an IndieGoGo campaign for the film - check out our promo video below to find out more about the movie.
Jack and Lucas Go To A Wedding - The Promo Video from Jack Kyser on Vimeo.
We were thrilled to work with a very experienced, professional crew of close friends, including Benjamin Dewey, who has collaborated with me as cinematographer on all of my past short films. Dear friends and amazingly talented filmmakers Ani Tomasic, Mike Cheslik, Eliza McNitt, Adam Boese, Spencer Jezewski, Paige Wollensak, Jared Rosenthal and Christian Carvajal made up the fantastic crew on the film.
We started location scouting as early as May, looking for a hotel room in New Jersey (before ultimately finding the perfect location in the heart of Manhattan, of all places).
Earlier this month, we released the first trailer for the film, featuring great cinematography and titles by Benjamin Dewey and a fantastic sound design by Bobb Barito. Thank you to our wonderful friends at Marabigo and the crew for helping spread the word about the trailer, which you can watch below.
Jack and Lucas Go To A Wedding Trailer from Jack Kyser on Vimeo.
In August, just before the film shoot, I celebrated my 24th birthday by gathering friends together at my apartment and viewing the greatest motion picture of all time, Martin Scorsese’s Goodfellas (1990). I didn’t realize until recently that I share a birthday with Goodfellas cinematographer Michael Ballhaus, who also shot Scorsese’s The Departed, Gangs of New York (2002), The Age of Innocence (1993), The Last Temptation of Christ (1988), The Color of Money and After Hours (1985).
Lucas and I joke in our promo video that Jack and Lucas Go To A Wedding is based on the wedding of our friend (and fellow Austin High School theatre collaborator) Austin Kingsbery. I don’t believe I’ve written yet about Austin’s wonderful wedding, which Lucas and I attended in August of last year with our fellow high school compadre Cora Walters.
Alex and I have been rehearsing often in the months since. He has revised the script again and again, and each time we go through it, I am struck even more by what a special project he has here. It’s the first feature film made by one of my close friends, and I know Alex has the vision to knock this out of the park. We’ve already spent several days going to thrift stores in Manhattan and Brooklyn picking out my character’s wardrobe.
Needless to say, this is my first leading role in a feature film, and the first time in a long while that I’ve had a role of this size (at least where I’m not directing myself). I am overwhelmingly excited for this opportunity to play my own version of Travis Bickle. In preparation for the role, Alex has had me watch John Boorman's Point Blank (1967) and Sam Peckinpah's Pat Garrett and Billy the Kid (1973) and Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia (1974).
Alejandro González Iñárritu's Birdman, starring Michael Keaton, is a masterpiece. Lucas and I saw the film on opening night at the AMC Lincoln Square, and it may very well be my favorite movie of the year. Here are the spectacular first and second trailers. Also of interest is a great Rolling Stone interview with Alejandro Gonzalez Inárritu, as well as pictures from the Birdman set by cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezski.
On Halloween weekend, my friend Anne and I experienced a bit of the New York City Halloween parade (which I had not really seen firsthand before) and then saw Birdman at midnight at the Angelika. The next evening, my friend Mike and I caught Jean-Luc Godard’s Goodbye to Language 3D at the IFC Center (which has a very inventive use of 3D) and later a deliriously odd movie called Bone on TCM. I also finally saw The Book of Mormon on Broadway earlier this fall, which was as hilarious and excellent as expected.
a horrifying movie, and Fincher scorches us again. Here’s a great article on Fincher that really gets at the brilliance of Zodiac, one of my favorite films and Fincher’s best movie, in my opinion (though The Social Network and Gone Girl are both close), as well as an excellent video essay about Fincher’s framing and camera movement.
incredible new documentary The 50 Year Argument, which aired on HBO the following evening, at the New York Film Festival. The film is a fascinating, urgent documentary about the fifty-year history of the New York Review of Books. After the screening, Scorsese, Tedeschi, New York Review of Books editor Bob Silvers, publisher Rea Hederman and producer Margaret Bodde participated in a Q&A, which you can view here.
On Saturday, October 11th, I saw Bennett Miller's Foxcatcher at Alice Tully Hall at the New York Film Festival. As Channing Tatum said in the Q&A after the picture, this film is a masterpiece. Miller, Steve Carell, Mark Ruffalo, Vanessa Redgrave, Sienna Miller and Anthony Michael Hall were there in person to introduce the film, with Tatum joining them for the Q&A afterward.
Carell, Ruffalo and Tatum give the most extraordinary performances of the year in this movie. I’ve seen this movie twice since, and it’s an astonishing piece of work. You can see the trailer here.
the wonderfully insane trailer here (easily one of the best trailers in some time, followed by a groovy second one), as well as the New York Film Festival trailer that featured the first footage from the movie. The New York Times also wrote a great article on Inherent Vice and Paul Thomas Anderson in September.
Still, there’s been a lack of awards buzz for several excellent movies released this fall, including Michael Cuesta’s Kill the Messenger, featuring a great performance from Jeremy Renner. Then there’s David Dobkin’s The Judge, which admirably emulates adult dramas of the 1980s (read this great piece from The New York Times on Robert Duvall, who is unsurprisingly magnificent in The Judge). Woody Allen's Magic in the Moonlight is another great Allen film, with Colin Firth and Emma Stone as lovable as they've ever been.
Nightcrawler is fantastic. Jake Gyllenhaal deserves a Best Actor nomination for his performance in this one (particularly after being overlooked for Prisoners last year). His recent work – from this year’s Enemy to 2012’s End of Watch – has been amazing. I love, among so many other things, that we only see the crime scenes in Nightcrawler through the lens of Gyllenhaal's camera. It removes him completely from the wreckage and desensitizes us to what we're seeing.
Earlier this month, I saw Christopher Nolan’s most ambitious and emotionally resonant movie, Interstellar, in 35mm film. We should consider ourselves lucky to get a movie as ambitious, exhilarating and huge as Interstellar these days. The surprise performance from one of the best working actors in Interstellar is one of so many things to love about the film. Nolan must receive a Best Director nomination for this film. It's not impossible - it's necessary.
Here’s an in-depth article about Nolan and Interstellar (with Quentin Tarantino and Paul Thomas Anderson talking about the film), along with an article that nicely discusses the internet's obsession with 'taking down' a movie by people who I can only assume don't really like movies. Seriously, when people use the word "flawed" to describe a movie, I think they must mean it goes for broke and it's a truly interesting piece of work. Interstellar is one of the best movies of the year, and not coincidentally, one of the most ambitious ones.
Here’s master novelist John le Carré on Hoffman's genius performance in A Most Wanted Man. Hoffman also just gave another great turn in The Hunger Games: Mockingjay - Part One, which, along with Part Two, will stand as his final performance.
Ira Sachs's Love is Strange is one of the best and most powerful movies of the year (if you've seen it, read this). Lenny Abrahamson's Frank is an unexpectedly moving film, with an amazing performance from Michael Fassbender. And John Michael McDonagh's Calvary might be the best movie made by a McDonagh brother yet - it's certainly every bit as masterful as In Bruges (2008).
According to the internet, at least, Martin Scorsese's The Irishman is still happening - with Robert De Niro, Al Pacino, Joe Pesci and Bobby Cannavale all on board. Matt Damon is set to star in Alexander Payne's new film Downsizing, as well as Kenneth Lonergan’s new film Manchester-by-the-Sea. Joseph Gordon-Levitt is set to star in Oliver Stone's next film about Edward Snowden. Megan Ellison continues to save the day, making the new films from David O. Russell, Richard Linklater and Todd Solondz possible. And in December and January, we can expect new films from two of my favorite filmmakers, the masterful Clint Eastwood (with American Sniper) and Michael Mann (with Blackhat), who hasn't directed a film in five years.
134 documentary features were submitted for this year's Oscar Race, including Afternoon of a Faun: Tanaquil Le Clercq, the great film on which I worked as a production assistant and researcher.
Boyhood and Birdman, in my mind the two best movies of the year, led the Gotham Award nominations as well as the Indie Spirit Award nominations (along with Nightcrawler and Selma). Upon seeing Boyhood for a second time earlier this fall, I felt even more certain the film will win Best Picture. Three songs from Boyhood have already entered the Oscar race.
Last month, I screened my film You Can’t Put Your Arms Around A Memory for Professor Laszlo Santha’s Advanced Production class on Halloween. It is always an honor to screen in Laszlo’s classes – I screened The Wheels in his Sight and Sound: Film class earlier this summer and With Love, Marty for his class last fall, and Laszlo welcomes and engages his guests with such good questions that make you feel like a real filmmaker. He has always been so supportive of all of my work (not to mention helpful with his great notes on my first feature screenplay), and I cannot thank him enough.
A very belated happy birthday to the world's best mom, Gretchen Kyser, and my great father, John Kyser, who would have turned 61 this August. It's been twelve years since he passed away, and recently I've been transferring footage of our family trips from old High 8 videotapes to digital files. Here's a video from 1996 in which my dad and I give a tour of Kennebunkport, Maine.
John and Jack in Maine - 1996 from Jack Kyser on Vimeo.
For my sixth birthday party, my parents rented out an Austin movie theater for the release of Jack (1996). In the following years, I’d also see Father’s Day (1997), Flubber (1997), Patch Adams (1998) and Bicentennial Man (1999), among others, in cinemas with my parents.
I had the opportunity to see Williams twice in person - first, at the 2010 Tisch Gala, where he brought the house down (as per usual) while honoring Billy Crystal, and secondly, at a performance of the brilliant 2011 Broadway play Bengal Tiger at the Baghdad Zoo, where he excelled in his performance as the tiger. After that performance, the Dean's Scholars were treated to a brief talk with Mr. Williams. His enormous warmth and genuine kindness were evident even in the brief time we were able to spend with him.
It’s hard to describe the effect The Graduate had on me when I first saw it. I was eleven years old, and it was one of those movies, like The Godfather (which I first viewed around the same time) that created such a lasting impact and a feeling within me. With that haunting soundtrack and unmistakable atmosphere, it opened up another world for me. It was such an instrumental and affecting movie that it didn’t even occur to me until years later to list it as one of my favorites movies, when of course it was – it resonated with me deeply and made me feel and understand, at least emotionally, a certain kind of sadness at a very young age.
We watched and discussed both Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf? and The Graduate quite a bit in Yemane Demissie’s Advanced Production class my senior year of college. In high school, my junior year English and film teacher Michael Blankenburg screened and discussed both films, as well.
Nichols was the kind of immaculate craftsman who made studio films with real budgets aimed at adults, and they weren't made only with the intention of winning Oscars. The attitude now, even with great adult films, is to go big or go home, as if audiences won’t come if the film is modest in scale or not one of the pre-ordained "prestige" movies. This division between “art-house” and “commercial” movies has killed a sense of wonder at the movies, and each year I long for a more diverse slate of films. When something like The Judge comes along, all anyone can talk about is how "earnest" or "over-stuffed" it feels, without acknowledging that the film is trying to bring back a kind of movie that's practically extinct nowadays. That's far more than most other films attempt. I enjoy many of the Marvel movies, but I could get along just fine without any of them if it meant getting more films from directors like Nichols.
There are so many other wonderful talents who have departed the past few months, including another great filmmaker and actor, Richard Attenborough. It is terribly sad to lose Joan Rivers. Joan Rivers: A Piece of Work was one of the best documentaries of 2010, and a wonderful tribute to her talent. The wonderful actor James Garner, the amazing editor Tom Rolf (Taxi Driver, New York, New York, The Right Stuff, Heat) and songwriter Bob Crewe are among the many others.
In late August, I filmed a slightly bizarre video for the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge. It was a bit late in the game for the challenge, and I'm fairly certain the three people I nominated - Lucas, Bobb and my good friend Bolton Eckert - did not complete the challenge, but that's okay.
The Ice Bucket Challenge from Jack Kyser on Vimeo.
This fall, I've also had the great pleasure of seeing Roberto Rossellini's Rome: Open City (1945), introduced by Isabella Rossellini, as well as Elia Kazan's Baby Doll (1956), at Film Forum - both magnificent films. I also saw one of the greatest movies ever made, The Blues Brothers (1980), for the first time in a cinema at Lincoln Center. The Blues Brothers was my favorite movie for a long, long time, before I found out about Die Hard (1988).
a television series based on his film Shutter Island. Here's Scorsese on the great news of Kodak keeping film alive, as well as his wise, fascinating thirty-two minute commencement speech at Tisch Salute this year. The world's greatest film editor, Thelma Schoonmaker, was honored at the Venice Film Festival earlier this year, receiving the Golden Lion for Lifetime Achievement. As Variety notes, it's the first time the Golden Lion has been awarded to an editor.
Two new films starring Al Pacino premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival earlier this year, one from Barry Levinson and the other from David Gordon Green. I haven't seen either yet, but I absolutely cannot wait. Read this article from The New Yorker, titled Al Pacino's Driving Force, by John Lahr, and watch this excellent video accompaniment to the article.
In other random news, I still can't get over that President Obama used a line from The Departed to express his frustration with the Republican Party. Matthew McConaughey performed his chant from The Wolf of Wall Street to the Texas Longhorns football team earlier this fall. And as usual, Fran Lebowitz is correct about everything - particularly about movie theater etiquette.
For now, I'll leave you with a short movie for a rainy day, made earlier this year as a short exercise for the great professor Yemane Demissie, who continues to encourage our Advanced Production class to make movies.
Another Saturday Night from Jack Kyser on Vimeo.