Looking Back on Some of our Favorite Stories of 2013
When we launched The Credits a little more than a year ago, we aimed to shed a light on the many talented filmmakers who often don’t get much press for their work. While we’ve occasionally spoken to folks who need no introduction (John Waters, for example), most of the filmmakers we’ve focused on have a little less name recognition but a huge amount of talent. We interviewed a lot of people, so the below roundup is really just a taste—there were far too many people to mention in a single post.
As this incredible year in film comes to an end, we look back on some of the people we were fortunate enough to speak with, and we look forward to a great year ahead.
We sat down with the one of a kind Sarah Polley, one of the best young directors working, and spoke to her about her incredible documentary The Stories We Tell. We spoke to the legendary William Friedkin, helmer of classics like The French Connection and The Exorcist, before he received the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement at the Venice Film Festival. We chatted with up and coming director Derek Cianfrance, who directed the seriously intense The Place Beyond the Pines this year, and who told us about his decade-long effort in making the film that put him on the map, Blue Valentine. This past summer, we had the great fortune to film an interview with the fantastic Mary Harron, the director of the unforgettable American Psycho, as well as the fantastic I Shot Andy Warhol. And although technically this took place in 2012, Paul Feig was too fun an interview subject to leave off this mini-list.
And then there was this video interview, which we mentioned above, with a man who needs no introduction.
One of the most stunning film experiences this year, or any other, was Alfonso Cuáron’s Gravity. We got a chance to speak to his world-class cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki who helped create a groundbreaking film the likes of which we've never seen before. Luzbeki and Cuáron have become one of the most formidable, and daring, filmmaking partners in the world. Another thrilling director/cinematographer team is Danny Boyle and his fantastic lenser Anthony Dod Mantle. From Slumdog Millionaire (which Dod Mantle won an Oscar for in 2009) to 127 Hours, 28 Days Later and to this year’s Trance, Boyle’s kinetic storytelling is perfectly served by the ace Dod Mantle. Then there was the man who helped director Kathryn Bigelow recreate arguably the most famous raid in history—the Navy SEALs nighttime assault on Osama Bin Laden’s compound in Pakistan. We spoke to cinematographer Greig Fraser about how he helped create one of the most intense sequences in recent film in Zero Dark Thirty.
In a show that was consistently incredible, it's quite a feat to have written one of the very best episodes, but that's exactly what George Mastras did when he wrote the "Dead Freight" episode for season five of Breaking Bad. By the end of the show's run, Mastras had been promoted to executive producer and can credibly claim he was a huge part of the show's astronomical success. Lucy Alibar is a big reason why one of 2012's most surprising, wonderful films saw the light of day as the co-writer on Beasts of the Southern Wild. Alibar was nominated for an Oscar for her work among legends like Tony Kushner (Lincoln) and David O. Russell (Silver Linings Playbook). Not bad company for the burgeoning 31-year old star.
Like directors, actors are rarely in short supply of media interest, but considering they're somewhat crucial to the entire medium we're not going to say no to an opportunity to talk to them. And we've had the pleasure of chatting with actors like Oscar the Coen Brothers chose as their lead in their incredible, music-soaked story about a single week amid the folk scene of 1961 New York in Inside Llewyn Davis. We were also delighted to talk to one of the funniest actors alive about his serious turn in the seriously great Philomena, Steve Coogan, who also co-wrote the script with Jeff Pope. We got chatty with Gabby Hoffman, who starred in Sebastian Silva's wild, excellent Crystal Fairy, picked the big brain of writer/director/producer Lake Bell about her beautiful homage to voice-over acting in In A World…, and found out how Mireille Enos survived the intense, epic shoot of World War Z.
They rarely get the credit they deserve, yet their contribution to the films we love are often one of the most recognizable aspects of the film. This was especially true for the work Michael Wilkinson did on American Hustle. Wilkinson’s incredible costumes for Christian Bale, Amy Adams, Jennifer Lawrence and the rest of the cast pop just as much as director David O. Russell and Eric Singer’s fantastic script. Having just as much fun with a very different era, costume designer Janty Yates put together the myriad looks in Ridley Scott’s dark, twisted The Counselor with an eye towards what each character’s clothes said about their soul. On the small screen, we were delighted to speak to the costume designer for one of the most detailed, epic television series ever—Game of Thrones’ Michele Clapton. Clapton commands a sprawling team of illustrators, cutters, seamstresses, armorers and more to create the incredibly vivid world of Westeros.
Without them the film would feel oddly lifeless when it should be soaring, or static when it should be unnerving. We spoke to the gifted musicians who make sure we're properly moved, spooked, tense or reflective—like Nebraska’s Mark Orton, Only Lovers Left Alive composer Josef van Wissem, and the legendary Hans Zimmer about Man of Steel.
In Spike Jonze’s masterful near-future romance/sci-fi Her, one of the most compelling aspects of the film is the beautiful but lonely future it shows. Jonze can thank his crack production designer, K.K. Barrett, and his top notch team, for creating a wholly believable, gorgeous, melancholy world. Gavin Bocquet began his career as draftsman on Return of the Jedi and ended up being the production designer on the three most recent Star Wars prequels. Bocquet used his massive skills on massive films, like this year’s Jack the Giant Slayer.
They are “human insurance policies,” as veteran stunt professional Hugh O’Brien told us. It’s their job to take a punch, a gunshot, a fall and much, much more to make their living. Without them, there would be no action in action films, and many of the most thrilling sequences in film (think of any one of the incredible fighting set pieces in the Bourne series) would be, well, un-filmmable. Oliver Keller’s another man who makes his living dying (most of the time, that is), and then there’s people like Allan Padelford, who makes those insanely intense driving scenes in Fast & Furious possible.
Whether they’re dealing with blood, guts or prosthetic noses, make up artists help us believe in make believe. We spoke to talented artists like Jordan Samuel, who was responsible for making sure the remake of Carrie was as bloody good as the original, The Incredible Burt Wonderstone’s Oscar winning makeup artist William Corso, The Walking Dead’s maestro of gore Jake Garber and the creator of industry standard Tinsley Transfers (which allow you to paste on effects like wounds) Christian Tinsley. And although the interview was completed in 2012, our video with makeup artist Steve LaPorte was too fun to leave off the list.
In one of our all-time favorite pieces, we sat down with the queen of casting, the legendary Pat Moran, and discussed her work on The Wire, Game Change, her longstanding collaboration with John Waters and more.
Special Effects & Technical Wizards
The movie industry is one of the most innovative, restless and experimental industries in the world, and the folks who keeping pushing the boundaries of what's possible on screen deserve our attention. We spent time with people like USC's Paul Debevec, who has his fingerprints on some of the most jaw dropping film technologies of the past two decades, helping make films like The Matrix, Avatar and Gravity possible. Animators like TJ Nabors schooled us on the breathtaking amount of work that goes into a single frame of an animated film, while VFX shops like Animal Logic gave us a behind-the-scenes glimpse of how they created the eye-popping visuals of 1920s New York for Baz Luhrmann's The Great Gatsby.
A common misconception about producers is that they're mainly deal makers, slick individuals who are in it for the money. This, of course, is patently untrue. Great producers are often artists in their own right, pulling together incredible (and often dissimilar) people to create a great film. Look at the work of Christina Wayne, who was one of the first people to get behind little shows few other people were interested in at the time, shows by the names of Mad Men and Breaking Bad. And then there's Christine Vachon, a legend on the New York independent film scene who has become one of the best producers of her generation, helping champion the careers of auteurs like Todd Haynes and Todd Solondz, and is responsible for producing some of the most thought provoking films of the last 20 years, including Boys Don't Cry, Hedwig and the Angry Inch, and I'm Not There.
The MPAA Presents an Evening With…
We were also lucky enough to spend many evenings with legends (and young stars destined to become them), hosted by the Motion Picture Association of America. These included Fruitvale Station'syoung writer/director Ryan Coogler, the writer/director Haifaa Al Mansour, who talked about her historic Wadjda, and lions of cinema like The Right Stuff’s writer/director Philip Kaufman and writer, director and actor nonpareil Robert Redford.
Whether we got the chance to spend an evening with Dror Moreh, Oscar nominated director of the incredible film The Gatekeepers, talk to the producer behind the important, moving film No Evidence of Disease about GYN cancer in women, or find out how cinematographer Jonathan Ingalls was able to shoot the stunning documentary Black Fish, we were reminded how documentary filmmaking is in a golden era of its own.
Just a few more…
We spoke with so many people this year who were involved in the filmmaking process in some way, shape or form that it's tough to categorize them. Like the world's greatest pickpocket, Apollo Robbins, who is also a consultant on Warner Bros. upcoming Focus.Or author Nicholas de Monchaux, whose remarkable book “Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo," about how the woman's undergarment company Playtex was responsible for crafting the Apollo 11 spacesuits, is set to become the Warner Bros. film Spacesuit. And we're not quite sure where, exactly, we were to put famed scientist Elizabeth Loftus, who spoke to us about the plausibility of memory-related masterpieces such as Memento, Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and Inception.
And then there was our conversation with clinical psychologist Dr. Natalie Petyk, who helped us determine how she might treat the patients we presented to her…without telling her we were describing superheroes like Batman and Wolverine.
It was a very, very fun year. We feel lucky to have been able to talk to all these incredible people, and we can't wait to see what 2014 brings.