Sunday 21 July 2013

Experience is crucial

When you're younger, it's easy just to think of it as a concept, a series of ticked boxes. But experience is the most important thing you have, and you steadily build it over an extended period of time.

I have a level of confidence now in regard to writing and directing that I didn't have before -- it's the result of being on a long journey.

I always knew I was in it for the long haul, and now I'm really beginning to see its advantages.

Many of my friends are in a similar position, reaching heights professionally, creatively, financially, that are the result of building their talent and knowledge over a long period of time.

Some people go stale, some get beaten down by the toughness of the industry. But if you survive, you get to flourish, because no-one has the experience you have.

Care to share?

Thursday 11 July 2013


"The main thing I tell young musicians is, don't lie to yourself, don't ever lie to yourself -- you know when you're not practicing, you know when you're not doing what it is you need to do. All of that stuff shows up in your playing. 

I tell my students all the time, it's okay if you don't practice, you don't have to practice, but rest assured that there's somebody your age somewhere around the planet, practicing. And if you're lucky you're going to run into them. And when you run into them, don't be angry, don't be jealous. 

All you have to do is just stay on your game, it's a daily thing, we're not asking you to try accomplish it all in one day or one week or one month, it's a lifelong process. 

The main thing is: don't lie to yourself, work hard every day, and make sure that you're always trying to just chip away at something that you're trying to develop, and keep your mind open and clear -- open to new things. Don't become set in your ways, there's no one way to do this."

Film Composer Credits Include: 'MALCOLM X', '25TH HOUR', 'WHEN THE LEVEES BROKE' and 'RED TAILS'. He has also been nominated for 12 Grammy Awards, winning 5 times. 

Care to share?

Friday 5 July 2013

Interview With Actor TARA SUMMERS

I think TARA SUMMERS is an extremely talented actress. Perhaps best known for her role as Katie Lloyd in 'BOSTON LEGAL', she has also starred in numerous episodes of 'DAMAGES' and 'RINGER'. More recently, she appeared in the movie 'HITCHCOCK' and delivered a heartbreaking, scene-stealing performance in the pilot episode of 'MONDAY MORNINGS'. 

This isn't an interview so much as it is an in depth conversation about the harsh realities and exciting highs of being a working actor in LA. Tara is currently performing in the play 'Yes, Prime Minister' and  will shortly be appearing on your screens in the pilot 'Rake', alongside Greg Kinnear. She also makes her tea strong, and then adds in a lot more milk after. 

Where in LA can you get a really good cup of English tea, is there anywhere? 

My house. 

Your house -- Is that the only place? 

I would say, yeah. I’ve yet to find good tea here. There’s a plethora of coffee shops but yeah, no tea.

How long have you been there now? 

About eight years. 

Do you have English brands around, like PG tips or – 

Oh yeah—yeah.  And PG Decaf I found the other day which is really exciting. 

I have some of the decaf stuff just because I don’t sleep very much, so I try to do the decaf thing. 

I’m doing this play at the moment so my sleep schedule is a bit fucked, so it’s better to not have too much caffeine. 

Let’s talk about the play! This is ‘Yes, Prime Minister’, right? 


How’s it going? 

It’s going well, it’s really fun, really challenging. Doing a play versus doing TV and film is a whole other ball game. But we’ve had a virtually full house every night. And it’s a two a half hour play so it’s quite physically and mentally exhausting. Jonathan Lynn is a genius, and the writing is so good, my part is so fun – so it’s a joy.

What is the hardest part about being on stage – is it just that you’ve gotten used to being on the screen? 

Yeah, it’s that. It’s the fact that you’ve got live bodies in front of you, and you get that feedback instantly of the impression you’re making. In a sense you have far more control than when you’re in films or on TV cause you do your bit then you may end up on the cutting room floor,  and with this you know the trajectory of your part and you know it’s going to be there, so you have that freedom – but it’s so exposing.

Tara with the cast of 'Yes, Prime Minister'

How does it feel when you mess up,  or when it doesn’t work or when you don’t get a laugh—

--Well initially,  the first week, our dress rehearsal was amazing—it was an invited dress, and all these veterans came to see it and they loved it and were applauding it after certain bits,  and we thought, oh my god, we’re crushing it, we’re so good – and then the night before opening it was one of the worst performances and no-one laughed, which was so demoralising.

But then you realise, we’re actually doing the same thing every night, so it’s really to do with like, what day of the week it is,  if people are a bit pissed before they come in, y’know – so it’s just interesting to see the differences in audiences and not take it too personally. And sometimes you’re funny and sometimes you’re just not funny. 

And also you get that thing where you’ll think the audience didn’t enjoy it but then afterwards everyone is telling you how incredible you were –


Let’s talk about Boston Legal, I loved the show – 

James Spader came last night to see the play. 

Have you seen much of him since the end of the show? 

We used to a lot, but schedules and he’s been in New York while I’ve been here and stuff, so I don’t see him nearly as much as I’d like to – and he’s got a new pilot that’s just got picked up, he was my buddy on the show. 

Tell me what it’s like to work with the material of David Kelley. I know it’s  such a typical question but, tell me a bit about it—

At the time I knew he was a genius, but with hindsight you can see his genius even more. And doing another one of his shows, ‘Monday Mornings’ he’s so--- how to phrase this the right way------ I think he’s one of the best writers in the world.

His gift for dialogue and characters is extraordinary., but then what was so amazing about ‘Boston Legal’ was that every week  it was so current and so topical and so poignant and so relevant. 

He’s not a particularly social person, David, he likes to keep himself to himself, he lives up in Palo Alto. I’ve only met him a few times but I like him so much, I actually think he’s a genius, I’m a huge fan. 

Tara and her co-stars on 'Boston Legal'

Was he not heavily involved on the set? 

No, never. Bill D’Elia was.

I interviewed Bill, and I was interested in how their relationship worked, but as you say, Bill is the guy on the set and David is not so involved at that point.

No, he’s behind the scenes. He’ll send the script and then Bill sort of takes over. 

How was it being on ‘Monday Mornings’ , because it’s a different kind of show, right?

It was fascinating actually, and really fun to go back and see all the crew, as David always hires the same people., crew-wise.  There was a whole new cast – and I was thinking, who are all these people? Like, where’s John Larroquette and Candice Bergen?  This doesn’t make any sense! 

But I thought that show was very good., but it struggled on that network. Did you read the book by any chance? 

No,  I didn’t, no.

Great book.

It’s such a shame because, ‘Monday Mornings’ and his other show, ‘Harry’s Law’—


They don’t last at the moment,  do they – but it’s some of the best stuff on TV, which is really such a frustrating thing. 

It’s all about numbers and ratings, and they don’t give them much time to breath and find their feet. They’re ruthless out here, they really are, ruthless. 

One thing I was curious about, on ‘Boston Legal’, for example, there was such a huge turnaround of cast members – like at the start of a new season there would be all these new people and then, after six episodes or—sometimes even less than that you would not see people again – did you ever fear that, and think, ‘Oh God I may only be here for three episodes’ or did you feel confident you’d be around as long as you were?  

I was never confident of anything. There was always the knowledge that when David doesn’t have anything left for you to do, he fires you, which keeps you on tenterhooks. But I think I was always so excited to be there and so grateful that I would take whatever I could get. 

I remember when I first got on the show, I had a hair and make-up meeting – and they said, how do you want your hair? And I said “Oh I don’t mind, anything, just don’t make it curly,” and they went, “okay, we’re going to make it curly then,” and I went, “okay great thank you so much!” I was so excited to have a job – like so honoured to be there, and I ended up looking like whatever I looked like in the first few episodes, with that stupid curly hair. 

It was an hour and a half commute to get there every morning, but I was so excited. So I don’t think I ever thought about getting fired I was just –

So excited – 

Yeah, exactly. 

You’ve done quite a lot of short films – there’s a few on YouTube, the Ukrainian thing, and ‘Pillow Talk’, I saw that – and ‘Stephany & Me’ which I’ve only just seen – how do you get involved in those kinds of things and what makes you want to do them?

Shorts are great, because they take a small amount of time and commitment – in terms of for the actors. The Ukraine one, he makes them for twenty dollars I think,  so that was just super fun to be a part of. ‘Pillow Talk’, was for a friend from University, and ‘Stephany & Me’ is a mate from drama school.  So whenever we’re sort of bored around here we always come up with ideas for shorts – 

‘Stephany & Me’ did rather well. It won Palm Springs short film festival – and that was actually a true story, I don’t know if you watched it..?


Oh, well yeah—he was having a terrible time dating, and then he actually fell in love with a Japanese masseuse who didn’t speak any English. 

Wow. I loved the film because in your scenes, it was so natural and awkward. 

It was all improvised. 

Ah that’s why. 


So did you shoot it with a few cameras or –

Yeah, we shot it in two directions at the same time. 

It was painfully natural, I’ve had so many of them conversations – 

[laughs] Any blind date situation – it is just painfully awkward at times, because you feel the need to fill silences, well I do. 

Full short film: 'Stephany & Me' 

The actors that I know who are coming up who are perhaps not having the success they want – they have so much rejection, and I think people don’t realise that, at any level in your career there is still rejection --  I was wondering if you could share a little bit about how you still face those kind of things now in your career? I would imagine you do. 

What do you mean, still? Every day, all the time!  

I know! 

Yes, no—uh--- it doesn’t get any— I wonder if it gets any easier.  It’s such a weird career because it’s not linear. Well it is sort of linear.  But people can just shoot to stardom overnight, and it’s not always about talent. 

And the nature of having to reapply for your own job, which you’re more than qualified to do, every week or so, unless you’re in a series, is um--- I think the more I get to do short films or I get behind the scenes and do producing stuff, and I’m involved in the casting process, the more I see it’s not that personal. 

It has little to do with you not being good enough, but you not being the right shape, size, match to somebody else – so that’s made me less disheartened by the whole thing, because you realise they have a very specific thing they’re looking for and very often producers and directors have little imagination, and if you’re not what they’re looking for specifically, then you don’t even stand a chance, no matter how great you are. 

I think you have to have a thick skin. If you don’t, you’re in the wrong industry because it’s soul destroying half the time. And then when it’s great it’s so great, and the pay-off is, y’know, worth it. 

I wouldn’t advise anyone to want to be an actor really. If I had kids and they wanted to be an actor, I’d say please find anything else to do,  anything else. 

No but then you’d be one of those parents, the non-supportive – I think everyone needs that support. 

That’s true. 

So where did you get your support as an actor? I think everyone needs that someone in their lives, whether it’s parents or an aunt or someone in the industry. What has been your sort of support system?

Well my parents have always been very supportive of that, and I’ve always wanted to be an actress my whole life.  My Dad always said you can you can you can but you need to get an education first.  And I’m really happy that he drummed that in me because I went to university and studied history – it gives me more perspective I think, having a really well rounded education really is valuable anyway. 

And I sort of grew up in the movie industry because my Mum’s boyfriend, most of my life, is a director. 


I used to come to LA as a kid and my Mum was friends with lots of actors  and things, so I’ve been very exposed to the film world and nurtured in that way – her friends were super supportive of me. 

I think that helps, because half the battle is, I think, demystifying what it is. Like if someone is going to go to LA for the first time, it’s like; what is it? What do I do? 


Having that upbringing and being around it would help you a lot I imagine. 

Yeah, and having my Mum here and she’s always been here off and on. I came to visit her and I indirectly ended up getting a job and staying, but I didn’t think ‘oh I’m now going to pack it all up and move to LA’, it just kind of happened by default. 

Do you feel as creative when you’re in the UK?

Oh, do I feel as creative? 

I find it can be a drain here, but when I’m in America I feel there are a lot more people like me.  I was wondering if you have the same experience.

I feel that, I don’t know if this still applies but one of the reasons why I was excited to go and study in America for University is that I always had the sense that in England you can say to someone, “where are you from?” and depending on the answer you’ve automatically pigeonholed them, their socioeconomic status, where they grew up, what school they went to---- in America the question is not normally where are you from, it’s like, what do you want to do? Where are you going? It literally is the cliché of the land of opportunity --- it’s possible here.

I think creativity gets nurtured more here than perhaps it does there. Certainly with like the schooling I had, the drama teachers I had in America versus the ones I had in England were far more supportive. But England is hard. But I love it! It’s my favourite. 

It’s the only place to get a good cup of tea so---

Yeaaah! I mean I’m English so, my parents are English, I’m English through and through, so I’ll fight for England till the death but it’s perhaps a little easier to work over here than there.

What’s your tea-making technique? How do you do it?

I make it really strong and then with lots of milk.

I get that, so it’s well-brewed basically,  and then you add the milk that you want-- 

And then I add milk at the end.  And I normally have it with toast and Marmite. Or HobNobs. 

Is HobNobs an American thing?  Or is it an English thing?

They’re English and they’re a bit stale by time they get here.  But I just found a shop that sells Curly Wurlys as well. 

Do you want to do more movies? 



Yeah I seem to have a lot of luck in television, and the series’ take up most of the year so it provides little time to do films. There’ve been a bunch of projects that I’d have loved to have done but it conflicted with the TV stuff. It’s a question of when, hopefully. 

Would you like to do exclusively movies, or—

I’d actually like to do a lot more theatre. 

You’ve written and directed for the stage as well---

Yeah. And I really—I don’t prefer it, I just love the whole process of it. I’m happy working in---- I’m happy working, whatever medium it is. If I could be so lucky as to do more plays, more films and then have a great television series ---- the one I’m about to do with Greg Kinnear I think is gonna be—

--Oh I saw that! It looks great, what’s that about?

It’s created by Peter Duncan who created an Australian series called ‘Rake.’ I don’t know if it’s on in England – it’s in its third series and it’s really good. He’s adapted it for American television but it’s essentially the same thing, about a rake, about a degenerate, alcoholic, fucked up lawyer— a brilliant lawyer, played by Greg Kinnear. He takes on cases that no-one would dare touch – and I play his—he doesn’t have an office, he squats in other people’s offices and stuff – and I’m his paralegal who’s in America illegally who overstayed her visa to be with her boyfriend. He’s the only person who would pay me, under the table – so I’m his Nanny stroke assistant stroke… mastermind. 

Have you filmed the pilot?

We did the pilot yeah, and Sam Raimi directed it. 

How is it working with these big actors, people who when you were younger you may have looked up to, like William Shatner, being on set with someone like that – is it daunting in any way?

Yeah. It always is. When I went to audition for ‘Rake’ I got sent to the wrong place by accident, I was on the other side of the city and I had fifteen minutes to get somewhere that was half an hour away  -- I was virtually hysterical by the time I arrived, and it was for a chemistry read with Greg Kinnear. And so I had cried all my make-up off, my nose was bright red – I walked in and he was so nice, he found me outside and bought me a coffee. 

Then we went in and did the chemistry read, I thought I’d fucked up the whole thing and I was never going to get the job. I called my agent and was like, “but Greg Kinnear bought me a coffee!” – And then I got the job, it’s really exciting – Greg Kinnear bought me a coffee and now I get to act with Greg Kinnear. 

Minnie Driver saw the play the other day. I worshipped her when I was at school, ‘Circle Of Friends’ was one of my favourites -- I used to watch over and over again, and to think Minnie Driver is watching me, do you know what I mean?

Absolutely. I don’t think you ever get over that, y’know.


What steps do you take day by day, or month by month, to improve yourself as an actor?

Day by day, make it through the day! Month by month, well, when I’m not working I do classes still. I went back to doing scene study classes with an amazing teacher – and y’know, to do other stuff when you’re not working, revving the motors, oiling the parts, like, musicians have to practice. 

I think I was being a little bit arrogant resting on my oh I’ve been to drama school, I don’t need to keep up the maintenance of it – but it really does help. And just to be working with other actors keeps the juices flowing, do you know what I mean? 


Do you know what I mean?

I totally know what you mean. Do you think you are a better actor than you were five years ago? 

I would hope so.

Yeah, it’s interesting isn’t it.

I think you become more – well the more self-aware you are, the more work you do on yourself the more you know your capabilities – the more you can put that into acting.

Who would you like to work with, who’s on your dream list? 

Meryl Streep.

Meryl Streep.

Meryl Streep. Denzel Washington. Meryl Streep.

…What about Meryl Streep?

And also Meryl Streep.

An obvious question; but why?

Why? She’s the best living actor.

Have you met her?

I have yeah. I auditioned to play her daughter once. I’ve met her a few times. I basically accost her any time I see her out and about.

I think you’ll work with Meryl Streep. What’s she got coming up, what’s happening?

It’s not clear, but I shall investigate.

What about writers – are there any particular writers you’d love to work with?

Writers? I’d love to work with Aaron Sorkin

Who wouldn’t right? I just re-watched ‘The Newsroom’. I was going to watch one episode and then watched the whole thing in three days. 

Woody Allen, obviously. David Mamet, who was in the theatre the other day, that was a joy – to meet him. And then there’s a plethora of directors. But yeah in television --- I think ‘The Newsroom’ is genius. 

It’s starting up again soon isn’t it. 

Yeah I’m very excited. 

So what do you do when you’re not acting? What’s your life like, where do you go what do you do? 




I thought you said trifle. 

I eat a lot of trifle and travel – whilst eating trifle.  My parents are big travellers, big adventurers – so I get a bit of cabin fever so when I’m not working I try and bust a route out of LA and go somewhere new – and every time I come back from going away I get a job – I think you come back with a breath of fresh air y’know. 


I read a lot. 

What are you reading right now? 

‘The Bluecross Conspiracy’, which is about the drug traffickers in the 80’s in Kentucky. It’s random, but interesting. And what else do I like to do? I like to cook, and hang with my friends, y’know, normal stuff. 

Care to share?

Thursday 4 July 2013

The Greatness We Hide From

You have these things that you believe in. It's what you feel and it's who you are.

But then you put yourself out there into the world and ouch, it stings! You're not good enough. You're not what they're looking for. You're so close that you can feel it, but you don't quite make it.

And this all happens before you're fifteen.

And then one day, you grow up. For most, the dreams are gone, vanished, but some hold on. They keep going.

Yet deep inside a feeling gnaws away at you.

It's a lifetime later, you're an adult now, but still you feel like you'll never get picked for the school play. You're just not good enough, you're not quite right. Hazy memories of other people doing what you wanted to be doing.

You grow up and believe you can have and do anything except the thing you secretly want the most.

You see it and it's so close you could almost touch it.

It's right there.

You can blame those people out there, but now it's inside you -- you're rejecting yourself. You fear the opportunity so much that you hide the very part of you that can make it work.

And you do this time and again until one day you decide: I'm not going to be this way anymore.

That's the day it all works out.

Care to share?

Sunday 30 June 2013

THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH Documentary Release / Interview With JOSHUA VAN PRAAG

THE LOTTERY OF BIRTH finally has a release. This is a film I've been championing since its Film Festival debut at Raindance last year.

The thing about independent films is that you never really know if you're going to get the chance to see them again. In fact, even getting to see them in the first place is uncertain. Raindance had 2700 submissions last year. That 'The Lottery of Birth' broke through is a sign of its quality. This is my favourite documentary of the last year and a film that I believe to be essential viewing. 

I spoke yesterday with Raindance founder Elliot Grove who recalled the impact it had on the festival:

"Audiences were stunned. Lottery of Birth is part of the new wave of social documentaries that force us to question and consider the basic tenants of our civilisation and how we are being manipulated by by corporations and government."

Here's the trailer. I'm honoured to have been quoted in it, alongside Colin Firth and Alan Rickman:

I think there is a common misconception in the film industry today. There is the belief that people have shorter attention spans, that they need bite-size information in as quick and simple a way as possible, whereas I feel what people are really after, is GREATNESS. They're BORED of the same old crap. We skip through the channels and dance from track to track on the iPod because we desperately want to be blown away. It's like when you find a box-set of a show you love, you'll watch it for hours. 

What I loved about 'The Lottery of Birth' is that it was packed with ideas. It wanted to make you think. It had a point of view, yet it is also saying to you, find your own point of you. Look up, look around, and ask questions. 

The film has been released through a new online platform, No, I've never heard of them either. They've just launched, and Elliot Grove is excited about what it means: 

"The fact that Lottery of Birth is available online proves how far film distribution has changed and how the filmmakers have engaged with new financial  web models in order to bring this, and other very important films to the discerning audiences everywhere."

At the time of writing, 'The Lottery of Birth' is 3rd of the iTunes download chart, which is an astonishing achievement, which goes to show the power of independent film. Every blog that reviews it, every person that tweets about it; every single purchase through iTunes; it makes a huge difference. 

Joshua van Praag, the co-director and director of photography of the project, has been keeping me in the loop over recent weeks about the film's journey. Yesterday, I interviewed him in some more detail. Read on for a fascinating insight into the making of 'The Lottery of Birth': 

Interview with Joshua van Praag
The Lottery of Birth
Photo By Josh Boss
Kid In The Front Row: What I love about your documentary is that it isn't dumbed down, the audience has to pay attention -- I think in many ways that is a risk you've taken, as filmmakers. But it's also important, especially considering the content of the film. How did you approach the making of this film, knowing that it was going to be seen in cinemas but also that it is in many ways a talking-heads-documentary? 

Joshua van Praag: We're thrilled that the film has received a theatrical release but it certainly wasn't planned that way. We began with very low expectations in terms of traditional distribution. Our first thought was that, as a series, the ideal platform would be television but we knew that it would be tough to get 'Creating Freedom' on the box, partly because of the inherent political bias that exists throughout the world of TV networks and among the gatekeepers that program content, and partly because of the format we decided on. 

From early discussions with the series creator and my co-director, Raoul Martinez, I understood that he wanted the ideas to be the stars of the film and that the interviews - the backbone of the narrative - would be the vessel for the transmission of these ideas. The choice to go with a black background and a to-camera eye line was in that sense a very deliberate one: we wanted to isolate the ideas from a physical environment and have them connect directly with the viewer. 

Our choices were also constrained by cost: the films have been almost entirely self-funded on a shoe-string budget. Maintaining a simple format meant that we were able to make them in such a way that we could fulfill all of our ambitious goals and still complete the work without having to wait for outside funding or compromise creatively. The interesting thing is that when we premiered the film in London at Raindance lots of people said the same thing: that the film didn't feel like a talking heads piece to them. I think the strength of the ideas and their tendency to challenge and provoke the viewer means that people feel really engaged when they see it.

How do you approach editing interviews with someone like Howard Zinn? It must be heartbreaking to have to cut anything out -- but I imagine you have hours of unused footage. 

Our time with Howard was a real highlight for me. It was shot only six months before his death and he was not in good shape. Nevertheless he was incredibly generous, both with his time and his disposition. We sat with him for a good hour and a half in the living room of his Boston home, during which we recorded an absolutely extraordinary interview, possibly his last. 

The Lottery of Birth
Photo By Joshua van Praag

When it came time to edit, Raoul did a great job of pulling the out the pieces that best helped tell the story of the film but there was certainly a lot left out, as there was with many other interviews we did. With Zinn we found that just including the quiet moments - a smile at the end of a phrase or an arching of one of the famous bushy brows - helped communicate the ideas he was describing in really beautiful ways. We have the extended interview of Zinn and several other greats on our DVD and they'll also be available digitally through very soon. 

You were also the director of photography on this film, and i think the shots throughout the film do an extraordinary job of supporting the overall message and story. How did you go about filming the b-roll? Did you know what you were looking for?

Raoul and I talked a lot about the look, feel and content of the b-roll - that is to say the non-interview, non-archival content. It was very important to us that the film feel like a piece of cinema in the sense that it could really build atmosphere by juxtaposing big, beautiful images with the stark, minimalist quality of the interviews.  I wanted to take the viewer into the kind of worlds that were being described in the film: schools, offices, streets, playgrounds. 

With a few tiny exceptions, we had no time or resources to stage any scenes so most of what you see is captured on the street. I began in New York City with an HD SLR and a small package of lenses and spent three weeks shooting solo. We had a bucket list of types of subjects and locations that we wanted to hit up. In addition to that I had transferred some of the audio from the interviews to an iPod and would travel about the city by night as I shot, listening to some of our speakers. It put me in the zone but also helped to focus me in on tiny details I would have otherwise overlooked. 

I was able to gain access to a series of high rises in midtown Manhattan from which I filmed scenes of office workers, with the aid of long lenses, in adjacent sky scrapers. We found that capturing these lone figures after dark in their cages of glass and steel was an incredibly effective way of visually communicating a sense of isolation, obedience and control: all themes that are central to the film's inquiry.

The Lottery of Birth
Photo by Joshua van Praag
In terms of composition and lighting, I was very much inspired by the Ashcan school. Painters and photographers such as Edward Hopper and Lewis Hine succeeded in conveying these same fundamental truths by portraying their subjects, often from a distance, in the context of their work day. In that way, the images they created spoke volumes about the oppressive nature of the systems their subjects laboured under, and were constantly suggesting the link between identity and environment. 

My favourite shot is when the boy in red approaches the fountain, thinks about jumping in, but decides against it.  (you can see a moment of it in the trailer, at 1min 38), that is such a powerful moment, and says so much. I think we can all relate to it. Turning that into a question -- when dealing with the selling off your film, did you run into difficulties that led to your own challenges with compromise and obedience? 

We've been incredibly lucky with the way things turned out on this front. A brand new US-based distributor by the name of saw the film, loved it and instantly offered to distribute it through their own digital platform which just launched with the release of 'The Lottery of Birth'.

To say they are filmmaker-friendly is an understatement. Not only have we been able to maintain creative control from the get-go, but we've also been able to participate in every level of the distribution process. This is obviously incredibly rare. Usually we would be forced to just hand over the film(s) to some faceless company that would assume total control for pennies on the dollar, demand all kinds of compromises, and that would be it. With Mangu, we've enjoyed an unprecedented level of input and have maintained a strong stake in the project. Being filmmakers themselves they understand our perspective and encourage our participation. They're also interested in challenging traditional models. 

On June 21st we launched both in theaters and digitally, worldwide in four languages. Just today people from Iran, the Netherlands, Mexico, India and the USA all streamed the film online from their respective countries. We want as many people as possible from as many places as possible to see this film without having to wait. understands this and is helping us make that a reality.

The film leaves viewers with such strong and poignant views. It's a little mind-blowing, in fact. What do you hope is the end result -- what should viewers take from watching this? 

Without a doubt, the most important message the film provides us with is the need to question everything. That we are not born free as many would have us believe but in fact freedom is something we must work hard to attain. Though we come into this world with certain built in constraints that both hinder and help us in our search for freedom, there are many things about ourselves and our environment that we can change. The dominant ideology in our society is constantly seeking to undermine the idea that any real alternative to the current system is possible.

Once we understand that we are products of the environment we are born into, it frees us to begin thinking more critically about the structures that shape our lives. That independence of thought is the first step toward effecting real change. As the film states, "the more we understand the effect the world has had on us, the more we can control the effect we have on the world". 

My review of 'The Lottery of Birth'

Visit the Official Website and Purchase the documentary through Mangu.TV by clicking HERE.

Buy The Lottery of Birth on iTunes by clicking HERE

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