Cast: John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Daveed Diggs, Gabriel Iglesias, Bobby Cannavale, David Tennant, Anthony Anderson, Flula Borg, Sally Phillips, Boris Kodjoe, Jerrod Carmichael, Raúl Esparza, Karla Martínez, Miguel Ángel Silvestre.
FERDINAND tells the story of a giant bull with a big heart. After being mistaken for a dangerous beast, he is captured and torn from his home. Determined to return to his family, he rallies a misfit team on the ultimate adventure. Set in Spain, Ferdinand proves you can’t judge a bull by its cover.
From Blue Sky Studios and Carlos Saldanha, the director of “Rio” and inspired by the beloved book “The Story of Ferdinand” by Munro Leaf and Robert Lawson, “Ferdinand” is a heartwarming animated comedy adventure with an all-star cast that includes John Cena, Kate McKinnon, Gina Rodriguez, Anthony Anderson and many more.
I had a chat with fellow Wisconsin native turned L.A. filmmaker, Hunter Adams, about his new release, Dig Two Graves, which is available to watch on iTunes and at a theatre near you. His film is a suspenseful thriller that is summed up perfectly by its tagline. ‘A young girl’s obsession with her brother’s death leads her on a nightmarish journey where she is faced with a deadly proposition to bring him back.’ I was excited to speak to him and could have talked to him all night but administered some self-control and kept it short. Here is some of that chat:
Me: So you’re from Wisconsin, I see.
HA: Wisconsin has a long history of serial killers and great directors.
Me: (I resisted asking him if he were also a serial killer.) A lot of great actors, as well.
HA: Yeah. I’ve met a lot of crew out here in L.A. who are Wisconsinites.
From my experience, Wisconsin schools always encourage the arts and most Midwesterners are escaping the cold so this makes sense to me. Moving on, I asked him where his fairly unique and bizarre story came from.
HA: It started off as a simple story about a young girl who loses her brother and then makes a deal with the devil, by way of these three hillbillies. Ultimately, I decided I wanted to give them more of a concrete narrative… to be messing with the girl. They were originally drawn in the Shakespearean tradition (the witches from MacBeth) where you just weren’t quite sure how much supernatural power they had or if they were just being manipulative. I kinda wanted to walk that fine line. But in the final version, we do have an actual reason for messing with the girl.
Me: Where did you originally get your love of films?
HA: From my mother. She’s in my first film, The Hungry Bull.
Me: That’s a nice thing to be able to do. What does she think of this film?
HA: My mom passed away while I was writing the script so she didn’t get to see the final product, unfortunately.
Me: I’m sorry. She’s with you, though.
HA: She definitely influenced the film.
Me: Did you go to film school?
HA: I didn’t really have a film school education per se. Its been mostly a hodge-podge of classes and self-teaching and just watching as much as I can.
Me: How long does it take to get a film like this made from script to screen?
HA: We started in 2011 and we went through a program called IFP (Independent Feature Project) New York, which is a big non-profit program. So, we did their– we went to this film week in New York. We went to a script lab and after that, we made some connections that led us to some investors and we ultimately started shooting in 2013. It was about a year of editing afterward. We shot for four weeks in January in the dead of winter and we went back for a few days in the summer for the opening shots of the two kids in the quarry. And then the underwater sequences, which are at the end, we did that here in L.A.
Me: You clearly love both writing and directing, is there one you’d prefer over the other if you could choose only one?
HA: Directing. I like to have the control. I love being on set and the collaboration, working with actors… the whole process; post production, working with the sound team. All that stuff. And I love the technical side as much as I do the artistic side.
Me: Do you have a say in editing your projects?
HA: I edit a lot on my own for a living. That’s how I pay the bills. It’s something I’m heavily involved with but I had a good editor who worked with me on this one.
Me: I loved the tone, the color, and the overall feel that the landscape gave the film. Where was this shot?
HA: We shot it in an interesting part of the country called Little Egypt. It’s in southern Illinois. Everything there is Egyptian themed. Down there it isn’t flat and boring, it’s really wild and it has swamps and hills and cliffs and lots of slivers. It’s a really interesting place; a great backdrop for a supernatural setting. It’s about six hours south of Chicago.
Me: What was the most difficult thing to shoot in this production and what was the easiest?
HA: It’s sort of hard to narrow it down. There were so many difficult shots. So much of it was shot at night in very rural locations in the dead of winter and during one of the coldest winter spells on record in Illinois. That made everything pretty challenging; pretty grueling. But there were a couple of really technical things that were hard to achieve. There was a fire scene… and the underwater sequence was really hard both for the actors and for me because as the director, you’re giving over control to the underwater technicians and it’s a really slow process. That was really frustrating because I like to keep things moving. So, I have to say the fire and the water. They were the most technical and the hardest to pull off. I think the easiest were the scenes between the grandfather and granddaughter. They had such a natural chemistry together. There wasn’t really very much I had to do except just get out of their way and let them be great actors together. They’re the real heartbeat of the story. They’re the real emotional arc and I think that they both did a terrific job. That makes me look good and makes my job easier.
Me: Are you ever going to direct someone else’s work?
HA: It’s possible if the right script came along. There’s nothing in the works at the moment. I have a few projects that I’m developing but those are things that I’ve also written… but I definitely have my eyes and ears open. If something came along I would not be opposed.
Me: Tell me about your writing process.
HA: To me, because I’m writing, directing and am involved from the conception to completion, the writing process is pretty fluid and doesn’t just start and end on the page. That’s one part of the process. I also went down to southern Illinois, spent a couple of months down there… scouting locations and talking to locals and incorporating some of the folklore that I heard, into the screenplay. Some changes come when you’re on set and you’re with the actors and they’re bringing their instincts in, it continues to change. Then in post (production) we significantly re-shaped the storyline, as well. But when I’m specifically writing, I try and set hours, you know? I’ll get up at three in the morning and try and work; try to be as diligent as possible. I have to really be regimented or I won’t get anything done. I consider the writing process to be throughout the entire filmmaking process. I was making changes right up until the last day of the sound mix; cutting shots out. It’s an evolution, for sure.
Me: Congrats on doing such an amazing job of casting.
HA: We knew casting the girl was going to be the most important decision we made on the movie because it really rests on her shoulders and if the audience doesn’t take the journey with her than there really is no movie. So, we spent a long time looking for the right actress to play that part and pretty late in the process we had a tape in the mail from Sammy (Samantha Isler). She was living in Tulsa OK, had never been in a movie before and when we got the tape I knew, pretty much right away, that she was the one. She had great instincts, she was smart and understood the subtext… had a real intention behind the words which is pretty rare to see in someone of that age and still have that innocence, you know, that wide-eyed look that we needed. So, we got pretty lucky that we found her and a lot of the other cast were Chicago-based. We were trying to cast locally as much as possible because of the budget. So, we tapped into the local T.V. and theatre scene there and got some great actors and then Ted Levine was on our short list of actors we were looking at. Short because the actor had to be a pretty specific age because we age him up and down for the two time periods. And I’ve always loved his work. He’s played some pretty iconic roles, Buffalo Bill from Silence of the Lambs being the most notorious, but I was excited to see him play a meaty role for a change. We gave him a chance to dig into a morally complex character. We got lucky with him. He’s a real method actor; he gets into the part… pretty obsessive about wardrobe and costuming and all that kind of stuff. It was an honor to work with him. I can’t even imagine another actor playing that role now.
Me: Tell me about your next project, Blue Palms.
HA: The guy that did the storyboards on Dig Two Graves is a cartoonist friend of mine and we concocted a graphic novel that’s best described as a demented version of Three’s Company. So, it’s kind of a wacky comedy about these eccentric artists living in a dilapidated apartment in Hollywood. And we’re getting ready to publish the first volume of that and try to spin that off into an animated comedy series. It’s very different in tone from Dig Two Graves but sometimes you gotta swing the opposite way and keep in interesting.
Me: Give me some words of wisdom for any budding filmmakers who may be reading this.
HA: If you want to be a filmmaker, it’s important to watch movies. To watch a lot of great movies; old movies and really understand the potential of the medium. I think, a lot of times with a first-time filmmaker, they can be a little bland in a cinematic sense. Sort of shot after shot of talking heads. They don’t utilize the full vocabulary of the medium. When you’re ready to make a movie, my advice is, it’s such a laborious, time-consuming process that you really have to make something that you’re passionate about, not something that you think is going to sell or be popular cuz chances are it’s not going to necessarily make millions of dollars. You’re going to be spending years of your life on this. You gotta invest your time in something you really believe in. And enjoy the process as much as the final product.
Me: How do indie filmmakers get their films seen?
HA: We played the festival circuit and then the last year or two had just been trying to figure out the wild, wild west of independent film distribution. We finally got that sorted out. It’s now releasing in theatres and on VOD. Its been a long journey. We’re doing an iTunes exclusive for the first four weeks and then it’ll be available on all VOD platforms; Amazon, Playstation… all of them. That’ll be April 21st. All VOD platforms. Just search Dig Two Graves right now on iTunes and it’ll pop up.
What are you waiting for?! You heard the man. Go check it out and watch this little gem. If you’re a horror fan and like a good indie film, this is a strong story with great characters that is filmed beautifully be someone who appreciates a good movie and wanted to create something for his audience to remember. Hunter Adams was a joy to talk to. I believe he’s a director to watch out for and a name you’ll hear more of in the future. Start now and don’t miss a thing he does.
In this fully animated, all-new take on the Smurfs, a mysterious map sets Smurfette and her best friends Brainy, Clumsy and Hefty on an exciting and thrilling race through the Forbidden Forest filled with magical creatures to find a mysterious lost village before the evil wizard Gargamel does. Embarking on a rollercoaster journey full of action and danger, the Smurfs are on a course that leads to the discovery of the biggest secret in Smurf history!
SATURDAY IS KIDS DAY AT THE 2017 PHOENIX FILM FESTIVAL!
PHOENIX (March 22, 2017)- Saturday is Kids Day, at the 2017 Phoenix Film Festival. Kids Day will be taking place on Saturday, April 8th beginning at 9am and continue until 2pm.
Kids’ Day at the Phoenix Film Festival give children of all ages the chance to learn about the art of film. Younger-festival patrons can color a movie poster also participate in a craft and story time event. Older film fans can try their craft at acting, editing, and creating their own short films. And everyone can feel like a Hollywood star when they get their picture taken on the red carpet and get transported into their favorite movie via a green screen, and spark their creativity as they explore books as movies.
The best part of Kids’ Day? Kids will receive a flash drive so they can take home their creations!
These age-appropriate stations allow kids to explore the filmmaking process from beginning to end, and every part in between!
Kids Day is presented by Steele Foundation, IFP Phoenix, Bookmans, University of Advancing Technology, Phoenix Public Library, and Valley Youth Theatre.
The 17th Annual Phoenix Film Festival occurs this year from Thursday, April 6th to Thursday, April 13th. Continually breaking attendance records since its inception, last year’s festival saw over
25,000 attendees and there are hopes to pull in even more film enthusiasts this year. The week-long Festival will be held once again at Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatre located at 7000 E. Mayo Blvd. Phoenix, AZ 85054.
For movie lovers, this is an event that is not to be missed. Tickets and passes are on sale now and available through the Phoenix Film Festival website www.PhoenixFilmFestival.com. Tickets may also be purchased in person at the Phoenix Film Festival Ticket Center next to the Harkins Scottsdale 101 Theatre. Tickets range in price from $13 for a single screening to $300 for a platinum pass. For more information call 602-955-6444 or visit www.PhoenixFilmFestival.com.
THREE BILLBOARDS OUTSIDE EBBING, MISSOURI is a darkly comic drama from Academy Award winner Martin McDonagh (IN BRUGES). After months have passed without a culprit in her daughter’s murder case, Mildred Hayes (Academy Award winner Frances McDormand) makes a bold move, painting three signs leading into her town with a controversial message directed at William Willoughby (Academy Award nominee Woody Harrelson), the town’s revered chief of police. When his second-in-command Officer Dixon (Sam Rockwell), an immature mother’s boy with a penchant for violence, gets involved, the battle between Mildred and Ebbing’s law enforcement is only exacerbated.
Writer: Nicholas Stoller (Based on the Epic Novels by Dav Pilkey)
Producers: Mark Swift, Mireille Soria
Cast: Kevin Hart, Ed Helms, Nick Kroll, Thomas Middleditch, Jordan Peele, Kristen Schaal
Based on the worldwide sensation and bestselling book series, and boasting an A-list cast of comedy superstars headed by Kevin Hart and Ed Helms, DreamWorks Animation brings audiences the long-awaited global movie event, Captain Underpants: The First Epic Movie. This raucously subversive comedy for the entire family tells the story of two overly imaginative pranksters named George and Harold, who hypnotize their principal into thinking he’s a ridiculously enthusiastic, incredibly dimwitted superhero named Captain Underpants.
CAPTAIN UNDERPANTS: THE FIRST EPIC MOVIE Official Channels
DISNEY·PIXAR’S “CARS 3” FUELS UP FOR NATIONWIDE TOUR
Road to the Races Takes Off March 23, 2017
Title Sponsors Include Alamo Rent A Car SM, Coppertone®,
Crest®/Oral-B®, DOLE® and Mattel
BURBANK, Calif. (March 21, 2017) — Disney•Pixar’s “Cars 3” is hitting the road this month with Road to the Races, a nationwide tour inviting fans of #95 to gear up for the upcoming big-screen release. Life-size, character look-alikes of five-time Piston-Cup champion Lightning McQueen, tech-savvy trainer Cruz Ramirez and the sleek next-gen racer Jackson Storm will be rolling into 27 cities coast to coast to celebrate the new movie, which opens June 16, 2017.
“We are going to kick off the tour at Disney Springs in Walt Disney World on Thursday, March 23,” said Lylle Breier, senior vice president, worldwide marketing partnerships and special events for the Walt Disney Studios. “There will be fun activities for the whole family—plus a sneak peek of the movie.”
The roster of cities includes Miami, Dallas, Chicago, Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Denver and Los Angeles, among others—the full list is available at CARS3tour.com. The “Road to the Races” nationwide tour wraps up in California with a visit to NASCAR at Sonoma at the Sonoma Raceway June 24-25, 2017, and the life-size character cars will also roll onto the red carpet for the “Cars 3” world premiere on Saturday, June 10, 2017.
A host of sponsors have signed on to support the tour, which includes a variety of activities.
Alamo Rent A CarSM is hosting a street art booth and will bring “Cars 3” to life with a giant coloring mural featuring Lightning McQueen and friends, along with a color pencil pack souvenir. Owned and operated by Enterprise Holdings, Alamo Rent A Car offers low rental rates and a hassle-free customer experience at the most popular travel destinations around the world.
Coppertone® is creating a racer pit crew that encourages visitors to take part in a tire-changing activity and photo-sharing opportunity. A leader in the sun care industry, Coppertone is made by Bayer HealthCare, LLC.
Crest® and Oral-B® celebrate the Road to the Races tour, providing fans with an opportunity to create a digital postcard with Lightning McQueen and get “Cars”-themed oral care products. Crest and Oral-B are the first step to enjoying a lifetime of healthy smiles.
Dole®, the leader in fresh, quality produce, invites visitors to fuel up and recharge their batteries, sample high-octane fruit and vegetable smoothies, collect “Cars 3”-inspired recipes and discover how Dole and Disney are working together to make healthy living fun and easy for families. To see more of Dole’s exciting promotions around summer family fun, visit www.dole.com/Cars3.
Mattel presents an interactive play area, which sends Lightning McQueen and other racers down the gravity drop and launches them into action in new play sets that feature locations from the movie. Also on display will be a collection of die cast racers from past and present. Mattel is the leading global childhood development and play company.
Fans will be able to catch a sneak peek of the movie in the Cinetransformer Mobile Movie Theater. Visitors will also be able to take photos with the life-size character cars.
In addition, the sports national youth program NASCAR Acceleration Nation will display the science behind NASCAR racing, and elements from the NASCAR Hall of Fame will allow attendees to get up close and personal with the history of NASCAR.
Mack Trucks, Inc. will transport the life-size character cars on the coast-to-coast tour.
Schedules are subject to change without notice, and attractions may be unavailable for unscheduled reasons.
ABOUT THE MOVIE
Blindsided by a new generation of blazing-fast racers, the legendary Lightning McQueen (voice of Owen Wilson) is suddenly pushed out of the sport he loves. To get back in the game, he will need the help of an eager young race technician, Cruz Ramirez (voice of Cristela Alonzo), with her own plan to win, plus inspiration from the late Fabulous Hudson Hornet and a few unexpected turns. Proving that #95 isn’t through yet will test the heart of a champion on Piston Cup Racing’s biggest stage! Directed by Brian Fee (storyboard artist “Cars,” “Cars 2“), produced by Kevin Reher (“A Bug’s Life,” “La Luna” short) and co-produced by Andrea Warren (“LAVA” short), “Cars 3” cruises into theaters on June 16, 2017.
A dark romance, MY COUSIN RACHEL tells the story of a young Englishman who plots revenge against his mysterious, beautiful cousin, believing that she murdered his guardian. But his feelings become complicated as he finds himself falling under the beguiling spell of her charms.
Cast: Rachel Weisz, Sam Claflin, Holliday Grainger, Iain Glen, and Pierfrancesco Favino