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Daniel Gillies and Rachael Leigh Cook premiere independent filmmaking documentary “Kingdom Come”

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It took five years, but finally filmmaker Daniel Gillies completed his first feature, “Broken Kingdom.” Gillies is no stranger to the Hollywood scene, having appeared in major roles in “Spider-Man 2,” “The Vampire Diaries” and “Bride & Prejudice.” But he was new to independent filmmaking, and he decided he would chronicle his experience trying to create “Broken Kingdom” in a documentary called “Kingdom Come.”

In addition to showing the struggles he had finding financing for his passion project and the way it affected those closest to him, Gillies called upon fellow filmmakers like Don Cheadle, Mark Ruffalo and Joe and Anthony Russo to discuss their own experiences in independent filmmaking. The movie premiered in Los Angeles on October 2 and IFC was on hand to talk to Gillies about finally showing “Kingdom Come” to the world.

“It’s weird. Somebody just asked me, ‘Should I be nervous?’ and I’m like, ‘I’d be nervous if I knew what to be nervous about.’ It’s just sort of surreal,” he said. “We’re just launching two movies, it’s amazing.”

Alongside him was his wife and co-star, “She’s All That” actress Rachael Leigh Cook. Cook supported him in the creation of “Broken Kingdom” from the beginning and saw the toll making the movie took on him. As is detailed in “Kingdom Come,” it wasn’t an easy journey for either of them.

“It’s been incredible what I’ve seen my husband accomplish. I knew he was a strong person, but I don’t know anyone as tough as him and I’m just so proud,” she said. “That solidified for me that I would have no idea to do what Daniel has done, and nor do I necessarily suggest that anyone should attempt it, and that’s why I think this movie is a very necessary and cautionary tale to young filmmakers.”

Their friend and fellow filmmaker John Murphy decided to help Gillies with “Broken Kingdom” from the get-go, and the process of trying to bring the movie — a story telling parallel narratives about a school teacher with a secret and an American writer in Colombia — sent him into credit card debt and made him lose his apartment. Because of that difficult journey (he’s now living in Gillies’ guest house and is out of major debt), premiering “Kingdom Come” was cathartic for him.

“Daniel and I started together as a sort of mechanism to explore this topic that we hadn’t seen a documentary about before, and with the changing landscape of independent film, it seemed like it might be a good idea,” he explained.

Many of their friends from around Hollywood showed up at the premiere to help support Gillies and Cook. Creating “Broken Kingdom” and “Kingdom Come” was a process they all saw their friends going through, and those actors in attendance expressed pride that Gillies was able to make his dream project.

“My very, very good friends Daniel and Rachael have obviously been behind it for a long time. The film is a great dream of theirs and all of us have seen them work so hard on something that means so much to them,” “Inception” star Dileep Rao said. “I just couldn’t be prouder. In this business, there’s a lot of things that get made just because they have a venality and a utility and that’s part of making a business, you know? It’s very rare that people take the time out of their careers, really take the time to make something they care about, and I admire Daniel so much for doing that and his heart that he put into that.”

“The Royal Today” actress Caroline Carver has known both Cook and Gillies since they shot a movie together called “My First Wedding,” and they’ve been close ever since. She’s seen the toll “Broken Kingdom” took on Gillies, and credits him for sticking with the project.

“I’ve been on this whole epic adventure with them and it’s been absolutely amazing and I’ve got so much respect for them because it’s really brilliant what they’ve done,” she said. “I’ve kind of seen all the blood and sweat. I’ve seen Daniel going through the whole financing and then the traveling and the nuts and bolts of getting a film, made, which is the most difficult thing in the world, especially when you’re actors and you’re used to being on the other side. … For me, the kind of behind-the-scenes has been an incredible journey, really.”

Producer Cindy Cowan, most recently behind the Cillian Murphy film “Red Lights,” said that she thinks independent filmmaking is going to come to the forefront as the Hollywood landscape continues to change.

“I think the business is changing a lot right now. Studios are all about these big Marvel comics and these tentpole movies and so the entire business is changing,” she explained. “I think we’re going to see a lot more Video On Demand, digital, TV’s getting better and better, but the business is changing. It really is.”

In addition to creating the documentary to chronicle his process making “Broken Kingdom,” Gillies also took another gamble and decided to offer his feature and “Kingdom Come” online for $5 a piece or $8 for both. He allowed fans to buy tickets that would allow them to livestream the red carpet and watch both films from their computers at home so they could feel like a part of the entire experience.

“I’m happy that we’re doing it. It’s sort of unprecedented,” he said. “I kind of like the idea of the democratization of cinema. I like the idea that anyone can be involved.
We’re the little guy. We’re Rocky, and I like the fact that we’re Rocky and I want to celebrate that kind of cause.”

Murphy added, ” We saw what Louis [C.K.] did and we saw what Aziz Ansari then did. … Theaters don’t want little indie films for the most part. It just seemed like [distributing online is] something everybody’s going to be doing in a couple of years, and we decided that we wanted to be out in front of that and be a grand experiment and hopefully make something good happen.”

Even though “Kingdom Come” shows how difficult, stressful and life-changing a process creating his first feature film was, Gillies ended the documentary by saying he’s ready to create his next film. He reaffirmed those sentiments to IFC.

“It’s all I think about,” he said with a laugh, adding about his next film’s tone, “It’s not going to be a date movie, let’s just put it like that. It’s not going to get dark, it’s going to begin and it’s going to get blacker before the dawn.”

Producer and “Goodfellas” actress Illeana Douglas said she understands where he’s coming from.

“Making independent movies is like a drug. You want to quit, but it’s so hard, but very rewarding,” she told IFC.

“Broken Kingdom” and “Kingdom Come” are available online through their official website.

What have been your experiences with independent filmmaking? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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.