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SxSW ’08 Interview – Of All The Things director Jody Lambert

Of All The Things - At SxSW '08!
by Jason Whyte

“Of All The Things” is a road-trip, music-doc comedy about a guy whose songs you know, but whose story you don’t. My dad, Dennis Lambert, was a very successful songwriter/producer in the ‘70s & ‘80s, but now he’s totally out of the music business. But he made this one album in 1972 – the only one he ever made as a performer – and it’s huge in the Philippines. They’ve been trying to get him to come to the Philippines ever since, and he finally agreed. We followed him on his “comeback” tour.” Director Jody Lambert on “Of All The Things” which screens at this year’s South By Southwest.

Is this your first film in the at SxSW? (Or the first film you have) Do you have any other festival experience?

First film at SXSW. First film at any festival. First film ever.

Will you be coming to Austin to attend the festival? If this is your first time, what do you expect to discover? If you have been here before, what do you love most about the city?

I’ve visited once, but not for SXSW. I hope to see some incredible movies and hear some great music.

Could you give me a little look into your background (your own personal biography, if you will), and what led you to the desire to want to make film?

I grew up in Los Angeles, and there was always music and movies in our house. I went to college in New York, studying film and theater at NYU. I’ve been acting in plays for the past decade, writing, waiting for the right moment to make a film of my own.

Growing up, you were no doubt asked the eternal question “When I grow up I want to be a …” Finish this sentence, please!

“… filmmaker.”

While you were making the movie, were you thinking about the future release of the film, be it film festivals, paying customers, critical response, and so forth?

The future life of the film may have been in the back of our minds, but while we were in the trenches we were really only thinking about making the movie as entertaining as possible.

How did this project come to fruition? If you could, please provide me with a rundown, start to finish, from your involvement.

When my dad said yes to the Philippines tour this year, my initial thought was to grab a home movie camera and go with him. But my best friend, Taylor Williams, convinced me that the story was big enough to be a movie. So we all sort of took this leap, me as first-time director, Taylor as first time-producer, my dad as first-time performer.

What was the biggest challenge in the production of the movie, be it principal photography or post-production?

The challenges were the same throughout -- staying focused and creative when the stakes are high, you’re physically and emotionally drained and you’re running out of time and money.

Please tell me about the technical side of the film; your relation to the film’s cinematographer, what the film was shot on and why it was decided to be photographed this way.

Our co-producer Heather Greene recommended a DP named P.H. O’Brien, who’s incredible. Before we started shooting he and I talked a lot about the tone we were going for and certain things we wanted to avoid. We also hired Jeremiah Clancy, who’d shot some fantastic video art that I’d seen in NYC, to man the second camera. We shot on the Panasonic DVX-100 in 24p Widescreen. It’s a great camera, we liked the warmth of the image.

Talk a bit about the festival experiences, if any, that you have had with this particular film. Have you had any interesting audience stories or questions that have arisen at screenings?

I’ve never had a film screen at a film festival, but I’ve attended film festivals and been to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival several times as an actor. What’s great is that festival audiences are hungry for new, daring work and they’re eager to engage with the artists. Everybody wins.

Who would you say your biggest inspirations are in the film world (directors, actors, cinematographers, etc)? Did you have any direct inspirations from filmmakers for this film in particular?

I definitely have a soft-spot for people who tough it out in New York. Off the top of my head -- Sidney Lumet, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Jeffrey Wright, Philip Seymour Hoffman, Julianne Moore, Frances McDormand, Liev Schreiber.

I was also very influenced by the films and companies that galvanized the New York independent film movement in the ‘90s, like Miramax, Killer Films, October Films, The Shooting Gallery. It was a very exciting time to be a fan of small, personal films.
Also, a lot of musicians inspire me – the Buzzcocks, Tom Waits, early Elton John, Wire, Bob Dylan. When we were prepping the movie I was listening to a lot of obscure ‘70s funk and reggae.

But my biggest influences are the playwrights, directors and actors I worked with in New York when I was coming in to my own, creatively – John Clancy, Brian Parks, Mike Dowling, Heather Lynn MacDonald, Scott Organ, the cast of Americana Absurdum, the Atlantic Theater Company.

I didn’t watch many films while making “Of All The Things.” But one night I watched a Bud Greenspan Olympic documentary about marathon runners and I was struck by how similar filmmaking and marathon running are. So in a weird way, I’d say Abibe Bikila (Ethiopia) and Joan Benoit Samuelson (USA) are big influences.

How far do you think you would want to go in this industry? Do you see yourself directing larger stories for a larger budget under the studio system, or do you feel that you would like to continue down the independent film path?

I think it depends on the demands of the story you’re telling. Some stories are small and should be made quickly, on-the-fly, for little money. Others require a larger canvas to bring them to life. I’d like to do both.

If you weren’t in this profession, what other career do you think you would be interested in?


Please tell me some filmmakers or talent that you would love to work with, even if money was no object.

The cast of The Wire.

Do you think that you have “made it” in this profession yet? If you don’t believe so, what do you think would happen for that moment to occur?

‘Making it’ is really about what your goals are and how proud you are of the work you do. It seems like the rest is luck and timing. A lot of people who’ve ‘made it’ make shitty movies and a lot of people make great films who you may never hear about. Right now, I feel like I’ve ‘made it’ because I made a film I’d want to see.

How important do you think the critical/media response is to film these days, be it a large production, independent film or festival title?

Raising awareness of your work is always important. There are more outlets than ever before, which is good for films that don’t have a ton of money for marketing. But overall, I wish there was a little more emphasis on real criticism and a little less on publicity and gossip.

If this film could play in any movie theatre in the world, which one would you choose?

I’m gonna have to go with the Angelika in New York. But I’m psyched that we’re premiering at the Alamo Drafthouse.

What would you say to someone on the street to see your film instead of the latest blockbuster playing at the local goo-gooplex?

“Of All The Things” creates a world where ‘70s rock, the Philippines, Boca Raton, ‘80s R&B, The Ed Sullivan Show, The Four Tops, real estate brokers, Muhammad Ali/Joe Frazier, the Borscht Belt and Rhinestone Cowboy all make perfect sense together.

No doubt there are a lot of aspiring filmmakers at film festivals who are out there curious about making a film of their own. Do you have any advice that you could provide for those looking to get a start?

It’s a grueling, maddening, extremely difficult process. But the hardest part comes right in the beginning, when you take that small step to simply commit yourself to do it.

And finally…what is your all time favourite motion picture, and why?

There are too many to name one. But I saw “Raging Bull” at a very young age, maybe 9 or 10, and I remember thinking “there’s a lot more to movies than spaceships and muppets.”

This film is one of the many features that will be screening at SxSW this year from March 7th to 15th. For more information on this film, its screening times and for more information on SxSW, point your browser to the official website. – Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 03/01/08 19:22:56
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