The coming-of-age sub-genre is “thousands and thousands of hours of TV shows and films,” explained Alec Baldwin Friday night during a talk for his latest Sundance feature production Beast Beast.
So how do you make it fresh?
Baldwin who serves as EP on the Danny Madden directed and written teenage pic with his producing partner Casey Bader are in the business of shepherding and launching young filmmakers.
“We see a lot of things. I watch a number of films and I’d say it’s three categories: 20% is either good or great, 20% is horrible, and 60% of it is OK,” said Baldwin at a NRDC panel for the film yesterday with Madden, his brother Will Madden who stars in Beast Beast as a gun-loving fanatic, and actors Shirley Chen and Jose Angeles. Baldwin and Bader came across Madden’s short, Krista, which Beast Beast is based upon, and they were blown away, followed by Madden’s great script.
“If I don’t see it on the page, I just walk away. You can’t make a good movie without a good script,” said Baldwin, “We read this script and said ‘This is an opportunity.’ All of the characters had their own voice, the dialogue was specific.”
Beast Beast follows charismatic small-town theater kid Krista (Chen) who finds herself increasingly drawn to Nito (Angeles), the new student in her high school who catches her attention with his impressive skating videos. But their lives become intertwined with that of her gun-loving neighbor, and events reach a breaking point. The film pulls on contemporary themes revolving around teens, social media and guns, facets of the script that wowed Baldwin.
Said Baldwin, “When I was young, the news was a component of media that had its own segregated time slot: you could watch the evening news at 6pm or 7pm and there was a morning paper and there was an evening paper. You didn’t have the 24-hour news cycle that you have now, which the consequences of which is almost like the death of innocence and childhood. Kids grew up when I was younger in a world in which all that was bad, was something that was served up at a certain time and then it was put away. Now, kids are growing up in a world, where it’s all day long on your phone, on TV and on CNN. It’s global warming, and a shooting, and the President is a maniac. And this goes on, and on. It’s a constant bass line, and this drumbeat of this pain and difficulty that everybody who is young has to grow up in that.”
Baldwin was shared how impressed he was by Madden’s ability to get Beast Beast off the ground as an indie feature.
“When I first started in this business, it would be ‘Oh, well, we go to Joel Silver’s office at Warner Bros.’ Instead, it’s ‘we made a pot of coffee, we did a Kickstarter.’”
With the costs of indie film and video content declining since the 1990s, raw talent has boomed in abundance online, which has its upsides and downsides.
Says Baldwin, “It’s a strange time. Lorne Michaels –who is my dear friend– made a joke once: ‘The motto of YouTube is broadcast yourself. Sometime’s it’s nice to have a layer of executives and producers in between you and the camera to make sure that not everybody is really broadcasting themselves.’”
Continued Baldwin, “But there’s a wonderful byproduct to the way we do things now where everybody has access to cameras and equipment and can make their own films.”
Beast Beast is playing in the NEXT section at the Sundance Film Festival.
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