T WAIT.

Tallie, I hear you have been here before at SxSW? Tell me about what you had here before.

Tallie: I was here representing DANIELS' music video for Passion Pit's CRY LIKE A GHOST in 2014. The Vimeo music video program was excellent and I drank a vanilla milkshake that was so good I got distracted. Who made that milkshake? I have to find it again.

(Author note: it was likely the Alamo Drafthouse.)

Could you all give me a lowdown on your previous work and experience in the film business?

Mike: I attended film school at Georgia State University, where I met our director Adam, our producer Alex, and our cinematographer Hugh. We became friends, started a film collective called Fake Wood Wallpaper, and have been making movies together ever since. As an actor, I've appeared in BLOOD CAR, VAN WILDER: FRESHMAN YEAR and DRINKING BUDDIES. As a filmmaker, I have written & directed one feature film called CONGRATULATIONS!, which is out now on iTunes and VOD.
Tallie: I went to Emerson College where I met my current comedy and filmmaking crew including Sunita Mani & Eleanore Pienta (aka the Cocoon Central Dance Team), Daniel Scheinert, Dan Kwan, Alex Fischer and Bob Walles. Lots of very smart and attractive people. Daniel Scheinert brought a short I was in to Sidewalk Film Festival that Joe Swanberg saw, Joe sent my name to Dan Sallitt, I worked on THE UNSPEAKABLE ACT with Dan and since then I have been working in film and comedy.
Adam: Mike, Alex, Hugh and I met in college and started the film collective Fake Wood Wallpaper. We have worked on numerous films and tv shows together. This will be our fourth feature as a collective and my first in the director's chair.
Alex: I started as a production assistant in Atlanta and eventually started working as a producer and unit production manager on films and TV. Other Film and TV credits include BLUE RUIN, TOO MANY COOKS, YOUR PRETTY FACE IS GOING TO HELL, WIN IT ALL, BLOOD CAR, FX's ATLANTA and some other fun stuff!

So how did this movie come together from your respective perspectives?

Mike: Typically, when one of us finishes a script, we send it out via email asking for notes on it. I think that's when I first read it. Later on down the line, Adam asked me to play the part of Foster and I immediately said YES. I was living in Chicago at the time and when I moved back to Atlanta in the late summer of 2014, we jumped right into filming that September.
Tallie: I met Alex and Katie Orr at the Sarasota Film Festival when they screened A IS FOR ALEX and I was there for JOY KEVIN. They showed my work to Adam back in Atlanta, and he asked me to play Sylvia. She is one of the best characters I have ever read and the whole script was so exciting and funny and surprising. I wanted to start right away.
Adam: I wanted to make a small film that we could shoot easily, and it was originally supposed to be just an 'interview" film; basically a guy in a room answering questions. While I was writing, I realized it would be much more interesting to see what he was talking about, as is the way movies work better I have learned. Crazy, right? I expanded the story and it became the weird thing it is now. I wanted to work with my friends and all of them were on board, and I was lucky enough to have some amazing actors join us for the first time, all of who I hope to keep working with on future projects.
Alex: I read the script and from that moment on it all really came together effortlessly.

What keeps you all going while making a movie? What drives you? Any special addictions?

Mike: It used to be candy, but now my teeth can't handle that anymore. I would do anything for Adam, Alex, and Hugh. They are my best friends and if they ever ask me to help make a movie, I am in. I don't need to know anything about it. I'm just in. This was the first film we all worked on together in quite some time, so it was special in that respect. Making movies with your friends is how it all began for most of us, so this was just like the next chapter in that book. So, the camaraderie, the relationships, both old and new, the creativity, the process; it all drives me.
Tallie: The environment was a real love fest so coming in every morning was a joy. How wonderful is it to make a film you love with people who support one another? That was great. Additionally, reading the script over and over, trying not to eat too much hummus, drinking enough water, sleeping, etc. Word to Katie Ballard, our head makeup artist -- hire her -- for hiding the bags under my eyes every morning.
Adam: Once you start down the road of making a movie, it is practically impossible to stop. You have so many people working together, and putting their all into it, that the idea of slowing down or stopping doesn't even come into the equation. It's the people I work with that keeps me going. I love them all so much!
Alex: I am not good at sitting still so I'm glad I can dive into filmmaking to keep me out of trouble. During a shoot, I am usually fueled by chicky-bicky's.

So for all of you, what was the biggest challenge and reward out of making THE ARBALEST?

Mike: The most rewarding thing was shooting the hotel room sequence. During this sequence, we meet two of the other amazing characters in the film, played by Tallie Medel and Jon Briddell. I loved everything we shot in that room. We filmed it chronologically. The set was beautifully designed and the story just really came to life for me during that time. I remember sitting in that room and just feeling transported into the universe of THE ARBALEST.
Tallie: The high emotion scenes are always exhausting but especially so here because I was so happy every day. That's dumb because it's my job, but it's true. Getting to be a part of this film is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever had as an actor, especially being trusted to play Sylvia. I feel this is a feminist film, which really lights my fire. Additionally: any time I could make someone laugh. Our crew is a quick crowd.
Adam: The biggest challenge was the edit. A lot of what you write, then shoot, just doesn't work the way you thought it would when it was just on the page. So putting the movie together in a way that makes any sort sense and is watchable is tough. The most rewarding moment is a culmination of moments, that have not stopped. Seeing people on set that first day, wrapping and hanging with everyone to celebrate our work, and now being able to show all of them the film at fucking SxSW is what makes all this worth it.
Alex: When I first saw the hotel room put together with the backdrop it was a major relief to me that it worked. Because I promised it would but wasn't really sure if I was telling the truth. And when you look at a drop with the naked eye for the first time, it's a little scary because it doesn't look like it will fool anyone. But when you look through the camera it's amazing; it works every time. I knew the movie would be special the first time I saw some of Mike and Tallie roughed in together in an edit. They are a real pleasure to watch.

Iím about to get technical, but I would love to know about the the visual design of the movie and how it was photographed.

Adam: We shot on the Black Magic Cinema Camera. Hugh Braselton, the cinematographer, is a longtime friend of mine and I was thrilled when he agreed to shoot the film. Our film is a period piece that takes place from the late 60s to late 70s and we wanted to be able to capture the look and feel of that era. It was important for us to make a film that looked like it was from the era, and not just about the era, so we used a lot of camera movements and framing that mimicked shots of films we admire from that time.

What are you all looking forward to the most about showing THE ARBALEST at SxSW in Austin?

Mike: I am excited to see it with an audience. I haven't seen the film yet so my first time will be at the world premiere.
Tallie: Part of me wants to watch the movie just with cast and crew first, but I also can't wait to share THE ARBALEST. I am so proud of Adam and I want everyone to see his movie.
Adam: Showing it to all the people who worked on it, many of whom are coming out to the screening in Austin, is going to be great. I couldn't think of a better venue for people to watch this film.
Alex: I think the SxSW crowd is really going to enjoy this film, and I'm so excited for them to see it.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

Adam: Our next screening will be in our hometown at the Atlanta Film Festival!

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you screen it and why?

Tallie: I would love to see it play at BAM back in Brooklyn. My friends in New York have been asking when it comes out since we wrapped. And it should show in Ketchikan, Alaska where I'm from, because Sylvia reminds me of the Alaskan women I look up to.
Adam: I was born in Germany and lived there for ten years. The first movie I ever went to was STAR TREK IV: THE VOYAGE HOME at a theatre on the Army Base where we lived. I was six and I needed to pee so I peed all over the empty seat next to me, thinking no one saw me. When we left the theatre I had piss all over my pants, but it was raining out so I pointed to my crotch and said "Hey, look at all this rain that got on my pants!" I was a very smart kid. So, yeah, that theatre would be amazing to return to.

What would you all say to someone who was talking or texting through a movie?

Mike: Be quiet, please.
Tallie: You are breaking my heart.
Adam: I am a pretty reluctant shusher, unless you are elderly, then all bets are off. I will stand up next to you and tell you to be quiet, because I am very brave.
Alex: I usually ask for their phone number and then text them pictures of them texting. It's a little more work but it pays off.

For the aspiring filmmakers out there, what is the ONE THING you would each say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business as a piece of advice?

Mike: I would study the movies you love and how they were made.
Tallie: Find your people and don't stop.
Adam: I'm with Tallie on this, find people you love and trust, and help each other make everything.
Alex: Yeah, go out with your friends and make things. Stop talking about making movies and go make movies.

And finally, for all of you lovely people, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

Mike: I attended a conversation with Liv Ullman at the Sarasota Film Festival a few years back. It was incredible. And then I saw SCENES FROM A MARRIAGE there, too.
Tallie: Too hard! There were excellent shorts at the 2015 New York Film Festival, including Dustin Guy Defa's REVIEW; at Sarasota last April I loved Khalik Allah's FIELD NIGGAS. Thatís an incredible film.
Adam: There are so many. I really enjoyed SANGRE by Amat Escalante, which I saw at the Sarasota Film Festival many years ago. There is also a short called DER OSTWIND by Kohl Glass that was a lot of fun. It's a WWI dogfight film shot like SIN CITY. It is fantastic.
Alex: I saw THE AMERICAN ASTRONAUT in college at a film festival and it was one of the most inspiring things I have seen since.

Want to know more about the movie and its progress? Be sure to visit thearbalestmovie.tumblr.com!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2016. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2016 SXSW in Austin, Texas taking place March 11-19. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=3934
originally posted: 03/10/16 09:48:19
last updated: 03/10/16 16:05:32
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