Thank You All!

Star Wars Birthday

by: Jay Carlson

The dates August 14th and 15th are pretty special to me. Chances are you had never heard of us before those dates last year. When I say us, I mean me, I was the only person writing on Indie Revolver back then. Those posts early on were probably not very good, I know I’d be embarrassed to look back at them now. Up until August 14th I was grinding away for quite a while, happy to just get a handful of daily clicks. I kept at it and when opportunity knocked I answered. The results of that knock were posted in the late afternoon of August 14, 2014 when I released the first images of the new Stormtrooper helmets from what was then only known as Star Wars: Episode VII. The images went viral and that one post was visited by over a million people in 24 hours. It was a whole new ballgame for us after that.

Since then we’ve been extremely lucky, I’ve had the opportunity to visit film sets, interview actors, writers and directors who I admire and watched a lot of films. Most importantly, I’ve spoken with a ton of other film fans. That’s what this was all about for me, meeting and talking to others who love movies the way I do.

I’d like to get gushy for a minute to deliver some specific thank-yous to some pretty special people…

There is my brother from another mother, S. Scott Stanikmas. Without S. Scott working like a madman, Indie Revolver would not be what it is. He honestly amazes me on a consistent basis, tirelessly spending his free time killing himself to pump out as many articles as possible… and he NEVER complains. Without him doing what he does, I would not have the opportunity to work equally hard, behind the scenes. I consider him a partner in every sense when it comes to Indie Revolver. I don’t say it enough, but thank you for coming on and shaping this whole thing with me.

There are my less frequent but still very talented contributors, Marcus Rivera and Adam Glass. You guys are a huge piece of Indie Revolver’s early identity and I’d love to see more of you both in the future.

Not to be forgotten is my wonderful fiancé and occasional contributor, Lizzy Ferro. I appreciate all the sacrifices you’ve made to allow me to pursue this thing and all the support along the way. It was your encouragement that kept me going early on.

I’d be remiss to not mention the help of Alisha Grauso. We haven’t talked in quite a while, but our talks and your encouragement early on meant a lot to me. I appreciate every opportunity and piece of advice you sent my way.

Andy Crump, we work in the same city and I see you out at screenings but we don’t talk nearly enough. You’re one of the most talented sons of bitches out there and are capable of making everyone else feel lazy and inadequate each time you post something new. You have been the most welcoming guy I’ve met while doing this. I owe you a helluva lot more than just a couple lines in this post.

Douglas, you’re one of my oldest and without a doubt my dearest friend. Your insight and critique have meant the world to me. You have contributed to what this has become in more ways than you could ever realize. You are the most talented, kindest and most generous person I have ever met. You make me strive to be better in every aspect of life each and every day. Julie, you get a gold star for allowing us to geek out about things that you and Lizzy Ferro could care less about.

Honorable mentions go to Gabriel Gray (whoever you are), Ervan Norman, Kelvin Chavez (a real class act), Umberto Gonzalez, Germain Lussier, Jeff Sneider, Jason Ward, Ryan Adams, Jaskee Hickman, Gallery 1988, Hero Complex Gallery and Maudie Garrett. Whether you realize your contributions or not, they were in there. (I apologize for anyone I left off, I’m sure there are a bunch.)

Most of all, YOU! You all make this so much fun. I am humbled by those of you who have sent words of encouragement to us. (Most recently @BenjaKenobi-it meant the world, by the way) I love talking to you all, so leave comments! I wish I heard from you all half as much as I hear from Droncz87. That guy is an all-star!

From the bottom of my heart, thank you all so much. We’re just getting started!


Alright, if you’ve made it this far I’d say you deserve a reward… What should it be….?

Here, have a look at a new piece of Star Wars: The Force Awakens concept art featuring Maz Kanata.

We’re told this image may come from the scene we referenced in our previous Knights of Ren article in which Maz is sharing a vision with Rey, Finn and Han. (Based off the description I’m reasonably certain this is the image that was referenced by MSW a while back here before we knew Maz was a she.)


Quentin Tarantino Creating TWO Versions of ‘The Hateful Eight’!

Quentin-tarantino 2

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Director Quentin Tarantino has been very vocal about his displeasure in the advance of the digital age and the abandonment of 35MM film as a method to capture movie magic. His newest film The Hateful Eight was actually filmed on 70MM and the filmmaker is even retrofitting 50 theaters nationwide with 70MM projectors with Anamorphic Projection lenses so audiences can properly enjoy his vision.

But that’s not all. In the two weeks prior to the film’s digital release date of January 8, 2016 Tarantino will premiere the film in a 70MM traveling roadshow. And the version that starts showing on Christmas day will actually be a slightly different version than the widespread release.

Speaking to Variety on the matter, Tarantino explained what the differences would be:

The roadshow version has an overture and an intermission, and it will be three hours, two minutes. The multiplex version is about six minutes shorter, not counting the intermission time, which is about 12 minutes.

He also said that the six extra minutes are “big, long, cool unblinking takes.”

[The longer cut] was awesome in the bigness of 70, but sitting on your couch, maybe it’s not so awesome. So I cut it up a little bit. It’s a little less precious about itself.

Does six minutes of “cool” shots being cut really make a difference? It certainly does for me. The average fan might be turned off by the three hour time limit, though. I’m all for it, more Tarantino is always better,  but I’m going to pick my showing very carefully as most public audiences have trouble containing themselves for 90 minutes, let alone twice that time.

Tarantino has always been a supporter of the theater experience and I agree that many films are better on a giant screen (and when viewed with an enthusiastic audience). I’d expect if you can’t catch the “super” version of The Hateful Eight it might make an appearance when it comes out on Special Edition Blu-ray in the future. (Though Jay has been waiting a decade for Kill Bill: The Whole Bloody Affair, so who knows.)

‘War for the Planet of the Apes’ Recruits Steve Zahn

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Matt Reeves’ upcoming War for the Planet of the Apes recently brought on Woody Harrelson and Gabriel Chavarria as the human components in the Ape vs. Man war, but the latest signing adds a bit of  help to Andy Serkis’ simian side.

The Wrap reports  that Steve Zahn has signed on for the third installment of the reimagined Apes franchise. The actor will put on a motion capture suit and play a CGI ape, similar to that of Andy Serkis’ lead character Caesar.

Zahn is known for comedic roles in films like Saving Silverman and That Thing You Do! He has done some dramatic acting, taking parts in such films as Rescue Dawn and Dallas Buyers Club as well as some voice acting in movies like The Good Dinosaur and Stuart Little  but this is a whole new experience. Mocap performances are said to be a draining but rewarding endeavor.

Thankfully Matt Reeves is returning to the sci-fi franchise, having directed the amazing second installment, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. He also co-wrote the script alongside screenwriter Mark Bomback.

While details are scarce, the filmmaker did speak in broad terms about what direction the tertiary film would take:

As this story continues, we know that war is not avoided by the end of Dawn. That is going to take us into the world of what he is grappling with. Where he is going to be thrust into circumstances that he never, ever wanted to deal with, and was hoping he could avoid. And now he is right in the middle of it. The things that happen in that story test him in huge ways, in the ways in which his relationship with Koba haunts him deeply. It’s going to be an epic story. I think you’ve probably read that I sort of described it where in the first film was very much about his rise from humble beginnings to being a revolutionary. The second movie was about having to rise to the challenge of being a great leader in the most difficult of times. This is going to be the story that is going to cement his status as a seminal figure in ape history, and sort of leads to an almost biblical status. He is going to become like a mythic ape figure, like Moses.

Filming is scheduled to begin in Vancouver sometime soon, as War for the Planet of the Apes is penciled in for a July 14, 2017 release date.

Spielberg + Ford = Indy 5??

Indiana Jones 2

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Anytime Steven Spielberg mentions anything Indiana Jones, the internet tends to blow up. And this is no exception.

In an interview with Yahoo! Movies while promoting his newest film Bridge Of Spies, Spielberg dropped a nonchalant line about what his next project could be:

Now, I’ll probably do an Indy 5 with Harrison, so then it’ll be five for Harrison, four for Tom.

(He’s speaking of doing four films with Harrison Ford in the past and Bridge Of Spies marking his fourth collaboration with Tom Hanks.)

Ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm, fans have been clamoring for another Indiana Jones film. Actors like Bradley Cooper, Chris Pine and Chris Pratt have been bandied about and rumored to be in talks to don the sacred fedora. Frank Darabont was even rumored to have written a treatment for the next film.

While nothing official has come from the House of Mouse yet regarding this, the fact that Spielberg is mentioning it could put some merit behind it. The director’s next project is the upcoming Ready Player One, which is currently in the casting and pre-production stage. After that though, the schedule is wide open for the director.

Or could the fan favorite director just be pulling all our collective legs to get a rise out of the internet and see what kind of a shitstorm he can stir up?

Another question is do we really want to see Harrison Ford come back to the fold for another Indiana Jones film at this stage in his life? With the injuries sustained by the actor reprising his Han Solo role in Star Wars: The Force Awakens, would Disney and Lucasfilm take the chance with the actor? Of course they would and of course we do! Perhaps with the caveat that he would he pass the torch (and whip) to another young adventurer.

As soon as anything clarifying the situation gets reported, we’ll have an update right here.

Lionsgate’s ‘Robin Hood’ Pushed Back as Egerton Returns for ‘Kingsman 2’!


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

First Lionsgate’s Robin Hood loses potential leading lady Tatiana Maslany to Star Wars and now it looks like it has lost the leading man for the time being too.

Taron Egerton, who was signed on to play the original Emerald Archer in a gritty reimagining, has been claimed by FOX for the sequel to Kingsman: The Secret Service, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Lionsgate wanted to start their Robin Hood shoot in February and get it into theaters first, as two other studios also have Robin Hood films in the works. But FOX exercised its right to Egerton for the April shooting start on the Kingsman sequel.

Instead of recasting and starting from scratch, Lionsgate has opted to film their Robin Hood film after the Kingsman film wraps, most likely at the end of summer 2016.

With time to kill until April, rumor is that Egerton will pursue the indie crime drama Crooks County. The film follows the true story of a whistleblower in an undercover FBI operation in Cooks County, IL in the 1980s. The sting operation netted the largest number of convictions of corrupt government officials in U.S. history.

‘Spider-Man’ Director Jon Watts Tells us Which Comics Will Influence His Take on the Wall Crawler



by: S. Scott Stanikmas

I like directors that choose certain comics and storylines but don’t stay slavish to the source material. Unless you happen to be Zack Snyder and the film in question is Watchmen, nothing will ever translate perfectly from page to screen. But if you can capture the spirit of the comic book then the filmmaker is well on their way to capturing the hearts of the audience.

Jon Watts seems to get that. He spoke to Den of Geek about which comics he’s reading to get into the Spider-Man frame of mind:

Ultimate [Spider-Man] is great. I love Ultimate. We have the freedom to pull from anything, but I really like what [Brian Michael] Bendis did. A lot. That felt like… that was Peter Parker back in high school. And, spending as much time with his high school problems as it did with his superhero problems, which I think is really a lot of fun.

There’s also some really funny comics stuff, like, the Archies. I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the Spider-Man Loves Mary-Jane series, but they have this really great anime-style illustration, and it’s all just about Peter Parker’s relationships. It’s like the soap opera of Peter Parker in high school. Those are really funny, too.

I’m just sitting around reading comic books all day — it’s a pretty great job.

With word spreading that Sony is looking for something with a “John Hughes-vibe,” it makes sense that he’d go to the newer comics that look back at Spidey’s youth. The early Stan Lee stuff is great for nostalgia but seems really dated to fans these days. The books that Watts references capture the tone Sony is looking for with the advantage of being updated for today’s culture.

We have quite a ways to go before we see just how well Watts’ vision translates to the big screen. Sony’s third attempt at Spider-Man (but now connected to the Marvel Cinematic Universe) is set to web-swing its way into theaters July 28, 2017.

Will Steven Spielberg Cut His Movie References From ‘Ready Player One’?


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

When it was announced that Steven Spielberg would helm the film adaptation of Ernest Cline’s novel Ready Player One, fans got giddy. After all the book is chock full of choice 80’s references, including a multitude of Spielberg’s works. So who better to treat the project with the love and care it deserves than someone who gets a ton of love in it?

But that might not be the case. Speaking to USA Today about the film, the director said that he might nix the many references to his work, saying that it was “very trippy” to pretty much direct a love letter to himself. He said that he’s not here “to remind people of my 80s movies” but to send another message.

Spielberg feels like the book, and hopefully his movie will feel like viewing “a crystal ball into exactly what is going to be happening not in 30 or 40 years but in between five and ten years from now, where a virtual world becomes almost like a drug of choice and where we are spending more time in a nonorganic space than we are breathing and eating and interacting in real life.”

While he wants to show us that living outside the real world is fun sometimes there are a multitude of things we miss by checking out of real life as well. But it won’t be one big schmaltzy PSA.

“It’s a cautionary tale but it’s also a big rockin’ adventure movie, too,” Spielberg said.

With Olivia Cooke already signed on to star, Ready Player One is set to hit theaters on December 15, 2017.

Ronda Rousey’s ‘Road House’ Nabs ‘Notebook’ Director


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

The remake of Road House at MGM is plugging along nicely. After recruiting MMA superstar Ronda Rousey to take over the role Patrick Swayze made famous, the studio has now managed to wrangle in a director as well.

Variety has the word that Nick Cassavetes has been signed to helm the remake.

Cassavetes has done some kick-ass action work on films like John Q and Alpha Dog, but supposedly it’s his work on more female-centric films like My Sister’s Keeper, The Other Woman and The Notebook (of which he’s probably most well-known) that nabbed him the job.

A remake has been in the pipeline for some time. Back in 2013 The Fast and the Furious director Rob Cohen was originally signed to direct, but that version fizzled and the project was set aside until Rousey was signed not too long ago.

The 1989 flick isn’t a classic by any means (EIC Jay strongly disagrees), but it has a “so-bad-it’s-good” reputation that makes it a cult favorite of many people.

This will be Rousey’s first true test at carrying a feature film. It’s likely that she’s looking to a film career after her time in the world of Mixed Martial Arts is over. While she has had supporting roles in films like Furious 7, Expendables 3 and cameo as herself in Entourage, this is another animal entirely. This could be her first stepping stone to a successful Hollywood career.

Pee Wee Reprises his ‘Batman Returns’ Role for FOX’s ‘Gotham’

Pee Wee Batman Returns

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

The Penguin has one twisted, but legendary, family tree.

On FOX’s hit show Gotham we’ve seen the twisted relationship between Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor) and his mother Gertrude (Carol Kane). But we have yet to see his father step into the light…until now.

At this weekend’s Gotham panel at New York Comic Con, Taylor announced that his dad will be played by none other than Paul Reubens:

So we’re all familiar with Oswald’s mother, the fabulous, fabulous Carol Kane. We don’t know a lot about his father… We just found out that I do have a father. And he will be showing up very soon, and he will be played by none other than Paul Reubens, a.k.a. Pee-wee Herman! He’s playing my dad! What! The! Hell!

And to add to the excitement Taylor took to Twitter and shared one weird family portrait:

Reubens will be reprising a role that he had in Tim Burton’s Batman Returns 23 years ago. It’s safe to say that the TV version will vary from the film’s portrayal, but by how much we just don’t know. I’d love to see a complete 180 degree turn and instead of an upper crust well-to-do who denied his son he’s actually a lowdown scummy criminal who tries to ride his son’s coattails after he sees how successful Oswald can be.

It’s not known exactly when Reubens will make his debut, but as soon as we know we’ll post it right here on Indierevolver!

Who Gets Final Say in the Theatrical Release of ‘Star Wars: The Force Awakens’?

Star Wars TFA 2

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

When Disney bought Lucasfilm, many fans were worried about the “Disney-ing” of the Star Wars universe. If the way the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been handled is any indication, I’d say the galaxy far, far away has no worries.

And just in case fans were still leery, The Force Awakens director J.J. Abrams put everyone’s mind at ease in regards to who gets final say as to what we see for a finished product.

In an interview with Vanity Fair (that also included Apple designer Jony Ive and Imagine Entertainment’s Brian Grazer) the filmmaker said that he gets final cut for the theatrical release of the next chapter of Star Wars. He did also mention that “when you do a Disney project, there’s a clause in there that you kind of go, ‘Well, if I were a lawyer I could probably drive a truck through it…’”

What that likely means is that if the film were a trainwreck he would have gotten it pulled from him faster than lightning. But it seems like Disney has been very hands off with him, letting his vision come to fruition.

Looks like we’ll all get to see what J.J. Abrams has in store for us when Star Wars; The Force Awakens hits theaters December 18.

Vin Diesel Is Groot But Is He Also Inhuman?


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Vin Diesel has one of the most easily recognizable voices in film today. His portrayal of Groot in Guardians Of The Galaxy used his gruff tones to their utmost. So it would almost be impossible for the actor to play anyone else in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, right?

Not according to Diesel it isn’t.

In the same interview with IO9 where he dropped the news about D.J. Caruso directing xXx 3, the action star spoke about another role that he’s seemingly being pursued for by Marvel Studios:

I can totally be something [else] with Marvel. I think playing [Groot] only makes Marvel that much more excited and me having my experience with Marvel, seeing how great they were, makes me more excited.

We’ve heard a lot of talk about Marvel wanting to have me play a character that doesn’t have my voice. So my voice is used for Groot and my presence is used for the other character.

Even before there was Groot there were rumors that Diesel was in line to play Black Bolt, leader of the Inhumans. Every member of the Inhuman race, when they hit adulthood, get transformed by Terrigen Mist resulting in some kind of superpower. Black Bolt’s is a voice whose slightest whisper could topple mountains. So this could be the role he’s hinting at.

Just when the Inhumans film will get going is another question. With the recent addition of Ant-Man and the Wasp to the Phase Three lineup and the shake-up of the schedule due to that, Inhumans seems to have been pushed from the end of Phase Three to the possible start of Phase Four.

That might not be such a bad thing though. It could launch the next phase for the Marvel Cinematic Universe to a more cosmic era and finally bring together the Guardians and Avengers in the crossover film that a lot of fans seem to really want.

We’ll just have to wait and see when pre-production and casting begins on Inhumans to find out if Diesel is in truly in the running.

IR Comics: Dark Horse Announces New Buffy the Vampire Slayer Comic Set in High School

Buffy High School Years

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

What once was old is new again and that adage proves true for Dark Horse Comic’s newest series.

Announced at the DHC panel at New York Comic Con, the newest comic in the popular franchise based on Joss Whedon’s creation will be Buffy The Vampire Slayer: The High School Years.

buffy the high school yearsSet up as a “between-the-episodes” type series, the comic will take us back to season one, when Buffy Summers first arrived at Sunnydale High School and started kicking vampire ass. Eisner-award winning writer Faith Erin Hicks will chronicle the adventures while Yishan Li will handle the art chores.

In an interview with Newsarama, Hicks talked about the timeline of the series, saying that the first issue takes place before the “Angel” episode in season one. So we’ll have Buffy in the early stages of her relationships with Xander, Willow and surrogate father figure Giles.

The first arc follows a group of vampires that aren’t quite as cool as the other bloodsuckers running around town. To try and up their popularity the “nerd-vamps” are going to try and take down the Slayer before she starts staking everything without a pulse.

It takes some of the edge out of things as we already know nothing too horrible can happen to the characters without disrupting continuity. But I’m a sucker for stories that take place off-screen so the odds are good I’ll at least try the first arc out to see how it goes.

The first issue of Buffy the Vampire Slayer: The High School Years is set to debut on June 15, 2016 in comic stores nationwide.

Vin Diesel Reveals ‘XXX 3’ Director


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

With F. Gary Gray taking the reins of the Fast And Furious franchise, Vin diesel can now turn his attention to the important things in life – like who will be directing XXX 3.

In a conversation with IO9, Diesel recently let loose with the news that Disturbia and Eagle Eye director D.J. Caruso will be helming the third installment of the XXX franchise.

He had the following to say about the hiring of Caruso:

I’m excited as hell about xXx. D.J. Caruso is directing it, which is exciting. The big question now is which will race to production first now that F. Gary Gray is on [Furious 8]?

That is a laughable statement. I have no doubt we’ll see another Fast And Furious movie before we see Xander Cage back on the big screen. With Universal fast tracking Furious 8 into production for an April 14, 2017 release and XXX 3 currently without a release date (or billions of dollars in revenue behind it) it’s a good bet that we’ll see Domenic Toretto back in theaters first.

But Vin is really looking forward to getting back to having fun and feels like the next XXX is exactly what he needs to accomplish this:

XXX is one of those films you do when you need to have a little fun. When the weight and pressures of all the other things have gone so far that you need to have a character that you can just have fun and more comment on life and comment on the outcome than being in it like Dom Torretto. Dom is very much the center of the storm, Xander is more the guide to something else and you’re just with him.

While both franchises need a healthy dose of “suspension-of-disbelief” to be enjoyed I get what Diesel means. The XXX films don’t have all the backstory and family connections that the Fast franchise has, so he gets to play a little faster and looser with the Xander Cage character.

Whatever the case may be it’s nice to see Caruso back from limbo. After a couple of critical bombs (Eagle Eye, I Am Number Four) this might be what the director needs to boost his confidence and get back in the spotlight. It’s hard to believe that we’re in a place where the talented filmmaker who made The Salton Sea is directing a tired sequel that absolutely nobody is clammoring for.

IR Comics: ‘Obi-Wan & Anakin’ Comic Set to Hit Stores This Winter

obi-wan and anakin

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Marvel has been crushing it lately with their Star Wars Universe of comic books. Whether it’s the myriad of miniseries that cover fan favorite characters like Lando or Chewbacca or the ongoing Darth Vader series, the obi-wan and anakinprinted galaxy far, far away has allowed for a much deeper story to be told.

And now we’ve got the equivalent of the “buddy cop team-up” flick in the newest announced series Obi-Wan & Anakin.

Set in a period before the Clone Wars, the series will see Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi and his padawan Anakin S
kywalker called upon to help a remote planet that called upon the Jedi Order for assistance. But the two soon find danger for themselves on said planet.

Lando writer Charles Soule will pen this story worth art being handled by Shattered Empire illustrator Marco Checchetto.

The book, which was first announced at New York Comic Con, is set to hit comic book shops this January.

Brie Larson May Take up Residence in ‘The Glass Castle’

Brie Larson

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

People in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones and Brie Larson may find that out if rumors are true.

The actress is in talks to take over the lead role in the upcoming biopic The Glass Castle which is based on the memoir from Jeannette Walls, according to The Hollywood Reporter. The role was originally Jennifer Lawrence’s but she dropped out back in 2013 and the film had hit a bit of a roadblock until recently.

Wall’s memoir tells of her upbringing in a dysfunctional family. The family’s life is full of imagination and adventure but also instability. With an alcoholic father and “eccentric” mother, the group is always on the move whenever their money and/or luck run out.

Even though Larson’s name is being bandied about she has quite the full slate ahead of her already. The actress is currently ready to set sail to Kong: Skull Island and is also signed on to play Billie Jean King in Battle of the Sexes.

If she does decide to fit this into her rapidly growing schedule it would reunite her with Short Term 12 director Destin Daniel Cretton.

Larson has been hitting homeruns all over the place this year with a phenomenal supporting role in Trainwreck and Oscar buzz with her upcoming drama Room.

When Should We Expect ‘The Walking Dead’ Midseason Return?


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Fans of AMC’s hit show The Walking Dead can usually count on one thing – the frustrating wait between the first eight episodes of any given season and the remaining eight that comprise the second half.

The network has been pretty good the last few years, letting fans know exactly when they can expect more zombie killing action. Last year they announced the return date on the same day as the season premiere. This year they topped themselves.

Early at New York Comic Con, during an event at the famed Madison Square Garden where more than 15,000 fans got to see the season six premiere, it was announced that the midseason return is set for Valentine’s Day 2016.

My, my…what a bloody valentine for zombie fans all over.

So by my calculations this means we only have to go ten weeks in between episode eight and episode nine. I can deal with that. Now we just need to know when in 2016 the second season of Fear the Walking Dead will show up and fans can start planning their super marathons.

Check out the gallery of Season Six images below to whet your appetite:

Jay Discusses ‘He Named Me Malala’ With Academy Award Winning Director Davis Guggenheim


Davis Guggenheim

by: Jay Carlson

Academy Award winning filmmaker Davis Guggenheim sat down to discuss his newest film, He Named Me Malala. The film centers on the important story of Malala Yousafzai,, the Nobel Peace Prize Laureate who was targeted by the Taliban and severely wounded by a gunshot when returning home on her school bus in Pakistan’s Swat Valley.  The then 15-year-old was singled out, along with her father, for advocating for girls’ education, and the attack on her sparked an outcry from supporters around the world. She miraculously survived and is now a leading campaigner for girls’ education globally.


Question: What brought you to the story of Malala?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: These producers Walter Parkes and Laurie MacDonald, were hunting down the life rights. The book was sort of pre-published and they had read some early chapters. They had acquired the life rights of Malala and her father and they were so blown away after meeting her in person that on the plane ride back to L.A. they were like, this can’t be a feature, it should be a documentary. And so they called me.

Then when they asked me I was like give me a few days and so I read, I was just reading more about her. I only knew a little bit. Like most people I knew that she was shot on her school bus. If that was it, it may not have been enough but I became very interested in this idea of this father/daughter relationship. I have two daughters and it made me wonder, what was the chemistry between these two people? What was it that made them so interesting? So that pulled me in.

Q: How did Malala and her family respond to having the cameras on them?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: They were very into it. (Originally) They were unknown people in the Swat Valley, where the whole thing happened. It was a beautiful place, a very peaceful place until the Taliban came in. They felt at that time to tell their story was a necessity, to bring help. In the movie she Malala 2starts blogging for the BBC, she starts speaking out publicly. So for them telling their story is part of their mission…. Which is refreshing. Often you start to bring out a camera and people run away from you. You can’t pretend that if you bring in a camera crew that people that people are just going to totally ignore it and act normally all the time. That being said, they were very open and very comfortable. The trick is that if you’re there long enough, people end up acting the way they’re going to act. People tend to be tense and self-conscious for a bit then they become themselves.

Q: Before you brought the cameras out you had lengthy interviews with the family. What was the experience like in those three hour conversations and if they differed with later interactions?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: In a fundamental way. People change when you bring a camera in a room. But people want to communicate they want to connect. Doing these very simple one on one interviews, you and me just talking, with no one else around. It can be different when you’re talking and someone is holding a pole over your head. I just sat in Malala’s office, just me and her and talked for three hours. She came out saying, “I’ve given so many interviews but I’ve never told anyone this.” There’s a spirit of intimacy in those conversations and there’s a spirit of wandering. Meaning you’re not deciding where the conversation is going. It’s like doing an interview without any notes.  I recommend it if you haven’t done it.  To make a connection and follow where it goes. Sometimes that’s hard if you have a story to write. Sometimes you want to cover the five beats you need to cover. If you’re really listening to the answer, sometimes that answer leads you to the next place. Instead of skipping along the surface and covering five different things, it takes one thing and it goes deeper.

Q: Were there any documentary films that you had in mind when you were going through the process as inspirational pieces?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: There was a film, Waltz with Bashir, which was an animated Israeli film. VERY different, very different.  But it was a documentary with a lot of animation. I studied it. They had built an animation company, so I was interested in how they did it. Weirdly, I’ve never told anyone this, I looked at the film Grizzly Man. I looked at a lot of movies. I studied how that movie goes back and forth between a lighter tone and heavier tone and how it intercuts that. This is like… I’ve never made a movie like this before, very difficult story structure. It doesn’t really hold up as a comparison to another movie. For good or bad.

Q: There’s a moment in the film where we see a montage of talking heads talking about their hesitancy to have Malala thrust as this figurehead for all of the Middle East. What do you think the objections are in these communities to her being this Westernized figure?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Well there are a lot of people who love her and think she’s amazing. Then there are people… I don’t want to give too much voice to the negativity but in simple terms people think… her poorly informed critics think she’s a tool of the West. I think people in the region say, why doesn’t she just come home? If she loves her country so much why doesn’t she just come home? And it’s very clear in the movie that it’s not safe for her to go home yet.

Q: Did you have any personal safety concerns since your subject was a target of the Taliban?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: I think she’s safe. What’s beautiful about her is that she doesn’t live in fear. Her mission is really important to her. She worries and is scared for sixty-six million other girls who don’t have school. On her eighteenth birthday she asked if she could go back to the refugee camp that we were at. She connects very closely to those girls who are experiencing what she went through.

Q: What about as a result of the film in general? Were you concerned that there would be any sort of response from members of the Taliban?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Not really. I suspect they won’t like the film, but I didn’t make it for them. Whenever I make a film I think of a very specific audience… I mean I want the film to be for everyone, but I really thought of a teenage girl in Japan or in New Jersey or in India, I thought what would this young girl think of? How would they watch this movie?

Q: What was your hope for a Western audience to take away from this? Aside from just education. What do you think a teenage girl from New Jersey has to learn from Malala?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: I have two daughters that go to a safe school, but I think there are a lot of things that keep them from feeling confident and speaking out. I think there’s a lot to learn from Malala because she was an ordinary girl who was brave enough to speak out for what she believed. And I know from myself that there are many things that bother me and disturb me and I say nothing.Malala 4 So I think that there’s a lesson in this for everyone. If she can do it, if she can risk her life to do it, I can do it. I can speak. How important that is and how that simple value is forgotten. That simple act. Malala and her father talk about how it was their duty to speak out. I think a lot of us shirk that duty.

Q: A lot of documentary filmmakers say that they’ll usually go into a project having one film in mind and by the time they’re done with it it’s a completely different film.

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: That’s a good question.

Q: What was that process like for you with this film?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: I think if you start with a film in mind and you make that film, it won’t be very good because the process of documentary is discovering your story as you go, especially if you’re shooting new material. Things are going to happen that you never imagined. I never imagined the moment of Malala and her brother’s arm wrestling or her older brother saying he was the favorite child of the mother, things like that. Also the more fundamental deep questions that come up. When you make a movie you go on a journey and that’s a journey of discovery. My father who made great documentaries said, “Let the story reveal itself to you.” That was such a great lesson. If you’re open as you make it, you’ll find things you never imagined.

Q: You mentioned you were inspired by Malala and her family and their relationships and how they interact. Was there anything that surprised you about the family and the way that they interact together?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: I think it’s easy to think that she’s a superhero. Sometimes you see these extraordinary people and you think, I know I can’t throw a football like Tom Brady, I can’t sing like Beyoncé, I could never be Malala.

She was born that way. I think that’s the surprising thing for me, she was an ordinary girl. Her life could have gone another way very easily. Part of it is the love of her father and her mother, but also it was her deciding to make a choice that made her extraordinary. That’s what’s so interesting, I think we all have that potential in us.

Q: The film opens with an animated interlude about the story of the original Malala, who she is named after. Where did the idea of using the animated segments come from and what do you think it communicates?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Necessity is the mother of invention, right? I find, as you said, that you don’t know where the movie is going to go. Sometimes your biggest problems become the inspiration for interesting, creative ideas. Malala told me the story of Maiwand, which happened like a hundred years ago, or the story of her mother selling her books for candy, which she did in a place with no cameras. Those pieces are fundamental to the story. So how do I do that? Do I do reenactments with guys in helmets or an actor playing her mother, selling her books for candy? The thought of not putting those elements in the movie wasn’t a choice, in my opinion. Some documentaries get kind of hamstringed by those things and the filmmaker says, “I don’t have those things, I’m not going to put them in the movie.” I had done some animation in other movies, but smaller things. So I decided to build an animation company in my studio in Venice. I had a team of animator’s hand drawing these images. It was pretty fun… and hard.  Really hard. The other part about it is the way Malala and her father were telling these stories, it had a kind of romantic longing. Almost a storybook feel. Sometimes that’s what I go for. Not just literally what they’re saying but what the feeling is. This battle could be told from the told from a half Jewish half Episcopalian guy from L.A. with long hair but I decided to animate it from the point of view of a young girl. If you’re saying, “I was named after this character.” What would that be like? So we kept redrawing and redrawing and I wanted it to feel like she’s imagining this girl climbing a mountain. It’s a storybook mountain.

Q: Did Malala have any input into how the animation looked?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: A little bit. Early on I showed them and said, “I’m going to do this.” And they were like, “What? I don’t understand.” But when I showed them they said, “Oh this is very beautiful.” They were great. They just sort of trusted me to tell their story and they loved it.

Q: There’s obviously moments you capture in a documentary, moments, shots that you didn’t plan. Were there ever any moments where the cameras weren’t on that you kick yourself for something that you may have missed?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Always. We were there when she didn’t win the Nobel Peace Prize because everyone thought that she was going to win that year. Then we weren’t there when she did win the following year. She was at school and her teacher came in and told her in class that she’d won the Nobel Peace Prize. That would have been cool capture. No one thought that she was going to win then and we couldn’t be at the school anyway. That’s one of many.

Q: One of the things Malala doesn’t talk about very much is her personal suffering. I was wondering about how you tried to talk to her about it. When asked directly she didn’t want to answer.

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: You see I kept asking her that question. She clearly didn’t want to go there.

Q: Besides Malala’s suffering was there anything else that anyone else in the family was hesitant to discuss?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: A lot of people ask about the mother, why she isn’t as present in the film. Malala 3People read a lot into that. It’s actually a simple answer, Custom. Her custom from this part of the
world, being on camera is a bit immodest. Not from religion, but from tradition. In the beginning she didn’t really want to be a part of it, but towards the end she really wanted to be a part of it.

Q: When you’re making a documentary have you ever gotten to a point when you start to worry that there isn’t enough “meat on the bone” for what you were hoping to capture? If so, how does your process change based on that?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Oh yeah. I’m always doubting, I’m always worrying. I still… I watched the movie two nights ago and I thought, “Why did I do that? Why didn’t I do this?” I’m never quite satisfied.

Q: It’s a high wire act compared to narrative features.


Q: With a narrative feature you have a script page, you shoot your coverage and you’re done. With a documentary, you’re just out there and you’re trying to make sure you capture enough of those special moments. Then you’re finding the film in the editing room.

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Narrative people have it easy. They have a script. Good ones make the script better. At the very least it’s a map of where you’re going. In documentaries you don’t have that map, you don’t have a script. The first day you have your script is the last day of editing. It’s like, “Ok, that’s what it was.” Finding it is really hard. REALLY hard.  Especially a movie like this that intercuts different times, it’s like a massive puzzle. It’s a puzzle that took a year and a half to solve. We were editing for a year and a half.

Q: What questions are people asking and is there something that they’re not asking that you wanted to get across?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Sometimes the fundamental themes that are buried in the movie you feel but don’t necessarily acknowledge. And sometimes it should just stay that way. I think at the core of the movie it builds to this choice. I’m not the first person to say this but great characters are defined by the choices they make. When you’re forced to commit one way or the other. Am I in or am I out? To me the movie builds towards a choice of a girl… To speak out and risk her life and her father to let her do it and what are the things that led to that choice? To me, that’s really essential because you read about her as a girl who was shot on a school bus. That’s a victim story. But I don’t think (the film) is a victim story. I think this is about her making a choice, which inspires me. That’s what defines her. Her choice to speak out.

Q: It’s right there in the title, HE named me Malala. You mentioned at the beginning that it was a father/daughter story. When did that emerge? At what point when speaking with the family did you realize that he was such a key player?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Right when I started reading about her. I thought, “Oh, this is interesting.” Maybe because I have two daughters. As a filmmaker the more I’m drawn in a certain direction… I could easily have made a geopolitical film that talks about Afghanistan and Pakistan and the history of that region. What are the forces that were there to create the Taliban and what’s America’s involvement? But I was really interested in this father/daughter story. The bigger mystery (to me) was this father/daughter… what were the ingredients to this relationship?

Q: Was there anything that you found surprising about their dynamic that you hadn’t realized before you went into it?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Everything. You go in with an open mind, but you go in with questions. Is he a puppet master? Is she just a puppet? That’s certainly not the case, in my opinion. Did naming her influence how she acted? What is the nature of destiny? Did she choose this life? Something about the title provokes those questions. I want the title to provoke those questions.

Q: What is your hope with the film coming out?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: The dreamy version of it, and I love to dream, is it’s more than just a movie it’s a movement. There are sixty-six million girls who are out of school and Malala feels very deeply connected to them and wants to help them. She always talks about how each one of those girls have a story just like hers. The hope is that people see this film and connect to that and maybe speak out. Maybe the Malala fund raises the money to build some schools. Maybe it influences world leaders and changes policy.

Q: What you think Malala’s future will look like after the film?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: Can’t wait to find out. Sky’s the limit. She’s such an amazing person. She has all the potential in the world.

Q: What’s next for you?

DAVIS GUGGENHEIM: I’m going to take a sabbatical and be a dad. I’ve been on too many airplanes and not a present dad so I’m going to make dinner every night and bring my kids to school. Work less. I don’t have another project. Unemployed currently.

Q: Thanks, Davis.

He Named Me Malala opens nationwide today. It’s a remarkable and inspiring story that everyone should make the effort to see.

Trailer: The Ladies of Jane Austen’s Classic Kick Some Ass in ‘ Pride and Prejudice and Zombies’!

Pride Predjudice Zombies 1

Jane Austen’s classic tale of the tangled relationships between lovers from different social classes in 19th century England is faced with a new challenge — an army of undead zombies. Pride and Prejudice and Zombies

Director: Burr Steers
Writers: Burr Steers, David O’Russell
Cast: Lily James, Sam Riley, Douglas Booth, Matt Smith, Lena Headey

Trailer: The Coen Brothers are Back With an All-Star Cast for ‘Hail Caesar’!

Hail, Caesar

Four-time Oscar®-winning filmmakers Joel and Ethan Coen (No Country for Old Men, True Grit, Fargo) write and direct Hail, Caesar!, an all-star comedy set during the latter years of Hollywood’s Golden Age. Starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum, Hail, Caesar! follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix.

IR Halloween: Image Comics’ ‘Outcast’ Possesses Supernerd

Outcast Logo

by: S. Scott Stanikmas

Writer Robert Kirkman might be typecast as “the horror guy” after his many series at Image Comics, but the man does it so well that there’s no negative connotation to it. After conquering the zombie genre with the hugely popular The Walking Dead and taking on a government assassin with a supernatural twist in Haunt, the scribe decided for his next project to tackle the issue of demonic possession with artist Paul Azaceta in Outcast.

The story centers around a young man named Kyle Barnes who, over the course of the first few issues, we learn has first-hand experience with possession – having been possessed followed by having his demon exorcised. But the forces of evil are still holding sway over his life, whether it was by taking over his mother and leaving her in a catatonic state or by subduing his wife and making him almost kill her in front of their daughter. No matter what, the dark side has been right by Kyle’s side. He feels burdened with that, living a life of solitude in his childhood home haunted by the demons of his past. But a chance for redemption comes in the form of local priest Reverend Anderson (one of the few people who will actually associate with Kyle by choice), who calls upon the young man to help him with what he believes to be a case of possession.

Kyle is now entering a world that he thought he knew but is wholly unprepared for. He soon learns that demonic possession is all around him, affecting people without being obvious. He also learns that he has power over the demons that live inside these humans. The entities call him “Outcast” and flee their vessels at his touch (or at the very least experience a great deal of pain and become very agitated).

This could be seen as a blessing or a curse though. Just as Kyle saves one young boy and sets him right he turns another child catatonic, leaving her as dead to the world as his mother. Add onto this the fact that the Devil (or one of his higher ranking servants) is living within a stone’s throw of Kyle and regularly visiting the demonically afflicted in the area. He’s also been tormenting Reverand Anderson, carving him with filthy sigils and making him doubt his faith for not having made any real change with his work, but Kyle is seemingly blind to this for the time being.

Kirkman has said that he has a very set plan for this series and he knows exactly where he wants it to end up, which is great. Stories that have a clear path tend to have a better narrative flow, as the storytellers know they want to get from Point A to Point Z and have to hit certain plot points in between. And RK’s writing style is great, adding emotion to every character. Kyle’s voice is full of frustration as he tries to figure out what he is and Reverend Anderson’s grief over his failure to save his flock is palpable.

The art provided by Paul Azaceta is ethereal. It isn’t a super defined style, like Greg Capullo or Todd McFarlane, but it conveys all the emotion you need. One standout scene from a recent issue comes to mind: While gassing up the car after a long road trip with the good reverend (and a particularly difficult exorcism that left the aforementioned young girl in a coma), Kyle stops and takes a look around to see everyone staring at him. Azaceta pulls each face into their own mini box, giving each onlooker their own close-up but still being vague enough that you can’t tell possessed from regular human, making this one giant creepy guessing game. It’s a very moody two-page spread that sticks with you.

With an order for a TV series from Showtime that will be based on the comic, Outcast is turning out to be one hell of a ride (pardon the pun). With only a years worth of issues out so far it shouldn’t be too hard to catch up with this story on a long, lazy weekend afternoon. Kirkman and Azaceta have definitely taken hold of me as a reader…and I’m not looking to exorcise this comic from my pull list anytime soon.

It’s Official! F. Gary Gray Signs on to get Fast and Furious!


by: S. Scott Stanikmas

After a grueling search, Universal has chosen a director for the eighth installment in their Fast And Furious franchise.

Gary Gray has officially signed on to sit behind the camera for the first of three films that will bring a close to the story of Domenic Toretto (Vin Diesel) and his family.

The filmmaker sent out a tweet announcing his involvement and his happiness at being included in the high-octane series:

Gray is just coming off the summer hit Straight Outta Compton but he has done some impressive action work in the past. He helmed the remake of The Italian Job, Law Abiding Citizen and A Man Apart, which also starred Vin Diesel.

Production is expected to begin as soon as possible to hit the checkered flag that is the release date of April 14, 2017.