Neither a chain of spice stores nor a Food Network program, The Seasoning House is a bleak-as-nuclear-winter thriller set during the Balkan conflict of the 1990s. A deaf girl named Angel (Brit teen Rosie Day) is taken from her home by soldiers who shoot her mother dead.
Paul Schrader’s The Canyons opens and closes with a montage of abandoned movie theaters. For this film in particular, that choice strikes one as symbolic in several ways: not only as a comment on the state of the industry, but on the state of The Canyons itself. You’re unlikely to find many 2013 films this empty.
What's a director of classic musicals doing in science fiction? Making Saturn 3, one of the worst of the genre Hollywood made in the immediate post-Star Wars / Alien era. Stanley Donen (Singin' in the Rain) takes to it about as well as you'd expect; he's in over his head.
Military marksman Col. Jim McQuade (Gregory Hines, Running Scared) is called into top-secret duty to neutralize a surveillance robot gone haywire in San Francisco. It won't be easy, because for one thing, the android is undetectable from a human. For another, it has a built-in nuclear bomb that will detonate upon imminent threat.
I plead guilty: My friends and I have goofed around with a camcorder before and made stupid movies, but we were smart enough to know that no one outside ourselves would think they were funny. If only the makers of Caesar and Otto's Deadly Xmas realized the same.
Actress Famke Janssen makes her writing and directing debut with the Oklahoma City-lensedBringing Up Bobby, but it could have been her 10th, or maybe 20th. If only that cad James Bond hadn’t stepped in her way.
Having majored in writing
and literature at Columbia University, Janssen was accepted into the
American Film Institute screenwriting program ... and then offered the
plum role of villainous, vice-thighed vixen Xenia Onatopp in 1995’s GoldenEye, which marked Pierce Brosnan’s first go-round as 007.
was sort of debating which way to go at that time in my career,” she
said, “but when the Bond movie came around, I thought, ‘I have to take
this opportunity.’ And I kind of got derailed for a long time.”
And how. Perhaps best known as Jean Grey in the first three X-Men movies, Janssen — who will take a daylong break from shooting the Netflix werewolf series Hemlock Grove to attend Bobby’sdeadCENTER premiere — tried to get several scripts off the ground before Bobby did, from a story she co-wrote with Oklahoma native Cole Frates.
Taking charge of the dramedy, which stars Resident Evil franchise heroine Milla Jovovich as a misfit mother, came naturally.
think it suits my personality a lot better,” Janssen said. “As an
actor, everything’s always in the hands of other people. You have no
control over your life, and I’m a control freak! [Directing] was
perfectly suited to me.”
Still, that doesn’t mean it was easy. “I’m not going to lie to you:
a ton of stress,” she said, noting the project was shot in a whirlwind
20 days. “And you know what Oklahoma is like in August.” —Rod Lott
Potts nurtured his love of movies in Enid, where he grew up and worked
for a time in a shopping mall theater. The filmmaker pays homage to
those days of hanging out, eating stale popcorn and watching free flicks
in the comedy Cinema Six.
“Looking back on my time at the theater, I think it was as equally important as any studying I
did in college,” said Potts, who now lives in Los Angeles. “I watched
movies all the time. We stayed late, ate terribly, and just enjoyed the
While Potts has been a deadCENTER favorite for such slacker-comic triumphs as S&M Lawn Care, Cinema Six marks
a significant departure for him and co-director/ co-writer Cole Selix.
It’s a comedy, but its story of three moviehouse employees stuck in
arrested adolescence touches on some mature themes, including marital
discord and abortion.
a more fundamental level, Potts said, it’s also his first film to have
anything resembling a budget. There’s even an uncredited appearance by Saturday Night Live regular (and Tulsa native) Bill Hader.
had a real crew to help us out. No longer were Cole and I running
lights and sound,” Potts said. “Actually, I take that back: Cole and I
never used lights. But we had lights this time around and, I’ll tell
you, those things help a lot.”
Six is also their raunchiest to date, but Potts said the potty talk just fit with the characters’ maturity levels.
stuck in adolescence, making dirty jokes and swearing all the time,” he
said. “We had someone say that all the swearing was a slight against
creativity and I was like, ‘Are you serious? We said “Queefer
Sutherland!” That’s a vulgar and creative pun!’” —PhilBacharach
Just Crazy Enough
After working together on a
few suspense films, friends Lance McDaniel, Sean Lynch and David Greene
were eager to lighten the mood.
“All of us wanted to do
something that was family-oriented, because we had worked on so many
scary movies,” said McDaniel, also deadCENTER’s executive director. “I
have nephews and nieces that have never seen anything I’ve worked on. We
wanted to do something our families would be proud of and watch and
over ideas, but the one that stuck was a comedy about twins separated at
birth, one of whom becomes a psychiatrist, while the other becomes a
patient at a mental institution.
The result, Just Crazy Enough, was
shot entirely in Oklahoma. Its cast and crew include such notable
locals as former NBA player-turned-artist Desmond Mason (as a mental
patient) and Flaming Lips’ Steven Drozd (who provided the trippy music
For the lead, however, the filmmakers looked outside the Sooner State, casting Saturday Night Live alumnus Chris Kattan, whose off-kilter persona and prowess for physical comedy were well-suited for the roles of the twins.
was instrumental in freeing up every actor to realize they could bring
their own sense of humor to their role,” said McDaniel, who directed.
The Unusual (Calling of) Charlie Christmas
What with the lead character donning a hockey mask, one could be forgiven for assuming The Unusual (Calling of) Charlie Christmas to be a slasher film.
Instead, per director Adam Hampton, it’s a “Bruce Springsteen version of a superhero movie. That’s what I was shooting for.”
The Shawnee-based Hampton didn’t have to look far for inspiration for his revenge tale: He found it in the daily headlines.
wanted to tell a superhero story in the context of some difficult
times. Domestic violence, bullying — these are not fixable with a John
Wayne/ Superman approach,” he said. “It bothers me, keeps me up at
night. I’m as sick of it as Charlie was. I wanted to tell the story of a
guy who needed a change, and this frustration pushed him.”
guy is Charlie Christmas (producer Kenny Pitts), a socially awkward
high school janitor whose costumed vigilantism divides the community
while bringing others together.
of the film was shot in Pottawatomie County, with cast and crew working
for pizza and beer. While $7,700 was raised through Kickstarter, the
production was still “paid for with pennies” and generosity, Hampton
said. “We were lucky.”
Charlie Christmas was
shot over the course of three years — “People had kids, people got
married, people got divorced,” he said — and now awaits its world
don’t have the words for the excitement I have,” Hampton said.
“Charlie’s acceptance is sweet validation for a starving filmmaker.
Until the movie is seen and shared, it almost doesn’t exist. I honestly cannot wait.” —Rod Lott
Where Did the Horny Toad Go?
Leland and some friends were visiting one afternoon a few years ago
when the topic turned to childhood memories. The question arose: What
happened to all the horny toads?
a good question, especially for folks who grew up in the Southwestern
U.S. and are older than, say, 30. Horny toads — or horned lizards, to be
accurate — were once a staple of the region. Boasting a dragon-like
head, frog-like belly and natural camouflage, the tiny creatures were as
irresistible as they were weird-looking. But then they all just seemed
to … disappear.
Leland, who was studying biology in college, decided she would make a short documentary on the subject for a class project.
more I started researching it,” she said, “I realized it was going to
be a longer process than just a semester and a short film.”
Quite a bit longer. The OKC resident began work on Where Did the Horny Toad Go? in
March 2009 and wrapped up this spring. Along the way, she interviewed
scores of horned-lizard experts and enthusiasts for an info packed but
film answers its titular question, while also delving into more
whimsical excursions, such as the legend of a horny toad that allegedly
lived for more than 30 years trapped in the cornerstone of a Texas
wanted to make this film understandable to anyone,” said Leland, whose
husband, Beau Leland, is also a local moviemaker. “I got into film to
make a positive change. I hope Where Did the Horny Toad Go? will
touch audiences and energize them to become proactive stewards of
species conservation. I don’t want it to be just limited to horned
lizards — although I love the horned lizard — but I want to open up the
idea of conservation of other species of wildlife.” —Phil Bacharach