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Exclusive Online Premiere: “Altamont Now”

Exclusive Online Premiere: “Altamont Now” (photo)

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After winning prizes and praise at underground Film Festivals in Arizona, Atlanta and Denver, Joshua von Brown’s “Altamont Now” is surfacing on DVD this Tuesday (you can order a copy here). To celebrate the occasion, Factory 25 has been gracious enough to stream the entire film on IFC.com all week.

The film is a discovery in more ways than one — it claims to be a lost film that von Brown took from the clutches of a fellow filmmaker who documented a power-mad radical rocker named Richard Havoc leading a clueless band of revolutionaries (who call themselves the Cult of the Kids) to a missile silo. There, they dictate a new world order to America over their local public access channel and threaten to set off a nuclear device.

In reality, von Brown adapted David Bucci’s play without ever seeing it staged, but really did find an abandoned silo to shoot the satire in, giving “Altamont Now” an authenticity as it sends up hipsters short on smarts, but high on entitlement. With his film hits homes everywhere, von Brown answered a few questions via email about why he was attracted to “Altamont Now,” how one goes about finding a military silo to film in and the film festival that freaked out John Waters. Check out the film below, and read our interview after the jump:

[Update: Sorry! The online preview of the film is now over.]

07262010_AltamontNow2.jpgIf you never saw the play, how did you stumble onto David Bucci’s play and why did you want to turn it into a feature?

Oddly enough, Bucci’s original staged play of “Altamont Now” starred Todd Lowe (Terry from “True Blood” and Zack from “Gilmore Girls”) as indie rock star Richard Havoc. But I never saw it — I couldn’t afford to travel down to Austin. Bucci was a friend and I was a huge fan of his work, so he let me read the play even before it was produced. It was one of the most unique pieces of work I’d ever read. The full title was “Altamont Now: An Exploitation Film for the Stage,” so there was an obvious deep connection to film.

What attracted you to the era being depicted?

I have a ton of love for 1960s Youthsploitation culture (as seen in movies like “Wild in the Streets” and “Riot on the Sunset Strip”). It’s hard to imagine in our era of Pitchfork reviews and overly savvy indie rock blogs that young musicians were once earnestly concerned with starting what they thought was an actual revolution against society. How charming! But “Altamont Now” satirizes indie rock kids who don’t realize how much of their rebellion is repeating this cultural moment over and over again (and is often sold back to them by large corporations).

There’s a sitcom within the film and several of the music scenes are shot like music videos. Was part of the appeal being able to shoot in a variety of different styles?

So many of the elements in Bucci’s play appealed to me as ripe for satire: indie rock stars who are obsessed with taxes, energy drinks, overuse of the word “whitey” by white people. But in adapting the play into a film, we added even more elements to further hone the themes.

07262010_AltamontNow4.jpgFor example, the sitcom “Why’s Daddy Actin’ Funny?”– a fake 1980s sitcom which is like a reverse “Diff’rent Strokes” (a well-to-do African American family adopts a cute little white girl). The sitcom highlights the racial undertones of The Cult of the Kids’ so-called revolution: their language of rebellion is pulled directly from Black Panthers and blaxploitation movies (and ridiculously so). It was really fun to throw all sorts of crazy things into the cinematic stew — we were all totally laughing while shooting, but honestly, I had no idea how the film would turn out until we put the entire cut together in editing.

How hard was this to put together, in regards to the archival clips you use and missile silo where the film is shot?

Putting this film together was… hard! Yeah, what optimistic and naive person decides to set their first feature — totally no-budget — inside an abandoned nuclear missile silo? Producer Lauren Eskelin and I did a ton of research looking for something suitable, and we had multiple leads fall through. Only when our intern Jennifer came across “Siloboy” in a last-ditch Google search where our prayers answered: an actual Atlas-F nuclear missile silo restored to its former glory by a wonderful Australian architect (thankfully restored without the missile).

But then, once we secured this missile silo to shoot in… it was cold. And damp. And dark. And… exactly what you’d imagine filming multiple stories underground for days on end is like. Everybody working on the film was so nice to roll with it though, we had a great team. Maybe it was a novelty.

The archival clips, on the other hand, were easier. They are mostly military and FBI training films from the 1950s-’60s (I’d like to give a shout-out to the U.S. government.)

07262010_AltamontNow3.jpgDid you have a favorite experience on the festival circuit?

The B-movie Underground Trash Film Festival of the Netherlands (BUTFF!) is amazing, more people should know about it. The scene is the real underground of Europe, lots of interesting people whom you don’t normally see at film festivals (think less Twitterers, more squatters). We screened the film there last year, and John Waters was the special guest of the festival.

One night, all the attendees and filmmakers, including Waters, gathered to drink beer and watch a live performance from a group from Berlin called Aesthetic Meat Front, which consisted of industrial music, extreme body mutilation, hanging from hooks and smearing cow’s blood on the audience. Out of the corner of my eye, I could see that maybe, just maybe, John Waters — the visionary who got Divine to eat dog crap on camera– was a little freaked out! (Personally, I was clearly freaked out and cowering in the corner.)

Now that the DVD is coming out, what does it feel like to reach the end of a certain period in your life with this?

It feels awful and sad! Why did you remind me? Actually, I am super excited to get “Altamont Now” out to the general public. I want everyone to see it. Please show it to your grandmother! And if she likes it, maybe she’ll buy me a nice sandwich?

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.

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Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…

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IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.

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IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).

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IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.

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IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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Reality? Check.

Baroness For Life

Baroness von Sketch Show is available for immediate consumption.

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Baroness von Sketch Show is snowballing as people have taken note of its subtle and not-so-subtle skewering of everyday life. The New York Times, W Magazine, and Vogue have heaped on the praise, but IFC had a few more probing questions…

IFC: To varying degrees, your sketches are simply scripted examples of things that actually happen. What makes real life so messed up?

Aurora: Hubris, Ego and Selfish Desires and lack of empathy.

Carolyn: That we’re trapped together in the 3rd Dimension.

Jenn: 1. Other people 2. Other people’s problems 3. Probably something I did.

IFC: A lot of people I know have watched this show and realized, “Dear god, that’s me.” or “Dear god, that’s true.” Why do people have their blinders on?

Aurora: Because most people when you’re in the middle of a situation, you don’t have the perspective to step back and see yourself because you’re caught up in the moment. That’s the job of comedians is to step back and have a self-awareness about these things, not only saying “You’re doing this,” but also, “You’re not the only one doing this.” It’s a delicate balance of making people feel uncomfortable and comforting them at the same time.

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IFC: Unlike a lot of popular sketch comedy, your sketches often focus more on group dynamics vs iconic individual characters. Why do you think that is and why is it important?

Meredith: We consider the show to be more based around human dynamics, not so much characters. If anything we’re more attracted to the energy created by people interacting.

Jenn: So much of life is spent trying to work it out with other people, whether it’s at work, at home, trying to commute to work, or even on Facebook it’s pretty hard to escape the group.

IFC: Are there any comedians out there that you feel are just nailing it?

Aurora: I love Key and Peele. I know that their show is done and I’m in denial about it, but they are amazing because there were many times that I would imagine that Keegan Michael Key was in the scene while writing. If I could picture him saying it, I knew it would work. I also kind of have a crush on Jordan Peele and his performance in Big Mouth. Maya Rudolph also just makes everything amazing. Her puberty demon on Big Mouth is flawless. She did an ad for 7th generation tampons that my son, my husband and myself were singing around the house for weeks. If I could even get anything close to her career, I would be happy. I’m also back in love with Rick and Morty. I don’t know if I have a crush on Justin Roiland, I just really love Rick (maybe even more than Morty). I don’t have a crush on Jerry, the dad, but I have a crush on Chris Parnell because he’s so good at being Jerry.

Jenn: I LOVE ISSA RAE!

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IFC: If you could go back in time and cast yourselves in any sitcom, which would it be and how would it change?

Carolyn: I’d go back in time and cast us in The Partridge Family.  We’d make an excellent family band. We’d have a laugh, break into song and wear ruffled blouses with velvet jackets.  And of course travel to all our gigs on a Mondrian bus. I feel really confident about this choice.

Meredith: Electric Mayhem from The Muppet Show. It wouldn’t change, they were simply perfect, except… maybe a few more vaginas in the band.

Binge the entire first and second seasons of Baroness von Sketch Show now on IFC.com and the IFC app.

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