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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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Hard Out

Comedy From The Closet

Janice and Jeffrey Available Now On IFC's Comedy Crib

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She’s been referred to as “the love child of Amy Sedaris and Tracy Ullman,” and he’s a self-described “Italian who knows how to cook a great spaghetti alla carbonara.” They’re Mollie Merkel and Matteo Lane, prolific indie comedians who blended their robust creative juices to bring us the new Comedy Crib series Janice and Jeffrey. Mollie and Matteo took time to answer our probing questions about their series and themselves. Here’s a taste.

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

Mollie & Matteo: Janice and Jeffrey is about a married couple experiencing intimacy issues but who don’t have a clue it’s because they are gay. Their oblivion makes them even more endearing.  Their total lack of awareness provides for a buffet of comedy.

IFC: What’s your origin story? How did you two people meet and how long have you been working together?

Mollie: We met at a dive bar in Wrigley Field Chicago. It was a show called Entertaining Julie… It was a cool variety scene with lots of talented people. I was doing Janice one night and Matteo was doing an impression of Liza Minnelli. We sort of just fell in love with each other’s… ACT! Matteo made the first move and told me how much he loved Janice and I drove home feeling like I just met someone really special.

IFC: How would Janice describe Jeffrey?

Mollie: “He can paint, cook homemade Bolognese, and sing Opera. Not to mention he has a great body. He makes me feel empowered and free. He doesn’t suffocate me with attention so our love has room to breath.”

IFC: How would Jeffrey describe Janice?

Matteo: “Like a Ford. Built to last.”

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

Mollie & Matteo: Our current political world is mirroring and reflecting this belief that homosexuality is wrong. So what better time for satire. Everyone is so pro gay and equal rights, which is of course what we want, too. But no one is looking at middle America and people actually in the closet. No one is saying, hey this is really painful and tragic, and sitting with that. Having compassion but providing the desperate relief of laughter…This seemed like the healthiest, best way to “fight” the gay rights “fight”.

IFC: Hummus is hilarious. Why is it so funny?

Mollie: It just seems like something people take really seriously, which is funny to me. I started to see it in a lot of lesbians’ refrigerators at a time. It’s like observing a lesbian in a comfortable shoe. It’s a language we speak. Pass the Hummus. Turn on the Indigo Girls would ya?

See the whole season of Janice and Jeffrey right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib.

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Die Hard Dads

Inspiration For Die Hard Dads

Die Hard is on IFC all Father's Day Long

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIPHY

Yippee ki-yay, everybody! It’s time to celebrate the those most literal of mother-effers: dads!

And just in case the title of this post left anything to the imagination, IFC is giving dads balls-to-the-wall ’80s treatment with a glorious marathon of action trailblazer Die Hard.

There are so many things we could say about Die Hard. We could talk about how it was comedian Bruce Willis’s first foray into action flicks, or Alan Rickman’s big screen debut. But dads don’t give a sh!t about that stuff.

No, dads just want to fantasize that they could be deathproof quip factory John McClane in their own mundane lives. So while you celebrate the fathers in your life, consider how John McClane would respond to these traditional “dad” moments…

Wedding Toasts

Dads always struggle to find the right words of welcome to extend to new family. John McClane, on the other hand, is the master of inclusivity.
Die Hard wedding

Using Public Restrooms

While nine out of ten dads would rather die than use a disgusting public bathroom, McClane isn’t bothered one bit. So long as he can fit a bloody foot in the sink, he’s G2G.
Die Hard restroom

Awkward Dancing

Because every dad needs a signature move.
Die Hard dance

Writing Thank You Notes

It can be hard for dads to express gratitude. Not only can McClane articulate his thanks, he makes it feel personal.
Die Hard thank you

Valentine’s Day

How would John McClane say “I heart you” in a way that ain’t cliche? The image speaks for itself.
Die Hard valentines

Shopping

The only thing most dads hate more than shopping is fielding eleventh-hour phone calls with additional items for the list. But does McClane throw a typical man-tantrum? Nope. He finds the words to express his feelings like a goddam adult.
Die Hard thank you

Last Minute Errands

John McClane knows when a fight isn’t worth fighting.
Die Hard errands

Sneaking Out Of The Office Early

What is this, high school? Make a real exit, dads.
Die Hard office

Think you or your dad could stand to be more like Bruce? Role model fodder abounds in the Die Hard marathon all Father’s Day long on IFC.

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Founding Farters

Know Your Nerd History

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC.

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Photo Credit: Everett Collection, GIFs via Giphy

That we live in the heyday of nerds is no hot secret. Scientists are celebrities, musicians are robots and late night hosts can recite every word of the Silmarillion. It’s too easy to think that it’s always been this way. But the truth is we owe much to our nerd forebearers who toiled through the jock-filled ’80s so that we might take over the world.

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Our humble beginnings are perhaps best captured in iconic ’80s romp Revenge of the Nerds. Like the founding fathers of our Country, the titular nerds rose above their circumstances to culturally pave the way for every Colbert and deGrasse Tyson that we know and love today.

To make sure you’re in the know about our very important cultural roots, here’s a quick download of the vengeful nerds without whom our shameful stereotypes might never have evolved.

Lewis Skolnick

The George Washington of nerds whose unflappable optimism – even in the face of humiliating self-awareness – basically gave birth to the Geek Pride movement.

Gilbert Lowe

OK, this guy is wet blanket, but an important wet blanket. Think Aaron Burr to Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Hamilton. His glass-mostly-empty attitude is a galvanizing force for Lewis. Who knows if Lewis could have kept up his optimism without Lowe’s Debbie-Downer outlook?

Arnold Poindexter

A music nerd who, after a soft start (inside joke, you’ll get it later), came out of his shell and let his passion lead instead of his anxiety. If you played an instrument (specifically, electric violin), and you were a nerd, this was your patron saint.

Booger

A sex-loving, blunt-smoking, nose-picking guitar hero. If you don’t think he sounds like a classic nerd, you’re absolutely right. And that’s the whole point. Along with Lamar, he simultaneously expanded the definition of nerd and gave pre-existing nerds a twisted sort of cred by association.

Lamar Latrell

Black, gay, and a crazy good breakdancer. In other words, a total groundbreaker. He proved to the world that nerds don’t have a single mold, but are simply outcasts waiting for their moment.

Ogre

Exceedingly stupid, this dumbass was monumental because he (in a sequel) leaves the jocks to become a nerd. Totally unheard of back then. Now all jocks are basically nerds.

Well, there they are. Never forget that we stand on their shoulders.

Revenge of the Nerds is on IFC all month long.

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