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Hey DJ

Hey DJ (photo)

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Wesley Pentz is better known as Diplo. And he’s better known as a DJ who’s worked with M.I.A., who co-wrote “Paper Planes,” who’s toured with Justice and who brought baile funk to the mainstream masses with a series of nasty-good party-making mixes. But with “Favela on Blast,” which had its premiere at SXSW last month, Diplo’s now also a filmmaker, collaborating with Brazilian co-director Leandro HBL on a documentary about the world from which baile funk comes. “Favela on Blast” goes deep into the teeming slums of Rio de Janeiro, whirling through interviews with producers and DJs to street-level party footage to dance numbers, a pulsating document of both life in the marginalized economic sidelines and of a vibrant and unique music scene.

Where’d “Favela on Blast” start?

The idea [was] for it to be another bootleg street DVD, really simple — it just became a big project. I got into it because I was traveling to Brazil as a DJ and I was into the music that was playing. This scene was really interesting because there had been no documentation of it. It was strictly ghetto. Even in Brazil, people from other cities besides Rio didn’t know what was going on. You see films like “City of God,” favela films, but you never see this — this is what’s happening now. No one was profiling it, but there was such a romance about the favela… There was a film back in the day called “Style Wars,” it was a documentary about hip-hop. Have you seen it?

I haven’t, but I’ve heard about it, sure.

Henry Chalfant did it, he’s a subway photographer. He wasn’t a hip-hop guy, but he just loved the subculture, so he created a documentary. It’s kind of a bible — a lot of kids are like, I love rap and hip-hop, and to figure out the roots, you watch that movie. I wanted to make something like that about funk music.

And what was was your involvement in this film?

The film started as a video clip I did for one of my songs, we shot on 16mm in the favelas on the rooftops, just dancing scenes. It was amazing. It was super easy. We did it in a weekend. I was like, shit, we can do this, we can make a whole movie in two weekends. [laughs]

04152009_favelaonblast2.jpgMy partner Leandro was working in the film industry [in Brazil], and he was my direct relationship there. I’d gone down a year before the film started just to hang out with the people, so I had strong connections there. You don’t just go to the favelas and shoot. My first day off the airplane, I hooked up with the biggest DJ because we were with The Fader magazine and he’s like “You want to see funk? Come with me.” We went to this radio show, ended up in like 20 favelas, guns, drugs everywhere — I’m like, what am I doing here? I was 24, it was my first trip after college, I’d quit my job as a school teacher to try and do some shit with my life and make music. There were a lot of weird moments in the three years [we spent making the film]. Some of our main characters died. People go missing. We had a party where we had to actually pay the police to not bother us and pay the gangsters to not show up.

Once I started the film, I just kept pouring a little bit of my money into it. I had a show in Shanghai, so I went and bought the Sony Z1UK on the black market for $2000. I’m not a filmmaker, so I didn’t have time allotted. I didn’t know what a schedule is like. I didn’t know that we had to keep rewriting a screenplay for a documentary. I thought we just go with cameras and woo, we got a film. We ended up with 100 hours of shit we had to watch. [laughs] We spent a year editing it. We finished around October properly, and I went down to Brazil to do the sound mix.


Hacked In

Funny or Die Is Taking Over

FOD TV comes to IFC every Saturday night.

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We’ve been fans of Funny or Die since we first met The Landlord. That enduring love makes it more than logical, then, that IFC is totally cool with FOD hijacking the airwaves every Saturday night. Yes, that’s happening.

The appropriately titled FOD TV looks like something pulled from public access television in the nineties. Like lo-fi broken-antenna reception and warped VHS tapes. Equal parts WTF and UHF.

Get ready for characters including The Shirtless Painter, Long-Haired Businessmen, and Pigeon Man. They’re aptly named, but for a better sense of what’s in store, here’s a taste of ASMR with Kelly Whispers:

Watch FOD TV every Saturday night during IFC’s regularly scheduled movies.


Wicked Good

See More Evil

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is on Hulu.

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GIFs via Giphy

Okay, so you missed the entire first season of Stan Against Evil. There’s no shame in that, per se. But here’s the thing: Season 2 is just around the corner and you don’t want to lag behind. After all, Season 1 had some critical character development, not to mention countless plot twists, and a breathless finale cliffhanger that’s been begging for resolution since last fall. It also had this:


The good news is that you can catch up right now on Hulu. Phew. But if you aren’t streaming yet, here’s a basic primer…

Willards Mill Is Evil

Stan spent his whole career as sheriff oblivious to the fact that his town has a nasty curse. Mostly because his recently-deceased wife was secretly killing demons and keeping Stan alive.

Demons Really Want To Kill Stan

The curse on Willards Mill stipulates that damned souls must hunt and kill each and every town sheriff, or “constable.” Oh, and these demons are shockingly creative.


They Also Want To Kill Evie

Why? Because Evie’s a sheriff too, and the curse on Willard’s Mill doesn’t have a “one at a time” clause. Bummer, Evie.

Stan and Evie Must Work Together

Beating the curse will take two, baby, but that’s easier said than done because Stan doesn’t always seem to give a damn. Damn!


Beware of Goats

It goes without saying for anyone who’s seen the show: If you know that ancient evil wants to kill you, be wary of anything that has cloven feet.


Season 2 Is Lurking

Scary new things are slouching towards Willards Mill. An impending darkness descending on Stan, Evie and their cohort – eviler evil, more demony demons, and whatnot. And if Stan wants to survive, he’ll have to get even Stanlier.

Stan Against Evil Season 1 is now streaming right now on Hulu.



Reminders that the ’90s were a thing

"The Place We Live" is available for a Jessie Spano-level binge on Comedy Crib.

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GIFs via Giphy

Unless you stopped paying attention to the world at large in 1989, you are of course aware that the ’90s are having their pop cultural second coming. Nobody is more acutely aware of this than Dara Katz and Betsy Kenney, two comedians who met doing improv comedy and have just made their Comedy Crib debut with the hilarious ’90s TV throwback series, The Place We Live.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Dara: It’s everything you loved–or loved to hate—from Melrose Place and 90210 but condensed to five minutes, funny (on purpose) and totally absurd.

IFC: How would you describe “The Place We Live” to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Betsy: “Hey Todd, why don’t you have a sip of water. Also, I think you’ll love The Place We Live because everyone has issues…just like you, Todd.”


IFC: When you were living through the ’90s, did you think it was television’s golden age or the pop culture apocalypse?

Betsy: I wasn’t sure I knew what it was, I just knew I loved it!

Dara: Same. Was just happy that my parents let me watch. But looking back, the ’90s honored The Teen. And for that, it’s the golden age of pop culture. 

IFC: Which ’90s shows did you mine for the series, and why?

Betsy: Melrose and 90210 for the most part. If you watch an episode of either of those shows you’ll see they’re a comedic gold mine. In one single episode, they cover serious crimes, drug problems, sex and working in a law firm and/or gallery, all while being young, hot and skinny.

Dara: And almost any series we were watching in the ’90s, Full House, Saved By the Bell, My So Called Life has very similar themes, archetypes and really stupid-intense drama. We took from a lot of places. 


IFC: How would you describe each of the show’s characters in terms of their ’90s TV stereotype?

Dara: Autumn (Sunita Mani) is the femme fatale. Robin (Dara Katz) is the book worm (because she wears glasses). Candace (Betsy Kenney) is Corey’s twin and gives great advice and has really great hair. Corey (Casey Jost) is the boy next door/popular guy. Candace and Corey’s parents decided to live in a car so the gang can live in their house. 
Lee (Jonathan Braylock) is the jock.

IFC: Why do you think the world is ready for this series?

Dara: Because everyone’s feeling major ’90s nostalgia right now, and this is that, on steroids while also being a totally new, silly thing.

Delight in the whole season of The Place We Live right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib. It’ll take you back in all the right ways.