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Whistler Film Festival 2013 Interview – BEST MAN DOWN director Ted Koland

BEST MAN DOWN - At Whistler Film Festival!
by Jason Whyte

“BEST MAN DOWN follows bride and groom Kristin (played by Jess Weixler) and Scott (played by Justin Long), who are forced to cancel their honeymoon and fly home to the snowy Midwest to arrange for the funeral of their obnoxious and over-served best man, Lumpy (played by Tyler Labine), after he unexpectedly dies at their destination wedding in Phoenix. But getting Lumpy’s body back to Minneapolis is just the start of their adventure, as the well-intended sacrifice surprises at every turn. And when the newlyweds’ path leads them to a fifteen year-old girl (played by Addison Timlin) in a small, northern Minnesota town, all bets are off on who Lumpy really was.” Director Ted Koland on BEST MAN DOWN which had its premiere at this year's Whistler Film Festival.

Is this your first movie in the Whistler Film Festival, and are you attending the festival?

This is my first movie in the festival and I WISH I was in Whistler.

Tell me a bit about your background and what led you into the motion picture business.

I grew up in Minnesota, the son of a bricklayer. So honestly, the idea of moving to Hollywood to work in the film business never occurred to me, despite a young life filled with the arts. After college, I had a corporate job that eventually transferred me to Los Angeles. It didn't take very long for me to realize it was time to play 52 pick-up with my career, and give Hollywood a try.

How did this whole movie come together from your perspective?

For the most part, almost everything I've written is a comedy. So it's slightly strange that my first script to get made is really a drama, or dramedy. But I wasn't going to let anyone else direct such an odd, little bird of a tale, for better or for worse. I had been trying to get the film made for a couple years with different players involved. And then I got a call out of the blue from Sharyn Steele, one of the film's producers. She wanted to introduce me to Dave Abbitt, who had just put together a film fund. Within two or three weeks, I was on a plane to Minnesota to prep the film.

What was the biggest challenge in making the film?

BEST MAN DOWN is the first thing I've ever directed. And until you go through the entire post process, you're not sure what you're going to need on the other side. You can make good guesses, but it's hard to think editorially until you've played out that whole process. Thankfully, you're only a first-time filmmaker once. And it was critical that I had created it. I knew the story and the characters backwards and forwards.

What was your single favourite moment or rewarding experience out of the entire production?

It's hard to pick one, but I think my satisfaction comes from the moments in an actor's performance when you both know you got there.

What keeps you going while making a movie? How much coffee?

I actually had given up caffeine before we started, so you're looking at a decaffeinated film. 

I would love to know about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and why it was decided to be filmed this way.

I had a great partner in crime with Seamus Tierney as a cinematographer. He's incredibly talented and a great collaborator. We weren't reinventing the wheel with the style we used. But he has an amazing eye that I was more than happy to utilize. For me, this is a performance piece. But I did want to honor my hometown visually. I wanted people to see some of Minneapolis and Minnesota they haven't seen before. I mean, it's practically Canada up there! 

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

Many indie distributors simply don't have the deep pockets for significant P&A spends. So positive critical and media support is fantastic if you can get it. 

What would you say or do to someone who is talking or texting during a screening of your film?

HA! It happened! We were the big, formal, Friday night screening at the Catalina Film Festival this fall, and the casino where the film played was packed. There must have been over 800 people there. Two drunk tourists stumbled in right before the lights went down, and sat down in the back. They kept talking, and I could see the people around them getting annoyed over and over again. So I walked over to the couple, kneeled down, got face-to-face, and said "I spent three years of my life making this film, and I'd really like it if you would stop talking."  They did. 

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers reading our site. I was curious if you had any advice to aspiring filmmakers?

Oh man, I dunno. Get ready for the ups and downs of a business that rarely gives you any warning. And keep telling stories: No one makes a career out of one script or one film. 

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have seen at a film festival?

Recently? SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK last fall in the Hamptons. I'm a huge David O. Russell fan, and the tone of BEST MAN DOWN is inspired by his work in a lot of ways.

Check back on over the next few days for some interviews and photos from yours truly while on the ground at Whistler. Also by the end of the festival I will be posting my top picks and events of the festival on the site. If you're attending the festivities, I can usually be found at Zog's Dogs inbetween screenings. You can also follow me on Twitter and Instagram for more immediate updates!

For more information on Whistler Film Festival, films screening in competition and information on screening times and events, point your browser to

Jason Whyte,

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originally posted: 12/07/13 04:33:43
last updated: 12/07/13 04:35:33
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