I also added a new photoshoot to the gallery taken by Michael Buckner at Cannes on May 20th:
This year’s Directors’ Fortnight lineup features a familiar tale in We Are What We Are, the American remake of Jorge Michel Grau’s 2010 Directors’ Fortnight selection Somos Lo Que Hay. Ambyr Childers and Julia Garner star in Mickle’s version as sisters forced to take on their family’s gruesome tradition after their mother’s death. Pic debuts in the same sidebar where the original first caught producer Andrew D. Corkin’s eye three years ago. Corkin’s Uncorked Productions optioned US remake rights with Rodrigo Bellott, took it to Memento Films’ Nick Shumaker, and tapped Jim Mickle (Stake Land) to co-write and direct. Linda Moran from Belladonna Productions and Jack Turner rounded out the producing team.
Mickle describes his version as a “call and response” companion piece to the Mexican original, which told a different version of the cannibalistic family tale. Memento Films is already plotting franchise sales at Cannes, with Finnish director AJ Annila tapped to direct a prequel written by We Are What We Are co-scribe Nick Damici and Grau himself developing a 2014 sequel. eOne snatched up the pic out of Sundance and will release it theatrically. Check out Deadline’s exclusive clip:
HairBrained will open the Brooklyn Film Festival on May 31. Check out the Brooklyn Film Festival press release: http://www.brooklynfilmfestival.org/press/releases/BiFF_PR_2013_02.pdf
2013-03-19 – Gimme The Loot New York Premiere:
2013-04-02 – Simon Killer New York Premiere:
Photography by Bryan Thomas
One week before she was to begin shooting “Electrick Children,” her first feature film, writer-director Rebecca Thomas was in a jam. She hadn’t found an actress for the lead role: Rachel, a naive, headstrong teenager in a fundamentalist Mormon community who becomes pregnant after listening to a recording of “Hanging on the Telephone” (she insists) and runs off to Las Vegas in search of a mysterious singer.
“I tried to cast a true 15-year-old and just wasn’t having luck finding someone who was convincingly 15 and virginal, especially as I was trying to cast out of Hollywood,” said Ms. Thomas, whose movie opens Friday at IFC Center in Greenwich Village and on Video on Demand. “It was tough for me to reconcile.”
As her producers fretted, Ms. Thomas acted on a tip and invited 17-year-old Julia Garner—who up until then had only a small part in the indie cult drama “Martha Marcy May Marlene” to her credit—to send a taped audition.
“She’s like someone in the 1800s who you would want to see in a painting,” Ms. Thomas said, “or a 1940s Western in the middle of nowhere. She’s very otherworldly and that took the role above what it was initially. She just glows.”
Ms. Garner, now 19, is inarguably flesh and blood, even if her pale skin, blue eyes and corona of blonde ringlets suggest a Tim Burton fantasia or an Emily Bronte adaptation in her near future. Anyone looking to cast her, however, will have to take a number. Since making her debut as a wide-eyed cult inductee in “Martha Marcy” in 2011, Ms. Garner has completed work in nine other films. “I just finished ‘Sin City: A Dame to Kill For,” she said, sharing a table at a cafe inside the Elinor Bunin Munroe Film Center on a recent afternoon. “I can’t really talk about it. My character’s name is Marcy and it all ends very bad.”
The actress, who lives at home with her parents in the Riverdale section of the Bronx, could talk about some of her other roles, which include a tormented sibling with a dark family burden in “We Are What We Are,” Jim Mickle’s remake of the popular Mexican movie about a clan of modern-day cannibals, transposed to upstate New York; and Rachel, whose unshakable conviction that a man’s voice has impregnated her leads to a life-changing escape to Las Vegas on the eve of an arranged marriage.
“[Rachel is] innocent in a sense that people are not so used to anymore,” said Ms. Garner, who took up acting as a hobby in high school, first appearing in several productions made nearby by Columbia University film students. “It was almost like a fairy tale in a way. It was like the Virgin Mary, but it was an interesting take.”
With such short notice, she had scarce opportunity to prepare, yet likewise no time to worry about it. “It was weird, but I was in the moment,” she said. And she found a quick way to help immerse herself in the character’s world. Ms. Thomas, who was raised Mormon, based her depictions of the movie’s fundamentalist compound on her own encounters with former residents of those communities and prior documentary work. “When I started shooting, I didn’t talk on the phone,” Ms. Garner continued. “I didn’t text message, I didn’t listen to music, I didn’t go on Facebook, FB -2.16% I didn’t go on the computer. The only time I would talk to anyone was in an emergency. And that got me in. Once I heard music, I was like, ‘I haven’t heard this in a long time. Wow!’”
Audiences might struggle to find a through-line connecting all of Ms. Garner’s performances, which include (very) small parts in projects ranging from horror stories (“The Last Exorcism Part II”) to auteurist coming-of-age memoirs (David Chase’s “Not Fade Away”). But her most visible roles have tended to place her in oddly cultish or religious backdrops. Though cautious not to reveal too much, she noted that “We Are What We Are” also revolves around a spiritual struggle.
“We put her through the wringer a little bit,” said Mr. Mickle, whose film will be released later this year. “Then she evolved into something we didn’t fully expect. She can pull off the innocence but she’s wise beyond her years.”
Ms. Garner’s co-star in “Martha Marcy,” Louisa Krause, echoed that sentiment. “I think we’re similar actresses in the way we go a lot by instinct,” said Ms. Krause, who reunited with her friend in the forthcoming Depression-era hobo saga “You Can’t Win.” “We’re able to live on camera. You’re watching her do that and she doesn’t even know what she’s doing. She’s just doing it and it’s spot on.”
“Here, touch it,” Julia Garner instructed, offering up her wild mane of springy blond curls. “It’s not a big deal. We’re girls.”
In fact Ms. Garner — a freshly minted 19-year-old with wide-set blue eyes and lips rouged in Nars’s Fire Down Below, a name that makes her blush — has become quite a big deal since her 2011 feature-film debut as a fledgling cult member in Sean Durkin’s “Martha Marcy May Marlene.”
Though she started acting only about three years ago, she’s already appeared in 10 movies, like “The Perks of Being a Wallflower,” alongside Emma Watson, and “Not Fade Away,” in a scene she said David Chase wrote for her. And now she has her first starring role, in Rebecca Thomas’s “Electrick Children,” to be released Friday. Ms. Garner portrays a 15-year-old fundamentalist Mormon in rural Utah who has what she believes is an immaculate conception after listening to a cover version of the Nerves’ “Hanging on the Telephone” on a forbidden cassette player. Threatened with immediate marriage, she high-tails it to Las Vegas, where, in her prairie dress and braid, she finds refuge with a band while searching for the voice on the recording.
Born and raised in New York, Ms. Garner lives with her parents. Her father is an art teacher; her mother, a therapist. “I took acting classes for a hobby because I was very shy,” she said. “I was 15 and I wanted to keep myself busy. I really liked how it felt.” Recently Ms. Garner — diminutive in a cerulean sweater and black wedge booties, her trademark sullen streak melted by a dimple-framed smile and the occasional giggle — spoke with Kathryn Shattuck about her career, her religion and Bette Davis’s eyes. These are excerpts from the conversation.
Q. How did you land your first role?
A. I started doing student films at Columbia grad school, and this one student filmmaker, his girlfriend was interning at an open casting call for [the casting director] Susan Shopmaker. Later on she did the stage reading for “Martha Marcy May Marlene,” then she cast it. And that was my first movie.
How did you end up in “Electrick Children”?
They had a girl, but they decided not to go with her. I came in the week before the project. I did a self-taping on Monday. I got the job by Wednesday. By Sunday I was already flying out to L.A. to meet up with Rebecca. And by Tuesday I was in Utah, shooting the movie.
What kind of research did you do?
Rebecca was raised Mormon, and she really guided me through everything. But Rebecca wasn’t fundamentalist, where they wear the braids and the long prairie dresses and it’s “Big Love” and “Sister Wives.” And you would see it all over, like if you went to Walmart in Utah. And me, coming from New York. I’m Jewish too. It’s very funny.
How was it kissing the boys in “Electrick”?
It’s always kind of weird when you’re first going to kiss a guy, and the camera is this big [stretches arms], and it’s on you from different angles. But after a while it’s kind of joke.
I heard that Bette Davis was an influence.
My family watched Turner Classic Movies together. And that’s way too young for kids to be seeing “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?,” but I was fascinated by her. I was like: “Who’s this woman? She’s amazing.” My mother was a famous comedian in Israel 30 years ago, Tami Gingold. And I remember when I told her I wanted to act, not just as a hobby, she asked: “You want to act professionally? Julia, are you sure? It’s really hard.”
You just wrapped “Sin City: A Dame to Kill For.” How was that?
I play Marcy, and she befriends Johnny, Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character, and they both end up having a bad night. It was my first time shooting green screen [with the background added later]. It’s fun because you have to imagine what’s there. That’s what the best part of acting is: it’s playing.