Switchblade Sisters

Switchblade Sisters is a new podcast providing deep cuts on genre flicks from a female perspective. Every week, film critic April Wolfe sits down with a phenomenal female film-maker to slice-and-dice a classic genre movie - horror, exploitation, sci-fi and many others! Along the way, they cover craft, the state of the industry, how films get made, and more. Mothers, lock up your sons, the Switchblade Sisters are coming!

Switchblade Sisters Episode 76: 'Alien' with 'Little Woods' Director Nia DaCosta

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Guests: 
Nia DaCosta

Alien

To quote the Tribeca Film Festival, director Nia DaCosta is “a name you’re gonna need to get familiar with.” Nia DaCosta was born and raised in New York City and attended NYU’s Tisch. She started her film career paying her dues in production, on the documentary series, Ke$ha: My Crazy Beautiful Life, while also writing and directing shorts. In 2015, she took an early draft of her script for a film called Little Woods to the Sundance Directors Lab. There, she hooked up with Tessa Thompson, who read the part of a woman named Ollie, who’s caught in a poverty trap in rural North Dakota and must decide whether she’ll re-enter a life of crime to help her pregnant sister. Tessa Thompson continued with the project, and Nia then cast Lily James to play her sister. The film premiered in 2018 at the Tribeca Film Festival. Shortly after that, it was announced that Nia would be directing the “spiritual sequel” to Candyman off a script penned by Jordan Peele and Win Rosenfeld, which will be released by MGM.

The movie Nia has chosen to discuss is 1979's Alien. To quote Nia, "it's a perfect film." She and April discuss the revolutionary character of Ripley, played by Sigourney Weaver, and how the world had never seen someone like her before. Nia talks about working and collaborating with Tessa Thompson on her character in Little Woods. She elaborates on directing the upcoming Candyman and what she learned from Jordan Peele. Plus, Nia tells April how Tessa Thompson is excellent at acting with her hands, or as Nia calls it - "hacting."

You should check out Little Woods in theaters on April 19.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Alien.

With April Wolfe and Nia DaCosta.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 75: 'The Bad Seed' with 'Breakthrough' Director and 'Star Trek: Voyager' Actor Roxann Dawson

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Guests: 
Roxann Dawson

The Bad Seed

Roxann got her first job playing Diana Morales in the Broadway production of A Chorus Line. But fans probably know her best for her role as B'Elanna Torres in Star Trek: Voyager. Voyager offered her the first opportunity to direct and she proceeded to direct 10 episodes of the next Star Trek series, Enterprise. Since then, she’s directed The Deuce, House of Cards, The Americans, The Path, Bates Motel, Crossing Jordan, Lost and many others. She will also be directing the upcoming Morning Show, starring Reese Witherspoon, Steve Carrell, and Jennifer Aniston. She makes her feature film directing debut with Breakthrough, starring Chrissy Metz, Josh Lucas, and Topher Grace, an adaptation of Joyce Smith’s memoir, The Impossible: The Miraculous Story of a Mother’s Faith and Her Child’s Resurrection.

The movie that Roxann has chosen to discuss is, kind of, the exact inverse of her own upcoming film - 1956's The Bad Seed. Maintaining such a prolific acting and directing career, Roxann has so much insight into the craft of acting. She discusses how actors often think that by making "small" acting decisions they are being more authentic, when in reality these decisions are just "lazy" and "boring." She also expresses her belief that the characters in a film should not be discussing the philosophical ideas of the movie, but rather, the film should inspire discussion from the audience. And of course, she talks all about her role as the half-human, half-Klingon, B'Elanna Torres, and what that role has meant not just to fans, but to her personally.

You should check out Breakthrough in theaters on April 17.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch The Bad Seed.

With April Wolfe and Roxann Dawson.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 74: 'One False Move' with 'Miss Stevens' and 'Fast Color' Director Julia Hart

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Guests: 
Julia Hart

One False Move

Julia Hart was a school teacher for eight years before she quit to make a go of screenwriting. Her debut screenplay, The Keeping Room, landed on the 2012 Black List and was made into a feature directed by Daniel Barber (Harry Brown) and starring Brit Marling, Hailee Steinfeld and Sam Worthington. Julia's directorial debut, Miss Stevens, is based on Julia’s experience as a teacher. It starred Lily Rabe, Timothee Chalamet, Lili Reinhart, and Rob Huebel.

In 2018, Julia’s second feature, Fast Color, debuted at SXSW. It tells the story of a family of women afflicted/blessed with a mysterious power and stars Gugu Mbatha-Raw, Lorraine Toussaint, and David Straithairn. Most recently, Julia directed and co-wrote (with Jordan Horowitz) Star Girl for Disney, starring Grace Vanderwall and based on the best-selling book by Jerry Spinelli.

Although Julia only recently saw One False Move, she was shocked at how thematically similar her film Fast Color compares to it. She and April discuss the use of violence in cinema, and how a filmmaker can make it have an emotional impact on the audience. Julia also reveals how she rewrites her scripts once the films have been cast in order to tailor the role to the actor. And she and April also adulate the performance and career of the late, great Bill Paxton.

You should check out Fast Color in theaters on April 19.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch One False Move.

With April Wolfe and Julia Hart.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 73: 'Dead Ringers' with The Soska Sisters! PLUS an Interview with Michele Meek

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Guests: 
Jen and Sylvia Soska

Dead Ringers

Identical twins Sylvia and Jen Soska, known as The Soska Sisters, are an unstoppable force. You may know them best from their films Dead Hooker in a Trunk and American Mary. You may also know them as the hosts of the Blumhouse game show, 'Hellevator.' Or even as the writers for the most recent installment of the Black Widow comics. They are on the program this week for a very special Max Fun Drive episode talking about David Cronenberg's masterpiece, Dead Ringers. The sisters are avid Cronenberg devotees and, not to mention, this film centers around identical twins Beverly and Elliot Mantle. The pairing of guest and movie is truly a match made in heaven. The sisters also discuss what went into making their body modification horror, American Mary, and why agents and managers warn actors about working with them.

And in celebration of the Max Fun Drive, we have an additional segment this week. April talks to writer and filmmaker Michele Meek about her new book, Independent Female Filmmakers: A Chronicle Through Interviews, Profiles, and Manifestos. They discuss the travesty that not one film made by a woman is on the AFI Top 100 Films list. And how movies actually influence society's concept of consent.

This episode has a little bit of everything. And it's all in celebration of our annual Max Fun Drive. If you would like to support this show, please become a monthly member at:

maximumfun.org/donate

You should check out American Mary by The Soska Sisters.

And if you haven't seen it yet, go watch Dead Ringers.

ALSO, go and buy Michele's book - Independent Female Filmmakers: A Chronicle Through Interviews, Profiles, and Manifestos

With April Wolfe, The Soska Sisters, and Michele Meek.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 72: 'Pickup on South Street' with 'Leave No Trace' and 'Winter's Bone' Director Debra Granik

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Guests: 
Debra Granik

Pickup on South Street

Debra was a Boston independent filmmaker before she picked up and left for NYU’s graduate film program. Her first short film there, “Snake Feed,” was accepted into the Sundance Labs, where she developed the concept into her first narrative feature, Down to the Bone, starring Vera Fermiga. From there, Debra and her creative partner Anne Rossellini developed a film based on Daniel Woodrell’s 2006 novel, Winter's Bone. The film was released in 2010 and tells the story of a girl who’s the sole caretaker of her family who must hunt down her missing father to avoid being kicked out of her house and losing everything. The girl was played by Jennifer Lawrence. Lawrence was nominated for an Academy Award, as was Debra’s film and screenplay. In 2018, she directed Leave No Trace, a story about a father with PTSD trying to raise his teen daughter off the grid when some well-meaning people intervene and change the course of their lives. Starring Ben Foster and newcomer Thomasin Mckenzie Harcourt, Leave No Trace has been on multiple Top Ten lists, and won Debra the Best Director award at the 2019 LAFCA awards ceremony.

The film that Debra has chosen to discuss is Samuel Fuller's classic noir, Pickup on South Street. This is a personal favorite of Debra's and it becomes clear with how much appreciation and thought she has for the film. Debra discusses how she is able to create realistic dialogue for people who aren't from her "bougie, liberal" world. She talks about working with actress Dale Dickey, and why people love watching her on screen. Debra also elaborates on the use of guns in cinema, how we rely on them to tell stories, and how she is trying to "restore meaning to the woundable body."

You can watch Leave No Trace on Amazon Prime.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Pickup on South Street.

With April Wolfe and Debra Granik.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 71: 'What We Do in the Shadows' with 'At Home with Amy Sedaris' Producer Katie Tibaldi

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Guests: 
Katie Tibaldi

What We Do in the Shadows

Katie Tibaldi is a writer, director and producer born and raised in Michigan. She also has the distinction of being childhood best friends with the host, April Wolfe! Between working on shows such as Broad City, Nurse Jackie and Damages, Katie's already worked on over 300 episodes of television. She’s currently producing the documentary feature Street Fighting Men, which will be distributed by First Run Features later this year. Her work on that made her a 2016 Sundance Institute Doc Fellow. She’s also Co-Producer on truTV's Emmy-Nominated comedy series 'At Home With Amy Sedaris.' She recently directed the independent half-hour comedy pilot 'Ian Owes U' that had its world premiere at the New York Television Festival in July. She is also the writer, director and executive producer of 'Seeking Sublet,' a comedy series with 9 full episodes debuting later this year. The series has been showcased by MovieMaker Magazine, Script Magazine, Tumblr and Funny or Die.

The movie that Katie has chosen to discuss this week is the vampire mockumentary, What We Do in the Shadows. Katie and April discuss the improvisational style of the film and how it contrasts with that of Amy Sedaris on her show 'At Home With Amy Sedaris.' They also dissect the anatomy of comedy; how jokes can age badly, what makes a physical joke work, and grounding comedy in reality. Plus, they discuss vampire movies in general, and how even though something's been made a million time, it can be made unique by simply adding a personal touch

You can watch 'At Home with Amy Sedaris' on truTV in theaters now.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch What We Do in the Shadows.

With April Wolfe and Katie Tibaldi.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 70: 'Ex Machina' with 'Mapplethorpe' and 'Dig!' Director Ondi Timoner

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Guests: 
Ondi Timoner

Ex Machina

Ondi is a Floridian, born in Miami, but she studied film, literature, and theater at Yale University. Her 2004 documentary Dig! made waves on the indie circuit, winning her the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance. Dig! followed two indie bands — The Brian Jonestown Massacre and The Dandy Warhols — on a journey that would bring art and commerce to collision points. She then directed Join Us before returning to Sundance with 2009’s documentary We Live in Public, about the work of Josh Harris, an “internet visionary” and dot-com entrepreneur who was one of the most prominent people to sacrifice his privacy and peace for a very public internet life. We Live in Public also took home the Grand Jury Prize, making her the sole director to do it twice. This year, though, she’s releasing her first narrative feature, Mapplethorpe, a look at the life of photographer Robert Mapplethorpe from his rise to fame in the 1970s to his untimely death in 1989.

The movie that Ondi chose to discuss this week is Alex Garland's Ex Machina. Based on her work with Josh Harris, Ondi has some fascinating things to say about the terrifying rise of A.I. and how we will inevitably be overtaken by machines. She elaborates on shooting her latest feature, Mapplethorpe, in just 19 days and how that frenetic energy seeped into the film - which is a good thing. Ondi reveals that for her, behind every creation there must be love. And lastly, she discusses the role of the director, as conductor, and the necessity of collaboration with the many departments on a film.

You can watch Mapplethorpe in theaters now.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Ex Machina on Netflix.

With April Wolfe and Ondi Timoner.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 69: 'Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me' with 'Shirkers' Director Sandi Tan

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Guests: 
Sandi Tan

Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me

Born in Singapore, Sandi began her career as a film critic at The Straits Times, Singapore’s largest newspaper. She then threw that all away to run off to film school at Columbia University. Sandi most recently wrote, directed, produced, and co-edited Shirkers (2018) which won the World Cinema Documentary Directing Award after its Sundance 2018 premiere. It was picked up as a Netflix Original Documentary and was on the shortlist for the 2019 Best Documentary Academy award. Shirkers reconstructs the story of an unfinished feature film Sandi made as a teenager using actual footage from the film combined with personal interrogations exploring how exactly the film came to be before it went missing.

The movie that Sandi chose to discuss this week is David Lynch's Twin Peaks: Fire Walk with Me. Although this film may not seem to have much to do with her own film, Shirkers, throughout the conversation she and April discover a great deal of overlap. Both movies are steeped in murder, reconciling the past, and mysterious disappearing male figures. Sandi details the incredible story of how she came to make the documentary. And she and April explore the intuitive filmmaking of David Lynch, and why he wanted to tell Laura Palmer's side of the story.

You can watch Shirkers on Netflix.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Twin Peaks: Fire Walks with Me.

With April Wolfe and Sandi Tan.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 68: 'Labyrinth' with 'Solace' Director Tchaiko Omawale

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Guests: 
Tchaiko Omawale

Labyrinth

Tchaiko graduated from Columbia University before going on to intern for Spike Lee and Mira Nair. While assisting directors George C. Wolfe and Tom Vaughan she directed several short-form projects, including America's Shadows: HIV Risk in Black & Latino Youth. In 2012, she wrote the script called Solace, which would eventually become her feature debut. At that time, it was a semi-finalist for the Sundance Writers Lab. In 2015, the project became a recipient of the Panavision New Filmmakers Program. Solace premiered at the LA Film Festival 2018, winning Special Jury Mention Best Ensemble Cast. Tchaiko was a 2017 School of Making Thinking resident fellow where she created the VR film Shapeshifters. In between her independent projects she produces and directs commercials and branded content.

The movie that Tchaiko has chosen to discuss this week is the wonderful, wacky, goblin-y, Labyrinth. April and Tchaiko touch upon the arousing gender fluidity of David Bowie's character "Jerith." Tchaiko talks about how she strives to make "imperfect" films. She also elaborates on being inspired by nature in the writing of her next fantasy film. Plus, there's a lot of puppet talk - from the construction to the puppeteering itself. If you love Labyrinth, you will love this discussion.

You can watch the trailer for Tchaiko's feature Solace here.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Labyrinth.

With April Wolfe and Tchaiko Omawale.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.

Switchblade Sisters Episode 67: 'Head' with 'B.C. Butcher' Director Kansas Bowling

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Guests: 
Kansas Bowling

Head

Kansas is a born-and-raised-in-Hollywood writer and director. She wrote her first feature when she was only 15, and then went on to direct it for release at 17. The film, titled, B.C. Butcher, is a “pre-historic slasher” starring Kato Kaelin. B.C. Butcher was distributed by Troma Entertainment, and Kansas was inducted into the Troma Institute for Gifted Youth. Since then, she has directed 25 music videos for artists including Collapsing Scenery, Boyd Rice, Iggy Pop, and the Death Valley Girls. Aside from directing, Kansas also acts. She’s appeared in more than 30 projects, including the upcoming directorial debut of Glenn Danzig, and also Quentin Tarantino’s Once Upon a Time In Hollywood. She also starred in a short film series called 'Curious Females', which premiered on Refinery29 in 2017.

The movie that Kansas has chosen to discuss on this week's episode is the 1968 freak-out fest by The Monkees called, Head. It's evident immediately that Kansas has a deep love for The Monkees and this film. She points out that The Monkees were very self aware in the film, as they comment on being "wind-up dolls" meant to distract people from the Vietnam war. She describes how her favorite films have a frenetic editing style, like Head, and also incorporate elements of "artistic non-fiction." Kansas covers some of her craziest experiences working on her own movies, like getting Kato Kaelin to appear in her film B.C. Butcher for free when she was only seventeen. Or like the time she called up Iggy Pop and asked if he'd be in a music video - and he said yes. If there's anything you should take away from this interview, it's that it never hurts to ask.

You can see B.C. Butcher streaming online.

If you haven't seen it yet, go watch Head.

With April Wolfe and Kansas Bowling.

You can let us know what you think of Switchblade Sisters on Twitter or Facebook.

Or email us at switchbladesisters@maximumfun.org.

Produced by Casey O'Brien and Laura Swisher for MaximumFun.org.