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Margin Call producer Neal Dodson shares a sometimes difficult truth for filmmakers to hear: making a movie that doesn’t make money can be bad for the business.

— 1 year ago with 12 notes
#Neal Dodson  #margin call  #all is lost  #interview  #video 
Exclusive Margin Call Interview – Susan Blackwell Means Business →

Susan Blackwell plays an absolutely pivotal role in debut director J.C. Chandor’s riveting financial drama Margin Call. Having worked as an actress in the theatre and on television and film, Blackwell is a chilling delight in the opening scenes she shares with Stanley Tucci. Playing Lauren Bratberg, a woman sent into the offices of an investment bank to facilitate redundancies, it is her cold canning of Stanley Tucci’s character that sets the story in motion.

Her work in theatre on and off Broadway reveals Blackwell to be a talented and incredibly funny actress, writer and singer. She also has her own series Side by Side by Susan Blackwell in which she amusingly interviews Broadway actors in often odd places and with even odder questions. Blackwell is known to lick some of her interviewees’ faces and even interviews some in their beds.

All this makes Susan Blackwell an extremely fun and charming person to interview herself. She is quick to laugh and very personable; willing to talk about her bond with actor and producer Zachary Quinto as much as about the real life experiences that have helped her to play a woman responsible for making people redundant.

read full interview here

— 1 year ago
#susan blackwell  #stanley tucci  #zachary quinto  #margin call  #interview 

Margin Call’s J.C. Chandor on Directing  

— 1 year ago with 3 notes
#jc chandor  #margin call  #all is lost  #interview  #video 
Margin Call – Susan Blackwell interview →

SUSAN Blackwell talks to us about firing Stanley Tucci in the opening scene of financial thriller Margin Call and what appealed to her about appearing in a film about the origins of the 2008 financial meltdown.

She also discusses how she felt prepared for the role given her ‘day job’ of working in HR, why she’s hoping to come to the West End sometime soon and why she feels grateful to have survived Hurricane Sandy relatively unscathed and will be helping those who were less fortunate around her.

Q. So, how was firing Stanley Tucci in that chilling opening scene of Margin Call?
Susan Blackwell: Firing Stanley Tucci was thrilling. It’s not every day you get a chance to fire ‘the Tucc’. I did not call him that, though [laughs]. It was really exciting.

Q. How was filming the scene? How did you prepare for the role?
Susan Blackwell: I have sort of a strange background in that I’m kind of uniquely prepared to fire Tucci. In addition to being a trained actor who has appeared in other films [Margot At The Wedding, PS I Love You], on and off-Broadway and on TV (Law & Order, etc), and who has a pretty healthy, active career, I also – during that time – have always maintained my corporate job. So I have managed people, I’ve hired people and I’ve fired people. I currently work here in the New York area at an executive search firm and we deal specifically with the HR field.

So, I know that world very well and I know what it means to terminate people. So, when I went to the audition, I said to Zachary Quinto, who is also one of [the film’s] producers, ‘do you want this to be a light version of a termination like Up In The Air, or do you want it to be real’? And he said: “Real.” And I said ‘OK’. And then I set about terminating the poor person who was reading opposite me in a very realistic way.

Q. Have you ever met or come across the type of high-level company man that Jeremy Irons portrays in Margin Call?
Susan Blackwell: Only in passing [laughs]… I’m laughing because I remember the ties and the suits – it is the way that Jeremy Irons characterises it in film. It’s almost like meeting a head of state… it’s all smiles, handshakes… I don’t know if they’re… they is certainly a charm and charisma to someone who works at that level. But I’m not sure if the higher up you go, the less you know. I don’t know if that is genuinely true of the people I’ve had contact with in those positions. But it’s certainly an interesting way of characterising it in the film.

Q. Did you have much interaction with Kevin Spacey given your shared passion for theatre?
Susan Blackwell: Not prior to the film and not really during it. We literally bump into each other as I’m heading back into the firm to fire more people 24 hours after I’ve gotten rid of Tucci. We literally smack into each other and that is the extent of my interaction with Spacey.

full interview

— 1 year ago with 2 notes
#susan blackwell  #stanley tucci  #jeremy irons  #kevin spacey  #zachary quinto  #interview  #margin call 
"‘I call them “submarine movies” – put them in a submarine, and then you can shoot it really cheap. So Margin Call is a ticking time bomb submarine movie. They’re totally isolated from the outside. It sounds kind of ridiculous, because it is such a topical film, but I didn’t want it to be a current events movie. This was supposed to be essentially a character-driven drama, like Sidney Lumet’s 12 Angry Men (1957). Put them in a room, lock the door, and see what happens. It’s timeless.’"
J.C. Chandor, director “Margin Call”
— 2 years ago with 5 notes
#jc chandor  #margin call  #quote  #interview 
The creators and cast of Oscar-nominated Wall Street thriller Margin Call talk to Helen Barlow →

Margin Call director J.C. Chandor has experienced a slow rise growth in his own stocks. When the first-time writer-director set his financial crisis thriller in a few rooms knowing he had little money for location shooting and planned to make the movie fast in order to attract stars, he had no inkling that he would end up at the Oscars, nominated for best original screenplay - let alone that he would attract a cast including Kevin Spacey, Simon Baker, Jeremy Irons, Demi Moore and Zachary Quinto.

However, Chandor was hardly a rookie. The 37-year-old had been working for 15 years in commercials and documentaries and had a wealth of knowledge of the financial world - his father was a banker for Merrill Lynch.

He’d also come close to financial demise himself when he’d invested in a Tribeca building - and had sold it just in time. He’d grown up in the New York and London suburbs - “They are like banking towns,” he says - and lived in Manhattan as an adult, so knew the milieu very well. Luckily his cast didn’t.

"That gave me a big advantage while we were preparing and making the film," he admits. Certainly at the time there was no chance for one-upmanship.

"My wife gave birth to our second child 16 days before shooting, so I left her six days after my son was born. I’d been waiting 15 years for this and my life was on the line to a certain extent. So I couldn’t give a crap and the cast picked up on that immediately. They realised all this guy cared about was trying to make the movie."

Margin Call is a ticking-clock drama that, according to experts, does add up.

It’s set in a New York investment bank where Jeremy Irons’ John Tuld is the chief executive (and is clearly based on Lehman Brothers boss Richard Fuld).

When Stanley Tucci’s senior risk analyst is given his marching orders along with hundreds of other employees, he alerts Quinto’s young analyst Peter Sullivan to the vast quantity of toxic assets that could bring the company down.

So the imperious Tuld flies in on the company chopper and calls all the troops to muster. Baker’s Jared Cohen is in the upper echelons of management as a division head while Spacey’s Sam Rogers is in control of the factory floor. Spacey delivers his trademark surliness in a role that fits him like a glove.

"Kevin visited a couple of trading floors and met the guys," Chandor recalls. "He could have phoned this in and it would have been great, but he didn’t. He gained 20 pounds and found an amazing wigmaker - there are some bad wigs in the world and Kevin has worn one or two before, I think he’d even admit that," Chandor chuckles. "He transformed and looks much older. He would walk out with a limp, looking freaking exhausted. He was incredible."

Irons says he barely understood the 2008 financial collapse, “and I still don’t really”, though he read a book about it in the days before he shot his scenes.

These were done fast - a planned week of filming was condensed into three days after Irons realised his US visa was running out. Still he almost manages to steal the movie.

Chandor : “Jeremy came in with all those speeches down, these unbelievably intricate scenes. As a classically trained actor he wanted to nail them.”

Quinto, who got his start in the sci-fi world of as Spock in Star Trek and Sylar on television’s Heroes was also one of the film’s producers and relied on Chandor’s knowledge of the financial world.

"J.C. opened up an abyss of information that is still far beyond my mental capacity," Quinto concedes with Spock-like precision.

One thing he does know is that no one could stop the financial crisis.

Yet the interesting thing about Margin Call, he says, is there is no real bad guy. “The film allows the audience to draw their own conclusions. It gives them a certain credit and responsibility. I feel like it doesn’t take the audience for granted.”

— 2 years ago with 4 notes
#margin call  #jc chandor  #kevin spacey  #jeremy irons  #zachary quinto  #interview 

KATIE UHLMANN chats with Producer COREY MOOSA (BEFORE THE DOOR PICTURES) about his Oscar Nominated Film “MARGIN CALL”

— 2 years ago with 4 notes
#margin call  #Corey Moosa  #interview  #video  #her laugh is irritating 
J.C. Chandor: A Few Tears on Oscar-Nod Morning

Like a producer of “Midnight in Paris,” the writer-director of the financial thriller “Margin Call,” J.C. Chandor, who received his first Oscar nomination on Tuesday for best original screenplay, also initially worried about finding an audience. “Our film has always suffered from the fact that it doesn’t sound that good on paper,” he said. “It’s not the most heartwarming, feel-good movie.”

That made his nomination all the more special. “It’s just so exciting that those 300 and however many writers in that branch of the Academy, who for the most part are my heroes, they all sat down and watched the movie or read the script,” he said, “and the thought of them doing that is pretty cool.” Especially since, he added, “we certainly didn’t spend the most money on campaigning for our little movie.”

Mr. Chandor, who made his feature debut with “Margin Call,” had mainly directed commercials — before this movie, his last time behind the camera was for an energy drink ad – but after another project fell apart, he took several years off from filmmaking. Instead, to support himself and his family, he was working as a real estate broker and developer in Manhattan. While renovating a building in TriBeCa, he received an early tip from a financial insider that he should sell it, before the market crashed in 2008. “I started to think back on what was it like for that guy to be the first person” with knowledge of the coming crisis, Mr. Chandor said. “Do you intervene? Who do you tell?”

That moment gave him the idea for “Margin Call,” which he said represented his maturity as a writer. “I had been trying to write for 10 or 15 years and I had been so stubborn that I wanted to write for myself,” Mr. Chandor said. “I was always a little too cocky in my 20s.” Since the first movie he wrote and was set to direct unraveled just six days before shooting was to begin, Mr. Chandor said, he was superstitious about “Margin Call.”

“I didn’t tell my family, I didn’t tell my wife, I didn’t tell anyone that I had written this and was trying to get it made,” he said. “Until it was months before we were trying to go shoot it, I finally told my wife.”

“To go from that point, of having to go find myself, to do something else to support my family to now facing down these opportunities — it has been a pretty emotional day,” he said on Tuesday, hours after becoming an Oscar nominee. “My wife and I, needless to say, cried a little this morning.”


— 2 years ago with 4 notes
#margin call  #jc chandor  #oscar nomination  #interview  #new york times 
Why a Film About the Financial Crisis Scored an Oscar Nod

Nominated for best original screenplay, J.C. Chandor’s “Margin Call” delves into the world of investment bankers during the early stages of the financial crisis. The film stars Jeremy Irons, Penn Badgley, Simon Baker, Demi Moore, Paul Bettany and Kevin Spacey, who all “forewent their normal fees,” according to Mr. Chandor, who also directed the film.

Speakeasy caught up with Mr. Chandor as he was driving into the city to discuss his first Oscar nomination.

The Wall Street Journal: “Margin Call” premiered last year at Sundance in a different economic climate. How do you think it resonates with audiences in this awards cycle?

J.C. Chandor: Reflecting on this year, there was this huge concern that people would not want to engage on this issue and they wouldn’t want to go and see the movie. Because this issue is going on in their lives, there was the old adage, when times are bad all people want is fluff. And the neat thing is if you take our VOD numbers and our theatrical numbers, and then even the international numbers, for a film that started out with a challenge like that it seems like people are ready to engage in analyzing what’s going on in the world. There’s been a real meaningful engagement.

You had a production budget of $3.5 million. Your domestic gross is $5.3 million. Speaking specifically in numbers, is this film a success?

When I started I set about trying to do two specific things. I have started a couple different small businesses in my life and learned through that process, if you break even or make more money people will let you do it again. The other neat thing, if you don’t scare people with your budget up front, creatively they let you do what you set up to do. And that’s what drew these actors in the first place. Not to have a Hollywood ending. Everyone involved in every step of the film has been profitable and I’m really proud of that. I’ve returned on my investment.

What’s the key to getting though the awards season hoopla?

I’m glad I’m in my late 30s and not early 20s. You really are the flavor of the month as this happens. But the neat thing is at this point is I have young kids I have to support and a lot of different things in my life. I think that has certainly helped. There was a period of this process where we didn’t get a nomination for the Golden Globes so we became not the flavor of the month. That let me know that it’s about the work so get back to work.

How did you break down the burly, confusing beast that is the financial sector?

Some people have asked the question, do we need another financial film? And for some reason people have this mentality that it’s fine to make 55,000 cops and robbers movies and there’s 15 horror movies out every month but no one asks the does the world need another horror movie. This is something that affects people’s lives more than anything else. I think for storytellers to not be afraid of this, it seems like “Arbitrage” is getting great reviews and it certainly tells a very different story. I know a development executive at Brad Pitt’s company that’s trying to get “The Big Short” made into a film. This is great; we need to be making pretty serious decisions as a country about how we are going to move forward. Plus, it’s a world that screams drama.


— 2 years ago with 2 notes
#margin call  #jc chandor  #oscar nomination  #interview  #wall street journal