Jeri’s Grill on Montrose & Western in Chicago is one of the locations where Jake Johnson and Joe Swanberg shot scenes from their latest film, “Win It All” in July 2015.

This restaurant is also only about a block away from the bar where I met Jake. :-)

So needless to say, this photo makes my heart happy in so many different ways.

Day #6, February 6th, 2016.

Still from Drinking Buddies (2013).

Leave it to Joe Swanberg to twist what looks like a plotless debacle of existential jetlag on paper, into a swirling, colorfully entertaining character adventure which has fun with our idiosyncratic ways of living within friendships, loving, getting together and then promptly going off in opposite directions.

I’d been watching a series of films that had nothing in common in terms of theme, plot, the cast, or time. But they were similar in the way they made me feel when they ended. This bubbling mixture of bittersweet acceptance: understanding that not everything is going to be okay, but that’s okay. It was only when I started watching Swanberg’s films, Drinking Buddies in particular, that I stormed out into the virtual space for some answers.

Mumblecore, they call it. It is now my favorite subgenre within the broad category of drama, and knowing me, it always will be.

You’re Next (2011)


A satire and at the same time an example of how a slasher should be, You’re Next, the feature film that gained its director Adam Wingard his notoriety, succeeds on multiple fronts. It’s no fun being a yuppie - I think, I don’t consider myself one - and this movie has you considering whether you would really like to be one or not. 

You’re Next opens how any self-respecting horror movie should open, satire or not: with a bloody kill. A man and his young girlfriend are brutally slaughtered in their house in the woods, with the killer(s) painting the letters YOU’RE NEXT with blood on the window. The next morning, a family, consisting of mother, father, and their children and girlfriends and boyfriends arrives at the family mansion next door. Their already heated big dinner gets disrupted when masked hooligans start to terrorize them with crossbows and hatchets.

This is more than your average horror film, mostly because it is actually exciting and thrilling, as horror films - and more particularly home invasions films - should be. There are a handful of jump scares for the audience to jump out of their seats to, but there is more, besides a filmmaker and a cast being unfamiliar with an object called a tripod. Somehow, You’re Next feels close to home, there is no popular tendency towards the supernatural, this is just an exciting movie with crazy killers and their crazy motives. It is gripping, exciting, but most importantly, scary and a whole lot of fun.


January Watchlist

What I watched and studied in January of 2016:

The Visit - M. Night Shyamalan - 2015
The Departed - Martin Scorsese - 2006
Killing Them Softly - Andrew Dominik - 2012
Pride & Prejudice - Joe Wright - 2005
Fruitvale Station - Ryan Coogler - 2013
Drinking Buddies - Joe Swanberg - 2013
Togetherness (Episode 4-8) - Various Directors - 2015
The One I Love - Charlie McDowell - 2014
The Road Within - Gren Wells - 2014
The Big Short - Adam McKay - 2015
Frank - Lenny Abrahamson - 2014
The Primary Instinct - David Chen - 2015
Top Five - Chris Rock - 2014
Spotlight - Tom McCarthy - 2015
The Danish Girl - Tom Hooper - 2015
Selma - Ava DuVernay - 2014
Middle of Nowhere - Ava DuVernay - 2012
Straight Outta Compton - F. Gary Gray - 2015
Room - Lenny Abrahamson - 2015
Chelsea Does (Season 1) - Eddie Schmidt -2015
Love & Mercy - Bill Pohlad - 2015

A Partial List Of Reasons To Go On Living

1. Never been to Europe

2. Joe Swanberg movies

3. In order to not make friends and family sad

4. loosecanons.net

5. Summer Movie Draft

6. Prolong the search for great tacos

7. Drugs

Sundance 2016: Amy Seimetz of "The Girlfriend Experience"

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We’ve come full circle watching movies turn into TV shows and vice versa. What used to be a one-way path of episodic directors taking on feature-length projects has become a cycle of filmmakers vying for TV gigs. Perhaps one of the most famous cases is that of Steven Soderbergh, who quit Hollywood for the small screen with “Behind the Candelabra” and “The Knick.” Now he’s recruiting younger indie film talent to follow in his footsteps with the TV remake of his 2009 movie, “The Girlfriend Experience.”

Enter Amy Seimetz, a former Floridian who burst onto the scene with a South by Southwest debut of her film “Sun Don’t Shine.” After working with Joe Swanberg, Shane Carruth and Adam Wingard, Seimetz can now add Soderberg and her “The Girlfriend Experience” co-producer Lodge Kerrigan to her growing list of credits. After working on both sides of the camera to learn her craft, the 28-year-old filmmaker is taking her first stab at prestige TV on Showtime.  

I spoke with Amy Seimetz at the Sundance Film Festival to discuss her foray into the TV landscape and how the newest “Girlfriend Experience” differs from the original. 

Let me ask the question that’s on everyone’s mind, “How did you get involved with the project?”

Amy Seimetz: Soderbergh called me. He saw my film, “Sun Don’t Shine,” liked it and called to ask me if I wanted to direct a TV show. He thought “The Girlfriend Experience” would make a good television show. Since Soderbergh’s overtaking TV, he took two auteurs, one male and one female, to figure out what the television series would look like. He’s known Lodge [Kerrigan] for years. I had just met him because I was acting on “The Killing” which I directed a few episodes of. 

At first, I was like, “I don’t know how to direct television.” He said, “Well, you’ve got to start somewhere.” Okay, if you want to take that gamble!  In reality, I’m glad I didn’t get scared because I just didn’t know. I never thought I would want to do television. It’s a really fun format. We shot it like an independent film, so it didn’t feel any different. 

Was there any difference between the two formats?

The only thing was when you’re writing. You’re writing for a specific arc within 30 pages. So that was the biggest challenge. Lodge and I come from an independent film world where we both write and direct our own stuff. In the writing, you know exactly how much writing you’re going to take with each thing. You’ve done the work writing it knowing you’re going to direct it. You’ve figured out how to spend your time. This page may take a second or it can take two minutes. In independent film, you kind of do the same thing anyway. 

They [Showtime] were so hands off with us. No interference at all. Soderbergh had final cut, which meant we had final cut. The whole deal of the show was that they would give us an amount of money they felt comfortable with, which was very low, and let us do our thing. You’ll have a really cool product by these auteur filmmakers. If it doesn’t work out, you’re okay since you didn’t spend that much. So that’s what Soderbergh pitched them: we’re going to do this show, you’re going to let them do their thing and if it doesn’t work out, it’s pennies to you. They were thrilled with the product. 

Can you talk about collaborating with Lodge Kerrigan on the show? You two seemed to share credits on every part of the production. You take turns directing too. 

Yeah, we wrote everything together. It’s what Soderbergh likes to call “an arranged marriage.” There’s a great deal of mutual respect for each other, but we don’t agree on everything. I think that kept everything in check. It’s very hard to do, and I think since we had such respect for each other, we accommodated each other. You realize that this was a shared experience, and they were having the same exact emotion trying to get you to see it their way. We couldn’t stop ourselves from being like that. Going through that, learning each other’s behaviors, and learning what we would not budge on helped us to go into producing together pretty easy. Producing with him was much easier than writing. 

We had the same vision in mind for the show and our goal was to make it as interesting and cheaply as possible. We were a unified front as directors and producers, which made that whole process much easier. It was easier to get ideas through. 

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You’ve collaborated quite a bit before “The Girlfriend Experience.” For the show, you brought back your “Sun Don’t Shine” star Kate Lyn Sheil, and I kept running into your name around Park City. You’re a part of this supportive film community that appears in each other’s projects. How was that established and how do you keep up participating in so many different works?

My fiancé and I don’t have a proper home. We just go wherever work is. It’s cheaper and I don’t own a lot of stuff, so it’s easy for me to just go wherever film is. Once I gave up my place, I could just essentially go and work with whomever for a period of time. I would just go and live wherever the film was. I ended collaborating with so many different people because I could work and get paid next to nothing but still exist because I was living cent to cent. 

I lived in New York for a while, so I became friends with Lena Dunham, Alex Ross Perry, and Joe Swanberg. There’s so many people who talk about making stuff and there’s people who do stuff. It weeds everyone else out. You start to realize, “Oh, I know everyone who is making stuff.” You all eventually meet each other. There aren’t very many people who are actually doing stuff. There’s a lot more people who say they’re doing stuff. In independent film, there’s saying you’re working on something and being willing to suffer through. Not just financially, but how hard it is to your ego. “No one is listening, what the fuck am I doing here?” You need such a big ego to actually do it. You’re always self-doubting, but then you feel, “no, I’m right!” It’s a pendulum of emotions, and I’m not sure everyone can deal with that. 

The group of people that can get through that, no matter how different their films are, we all have that sense of going to war together. It’s having this common experience. For a period of time, I loved going on to everyone’s set and act like a spy, see how they handle things. I love acting on other people’s sets, because then I see how they work. I learn how they run their set or tell their story, and I found that really fascinating. That’s what I learned with Joe Swanberg. This is so not how they tell you to make a film at all. I offered just to be around. If he comes back to New York, I offered to produce because I just want to see what he’s doing. Before “Sun Don’t Shine,” I was on a number of his sets, and the one thing I remembered is that he never looked stressed. Stress used to get me when I was younger. He said, “I just decided I’m not going to get stressed out.” And I told him that’s not human. He then said, “Well, if something’s making me stress out, I’m the director. I make it so that it doesn’t stress me out or I abandon it altogether.” You can’t do that with everything, but he found a way to make it so he could be so prolific. 

Part of filmmaking is not just making choices and putting things in front of the camera. It’s also about removing things from the camera and removing obstacles that are stopping you from doing what you really want to do. 

Back on your set, how did you develop the aesthetic of “The Girlfriend Experience?” It doesn’t look like Soderbergh’s film. It feels very much of its time right now not 2009. 

We’re in different financial times, and it seems like it feels confusing. Everyone’s trying to grab a buck where they can. Everyone’s got a job but they’re real terrified that they’re going to lose that job because of what happened in 2008. For the look, we looked at a set of films for the way they were shot and for their simplicity of the editing and what’s in the frame. “All the President’s Men,” “The Conversation” and “Klute” were our top three examples of what we’re going for. Obviously, we weren’t trying to do a 1970’s retro, but it’s taking away the simplicity of the scenes and storytelling to be incredibly efficient about what shots you’re going to use. That’s what drove everything instead of this coverage in traditional television. Shot, reverse, wide, shot, reverse, wide. It was finding a unique way to tell the story so it’s not expository. 

[Cinematographer] Steven Meizler is amazing. We didn’t shoot with lights, and he is so masterful on the RED Camera, he was able to pull so many beautiful colors and contrasts, and pointed the camera in such a way that we didn’t need lights. It looked so gorgeous the way it was already naturally lit.

We shot in Toronto, which I think add a lot to it. It’s supposed to take place in Chicago, but there’s really lovely anonymous quality to where we are. We know it’s metropolitan, and in the high-end rich world, it’s really anonymous and sterile with clean lines. Architecturally, it’s imposing but clean and blank. Toronto’s filled with that look. We did massive location scouting and had 75% of our locations locked before we went to picture because we had crossboarded the entire season. Lodge and I went on all the location scouts, so in seeing stuff we were able to discuss like “that corner’s no good, but that corner is.” It was a learn by doing process. 

And then the performance you get out of your star, Riley Keough, is just astounding. It’s almost like she’s acting in a horror movie just not screaming. 

When Lodge and I were shooting it, we realized we’re shooting a horror movie. It’s also pretty funny. It’s not comedy because it’s so deadpan, but I think some of the darkness and the comedy are coming from the same places. In this particular instance where it’s a woman choosing to do this on her own and no one’s forcing her to do it, I have judgement on that. Like any experience, it affects you in positive and negative ways. I know I can’t do this, but I know the most terrifying thing to me would be meeting a stranger when no one else knows I’m meeting them. 

But it’s also one of the sexist ideas ever. Like really fucking terrifying but also superhot, but both of those together give me crazy anxiety. Those two combined also create that kind of rush that a lot of these women are attracted to. It’s not just anonymous sex, here’s this stranger and no one knows I’m here. But what if he kills me? What if he opens the door and he’s the nicest guy, and you’re like “Oh my god, I’m safe.” You actually never know, and for me at least, I’d be paranoid the whole night even after the deed is done and I got the money. I’d be like, “He’s following me.” 

When you let somebody in that intimately, whether it’s sexually or just spending time with them, you’re dealing with emotions. Emotions are scary. You don’t know what they’re going to do. They’re still strangers. That’s what it feels that way, like a rush of anxiety, to feel like a horror movie. 

from All Content http://ift.tt/1SsIlwr

Sundance 2016: Amy Seimetz of “The Girlfriend Experience”

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Swanberg in the Cinema

This is the Medium blog presentation of my Joe Swanberg survey. Moving like a turtle, it utilizes Netflix Instant and hopes to champion a filmmaker reviewers like AO Scott are still painting as a conservative or something. 


What To Ask Your Prospective Intended Parents– Leia Swanberg

You made the decision to become a Surrogate. How exciting! Surrogacy is such a life-changing endeavor, and always brings about so many questions; Who will you be matched with? Will the Intended Parents be a good match? How will we mesh?

Something I like to tell my “newbies” is to make a list of questions to ask potential Intended Parents. That way when you get on that introduction phone call or visit, you won’t feel like a deer caught in headlights, and not know what to ask.

Here are some great ideas to get the ball rolling when you have that first contact with your potential Intended Parents:

  1. What are you reasons for needing a Surrogate Mother? Tell me your story.
  2. What kind of relationship do you expect from me before, during and after the birth?
  3. What are your expectations for the birth?
  4. How many IVF cycles will you attempt in order to conceive a child?
  5. What are your thoughts on abortion? Under what circumstances do you feel that it is necessary?
  6. How do you feel about multiples?
  7. Do you want me to provide you pumped breast milk after the baby is born?
  8. Are you using your own eggs/sperm or are you using a Donor?
  9. How soon are you looking at doing a cycle?
  10. Are you ok with a Midwife/OB supported birth?
  11. I’d like to hire a Doula, how do you feel about this?
  12. I want my kids to meet you and the baby through this journey, are you on board for this?
  13. What do you plan to tell your children about Surrogacy when they are older?
  14. What kind of relationship can I expect from you after the birth of the baby?
  15. Do you want a sibling journey as well?
  16. Does your family know about your plans for Surrogacy? Are they supportive?
  17. What kind of restrictions do you have in mind for me? (food, exercise, etc)
  18. If you live internationally, how do you plan to be involved in this journey? (skype, visit, etc)

Although all these questions may not be important to you, this will help you to get the ball rolling and to see if these potential Intended Parents are a good fit for you. These are people you be working closely with for the next 10+ months. It’s nice to know where everyone stands on important issues before moving forward with the process, ensuring it’s a good fit!

Another great way to get to know Intended Parents is creating a “get to know you quiz”. It is a great way to break the ice and helps you to get to know them on a more personal level. Go To: http://www.goodreads.com/topic/show/400557-getting-to-know-you

Congrats on deciding to move forward with a Surrogacy Journey. I wish you much luck on finding that perfect Intended Patent match for yourself.

Angie Campeau is CFC’s Intake Support Worker. Angie’s role is to support, and encourage all of our Surrogates. She ensures that our Surrogates have the necessary support to make the best decisions throughout their pregnancy. As an advocate for our Surrogates, Angie provides resource materials, as well as referrals to be certain that our Surrogates have all necessary information to make the best decisions regarding their health and pregnancy.

For further information on CFC’s unique Surrogacy program, please email Angie, angie@fertilityconsultants.ca, or contact our office at 

Joe Swanberg (born August 31, 1981) is an American independent filmmaker and actor. Known for micro-budget dramas which make extensive use of improvisation, Swanberg is considered a major figure in the mumblecore film movement. His films often focus on relationships, sex, technology, and the filmmaking process.

Digging for Fire
Joe Swanberg
Genre: Comedy
Price: $14.99
Rental Price: $6.99
Publish Date: August 21, 2015

Tim (Jake Johnson) and Lee (Rosemarie Dewitt) are married with a young child. The chance to stay at a fancy home in the Hollywood Hills is complicated by Tim’s discovery of a bone and a rusty old gun in the yard. Tim is excited by the idea of a mystery, but Lee doesn’t want him to dig any further, preferring that he focus on the family taxes, which he promised to do weeks ago. This disagreement sends them on separate and unexpected adventures over the course of a weekend, as Tim and his friends seek clues to the mystery while Lee searches for answers to the bigger questions of marriage and parenthood.

© 2015 Garrett Motion Pictures, LLC

Joe Swanberg (born August 31, 1981) is an American independent filmmaker and actor. Known for micro-budget dramas which make extensive use of improvisation, Swanberg is considered a major figure in the mumblecore film movement. His films often focus on relationships, sex, technology, and the filmmaking process.

Digging for Fire
Joe Swanberg
Genre: Comedy
Price: $14.99
Rental Price: $6.99
Publish Date: August 21, 2015

Tim (Jake Johnson) and Lee (Rosemarie Dewitt) are married with a young child. The chance to stay at a fancy home in the Hollywood Hills is complicated by Tim’s discovery of a bone and a rusty old gun in the yard. Tim is excited by the idea of a mystery, but Lee doesn’t want him to dig any further, preferring that he focus on the family taxes, which he promised to do weeks ago. This disagreement sends them on separate and unexpected adventures over the course of a weekend, as Tim and his friends seek clues to the mystery while Lee searches for answers to the bigger questions of marriage and parenthood.

© 2015 Garrett Motion Pictures, LLC

Starting The Surrogacy Process – Leia Swanberg

Once you have decided to become a Surrogate Mother, and are working with Intended Parents, there are a number of tests that you will go through that will be administered by the Fertility Clinic that your Intended Parents are working with. Everyone involved in the Surrogacy will go through some testing as part of the IVF screening. This includes, both Intended Parents, the Surrogate Mother and her partner, as well as the Ovum Donor (if one is involved).


In order to become a Gestational Surrogate, there are many criteria that must be met by all parties. It is most important to be upfront, and honest, both with CFC and the Fertility Clinic.

We want to ensure that all of our Surrogates pass their medical screening, and that nobody is turned away due to an omission of critical information, such as the following:

  • BMI
  • Pregnancy Health Information
  • Medication Use
  • Number of C-sections/Miscarriages
  • Post Partum Depression (not treated)
  • Clinic Testing

Once you are at the Fertility Clinic, you will meet with the Fertility Doctor and his Nurse, as well as the Social Worker to have an assessment done. The clinic will not only be testing yourself and your partner, but will also be there to answer all of your questions about the Surrogacy process, including timelines, medications, risks involved with the process, as well as what to expect during the cycle.

What Tests To Expect During The Initial Clinic Appointment.

You will be meeting with Fertility Doctor for a full medical exam, including a pap, breast exam, and medical history. This also includes the following:

  • Blood work- STD’s/Hormone levels
  • Saline Ultrasound
  • Psychosocial Assessment by Social Worker

Please let CFC’s staff know if you would like one of us to accompany you to your appointment, distance permitting. We want to ensure that you are comfortable with the team of professionals that we put in place for your journey.  Please let us know if at any time you are having difficulty communicating with the Fertility Clinic staff, or Legal Professionals. We will be more than happy to advocate for you in any situation. Your comfort throughout your journey is our number one concern.

EFM 2016: Lace Crater Poster Ready for Ghost Sex

Speaking as a man who’s notoriously gotten himself into some ludicrous situations, I can tell you first-hand that should I ever be haunted, there’s no way I’d ever get lucky enough to have sex with a ghost. Nope, it’d be all doom and gloom for me. The people in Lace Crater, however…

Check out the EFM artwork below.

A comedy-drama with supernatural elements, Lace Crater is described as an oddly intimate portrait of isolation, friendship, love, and our desperate need for connection. In the film an awkward twenty-something begins to undergo strange physical changes after a weekend tryst… with a ghost.

Written and directed by Harrison Atkins, the film stars Lindsay Burdge, Peter Vack, Jennifer Kim, and Joe Swanberg.

On a weekend trip to the Hamptons with friends, Ruth encounters a mysterious ghost haunting the guest house. One thing leads to another, and they find themselves in the throes of an unexpected one-night stand. Soon Ruth begins suffering from a bizarre sexually-transmitted disease that leaves her doctors and friends confused and frightened. As her body and social connections begin to disintegrate, she must find a way to reconcile her condition with the world around her or risk losing herself to a void from which she may never emerge.

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