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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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SO EXCITED!!!

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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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.”

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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. 

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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.

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New Nasty

Whips, Chains and Hand Sanitizer

Turn On The Full Season Of Neurotica At IFC's Comedy Crib

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Jenny Jaffe has a lot going on: She’s writing for Disney’s upcoming Big Hero 6: The Series, developing comedy projects with pals at Devastator Press, and she’s straddling the line between S&M and OCD as the creator and star of the sexyish new series Neurotica, which has just made its debut on IFC’s Comedy Crib. Jenny gave us some extremely intimate insight into what makes Neurotica (safely) sizzle…

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IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a fancy network executive you met in an elevator?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon.

IFC: How would you describe Neurotica to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Jenny: Neurotica is about a plucky Dominatrix with OCD trying to save her small-town dungeon. You’re great. We should get coffee sometime. I’m not just saying that. I know other people just say that sometimes but I really feel like we’re going to be friends, you know? Here, what’s your number, I’ll call you so you can have my number!

IFC: What’s your comedy origin story?

Jenny: Since I was a kid I’ve dealt with severe OCD and anxiety. Comedy has always been one of the ways I’ve dealt with that. I honestly just want to help make people feel happy for a few minutes at a time.

IFC: What was the genesis of Neurotica?

Jenny: I’m pretty sure it was a title-first situation. I was coming up with ideas to pitch to a production company a million years ago (this isn’t hyperbole; I am VERY old) and just wrote down “Neurotica”; then it just sort of appeared fully formed. “Neurotica? Oh it’s an over-the-top romantic comedy about a Dominatrix with OCD, of course.” And that just happened to hit the buttons of everything I’m fascinated by.

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IFC: How would you describe Ivy?

Jenny: Ivy is everything I love in a comedy character – she’s tenacious, she’s confident, she’s sweet, she’s a big wonderful weirdo.

IFC: How would Ivy’s clientele describe her?

Jenny:  Open-minded, caring, excellent aim.

IFC: Why don’t more small towns have local dungeons?

Jenny: How do you know they don’t?

IFC: What are the pros and cons of joining a chain mega dungeon?

Jenny: You can use any of their locations but you’ll always forget you have a membership and in a year you’ll be like “jeez why won’t they let me just cancel?”

IFC: Mouths are gross! Why is that?

Jenny: If you had never seen a mouth before and I was like “it’s a wet flesh cave with sharp parts that lives in your face”, it would sound like Cronenberg-ian body horror. All body parts are horrifying. I’m kind of rooting for the singularity, I’d feel way better if I was just a consciousness in a cloud.

See the whole season of Neurotica right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

The-Craft

The ’90s Are Back

The '90s live again during IFC's weekend marathon.

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Photo Credit: Everett Digital, Columbia Pictures

We know what you’re thinking: “Why on Earth would anyone want to reanimate the decade that gave us Haddaway, Los Del Rio, and Smash Mouth, not to mention Crystal Pepsi?”

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Thoughts like those are normal. After all, we tend to remember lasting psychological trauma more vividly than fleeting joy. But if you dig deep, you’ll rediscover that the ’90s gave us so much to fondly revisit. Consider the four pillars of true ’90s culture.

Boy Bands

We all pretended to hate them, but watch us come alive at a karaoke bar when “I Want It That Way” comes on. Arguably more influential than Brit Pop and Grunge put together, because hello – Justin Timberlake. He’s a legitimate cultural gem.

Man-Child Movies

Adam Sandler is just behind The Simpsons in terms of his influence on humor. Somehow his man-child schtick didn’t get old until the aughts, and his success in that arena ushered in a wave of other man-child movies from fellow ’90s comedians. RIP Chris Farley (and WTF Rob Schneider).

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Teen Angst

In horror, dramas, comedies, and everything in between: Troubled teens! Getting into trouble! Who couldn’t relate to their First World problems, plaid flannels, and lose grasp of the internet?

Mainstream Nihilism

From the Coen Bros to Fincher to Tarantino, filmmakers on the verge of explosive popularity seemed interested in one thing: mind f*cking their audiences by putting characters in situations (and plot lines) beyond anyone’s control.

Feeling better about that walk down memory lane? Good. Enjoy the revival.

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And revisit some important ’90s classics all this weekend during IFC’s ’90s Marathon. Check out the full schedule here.