Archive for category DVD

Women’s History Month: Recommended Documentaries About Women

Here are some recommended documentaries about women. I posted another list in 2014.

Miss_Representation_2011-202x300

Miss Representation (2011)
Director: Jennifer Siebel Newsom, Kimberlee Acquaro
90 min
Rating: A

Explores how the mainstream media’s often disparaging portrayals of women contribute to the under-representation of females in positions of leadership. In the United States women aren’t represented in government as in other countries. Women make up 51% of population but only 17% of Congress. 67 countries have had a female president or prime minister but not the United States. There’s less focus on looks than on intelligence in the media.

“If women don’t stand up for each other then no one else will. No one’s going to look out for the interests of women except other women.” –Lisa Ling

dark girls

Dark Girls (2011)
Director: D. Channsin Berry, Bill Duke
71 min
Rating: A-

examines prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world, includes the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures. Thoughtful, provocative and detailed.

Paper bag test: “if you were lighter than a brown paper bag when you were considered beautiful, smart. You passed that test.”

“If I had a little girl, I didn’t want her to be dark like me.” So sad.

A black guy says: “dark-skinned women look funny beside me so I’d rather date a light-skinned woman. Yeah light-skinned

One of the most popular products in the third-world is skin-lightening cream. Twice as many white women get married as black women.

“I am so happy that there is a woman who is dark-skinned in the White House and she’s the first lady.”

A-Girl-And-A-Gun-Poster

A Girl and a Gun (2012)
75 min
Director: Cathryne Czubek
Rating: B+

Guns symbolize power and danger but mostly in the hands of men. These women are an interesting cross-section using guns for various reasons: personal protection; hunting; military and for fun [gun ranges]. It really shows safety, practicality and both sides of the gun control issue. There are many incidents of deaths through gun accidents. One woman is in prison because she “snapped” and killed her girlfriend with a gun. Another woman shot an intruder, lives in the rural Oklahoma and carries guns for protection. Shows media portrayal of sex appeal with women and guns. Provides pros and cons and reality of women carrying and using handguns.

“I know a lot of people don’t approve of this. It just makes sense to me.”

A Massachusetts Tai Chi instructor: “people ask me how I came to own a handgun. I tell them I have felt the fear.” In Massachusetts it’s legal to own a gun but not a taser.

Another woman who’s getting her gun teaching license and shoots at a range: “We’re not having a gun in the house. It’s just too attractive for friends coming over . . . for teenage boys . . . for showing off.”

women art revolution

Women Art Revolution (2010)
83 min.
Directed by: Lynn Hershman-Leeson
Rating: B+

Renowned artist Lynn Hershman-Leeson spent 40 years gathering interviews and news footage for documentary profiling the feminist art movement, which seeks to empower female artists and improve their access to male-dominated art spaces.

“It was hard to get women to come out as artists.”

“My work had been marginalized,” artist Martha Wilson, who opened her own center to exhibit marginalized work.

“The feminist art movement was always incredibly heterogeneous and was richly conflicted and that’s what made it the most important political movement in the art world.” –Dr. Amelia Jones, art historian.

buying sex

Buying Sex (2013)
75 min
Directed by: Teresa MacInnes and Kent Nason
Rating: B

Buying Sex is about the debate over pending reforms to Canadian prostitution laws. The filmmakers compare the decriminalized prostitution model in New Zealand and the criminalized prostitution model in Sweden.

“Sex is a commodity.” –Valerie Scott, sex worker and advocate. “I do not believe all sex workers are delusional.”

“We have a lot of models. They can work for themselves, they can work in managed brothels or they can work on the street.” –Catherine Healy, National Coordinator New Zealand Prostitute Collective.

One sex worked in NZ says: “you need impeccable grooming and a really strong stomach.” And: “I’ve got my degrees. I felt more used and exploited with a minimum wage job where I got 10 minute lunch breaks than doing this and doing what I want.”

A former Canadian sex worker says: “If there was no male demand no women would’ve been on the street. I wouldn’t have been on the street.”

no woman no cry

No Woman, No Cry (2010)
70 min
Directed by: Christy Turlington Burns
Rating: B

Investigates maternal mortality through this documentary, which profiles several pregnant women from around the world whose lack of access to basic health care and nutrition places them and their unborn children in unnecessary danger. There are cultural, economic and social barriers to giving birth throughout the world.

1/22 women die in pregnancy or childbirth in sub-saharan African.
1/5 women of reproductive age have no health care in the United States.

“Here in U.S. where providers and services are abundant, healthcare is anything but free.”

In Bangladesh, 90% of births occur outside a hospital. “If a woman cannot give birth, the fault is on the woman. In one village there is 19 local terms for infertility but for men there are only two terms.”

its a girl

It’s a Girl (2012)
63 min
Rating: B+
Directed by:

–examines the cultural traditions that surround widespread female “gendercide” and violence toward women in India and China. A woman in India has strangled eight of her daughters after birth. She says: “Why keep girls when raising them would be difficult? I felt we could keep it only if it was male. I would kill it if it was female.” Baby girls have less value and are aborted, killed after birth or abandoned. In 1961 the dowry system was outlawed in India but it’s still practiced and that places a lot of pressure on families.

The male: female ratio throughout the world is about 105: 100. In China and India it is 140: 100

If only someone could explain that men determine the sex of a child. It’s NEVER the fault of a woman because she doesn’t have a son.

In 1979, China adopted the one-child policy. If your first child is a girl you can have a second child. China has the highest female suicide rate. 500 women kill themselves daily in China.
Because the ratio of male to women is now so skewed there’s an increase in sex trafficking and child brides.

sexy baby

Sexy Baby (2012)
84 min
Rating: B+
Directors: Jill Bauer and Ronna Gradus

–examines what it’s like to be female in today’s sex-obsessed culture from the viewpoints of three very different women–an ex adult film star, a 12 year old girl and a 22 year old yearning for “normal” genitalia. The film star wants a family, contemplates how her porn experiences affect her today and may affect her children. The 12 year-old seems like she’s 19. She’s very smart and worldly but also obsessed with looks and Facebook and internet connectivity. The 22 year is getting labiaplasty because she feels her labia is unusually large and that without the surgery she’ll never be able to function normally.

Ex film star Nakita: “That’s what porn sex is. It’s sport fucking.”
“Regular guys are trying to pull porn moves.”

12-year-old Winnifred: “We are the pioneers.”

“I cry because I’m not the way I used to be. I’m not interesting anymore.’

“Facebook is literally 30% of my life and it shouldn’t be. We make ourselves seem like w’re down to fuck. It doesn’t shape how you actually are and how you end up in real life.” [think I was really shocked to hear a 12-year-old say this. Have my nieces been having sex since age 12? I had sex at 23—a late start—but by choice.]

22-year-old post labiaplasty: “I feel more motivated to do the things I want to accomplish.”

WomenArentFunnyPoster-226x350

Women Aren’t Funny (2014)
78 min.
Rating: B+
Directed by Bonnie McFarlane

–comedienne Bonnie McFarlane talks to comics, people on the street, club bookers and promoters to find out why people don’t find female comics funny. She sheds light on many stereotypes about female comics in the male-dominated industry. She interviews comics such as Joan Rivers, Sarah Silverman, Wanda Sykes, Chelsea Perretti, Michael Ian Black, Artie Lange (comes off as the total sexist a-hole I thought he was), Colin Quinn.

brave miss world

Brave Miss World (2013)
Rating: A
Directed by Cecilia Peck

Linor Abargil– Israeli Miss World winner 1998– survived a brutal rape months before being crowned. Now in law school she travels the world talking to survivors. In this documentary the rapist faces parole, Linor is getting married and she’s also become an Orthodox Jew. Interesting because her family is secular. This documentary serves to help her face the rape and its aftermath as well as helping others in the process. It’s simultaneously sad and empowering.

chisholm

Chisholm ’72: Unbought and Unbossed (2004)
76 min.
Rating: B+
Directed by: Shola Lynch

New York Congresswoman Shirley Chisholm was the first African-American woman elected to Congress. In addition she became the first black person and women to run for president in 1972.

“The only thing that I have going for me is my soul and my commitment to the American people.” –Shirley Chisholm

Advertisements

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

STEELE INTERVIEWS: Claudia Myers

Michelle Steely Eyed

Fort Bliss, written and directed by Claudia Myers, came out in December. It’s the second feature film for Myers. She also wrote and directed Kettle of Fish starring Gina Gershon and Matthew Modine. She’s made lots short films and documentaries for the military such as ones about combat stress and PTSD and severely injured soldiers returning from Iraq and the impact to their personal lives.

Fort Bliss movingly and effectively shows the difficulties that a single mom in the military faces in balancing her career as a medic and her home life. Michelle Monaghan turns in a strong, edgy and multifaceted performance as Maggie. It’s currently streaming on Netflix and iTunes and absolutely a must-see.

After some back and forth on twitter, Claudia Myers and I spoke on the phone a few weeks ago.

Amy Steele: You live in DC– outside the Hollywood scene but close enough to New York. How is that for you as a filmmaker?
[Claudia is a professor at American University so has that stability and commitment.]

Claudia Myers: Positive is that I wouldn’t have written Fort Bliss. That first assignment to work with the military with a local company. I wouldn’t have had that opportunity in another city. It sparked my interest in the military stories. I like the Wash DC film community. It’s much smaller but it’s very supportive and I receive a lot of support from American Univ.

DC is a diverse city in terms of its interest. It’s not dominated by film and it can be a positive.

writer/director Claudia Myers

writer/director Claudia Myers

Amy Steele: Do you think you can live anywhere and be an independent filmmaker?

Claudia Myers: Depends on what you want to do. If you want to work in TV or film it helps to work in NY or LA but there’s also more competition but to write and direct your own project it helps to be in places where there’s smaller film industry.

Amy Steele: You’re a professor of film at American University. What do you like about teaching? What influence does it have on your film-making?

Claudia Myers: I’ve been teaching for seven years. Being a teacher and being a filmmaker simultaneously forces me to keep thinking critically about what I do. So I feel like with every new class I learn something from my students. They challenge me to look at things differently or explain things better. It keeps me engaged and sharp and more current.

FortBliss-158-2

Amy Steele: Where did you get the idea to write Fort Bliss?

Claudia Myers: Working on a training film for the army at the actual Fort Bliss. Was doing a focus group with infantry soldiers and one was a single dad who had deployed twice to Iraq and I remember being surprised by that. I never thought about a soldier facing multiple deployments as a single parent. As a mother it piqued my interest. Was something I’d never thought about.

Roughly 40% of women in the military are moms. As I developed the story, I felt like telling the ultimate working mother story. As any parent trying to balance with a career they think is meaningful and important with raising a child.

There was a story to be told that hadn’t been told from a female perspective. I found it wasn’t such an unusual circumstance. I would hear “my sister is in that situation” or “I know someone just like that.” It is gratifying that it is a projection of this and interesting to get people thinking about how women are perceived.

People would connect in a way that they hadn’t thought about.

13682009595_00f1ae0687_b

Amy Steele: Why did you make Maggie a single mom?

Claudia Myers: That was a side of the story I hadn’t seen told and a side of the story I could relate to as a mother and get a strong sense of connection. A real empathy and curiosity for women in the military balancing career and being a parent. To make an independent film there has to be a reason to do it and I hadn’t seen that story told.

Amy Steele: I didn’t think it all that unusual for a woman to serve in the military with a young child at home but I browsed a message board and people thought it strange. This was Maggie’s job. I don’t think she was trying to get away from her son at all but she liked what she did and was trying to secure a better future wasn’t she?

Claudia Myers: I’ve had some conversations with people who don’t understand that she re-enlisted and then got caught in a set of circumstance. As in life there are no right solutions and people do the best they can under the circumstances. Everyone just does the best they can. I wasn’t trying to demonize anyone or make anyone a villain.

As a filmmaker and viewer I have empathy for Maggie but she makes some questionable choices and that’s fine. We sometimes recognize ourselves in a character’s flaws. I wasn’t interested in making her perfect.
Why is it cool for a guy to go off and fight and leave his family but for a woman she’s abandoning her family, she’s a terrible mother.

Claudia Myers: Such an emotional response to the story is a good thing. It gets people to think about their feelings about these things. Things have been changing for a while. Can it ever be completely equal. I don’t know that I have an answer. That’s why I wrote the movie. I was happy when I was writing the script and I wasn’t sure how I could resolve this in a way that was honest.

Amy Steele: How long did it take from script to screen?

Claudia Myers: I got the idea about five years ago. I was intrigued by this character who was a soldier and a mother and was balancing these two sides of her life in an extreme situation. Worked on [the script] on and off for years. It took time to get funding. We had a leisurely editing process. It was good in that it was always on my mind but I wasn’t working on it constantly. The shoot itself was quick. We shot it in 21 days.

Amy Steele: By choice or necessity?

Claudia Myers: It’s never a choice. We always want more time. It was a very intense shooting schedule. It gave the whole process an energy. Everybody wanted to be there. Everyone on our team was really dedicated. That included a number of veterans on the film itself and active duty soldiers. That grounded the production. It helped creating a greater sense of authenticity. The army supported the film so we had subject matter experts. Michelle [Monaghan] was trained by a medic. The army was tremendous in their support.

images (3)

Amy Steele: Did you screen it at Fort Bliss?

Claudia Myers: It opened at Fort Bliss and in NY and LA in December.

Amy Steele: And what was the reaction?

Claudia Myers:The reaction has been very positive. Also we had a Los Angeles screening by Veterans in Film and TV [VFT]. 400 veterans at LA premiere. The film got a standing ovation. it was a special night.

Amy Steele: What kind of director are you?

Claudia Myers: I love the whole process. I love working with actors. I just have a lot of respect and admiration for the actors’ craft. I see my job as being as clear as possible about what I’m trying to achieve. What the story’s about, what I’m fundamentally getting to and I work with the various departments to help me bring the story to life. I welcome their input so it’s a real collaboration.

Amy Steele: What were the greatest challenges for this film?

Claudia Myers: So many intense or logistically different scenes on a short time frame and budget. I think that was the overall production challenge. Michelle was so committed and so passionate about the script. As preparation she did an abbreviated medic course. She was a great collaborator. I felt that she understood all the sides of this character which I wanted to bring out. She didn’t hold back and she gave an incredible performance.
The weather was another challenge. It was very hot. We shot in the desert in 100 degree weather. We felt the importance in sharing this story.

Amy Steele: I’m going to remind readers of some statistics of women filmmakers from Indie Wire, 2014:

• 29.8% of filmmakers (directors, writers, producers, cinematographers and editors) were female.
• Women were 16% of the directors, executive producers, producers, writers, cinematographers, and editors working on the top 250 domestic grossing films.
• Women directed 6% of the films.
• Women wrote 10% of the movies.

Amy Steele: What are the barriers facing female filmmakers today? What do you think needs to change? Is it getting better?

Claudia Myers: It is getting better. Maybe a little bit outside the studio. I think there are a lot of independent women directors/writers working. It isn’t a level playing field. There’s a lot of progress needing to be made. People can support films written and directed by women. They can seek them out and watch more of them. I think the more attention we pay it is a positive thing. I hope the trend keeps developing. It’s slower than it should be for sure.

Distributors are still trying to figure out revenues with all these distribution strategies. It’s not what it used to be. We aren’t quite at the place optimally.

In terms of female films being less lucrative, it’s demand driven. If people make a point of watching those films and more films about female protagonists. More films about women. The vast majority of mainstream films feature male protagonists. Some stories need to be told the way they need to be told. You need multi-layered complex women in film. Actresses are eager for more meaty roles.

, , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Black History Month: must-see documentaries

black power mixtape

The Black Power Mixtape 1967-1975 (2011)
96 min
Rating: A-

–filmed from 1967 to ’75, this is previously unreleased footage of major figures in the Black Power movement, creating hours of footage that remained unreleased for decades. Stokely Carmichael, Huey P. Newton and Angela Davis discuss the movement’s evolution. Truly moving and powerful film.

dark girls

Dark Girls (2011)
71 min
Rating: B+
Director: D. Channsin Berry, Bill Duke

–examines prejudices dark-skinned women face throughout the world, includes the roots of classism, racism and the lack of self-esteem within a segment of cultures. Thoughtful, provocative and detailed.

soundtrack for a rev

Soundtrack for a Revolution (2009)
82 min.
Rating: A-

–celebrates the intersection of a political movement and music. Featuring new performances of freedom songs by artists such as Mary J. Blige, Wyclef Jean and John Legend, the film also includes archival footage and interviews with civil rights leaders.

good_hair_chris_rock

Good Hair (2009)
95 min
Rating: A
Directed by: Chris Rock

–in this amusing, warm and touching documentary, Chris Rock travels the world to understand African-American women’s hair. He contemplates women’s self-esteem and their looks and the application and purpose of the weave. Rock wanted to understand what his three daughters would go through.

4lg

4 Little Girls (1997)
102 min.
Rating: A
Directed by: Spike Lee

–a member of the Klu Klux Klan bombed a Birmingham, Ala. church and killed four young girls: Addie Mae Collins, Cynthia Wesley, Carole Robertson and Denise McNair. He put the bomb there to “send a message.” The tragedy served as a catalyst of the Civil Rights Movement. Another sad senseless act of violence in the name of white supremacy.

murder of emmett till

The Murder of Emmett Till (2003)
53 min
Rating: B+

–PBS “American Experience” documentary examines the murder of 14-year-old Emmett Till and the subsequent acquittal of his killers. While visiting the Deep South, Till whistled at a white woman, an act which led to his brutal killing. Activists organized after Till’s mother let national newspapers run pictures of her unrecognizable son. A disgusting and disturbing act of racism. Extremely upsetting and unbelievable.

, , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

Choice Quotes: Lucky Them

LuckyThem-2014-1

“I am the industry-wise transition girlfriend to his soon to be model-fucking teen heartthrob.”

LUCKY THEM

“I’ve decided to embrace my defects. It’s all part of the package.”

–Ellie [Toni Collette]

, , , ,

Leave a comment

IN THE REALM: 13 Film Suggestions for Halloween

happy_halloween_1024x7681

I’m not into horror. Not into lots of blood and gore. I do enjoy a well-written thriller. In the 80s there were lots of scary films out there and I think that many GenXers can’t those out of our heads: Amityville Horror; Poltergeist; Friday the 13th; Children of the Corn. Here’s a mix of films that are excellent, flip-you-out thrillers or are about vampires or ghosts.

drag me to hell

1. Drag Me to Hell (2009)— yes this is horror and I loved it. Directed by Sam Raimi, Alison Lohman plays a loan officer who kicks an old woman out of her house and gets cursed. it’s brilliant
rating: A

byzantium

2. Byzantium (2012)— another gorgeous film directed by Neil Jordan. Saoirse Ronan and Gemma Arterton are sisters and vampires in a quiet seaside town.
rating: B+

Only Lovers Left Alive

3. Only Lovers Left Alive (2013)— as you’d expect vampires to be. all sex and drugs and rock and roll. Directed by the arty Jim Jarmusch and starring Tilda Swinton and Tom Hiddleston.
rating: A-

Dead-Again

4. Dead Again (1991)— Emma Thompson and Kenneth Branagh in a jumpy, classic make-you-scream thriller.
rating: A

let the right one in

5. Let the Right One In (2008)— girl vampire and it’s GOOD. completely unique.
rating: A

rosemarys baby

6. Rosemary’s Baby (1968)— Mia Farrow in this classic about a mysterious pregnancy and its aftermath. Directed by Roman Polanski.
rating: B+

-BLAIR-WITCH-MOV-JY-938--65716958

7. The Blair Witch Project (1999)— the original found footage horror/scary film. I saw it in the theater and was freaked out for days.
rating: A

skin i live in

8. The Skin I Live In (2011)— Antonio Banderas stars in this Pedro Almodovar (love him) film about a plastic surgeon who creates an indestructible synthetic skin.
rating: A-

secret in their eyes

9. The Secret in their Eyes (2009)– retired attorney writing a novel about one of his unsolved homicide cases.
rating: A

ghostwriter

10. The Ghostwriter (2010)— Ewan McGregor plays a writer hired to write the memoir of the former British Prime Minister (Pierce Brosnan). As he completes research and writes he uncovers some secrets the PM would like kept hidden.
rating: A

Swimming_Pool_01

11. Swimming Pool (2003)— a British mystery writer (the venerable Charlotte Rampling) visits her publisher’s South of France vacation home. Her interaction with his unusual daughter sets off a series of unsettling events.
rating: B+

ht_contagion_jennifer_ehle_ll_110906_wg

12. Contagion (2011)— appropriate. all-star cast portraying healthcare professionals, government officials and everyday people who find themselves in the midst of a worldwide epidemic.
rating: B+

the others

13. The Others (2011)— Nicole Kidman plays a woman convinced her old, darkened house is haunted.
rating: B+

, , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

IN THE REALM: women in film on DVD

there are quite a few great films out there on DVD/Netflix. highly recommended. Here’s a round-up.

kelly-and-cal-640x300

Kelly & Cal [2014]
starring: Juliette Lewis, Jonny Weston, Josh Hopkins
directed by: Jen McGowan
written by: Amy Lowe Starbin
rating: A-

Juliette Lewis [Kelly] is fantastic as a former punk rocker turned suburban mom. Kelly’s not thrilled to be so isolated and away from her friends and life in the city. She’s second-guessing being a mom and thinking about her lost youth. She befriends a neighborhood high-school student named Cal [Jonny Weston]. A bond develops between the two over their love of music and art. It’s sweet and genuine.

hellion-dvd-cover-99

Hellion [2014]
starring: Aaron Paul, Juliette Lewis, Josh Wiggins
written and directed by: Kat Candler
rating: B+

This one is dark, harsh and sad with outstanding performances by Aaron Paul [Breaking Bad] and Juliette Lewis. It’s about a teenage boy [an impressive Josh Wiggins] who’s behaving badly after his mom died. Such awful behavior that he’s jeopardizing his younger brother as well.

luckythem_03

Lucky Them [2013]
starring: Toni Collette, Thomas Haden Church
directed by: Megan Griffiths
written by: Emily Wachtel and Huck Botko
rating: A

In a stand-out performance Toni Collette plays the superbly flawed GenX music critic Ellie Klug. Ellie’s still figuring it all out. She hooks up with artists she interviews. She’s messy. She’s unapologetic. And it’s absolutely fantastic. As a music critic I could see myself in this character. Her editor [Oliver Platt] assigns her a story about her ex, a renowned musician who disappeared a decade ago. She takes along a strange old friend Charlie [Thomas Haden Church] who plans to film a documentary about her search for the elusive Matthew Smith [Johnny Depp]. It’s funny, smart, moving and one of the best films I’ve seen about music journalism in a long time. At one point, Charlie and Ellie are talking about how it’s impossible that Charlie doesn’t like music. She says that she’ll play him music at her place. He admits that there is one Canadian artist he likes.
Ellie throws out a few artists like Rufus Wainwright, as she’s all about alternative music. Turns out it’s Bryan Adams.

MaidentripScreenshot1_650

Maidentrip [2013]
directed by: Jillian Schlesinger
rating: A

Just see this inspirational documentary about a brave teenage girl, Norwegian Laura Dekker, who at 14 sets out to become the youngest person to sail around the world alone. It’s filled with a lot of footage that Laura shot by herself on the boat. Also interspersed with some interviews and her background into how she got into sailing. She’s a fun teenager. When she lands in one country she colors her hair from blonde to red. She meets cool people along the way, makes stops in beautiful places like Cape Town, St. Maarten, the South Pacific islands and Australia. She enjoys her solitude and grows up out on her own. A beautifully edited must-see documentary that shows just what girls can do when given the opportunity.

, , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

STEELE INTERVIEWS: filmmaker Jordan Brady [I AM ROAD COMIC]

“A real road comic works in cities that even mapquest doesn’t know.” —Oni Perez

“I should call myself four market Norton. I’m great in Boston and Cleveland. I do good in Phillie, New Jersey.” –Jim Norton

“I’ve been living out of a suitcase for over a decade.” –Nikki Glaser

“There’s something about drunk women. They love me.” –Alonzo Bodden

Several years ago, filmmaker Jordan Brady put out the documentary I Am Comic which illuminated the realities of being a stand-up comic.After being offered an out-of-state stand-up gig, he decided to make I Am Road Comic in order to document the costs of doing a road gig. He teamed up with his friend Wayne Federman and they traveled to the site. Interspersed throughout Federman and Brady’s experience on this stand-up gig are interviews with a variety of comics about life on the road. The success of I Am Comic allowed Brady a larger pool of comedians from which to cull interviews this time around. Since making I Am Comic, Brady’s met a lot more comics and could bring different voices and representation from the comedy world to the screen in I Am Road Comic.

I spoke with Jordan Brady by phone last week. We’ve been twitter friends for a while since I watched/discovered I Am Comic. We started the conversation by talking about interviews by phone vs. Skype. I said I was hesitant to interview a band on Skype because I didn’t want anyone to see me and the delight that Jordan is, he replied: “I’ve seen your avatar, you’re a pretty woman. Why don’t you show it off.” Very sweet.

Amy Steele: After doing I Am Comic what made you decide to do I Am Road Comic?

Jordan Brady: The success of I Am Comic led comedians that book shows—there’s this new trend that comedians often book their own nights at bars especially—they brand their own show. They mistakenly thought I was an active stand-up comedian because of I Am Comic. When I was asked to do a show. At first I said “no, no, no I’m a filmmaker now.” They said, “just come and do a set.” Finally I said yes. They booked me and I said I don’t have 45 minutes. I figured it would be a great documentary.

Jordan Brady Headshot

Amy Steele: So you were a stand-up a long time ago.

Jordan Brady: 20-something years ago I stopped but I’d started as a stand-up comic when I was 18 and did the road for 14 years. Colleges. Even though I knew this would be a good story of being on the road and I would take my good friend Wayne Federman with me, I knew it wouldn’t be the crux of the documentary. The meat of it would be the newer guys like TJ Miller, Marc Maron. The people that have rose to prominence in the last five years. People like Doug Benson and Marc Maron I’ve know for 30 years but TJ Miller, Maria Bamford, Jen Kirkman I met by going to clubs and they said they loved the movie. I Am Comic paved the way for these interviews in I Am Road Comic.

Amy Steele: What was your goal in making this? What’s the difference between I Am Road Comic and I Am Comic?

Jordan Brady: Economics was the difference. I was squeezing 80 comedians into 80 minutes. This time I wanted to approach it gorilla-style, as just me and a camera. Me on the road. I had to film it and also remember my comedy material.

With I Am Road Comic I wanted to specifically point out low-level road comedians and how you have to be so cost-effective. The only thing I knew was I was going to keep a tally of the expenses. For a gig you get a couple hundred bucks per show which is decent money for a bar gig. As soon as I had to buy a plane ticket I would only break even.

Amy Steele: How did you decide who to interview and how did you get people involved?

Jordan Brady: Less people because I realized if I had less people they’d get more screen time. I wanted to get more in-depth. There were a lot of old white guys in I Am Comic and I think the world has seen its share of old white comedians. I tried to get more females and I tried to get more minorities. A comic is a comic whether they’re a man, a woman, straight, gay, black, white, Puerto Rican. I don’t delve into that.

But I wanted younger hipper guys who are more relevant. Doug Benson and Marc Maron put out a couple of podcasts every week. I wanted to talk to comedians who were more personal in their material rather than jokey jokers. I wanted comedians that were honest in their material and their comedy was based on life experiences and based in reality. Some guys are road warriors like Alonzo Bodden. I think he works 45 weeks a year. Nikki Glaser is kind of a throw-back to the old-school road comics. There are only two guys who are famous for being comedians—Louis C.K.—but it took a television show to make him famous. Jerry Seinfeld played himself on Seinfeld. But until they had a scripted vehicle on television it’s hard to make it as a comedian.

It takes a series– and of late podcasts– to put people on the map. And radio is still big in the Midwest. If I had a thesis it was how relevant was the road to being a comedian today. The fact that Seth Milstein took a bus for 16 hours to perform his first road gig—and he wanted to be in a documentary—the answer was yes.

if you enjoy my interviews please consider donating so I can keep doing what I’m doing. Every dollar helps. Make a Donation button at right on my site.

purchase I Am Road Comic

i am road comic

, , , , , , , , ,

Leave a comment

%d bloggers like this: