Five Things We Learned - April 27, 2017

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Six: Five Things We Learned
by Marshall
by Marshall hmv London, Bio Word monkey, nerd, film guy, gamer

Newport Beach Film Festival - Day Six: Five Things We Learned

Attending an eight-day film festival featuring multiple screenings of hundreds of films, glitzy red carpet premieres, countless filmmaker Q&As, educational seminars and killer parties, also takes a fair bit of doing. Imagine running eight marathons in a row, on very little sleep, powered by hotdogs and Tito's Handmade Vodka. Only instead of running, you’re nestled in deep, leather La-Z-Boy armchairs. Actually that sounds amazing.

Welcome to Day Six at the Newport Beach Film Festival!


A particular set of skills.

She was lost in Lost. Taken in Taken. And in The Scent of Rain & Lightning, a film recently screened at Newport Beach to tremendous acclaim, Maggie Grace is a force to be reckoned with. A luminously beautiful, charismatic A-lister with movie star style and character actor talent. And she spoke to us. Us! So of course, we asked her our five questions, only instead of the usual fifth, we sneaked in something about Taken, because we love those movies like Jaws loves midnight swimmers.


Who’s your movie idol?

“Meryl Streep. Needs no explanation, really. She gives us each so much self-forgiveness. She’s so human.”

What’s your go-to comfort film?

“Oh, y’know, Breaking the Waves. Just Kidding! I think if I had a really bad flu, I’d curl up with a BBC miniseries, like the 1992 version of Pride and Prejudice. I watched it so much as a teen, it’s familiar and comforting as PB&J.”

From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“Feeling like one organism, like a team, when you finally come out of night shoots, and everyone’s exhausted, but everyone’s in it together.”

What would you like people to know about your new film?

“That choosing to see a thoughtful, character-driven film makes you smarter, richer, and have better breath."


By the third Taken movie, Kim seemed extremely capable. A chip off the old block. We understand Liam Neeson won’t be making any more Takens. But would you consider starring in a series of spin-offs, because you really kicked ass?!

“Ha! Thank you. I think we’ve both been humbled and surprised there have been three. But sure. I’d love to let the character grow up and get stronger.”


“Let’s go kill some dead people.”

There’s more to the Newport Beach Film Festival than artful, insightful dramas and enlightening, inspiring documentaries. Some films are just plain mental. Case in point, The Night Watchmen, a comic horror film with a Super Troopers sensibility and Evil Dead levels of blood and madness.

The tale of four night watchmen, and one plucky reporter, who over the course of a single, eventful evening, battle a horde of vampiric clowns, it’s as funny as you could hope for, and even bloodier than you’d expect.

Heading the cast are co-writers Ken Arnold and Dan DeLuca, as Ken and Luca, and Kevin Jiggetts, as Jiggetts. “You have to keep it simple for actors,” says Ken of their naming choices, “so we don’t get confused! You don’t want to throw too much at us.

“If you like horror, and you like comedy, and you want to laugh for 80 minutes straight, come see our film,” adds Ken, handing us a cool, promotional t-shirt featuring the hashtag #CLOWNPIRES.

“Somebody asked me, ‘What’s your movie’s social message?’ I’ll tell you: if you see a large, scary clown with fangs and blood dripping down his face, do not attempt to befriend him. Back away.”


Billy, do be a hero.

We ran into Billy Burke again and, since we adored his answers to Day One’s Five Questions, we threw another five in his direction and like the star he is, he accepted the challenge.

Billy’s festival movie is Good After Bad, a thoughtful, authentic drama about an eccentric millionaire (Burke) who takes a bullied teen (Maddie Hasson) under his wing.


Your character expects people to behave a certain way around him because he's wealthy. Is your experience of people similar, since you found fame?

“Not even in the slightest way. No one I know has ever treated me any differently than they would have when I was sleeping on their floors and pilfering from their refrigerators."

What drew you to such a risky profession?

“Fear of having to do anything else. It is no doubt a f****** great gig if you can get it, let alone maintain it, and I consider myself stupidly lucky but I always tell those who ask: if this is not something you absolutely NEED to do, without question, do something else. Even the most successful actors will tell you - if they're honest - there is more heartache than joy.”

What’s the best advice you ever got?

“Don't be a dick. It's a loose translation but it was actually from my dad.”

Do the movies you make ever turn out how you imagined them?

“Not once. Ever.”

 What was it like being on the inside of an international phenomenon like the Twilight movies?

“I think I might still be the only cast member to admit that I knew, going in, that the first movie would be huge. From then on I don't think the already built-in audience was really ever gonna go away. It was a great gig for me. After having already been doing movies and TV for about 15 years, I'd say I was due a hit. To be involved in a piece that not only penetrated the popular culture but became part of Hollywood history can never be a bad thing.”


Martian chronicles.

A sweet, nostalgic and seriously smile-inducing comedy from director Jody Lambert, Brave New Jersey sees a game ensemble cast playing the naïve residents of a small farming town who, after catching snippets of Orson Welles’ infamous 1938 radio dramatization of War of the Worlds, immediately conclude they’re about to be invaded by Martians. Chaos, inevitably, ensues.

Gorgeously shot and scored with great, quotable lines and a knockout cast including True Blood’s Anna Camp, Veep’s Tony Hale and The Last Man on Earth’s Mel Rodriguez, it’s one of the festival’s funniest films, a genuine audience-pleasing delight. If you have a must-see list, better add this to it. If you don’t, quickly start one, then put this at the top.



Maggie Grace in The Scent of Rain and Lightning (left), and on the red carpet at Newport Beach Film Festival
Maggie Grace in The Scent of Rain and Lightning (left), and on the red carpet at Newport Beach Film Festival

Five Questions With…

Jody Lambert, the director of Brave New Jersey, rounds off our Day Six coverage with five fresh answers to our favourite festival questions.

Who’s your movie idol?

“I've always loved filmmaker Sidney Lumet. The range of subjects he tackled in his films, from Network and Dog Day Afternoon to Running on Empty. His love of actors and writers. His sharp but unfussy directorial style. I never got a chance to meet him but he read the first script I wrote. He sent me a lovely rejection letter. It's framed by my desk.”

What’s your go-to comfort film?

“My favourite non-comforting comfort film is Quiz Show. Cynical, funny, heartbreaking. I'm not sure why more people don't talk about how wonderful it is. If you're reading this, go watch Quiz Show!”

From the initial thought, to the final press event, what’s your favourite part of the movie making process?

“Recording the score. With Brave New Jersey we were able to get a super-talented trio of composers: Kelly Winrich and Matthew Logan Vasquez, of the band Delta Spirit, and Dennis Lambert, of my dad. Their music brought the themes of the film to life in such a beautifully melodic way. It was a thrill to collaborate with them.”

What would you like people to know about your new film?

"The movie is a comedy about a small town on the night of Orson Welles's legendary 1938 War of the Worlds radio hoax. The characters hear that Martians are invading and all believe they have one night to live. It's about what you would do if you thought it was your last night on Earth... And then found out it wasn't.”

What’s the question that, during interviews, you’re surprised you’re not asked more? 

“I'm surprised more interviewers don't ask, ‘What do you think of the epic, 1987 surf movie, North Shore?’ My answer: I love it!”

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