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A Spirited Q & A With “Everything Strange and New” Director Frazer Bradshaw

A Spirited Q & A With “Everything Strange and New” Director Frazer Bradshaw (photo)

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As a way of celebrating this year’s nominees for the Spirit Awards in the weeks leading up to the ceremony, we reached out to as many as we could in an effort to better understand what went into their films, what they’ve gotten out of the experience, and where they’ve found their inspiration, both in regards to their work and other works of art that might’ve inspired them from the past year. Their answers will be published on a daily basis throughout February.

Frazer Bradshaw has held nearly position on a film crew imaginable, from his beginnings as an editor to a cinematographer who continues to work on other people’s films such as “Babies” and the recent Sundance entry “These Amazing Shadows.” So after creating a collection of shorts over the past decade, it was high time for the filmmaker to put it all together for “Everything Strange and New,” his first feature that has added the adjective “best” since being nominated for a Spirit Award and collected likeminded notices from the Gotham Awards and its celebrated festival run with stops in San Francisco and Munich last year.

Naturally, the film itself is also about a man (Jerry McDaniel) who is attempting to pull together disparate elements, not in art, but rather in life as he supports his wife and two children as a carpenter who unfortunately can’t apply such craftsmanship to everything around him that seems to be falling apart. Set in Oakland, Bradshaw’s film is no ordinary tale of suburban woe, especially since the consummate filmmaker constantly challenges convention with the inventive ways he shoots “Everything Strange and New” and as a film, it never succumbs to telling an audience how it should feel, instead only allowing its audience to feel as its lead character Wayne contemplates his life in voiceover and ponders the ways he can change the direction of his narrative.

What’s exciting about “Everything Strange and New” is that Bradshaw is trying to change the direction of the way films are constructed, reminding us of the elasticity of the medium with the story of someone who must walk a very fine line.

Why did you want to make this film?

There are a lot of reasons. For one, I love the craft of cinema, and the experience of watching projected light; on a very immediate level, I just like to make films for the pure joy of making and seeing the aesthetic manifestation. On a deeper level, I wanted to talk about some of the profound complexities of human cultural/emotional/spiritual experience. Essentially, I wanted to give a voice to some of my personal struggles and experiences that I think are shared by many or are universal in human life. I also wanted to make a film about a huge cross section of America whose experience is radically underrepresented in America media: the working class.

02252011_EverythingStrangeandNew2.jpgWhat was the best piece of advice you received that applied to the making of this film?

In high school, an older photographer friend/mentor told me that if I made work that was truly honest, people would understand and appreciate that work. I took that to heart, and tried to make “Everything Strange and New” as honest a film as I could.

What was the toughest thing to overcome, whether it applies to a particular scene or the film as a whole?

It seems almost too simple, but the real answer is money. I’d wanted to make a feature for almost 10 years. I suddenly found myself with the most basic financial resources to make a feature, and with that stumbling block finally out of my way, I was able to write a first draft in three weeks and go into production a few months later. Of course, it turned out that the money I had in place really wasn’t enough, and in the end, my fabulous executive producer Steve Bannatyne of Lucky Hat Entertainment signed on, along with some minor investors to give me the resources to make a film that was uncompromised.

What’s been the most memorable moment while you’ve traveled with the film, either at a festival or otherwise?

I think my favorite moments are in Q & As. The film is designed to illicit very personal reactions from it’s viewers, and it is very rare that I leave a Q & A without a new perspective on the film. Audiences bring themselves to the film in a way that often moves me, and they frequently observe things in the film that I missed in making it. In a way, I feel like the audience finishes the film for me, anew, in every screening.

In one specific case, a woman in the audience told me that she felt that the way women are represented in the film was problematic. Before I had a chance to respond, another woman on the other side of the theater responded by telling the first woman that her observation was ridiculous and that she was clearly not understanding what the film had to say. They had a short argument, back and forth across the theater, while I stood on the stage and watched.

What’s your favorite thing about your film that’s been largely uncommented upon?

I’d have to say the photography. I’m a director of photography for my living, and I shot “Everything Strange and New,” as well as directing it. Because I have the skill set of a DP, and I wasn’t working with someone else, I was able to craft the cinematography to be exacting, so that it completely integrates with the storytelling style. I intentionally made the photography both naturalistic and stylized. At the same time. It’s not showy and not “beautiful,” so it doesn’t stand out, but for me, the film and it’s cinematography are of a piece.

02252011_EverythingStrangeandNew3.jpgWhat’s been the most gratifying thing to come out of this film for you personally?

With “Everything Strange and New,” I tried to make a film that was really honest and to work from a vulnerable place. Though the narrative elements are largely not autobiographical, the film is very much true to who I am. Gratifying isn’t even an appropriate term to describe the feeling I have, knowing that people “get” what I put out there.

What’s been your favorite film, book or album from the past year?

I’d probably have to say the the film “Mundane Life” by the Korean director Jao Nok Krajok. It’s almost guaranteed not to get any distribution in the U.S. (because it’s that good), so if you happen upon it at a festival, be sure to check it out. By the way, you have to hold out for the end to see the magic.

“Everything Strange and New” is now available on DVD and will make its New York theatrical debut at the reRun Theater starting February 25th. The Spirit Awards will air on IFC on February 26th.


Final Countdown

The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at


Rev Up

Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.


Give Back

Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…