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DID YOU READ

Hollywood’s top 10 maverick directors

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Hollywood demands plenty from directors. In a forest of remade classics, “Chipmunks” sequels and other safe, dependable investments, studios want bankable reasons to invest in innovation. Indie filmdom has long been a launchpad for Hollywood careers, but only a select few filmmakers can claim to have gone against the grain with enough force to change long-term trends.

From Spike Lee and Woody Allen’s takes on New York life to Stanley Kubrick and James Cameron’s new experiments with special effects, these ten directors topped our list of wave-makers and game-changers. Each of them showed the establishment how approach movies from new perspectives, and each one deserves to be called a maverick.

Some of these towering figures are no longer with us, and a few are still making their marks, but we have them all to thank for heading into new territory and ensuring that other creators down the line would be inspired to think differently as well.

For more on today’s maverick filmmakers, tune in to the 2012 Spirit Awards on Saturday, February 25 at 10/9c on IFC. And while you’re watching, don’t forget to log into IFC.com chat with our movie experts LIVE via IFC Sync, presented by Capital One.


10. Amy Heckerling

Career highlights: “Fast Times at Ridgemont High,” ”European Vacation,” “Clueless”
Paved the way for: Judd Apatow, Kevin Smith and John Hughes

Heckerling gained a cult foothold in an overwhelmingly male-dominated class of directors when her film “Fast Times at Ridgemont High” debuted in 1982. “European Vacation” and “Look Who’s Talking” cemented her place in ‘80s comedy, but they also proved her ability to score big rankings and dollars at the box office.


9. Robert Redford

Career highlights: “Ordinary People,” “Quiz Show”
Paved the way for: Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh and Darren Aronofsky

It is difficult to understate the importance of Redford’s career and the extent of his impact on film both inside and outside of Hollywood. After building a formidable acting career (which already included an Oscar nomination for “The Sting”), he earned a directing win right out of the gate for 1980’s “Ordinary People.” His honorary Oscar in 2002 speaks for his career as a whole, though, as well as the importance of the Sundance Institute, which has opened big doors for countless directors and independent projects.


8. Kathryn Bigelow

Career highlights: “Near Dark,” “Point Break,” “The Hurt Locker”
Paved the way for: The Wachowskis and Mary Harron

A diehard indie filmmaker throughout her career, Bigelow made history with her 2009 Best Director Oscar for “The Hurt Locker.” She was the first woman to win in the category, but it only marks the tip of her iceberg-sized career. Few resumes come with credits as diverse and awesome as her jarring Best Picture-winner, “Point Break” and “Near Dark”—regardless of gender. When it comes to directors, her creative brilliance and scope are in a class of their own.


7. Spike Lee

Career highlights: “Do the Right Thing,” “Malcolm X” and “Bamboozled”
Paved the way for: Lee Daniels, John Singleton and Dee Rees

Lee may be a magnet for controversy, but the fact of the matter is that the guy knows how to direct a well-crafted film, even when the project doesn’t translate to a ticket-sales jackpot. “Bamboozled” and “Miracle at St. Anna” have suffered their fair shares of critical attacks, but even when they were getting picked apart, they still introduced discourses on race at the movies that all too often stay clear of the spotlight.


6. Woody Allen

Career highlights: “Annie Hall,” “Manhattan” and “Midnight in Paris”
Paved the way for: Zach Braff, Jon Favreau and Christopher Guest

Woody Allen staked out his own genre of nakedly up-front narrators and navel-gazing New Yorkers, but his larger body of work has been a titanic beacon for aspiring filmmakers of all types. His movies make big budgets and big casts seem absolutely unnecessary, and his use of simple documentary techniques in his comedies paved the way for countless mockumentaries and narrator-driven flicks that have sprouted up in recent decades.

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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.

via GIPHY

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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G.I. Jeez

Stomach Bugs and Prom Dates

E.Coli High is in your gut and on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Brothers-in-law Kevin Barker and Ben Miller have just made the mother of all Comedy Crib series, in the sense that their Comedy Crib series is a big deal and features a hot mom. Animated, funny, and full of horrible bacteria, the series juxtaposes timeless teen dilemmas and gut-busting GI infections to create a bite-sized narrative that’s both sketchy and captivating. The two sat down, possibly in the same house, to answer some questions for us about the series. Let’s dig in….

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IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

BEN: Hi ummm uhh hi ok well its like umm (gets really nervous and blows it)…

KB: It’s like the Super Bowl meets the Oscars.

IFC: How would you describe E.Coli High to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

BEN: Oh wow, she’s really cute isn’t she? I’d definitely blow that too.

KB: It’s a cartoon that is happening inside your stomach RIGHT NOW, that’s why you feel like you need to throw up.

IFC: What was the genesis of E.Coli High?

KB: I had the idea for years, and when Ben (my brother-in-law, who is a special needs teacher in Philly) began drawing hilarious comics, I recruited him to design characters, animate the series, and do some writing. I’m glad I did, because Ben rules!

BEN: Kevin told me about it in a park and I was like yeah that’s a pretty good idea, but I was just being nice. I thought it was dumb at the time.

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IFC: What makes going to proms and dating moms such timeless and oddly-relatable subject matter?

BEN: Since the dawn of time everyone has had at least one friend with a hot mom. It is physically impossible to not at least make a comment about that hot mom.

KB: Who among us hasn’t dated their friend’s mom and levitated tables at a prom?

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

BEN: There’s a lot of content now. I don’t think anyone will even notice, but it’d be cool if they did.

KB: A show about talking food poisoning bacteria is basically the same as just watching the news these days TBH.

Watch E.Coli High below and discover more NYTVF selections from years past on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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