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SXSW '06 Interview: ''The Oh in Ohio" Creators Miranda Bailey & Billy Kent

by Scott Weinberg

The 'Oh in Ohio' Pitch: Priscilla Chase seemed to have everything going for her with one small private exception.... She never thought much of sex. When her husband unexpectedly leaves her to regain his manhood she embarks on a wild journey that leads her to satisfaction and love in the most unlikely place.

Describe your movie using the smallest number of words possible.
Miranda Bailey: Sexy, laugh out loud, chic flick.
Billy Kent: A sex comedy about a woman who learns to let go. You can’t hold water in a clenched fist.

Is this your first trip to SXSW? Got any other film festival experience? If you’re a festival veteran, let us know your favorite and least-favorite parts of the ride.
MB: Our horror / comedy, Dead & Breakfast premiered at SXSW in 2004, since then I've been looking forward to coming back. Other festival experience includes Sundance and Toronto 2005 with The Squid and the Whale. Going to festivals is always a fun time, however I seem to end up staying late and drinking and eating WAY more that I should!
BK: Yes, it is my first time to SXSW. I have had many other festival experiences. I won the Monte Carlo Short FF years ago and have a great time gambling with Matt Dillon and receiving my award from Prince Albert. I have had shorts at Sundance, Seattle, and many other festivals . Festivals are great because the audiences are really looking for new experiences. The collegiate atmosphere helps celebrate the joy of making films beyond the actual business of making movies.

Back when you were a little kid, and you were asked that inevitable question, your answer would always be “When I grow up I want to be a …” what?
MB: An actress.
BK: I wanted to be like my dad. He was an accountant, but loved science, art, music and was a great joke and story teller. People would stay up all night listening to his stories and I would listen through the wall in my bedroom. I was never taught to think “I want to be a fireman, spaceman or poet, “I always thought about what kind of person I wanted to be and that was someone who could brighten a room with a story.

Not including your backyard and your Dad’s Handycam, how did you get your real “start” in filmmaking?
MB: I started out acting and realized I would actually be able to do it more if I made my own work for myself. Plus this way, I could love the acting jobs and not have to take crappy ones just to keep my health insurance.
BK: In college at Vassar. I spent time making films with friends. I had always made films with my brother too , but I was usually the actor. We used our super 8 camera and we had a splicer and spent many hours putting them together. We always told stories that involved pratfalls. After college I got a crash course in filmmaking when I was hired to direct 50 karaoke videos. I then went to work for MTV making shorts before going to AFI for grad school.

Do you feel any differently about your film now that you know it’s on “the festival circuit?”
MB: Nope. It still cracks me up every time I see it. Especially Parker in the board room!
BK: Sure, I am very excited. There is great anticipation and wonder about when a real audience will finally sit in the dark and look at what you’ve done. It is really the moment the film becomes complete.

Of all the Muppets, which one do you most relate to?
MB: Janice.
BK: Kermit, because it isn’t easy being green.

During production did you ever find yourself thinking ahead to film festivals, paying customers, good & bad reviews, etc?
MB: No. However, I think everyone who makes a film has a biased love for it regardless of its success or failure. I doubt anyone goes into producing or acting in a film and thinks "well this sucks, but I'll invest my time and money into it anyways". No one tries to make a bomb. Everyone aims for a smash hit. Most of the time, it lands somewhere in between.
BK: No.

How did this film get rolling at the beginning? Give us a brief history from writing to production to post to just last night.
MB: Ambush came on board the film with the director and Parker already attached. The producer, Amy Salko- Robinson brought it to me and said, this would be a great role for you and this would be a good fit with your company. She was right and we signed on to produce the film.
BK: Sarah Bird, Adam Weirzbianski and myself sat down one cold winter’s night in Brooklyn and began talking about the idea, about a year later Adam had completed the script and a few months after that Amy Salko Robertson came on board to produce. I was then introduced to Parker Posey through a great friend Kip Kotzen. She loved the script. Amy and I began trying to find partners to make it happen. Ambush, Miranda and Francey, came on board and then the rest of the cast came together in what like seemed like a minute (after years of toiling). We shot in Cleveland and LA and cut in Santa Monica and today I am doing an interview on line for some website called (your name here).

If you could share one massive lesson that you learned while making this movie, what would it be?
MB: Accept a change in expectations.... because things do not always turn out the way we plan, and sometimes that is a good thing.
BK: Long Johns, your own coffee made exactly the way you like it when your home in you’re pjs, nice people to work with so you feel embraced as you make decisions and TRUST.

What films and filmmakers have acted as your inspirations, be they a lifelong love or a very specific scene composition? Did you watch any movies in pre-production and yell “This! I want something JUST like this …only different.”?
MB: I love Election - that tonally inspired us with this project.
BK: Melvin Frank's Prisoner of Second Avenue, Neil Simon and Elaine May's The Heartbreak Kid, Fellini's 8 1/2, John Schlesinger's Sunday Bloody Sunday, John Huston’s Fat City - and so many more - I picked these and others to show my dp and crew not because they are exactly what I wanted, but to show what is possible and that there is a bar to reach for.

What actor would you cast as a live-action Homer Simpson?
MB: The bartender on Grey's Anatomy.
BK: Paul Giamatti.

Say you landed a big studio contract tomorrow, and they offered you a semi-huge budget to remake, adapt, or sequelize something. What projects would you tackle?
MB: I can't say.... because they will steal them. And they are GOOOODDD!
BK: A comedic interpretation of the Bayeux Tapestry.

Name an actor in your film that’s absolutely destined for the big-time. And why, of course.
MB: Paul Rudd. He is truly a comic genius.
BK: Paul Rudd. He so real and is always willing to go for it and a pleasure to direct.

Finish this sentence: If I weren’t a filmmaker, I’d almost definitely be...
MB: ...a ski bum.
BK: ...a furrier.

Who’s an actor you’d kill a small dog to work with? (Don’t worry; nobody would know.)
MB: Gary Oldman.
BK: Paul Newman, Cate Blanchett, Paul Giamatti and Billy Connelly.

Have you “made it” yet? If not, what would have to happen for you to be able to say “Yes, wow. I have totally made it!”
MB: I don't think anyone really "makes it" because I imagine your goals are always set higher and higher with each accomplishment.

Honestly, how important are film critics nowadays?
MB: They are important for egos being lifted and smashed. And that is necessary for human survival. But..... if I see a trailer for a movie that looks good to me, I'll go see it even if the critics hate it. Sometimes I think "Damn, they were right, I should have never gone to see this. And sometimes, I’ll think... What were they thinking this film ROCKS!

You’re told that your next movie must have one “product placement” on board, but you can pick the product. What would it be?
MB: Alexis Hudson handbags.
BK: If it is the project I’m working on with Adam W at the moment, it would have to be Hair Gel and lots of it.

You’re contractually obligated to deliver an R-rated film to your producers. The MPAA says you have to delete a sex scene that’s absolutely integral to the film or you’re getting an NC-17. How do you handle it?
MB: Same way we handled Dead & Breakfast .... we released it unrated.
BK: I’d rather not talk about this, but mention that I am in a rock band called THE UNTITLED HELEN SHAVER PROJECT. The band is a musical experiment. Its members include Paul Giamatti , myself and a few other local Brooklyn artists.

What’s your take on the whole “a film by DIRECTOR” issue? Do you feel it’s tacky, because hundreds (or at least dozens) of people collaborate to make a film – or do you think it’s cool, because ultimately the director is the final word on pretty much everything?
MB: I think it is a non issue... I don't really care too much to fight about it on either side. Credit/ Smedit, ya know.
BK: It’s not that the director has the final word, most of the time he or she doesn’t, but he does have to steer the ship. I don’t think it’s tacky I think it personalizes the viewers experience.

In closing, we ask you to convince the average movie-watcher to choose your film instead of the trillion other options they have. How do you do it?
MB: Liza Minnelli plays an Orgasm coach, Heather Graham plays a sex shop lesbian seductress, Paul Rudd gets to hook up with foxy Mischa Barton, Danny Devito is a STUD! and Parker Posey gets hooked on her vibrator......who wouldn't want to see all that?
BK: Danny Devito with Hair extensions... Parker Posey, Paul Rudd , Liza Minnelli and Mischa Barton all give wonderful performances, and who wouldn’t want to spend a few hours in the dark with them?

--

The Oh in Ohio, starring Parker Posey, Paul Rudd, Mischa Barton, Miranda Bailey, Keith David, Tim Russ, Robert John Burke, Liza Minnelli, and Danny DeVito, will premiere at the 2006 South By Southwest Film Festival. Click here for festival information, and be sure to check out the official The Oh in Ohio website.


link directly to this feature at http://www.efilmcritic.com/feature.php?feature=1743
originally posted: 02/26/06 18:45:25
last updated: 03/01/06 04:19:36
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