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Selma Blair talks “In Their Skin,” horror and indie filmmaking

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A family alone in a house. A stranger comes knocking. Terror ensues. This describes the plot of many a horror movie, yet somehow the concept still feels terrifying in Jeremy Regimbal’s debut feature “In Their Skin.”

The film stars Selma Blair and Joshua Close, who also wrote the film, as a couple recovering from a tragedy that pushed them to take their son Brendon to their country home for some quality family time. But not long after they settle in do their neighbors — Bobby, Jane and their son Jared — come to visit. What starts off as an uncomfortable, forced dinner turns into the previously mentioned terror as the three people turn out not to be who they say they are.

IFC had the pleasure of speaking with Blair in a phone interview in anticipation of “In Their Skin’s” release. During our conversation, we touched on what makes this type of thriller so consistently scary and what her experience has been like in the independent film industry.

IFC: I had the pleasure of watching “In Their Skin” last night not really knowing anything about it going in, and it was a lot scarier than I expected. You’ve worked in horror films and thrillers before, but I was curious what in particular drew you to this project?

SELMA BLAIR: Josh is a friend of mine and he wrote it and he had Jeremy come on, who has a great eye, and I thought he made the film look beautiful. But it was just a little project and I support these projects and, before I had the baby, I had the luxury of getting to be a part of them. I think the first film for first-time writers and directors is quite crucial, and to get it out there and start careers and hope for the best and see what their vision is is really exciting for me.

And I like the family drama aspect. I mean, this isn’t like a big horror, gory movie. It’s more of a quiet, scary family drama, almost. It took its time, which you don’t see in films a lot. Really just letting you watch these people instead of just action, action, which I like. I think there’s not a lot of those movies anymore. It’s kind of poetic and took its time. I haven’t seen the final cut of it, but just the idea that you’re not safe in your own home and that you’re already dealing with sadness, it was a very scary idea.

IFC: In your opinion, what do you think makes this kind of movie where, like you said, you aren’t safe in your own home so consistently scary?

SB: There are so few of us that actually live so far off in the country alone now, that on its own is a big luxury, and you think, “Ah, I’m going to get away from it all and just be with my family.” But when there’s not a chance of that, and you don’t have alarm systems and you’re trying to be polite to your neighbors and just have people in your house quietly without thinking anything’s going to happen, yeah, it’s just scary. We’ve all had those nights with uncomfortable people and you wish they’d leave, and that’s just a pain in the butt, but when you wish they’d leave and they come back and try to take over your lives, that’s horrifying.

IFC: Have you ever been in a situation similar to that, or are you just speaking broadly?

SB: Yeah, no, no, god forbid, but it’s my biggest fear. Being at home with the baby and alone at night, I hear a noise and I just pray that I would have what it takes to protect my child and myself. It’s in my mind. It’s every grown-up’s fear.

IFC: When I was watching, I couldn’t help but notice that James D’Arcy was channeling a serious Norman Bates vibe, and then I realized that he’s playing Anthony Perkins, the actor who portrayed Bates, in the Anthony Hopkins “Hitchcock” movie.

SB: I know. Isn’t that perfect?

IFC: It really was.

SB: Yeah, to see him in the Madonna film [“W.E.”] and then to see him in in this and then Norman Bates, I can’t wait. But it’s so crazy to think that he’s British. I mean, he’s so versatile. But yes, I am excited to see him as Norman Bates.

IFC: Well I was curious if you knew if that vibe was intentional, because there sort of is a parallel in the characters.

SB: I don’t know what was going through his mind. I know he hadn’t booked the “Psycho” job yet, but maybe all creepy people are Norman Bates-ish. [laughs]

IFC: I guess so! You spoke earlier about how you support independent filmmaking and I actually just saw you in “Kingdom Come,” the Daniel Gillies documentary, talking about the same thing. Can you talk about some of the struggles and successes you’ve had in independent filmmaking over the years?

SB: I go back and forth. I make films like “Cruel Intentions” and “Legally Blonde” and “Hellboy,” which is a huge film, but then I make a ton of independent ones. They’re hard. You have the luxury of not having huge studios and huge dollars telling you what to do so you get to do what you want to do, but usually it is with first-time directors and people figuring it out and it’s a real labor of love. There are long days on set and everyone’s kind of learning.

The film business’s harder than ever right now. Getting people to go see movies, I just, I want filmmakers to be able to tell their stories. I worked with Todd Solandz, and he’s kind of like the indie king, and he jokes that each movie makes less than the last, and I’m like, god, if someone as amazing as Todd has those movies come out in fewer and fewer theater, oh my god, this is such a dying breed. Is it just going to be “Transformers” are the only movies that are going to be available for us — which are great and fun and I would love to be a part of that too — but it’s so scary to think that independent films are dying.

IFC: I know a lot of filmmakers are turning to VOD as a way to distribute, so do you think that could be the way of the future?

SB: I mean I think any way that people can see movies I’m all for, but I had one of the first movies that ever came out on iTunes, and that was Ed Burns’ “Purple Violets.” It never got a theatrical release, it just debuted on iTunes, the first movie to come out on iTunes, and it did okay, but you’re not going to make that huge money unless you’re out there and getting people to see movies in the theaters and really having that movie experience, so I don’t know about the Video On Demand and I don’t know how actors will ever make a living when it just goes straight to On Demand because I think the only people who get paid for that are producers, and I don’t even know how much that is. So great, I’m glad they’re available, but I don’t know how people are going to make a living.

“In Their Skin” comes out in select theaters on November 9.

What did you think of Blair’s thoughts on the independent filmmaking business? Do you agree with her about VOD? Tell us in the comments section below or on Facebook and Twitter.

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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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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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