(In the days before the Academy Awards, Inside Stories talks to some of the contributors to this year's nominated films)

INSIDE STORIES' (Proust) QUESTIONNAIRE

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THE OSCARS EDITION

 

3/2/14

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AMY ROTH  Assistant Costume Designer  INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE FILM/TELEVISION BUSINESS?  My first job in film was costume PA for Mike Nichols' Biloxi Blues. We shot on location in Fort Smith, Arkansas during the spring. It was hot! "Africa hot." The actor's dressing rooms were in one of the barracks and all drove to set in one van in the morning. We had over 500 extras in 1940's US Army uniforms out first two weeks of shooting. Mike Nichols would show us wonderful classic movies on a projector on Sunday nights in the barracks. Popcorn in paper cups was served. Mike would take everyone to dinner and tell wonderful stories about his days at the University of Chicago. I can't repeat half of them! There was no air- conditioning and terrible craft service but we were having the best time. All the actors came from the theatre so they were immensely entertaining and incredibly funny. One of the core actors, Matthew Mulhern, imitated Buddy Mcbride, who was one if the electricians on the film, and it was hands down one of the funniest impersonations I've ever seen. I remember Mike Nichols coming over to me with a Vanity Fair magazine with Diane Sawyer on the cover. She was wearing a sexy black cashmere sweater - the article was about her turning forty and being single and how gorgeous she is. He held the magazine up to me and said , " I'm going to marry her". And I thought, yeah, me too, guy, good luck! He married her one year later.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW?  I'm a costume designer!

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? Location, location, location!

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR? Mike Nichols. He knows everything. 

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR?  Davis Strathairn. Not only is he a consistently great, understated actor, but he is a really wonderful guy! I was on a wardrobe truck waiting for a featured background actor who was to walk a dog in a scene and David Strathairn passed by the truck. He lived in the neighborhood and was returning from a trip dragging a suitcase down the street. He stopped and said hello and asked what show I was working on ( can't even remember what it was as it was so boring) and I told him our background actor seemed like a no show. He said, "I'll be background action in your show". Not one person noticed David Strathairn walking that dog behind our lead actors ( think Donny Wahlberg and Michael Madsen) take after take. And he was great in the part!

IF YOU COULD BE A CHARACTER FROM ANY FILM OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE?  I would want to be Margo Channing from  All About Eve. She has a wonderful gal Friday played by Thelma Ritter and the two of them have a lot of laughs.Margo is a theatre actor so she never has to get up at 5 am to work! She has a great duplex apartment and probably doesn't know where the kitchen is! She wears little black dresses and dines at 21 with theatre folk.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE SHOT IN/AT?  The crew stayed in Rome. We shot in the Villa Adriana, Tivoli to be exact, on Angels in America. We prepped at Cinecitta Studios. 

WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT THE BUSINESS? The people. 

WHAT DO YOU LOATHE MOST ABOUT THE BUSINESS?  It's all about the money. I'd like to see everybody get a share of the financial success of the movie.

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD YOUR OCCUPATION BE?  I'd like to be working for Oxfam or some organization that helps those in need.

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(s)? Naturally, 12 Years a Slave. The worst. 

WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE? 12 Years a Slave

WHICH FILM DO YOU THINK WILL ACTUALLY WIN BEST PICTURE?  12 Years a Slave.

 

2/27/14

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ALISSA KANTROW Production Supervisor TWELVE YEARS A SLAVE

* Alissa won an Oscar as producer of the 2011 Short Film The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore*

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE FILM/TELEVISION BUSINESS? I was studying at the College of Santa Fe’s Moving Image Arts program and there were new sound stages on campus, which provided some opportunities for internships and day playing.  My first unpaid job was as a day player Office P.A. on Young Guns 2. My very first paid position was as a day player Set P.A. on the film Late for Dinner.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? I am a DGA UPM, line producer, mother of two, and owner a production services company in Louisiana.

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? Story, sound, & talent. I believe those 3 elements are what fully engages and engrosses a viewer completely. Talented storytellers can make a brick wall fascinating.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR? Such a tough question – David Fincher, Wong Kar-Wai, Wes Anderson, Coen Bros, Stephen Spielberg….the list could go on…must I choose one? And I’m a fan of Kathryn Bigelow – she takes on some serious material and doesn’t let go, which I appreciate as a woman. She can hold her own with the big dogs.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR? Same with previous question…Gene Hackman, Maggie Smith, Judi Dench, Christian Bale, Dustin Hoffman…too many to pick one. I’m a fan of so many!

IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE? I suppose my answers are really coming from being a working mom: Jane Jetson – wouldn’t it be nice to have robots that helped with the housekeeping and cooking? Flying cars would be fun! Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham wouldn’t suck either.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE SHOT IN/AT? For a television pilot, Reckless, the art department turned some rundown, abandoned urban housing projects into “East Myanmar.” It was a pretty spectacular transformation, with very limited means and time. Sunsets in the New Mexican desert are pretty magical too. 

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOVE MOST? I love the sense of family for the time that it takes to complete a picture – the camaraderie, cooperation. And that at the end of the day, you’ve left a little “legacy,” so to speak. With each project we do, we have our names attached to them for the work we’ve done, as we are all part of this piece of “art."

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOATHE THE MOST? The sense of entitlement that the industry can promote.  I find it deplorable, considering how lucky we are to work in this business.

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR OCCUPATION? I love to read, so perhaps working the help desk at Barnes & Noble. Seemingly stress-free, surrounded by books, assisting others in finding stories. Sounds good, right? But my dream job would be to own a successful winery in Sonoma!

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(s)? I would have to say 12 Years a Slave. Michael Fassbender’s character, Edwin Epps is pretty nasty, although Sarah Paulson’s character, Mistress Epps, his wife, is rather loathsome too. Paul Dano’s character is despicable.And those are only three of the many.

WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE? 12 Years a Slave!!! I think the film deserves it, as all elements are phenomenal! 

WHICH FILM DO YOU THINK WILL ACTUALLY WIN BEST PICTURE?  12 Years a Slave.

 

2/25/14

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DAVID VELASCO Location Manager AMERICAN HUSTLE

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE FILM/TELEVISION BUSINESS? I started as a day player office PA for Season 2 of The Sopranos. After that I graduated to driving a unit van with no heat in the middle of winter for $100 a day.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? For the last 4 years I’ve worked exclusively as a film/television location manager. I was nominated for a DGA award this year as part of David O Russell’s directing team for American Hustle.

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? Time, money and more time.  You’re always battling those elements at varying degrees no matter the size of the production.  Which is why you always have to leave emotion at the door and simply focus on getting the job done. 

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR? Christopher Nolan.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR? Christian Bale. Until recently it was Phil Hoffman. It still saddens me he’s gone.

IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE? The Onion Knight in Game of Thrones or that cat in Inside Lleywn Davis.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE EVER SHOT IN/AT? 31st Street in Manhattan when we did this single continuous take shot of Michael Fassbender jogging across several avenues for Steven McQueen’s film Shame.  It’s one of my proudest career moments.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOVE MOST? Having the opportunity to collaborate with some really talented people. I’m lucky to have even befriended a few of them.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOATHE THE MOST?  Crew parking and egg sandwiches. 

IF YOUR WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR OCCUPATION? A history teacher.  I had a great social studies teacher as a kid in grade school who had a big impact on my life.  It would be nice to pay that back. 

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(S)? Michael Fassbender in 12 Years a Slave.  Ironic considering Michael’s the sweetest guy in real life.  Especially after you buy him some shots of Patron. 

WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE?   I’m biased.  American Hustle.  I honestly think it was the best directed film of 2013. Juggling those performances, the editing, the camera choreography it really was an undertaking juggling those knives in the air, so to speak.

WHICH FILM DO YOU THINK WILL ACTUALLY WIN BEST PICTURE Probably Gravity. It is an amazing technical achievement. Alfonso Cuaron did a great job and he’s a real gentleman.

 

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JOE GUEST Location Manager AUGUST OSAGE COUNTY

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE MOVIE/TV INDUSTRY? I was an intern / PA on Jim Jarmusch's 'Ghost Dog' while in my last semester of college. When they called me in for an interview I had no idea "Plywood Productions" was a Jarmusch movie. I was so excited - I have always been a big Jim Jarmusch fan. I started the next day. Robby Muller was the DP, which was awesome. I learned a lot - and I still stay in touch and work with a lot of the crew from that job.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? Production Manage. I have been a location manager for years.

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? Story, acting & design. You have to have great material for actors to work with or it's not going to be anything. And it's lousy when a film has no production value - why put it up on screen if it doesn't transport the audience to somewhere special?

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR?  Werner Herzog. The guy had this amazing, legendary career as a feature director but he hasn't slowed down.He's continued to evolve - he's made some of the most brilliant documentaries ever. He loves exploration and he brings the audience with him on these incredible adventures. But that's a tough call; there's a lot of great directors out there - Neil Blomkampf and Alfonso Cuaron and Christopher Nolan come to mind - but they can be Favorite Living Director later...

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR?  Meryl Streep. Some might say traditional response, I know. I've worked on several movies with Meryl and she is one of the only actors I will go out of my way for to watch perform. Every take is technically perfect, but she gives the Director a little something different each time. I feel so fortunate to have worked on Doubt, when I got to watch her in those great scenes with Philip Seymour Hoffman.

 IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE?  That's like asking if you could be anyone, ever ... I'll go with James Bond. He gets to travel and ski and drive fast cars for work.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE EVER SHOT IN/AT? There's a lot - hard to pick just one. Right now I'm thinking of shooting in the cat lady of Vinegar Hill's apartment. That was nuts!

 WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOVE MOST? Adventure; getting to tell a new story on every job means it's always something new & different. I've had some fantastic experiences while making a movie; I've been lucky enough to travel to Italy, Thailand and even Oklahoma for work.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOATHE MOST?  Studio / corporate accounting practices that force time to be spent on paperwork that could be spent making movies.

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR OCCUPATION?  I don't know. Maybe politics. Maybe vegetable farming.

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(S)? 12 Years a Slave is the most obvious but let's not forget about those awful nuns in Philomena. 

 WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE? 12 Years a Slave was an all-around achievement and gets my vote. 

WHICH FILM WILL DO YOU THINK WILL ACTUALLY WIN BEST PICTURE? Gravity. 

2/19/14

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BETSY ALTON Production Coordinator AMERICAN HUSTLE

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE MOVIE/TV INDUSTRY?  My first job was as the assistant set decorator on the Tom DiCillo movie “Johnny Suede” starring Brad Pitt. We shot right before “Thelma and Louise” was released and we just knew Brad was going to be HUGE. My next job was as a parking PA in the Bronx - for a week of nights, all by myself. The guys in the neighborhood totally looked out for me and made sure I was OK. It was pretty amazing.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? I'm a production coordinator- seems to suit my hyper personality and Virgo sensibilities. 

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? Communication, collaboration, and a great story. In the top 5 is a good caterer.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR?  Ooof – no way to name just one - Ridley Scott, David Fincher, The Coen Brothers, Woody Allen. M Night Shyamalan is one of the nicest directors I’ve worked with – he loves the process and shares information in such a thoughtful way- it’s really a pleasure. He makes everyone feel included.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR? Morgan Freeman and Christian Bale are at the top of the list and Judi Dench can do no wrong, Angela Lansbury is a magical treat.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE EVER SHOT IN/AT? When I was in the art dept, I worked on movies in Utah and Montana – being out in the big sky country and working in national parks was incredible.When I was working in locations, I worked on the Sopranos pilot. I covered the prep days at the real Bada Bing strip club – THAT was memorable.

 IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE?  Gloria Swenson. She is a badass. (Gena Rowlands’ Gloria, not Sharon Stone’s Gloria) On my romantic days, Elizabeth Bennett.

 WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOVE MOST? I always learn something new on every job – things are fast paced and nothing is ever the same. It can be very exciting - it is certainly NEVER boring. Films can be transformative so I feel like the luckiest girl in the world to be a small part of telling some pretty incredible stories. I still feel that way after 24 years in the business.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOATHE MOST? There is a lot of ego, a lot of entitlement. I subscribe to the notion that EVERY job on a movie is important and everyone should be treated with respect. Sometimes that is in short supply.

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR OCCUPATION? A behavioral psychologist or an interior designer.

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(S)? Edwin Epps in Twelve Years A Slave. Brutal.

 WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE? American Hustle, of course.

WHICH FILM WILL DO YOU THINK WILL ACTUALLY WIN BEST PICTURE? 12 Years A Slave.

 

2/16/14

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MATT FLANDERS Production Team at Plan B Twelve Years A Slave

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE MOVIE/TV INDUSTRY?  An extra in Schwarzenegger's ERASER

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? Write and produce.

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? Character development, an engaging plot, and a reason to be.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR? David Michôd.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR? Michael Fassbender.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE EVER SHOT IN/AT?  The rooftop of a Hindu temple in India.

 IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE? Ferris Beuller. 

 WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOVE MOST? Collaborative creating.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOATHE MOST? Waiting.

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR OCCUPATION? Travel writer.

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(S)? Twelve Years A Slave 

 WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE? Twelve Years A Slave 

WHICH FILM WILL DO YOU THINK WILL ACTUALLY WIN BEST PICTURE? Twelve Years A Slave 

 

 2/15/14

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STEVE FAUGHNAN:  Location Coordinator The Wolf of Wall Street

WHAT WAS YOUR FIRST JOB IN THE MOVIE/TV INDUSTRY? An indie film called ‘Second Best’ back in 2002. I got a job as an unpaid intern, if you can even consider that a job. On my first day in the production office they asked if I’d like to go out to NJ to assist the location department. I didn't know what that meant, but I had my old crappy college car, and have been working in locations ever since.

WHAT DO YOU DO NOW? Currently location coordinator for the NBC show ‘The Blacklist.

WHAT THREE (3) ELEMENTS ARE MOST IMPORTANT IN A FILM? In terms of watching a film it’s narrative coherence, fleshed out characters and visual consistency. In terms of real world logistics of making a film it’s having a creative end that’s reasonable & decisive (almost never happens), keeping yourself organized and focused, and keeping cool when things get rough (location falls through, last minute schedule changes, etc.)

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING DIRECTOR? Probably Christopher Nolan. Still, on any given day it might be David O’Russell, Paul Thomas Anderson, Alfonso Cuaron, Peter Jackson, Terrence Malick, or Steven Spielberg (I am a child of the 80’s). There’s a lot of really great guys working now.

WHO IS YOUR FAVORITE LIVING ACTOR? Tough. Maybe Christian Bale. His good stuff is as good as Daniel Day Lewis (his performace in ‘The Fighter’ was like next level good…) and he also jumps into more pop stuff.

 IF YOU COULD BE ANY CHARACTER FROM A MOVIE OR TV SHOW, WHO WOULD IT BE? Dr. Manhattan w/ pants and humanity.

WHERE IS THE MOST MEMORABLE LOCATION YOU'VE EVER SHOT IN/AT? On ‘Garden State’ I was the Unit PA. We were shooting at a mansion over night. The house had a septic tank...It was awful... just awful. But memorable.

 WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOVE MOST? Knowing that in some small way I helped make possible the films and TV shows I’ve worked on. And that the work is never the same day to day. Our business is many things, but boring it is not.

WHAT ASPECT OF THE BUSINESS DO YOU LOATHE MOST? The time between gigs when you’re convinced you’ll never work again.

IF YOU WEREN'T WORKING IN FILM, WHAT WOULD BE YOUR OCCUPATION? I’d try and get more computer skills and hopefully land some sort of IT gig.

OF THE OSCAR NOMINATED FILMS THIS YEAR, WHICH ONE HAS THE MOST DEPLORABLE CHARACTER(S)? Dude from ‘12 Years a Slave’ is pretty dickish.  Jordan (TWOWS) is an ass, but not quite that bad.  

 WHICH FILM WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE WIN BEST PICTURE? Personally, Wolf of Wall Street. Call it personal bias… and you’d probably be right. It’s a really strong year this year. You’ve got 3 or 4 films that probably would have won over Argo last year.

WHICH FILM WILL WIN BEST PICTURE? 12 Years a Slave.