December 28, 2006
Here’s the link to 10 Questions for Tim Chey, the director of The Genius Club:
December 27, 2006
SV: Define what this movie (The Genius Club directed by Tim Chey) —with its spiritual and political messages—means to you.
Carol Abney: What’s great about the movie is that it brings up and addresses questions of why we don’t have the lives that we want. Why is there so much poverty and illness and degradation? Why are all these horrible things happening here and in other places? So, domestic or international—to me, it’s all the same. I’ve traveled and lived in other countries. I feel like a citizen of the world. The movie is special because it’s very global.
Paula Jai Parker: I don’t think of this in terms of politics. I have been so jaded politically. I have no faith in the system anymore. It didn’t dawn on me that it could be related politically until Arch Bonnema made the speech about how real this is. With his political work in Washington D.C., with the United Nations and President Bush, he has insight into this subject that he shared with us, making it even more real. Even with 9-11, the terroristic element didn’t really hit me until he talked to us and put it into perspective. It could happen. It has happened—both terrorist attacks and geniuses being called upon to answer the world’s questions … people willing to risk their own lives in order to prove a point. In that respect, he made it relevant for me.
SV: The time line of the movie is set on Christmas Eve. Of what significance is that timing?
Paula Jai Parker: The spiritual time, the family time, the feelings that that time of year bring to people that you don’t see any other time of the year. For the attack to be planned on that day, there is a significance—something deeper to it. I don’t know what it is …
Carol Abney: Christmas—for a large majority of the population (obviously, not everybody celebrates Christmas—it’s such a special time, at least in this country. There is such a sense of family and community that to pull us out of that time to have to deal with the issue on an emotional level it intensifies what the issues were that he was bringing up. To me, the film is about building community and about humanity. And by pulling us out of that, it jabs at you.
SV: Is this movie ultimately about hope or despair?
Carol Abney: Hope! Ultimately, it’s about hope. The beauty of the melting pot of the geniuses is that they weren’t stuffy male WASPS sitting in a circle telling it like it is.
SV: Any chance for a sequel?
Paula Jai Parker: The world’s problems aren’t solved yet. The possibility of solving them has come up and the opportunity has, too. So I can see a “part two.” Just when you think it’s over they’re dragging you back in. And the next time we’d have to go to Stockholm—maybe actually go overseas … not film the movie in a basement in downtown Los Angeles! I think it would be interesting to make it more global. To bring in other countries. We were all Americans trying to solve the world’s problems as humans. There were some racist things said about Pakistani people and Iranian people because we just don’t know. I am black but I’ve never been to Africa. I have been here for four generations, so I can’t speak for what’s going on in South Africa or South America. I’m an American citizen. It’s hard for me to speak on a global level and represent my culture properly. If we did do a sequel, we’d definitely have to make it more global. Bring in other people to talk about it.
SV: All the characters in the movie have differing beliefs. How did you identify with your character’s beliefs?
Carol Abney: My character is clearly an atheist. Her religion is money. Personally, I don’t necessarily identify with that. I don’t follow one religious path, but I do respect it. I am not an atheist, but I’m also not a “label”. Intellectually I could identify, but not emotionally.
Paula Jai Parker: I loved the monologue that she spoke. Because she is a scientist it had to make sense to her. For her to believe in what her grandmother and her grandmother’s grandmother believed, it had to make sense. That’s the same with me. I had to read the Bible for myself. I couldn’t let everyone tell me Jesus did this and that. It wasn’t enough for me to hear the stories. I had to go into the Bible and read it for myself from beginning to end, from Genesis to Revelation, I get the message, I feel the message and I think that relates to my character. She had to read it and investigate the possibilities and I think the monologue says it all. The reality is she couldn’t believe in God until it made sense to her, to her science. That’s how I am. I couldn’t believe what my mother said until I read it for myself. I became so intrigued with religion and Jesus and the knowledge that I gained from the Bible that I am currently reading the lost chapters of the Bible. The chapters that were taken out to make the Bible more politically correct. I want to know what is missing. We’re a lot alike in that regard.
Lunch with Stephen Baldwin …
SV: Before we get into the movie, tell us about your work with “Living It”!
Stephen Baldwin: “Living It” is what I’ve been doing for the last three years. It’s not just a series of skate videos, books and magazines. It’s all growing out of a vision of trying to reach the youth culture in a more hardcore, relevant way. “Living It” was created when I saw other ministries using extreme sports as an outreach concept for speaking to kids about God and the Bible. There were a lot of people within “Christianity” that didn’t agree with what we’re doing. They thought it was too extreme. But the reality is this idea has exploded. Seems like hundreds of skate ministries have been birthed in America as a result of the “Living It” movement. Now, I’m actually moving out of my relationship with my “Living It” skate tour because I’m launching my own tour for next year called The Breakthrough Ministry. I’ll be doing the same thing that we’ve been doing on a small scale—audiences of 2,000 to 5,000 people in church parking lots—to arenas of 20,000 to 50,000 people. It’ll be great! The bottom line is, this works. We’re reaching the kids!
SV: What drew you to be part of this film?
Stephen Baldwin: I read the script and I was crazy about it. Most of the scripts coming out of Hollywood are pretty boring. They really don’t make you think. They don’t have purpose and meaning. This one had purpose and meaning. It wasn’t just about the topic—the God part of it—that a lot of movies don’t even mention. It was about viewing the different sides of issues like oil and gas, capitalism, communism. Those are issues most people aren’t talking about in movies right now. There’s no thought. This movie was very thought-provoking. I had to audition for it, but when I read the script I made a decision that said, “this is mine.”
Originally, the Bonnemas (producers) and I talked about my playing the role that Jacob Bonnema ultimately played … the Christian guy. I could have connected with that and hopefully given a good performance, but there was just something about the role of Rory that I loved. I loved his honesty, his edge, his abrasiveness. And so long as what you see at the end of this picture is that there is some kind of redemption—even potential for redemption for him—the role of Rory worked for me.
SV: What is the primary message of The Genius Club?
Stephen Baldwin: I don’t want to sound so broad in my answer, but I think the movie is about life. We live in a country where every morning, in your face is USA Today and that’s been the case with the news and other media. Now with the fast-paced rate that we receive information, we’re dealing with global pressure everyday. There are people waking up nervous about Iraq and other issues. For me, I think it’s an interesting concept that the movie addresses all these things that subliminally for us every day are stressful issues. It was so cool to me, the concept of geniuses analyzing the world’s problems and how to solve them. The movie doesn’t necessarily answer any question, it just provokes thought. It’s my hope to push buttons and get people thinking … rip the scab off of life, so to speak. Get people thinking and talking about what they really do believe. There are many aspects of the film that at the end are left open. But more than that, there are avenues into the mind of those who watch the film that will leave them intrigued. I think that’s a good thing.
December 27, 2006
Last night I was the premiere of “The Genius Club” at Fox Studios in Century City. I won’t say too much about the movie except that you’re probably going to want to see it when it comes to wide-release toward the end of the year.
What I really want to talk about was the innate coolness of going to a Hollywood movie premiere as “The Press.” That was us. We brought my trusty 17” Powerbook, M-Audio Firewire 410, my boomstand and travel mic and got to interview some of the cast (Jacob Bonnema, Paula Jai Parker, Jack Scalia, and Stephen Baldwin) and the director (Tim Chey). I’ll most likely feature these in an episode somewhere down the line.
When we pulled in it was almost surreal driving through all the backdrops and sets that we’ve come to know and love from Hollywood hits such as Batman and Star Wars. To me, the coolest part was when we were allowed to by-pass the line completely and go directly in to meet with the cast and director. On-lookers followed us with their eyes and heads as security opened the doors for us and ushered us in.
I could not help but think of the Lord in this. Jesus Christ has given those of us who believe, direct access to God the Father. Hmmm…we were given direct access to the filmmaker of
December 21, 2006
I like this quote I picked off the net:
”Seldom does a movie show the culpability of our culture,of our society, in the mayhem and madness we often find in everyday life. The film shows how our world is drifting through darkness. The mouthpiece for this thematic undercurrent is Armand, a genius who plans to blow up the city of DC unless a group of geniuses find answers to the world’s problems.
The geniuses are a professor, a seminary student, a casino owner, a pizza delivery guy, and others.
Armand provides the film’s final thematic statement by giving the password to the bomb in ‘3 words’.
Working on us to reinforce this world as Armand sees it is the film’s astounding mise-en- scene, a disturbing film-noir setting developed by the director and cinematographer. Flashlights barely illuminate the metallic walls of the ‘genius’ lair. A giant screen overlooking the genius table provides a ‘1984′ look of Big Brother and the pursuant scoreboard that ticks up or down, dependent on the answers provided by the geniuses. Bird’s-eye-view shots of Washington, DC show the world in peril. Thus, the film’s closing scene is in bright sunlight, which by then only serves as ironic counterpoint to what we see happening throughout the night.
This is Armand’s vision; both inhabited and described by Brian Mehlman, the FBI agent working for Homeland Security.
Though gripping and mysterious, this is not an action film. It holds our interest through the workings of the issues and more astonishingly, the inner workings of the past histories of each genius.
This is a very lean, dialogue-driven, tight film. It shows humanity in the end, even in the terrorist who lost his wife to cancer and to the pizza guy who lost his mother in a hit-and- run accident.”
We’re beginning a major overhaul of our website today. Stay tuned.