Your new movie Funeral
Day - in a few words, what is it about?
is about feeling stuck and trying to get unstuck. Itís about dealing
and the mortality of those you love. Itís also about checking your balls
(or the balls of a loved
if you feel a lump. Funeral
about a guy, Scott, who gets himself into some ridiculous
while trying to live his life to the fullest.
the project fall together in the first place? And were you supposed to
both direct and play the lead from the get-go?
Elgstrand had written the script for himself to potentially make several
years prior to me
it, but he had put the project on hold while he set out to work on another
film. I had
it back then and liked it, so when I was looking for a script to produce I
asked if I could read
again. We talked about me making the film, I optioned the script from
Kris, he did some
and that was that. Not quite as simple as that, but not too far off.
the thought of me directing came up early on, my initial intention was
just to produce and
the lead. Eventually there was talk of co-directing and then as we moved
forward it made more
and more sense for me to direct. I had done some directing before, but
this was my first feature.
I wasnít quite sure what I was getting myself into, but once the
decision was made
was no turning back. Iím very glad about that decision.
you tell us about Funeral
Day's writer Kris Elgstrand, and what was your collaboration like?
known Kris for quite some time now. Kris has a wonderful sense of humor, a
can be both riciulous and thoughtful, in your face and dry, all at the
same time - and I love
While his writing and comedy can seem heightened at times it is very much
based in reality
often stems from real life situations he has either experienced or heard
about first hand.
worked with him in various capacities over the years - actor, director,
producer, I even
an album of his - so I feel very comfortable working with him. And yeah,
it up, you should check the album out - Songs of the Sad Sack,
Volume 1: I'm so
talk about Funeral Day's
brand of comedy for a bit, and to what extent does it align with your own
sense of humour?
mentioned, Krisís comedy can be quite twisted and while at times the
humor in Funeral
seem ďout there,Ē I feel it is very much grounded. Just because
(spoiler alert) a prostate
may seem ridiculous to you, it doesnít mean that it isnít happening in
right now. You might want to call them before you pop over next time.
love both highbrow and lowbrow comedy. I love a good fart joke and I love
humor that may
a bit more sophistication to get or a couple of viewings to even notice
that it was a joke
the first place. I really appreciate when you get both in the same film or
show. I think the
version of The Office does that wonderfully as do many of the Coen
Brothersí films. Iíd
to think that we achieved that in Funeral
love dark comedies and I appreciate comedy that is played as real as
possible. I donít know that
love the Ben Stiller movie, Along Came Polly, but I love Phillip Seymour
that. He plays it so real and he is by far the funniest guy in that film.
PT Andersonís Punch
Love is another great example of a film that I find darkly funny, Strange
and funny in
but also beautiful and emotional - heightened while at the same time
bring on the fart jokes.
mentioned, you also play the lead in Funeral
Day - so what did you draw upon to bring him to life, and how much
Jon Weinberg can we find in Scott?
certainly be neurotic, but Iíd like to think that Iím not quite as
neurotic as Scott is (those
know me may tell you otherwise). Iíd also like to think that I would
deal with some of the
Scott finds himself in quite differently. That being said, I very much
and understand his fear of death and losing those close to him. My own
certainly helped me understand why he does what he does. I think that was
a key part to
Scott to life - trying to understand him as opposed to simply judging him.
What can you tell us
about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?
feel so damn fortunate that we got the actors we did. It really was so
great to have worked
all of them - both as an actor and as a director. The really simple answer
to ďwhy those
is that they were so right for their parts.
brought so many wonderful and specific things to their characters. I could
about each actor for quite some time.
very least I should do is mention the main cast. Tygh Runyan, Rahnuma
Suzy Nakamura, Tyler Labine, Sarah Adina, Kristin Carey & Jed Rees. My
advice is to look
up and see what they are up to and watch their stuff.
talk about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?
had a really great team - both behind and in front of the camera. It was
really great working
with cinematographer Jeffrey Cunningham. Heís very poised on set and quick
on his feet. That
helped keep me somewhat calm. Somewhat. And as I mentioned before, the
all so great and they were game to get a lot done in a short amount of
time. It certainly
smooth sailing, though. It was a fairly difficult shoot. We had pretty
good size crew that
really hard to make sure we got what we needed, but even so we had some
and we were chasing the light on most days. While it was mostly a pretty
did get tense at times. We had various issues come up, like losing a
location mid way through
shoot, finding out that we couldnít be in part of another location that
we had paid for and
a permit for, and we had a couple of crew members that didnít see eye to
eye. Of course
types of issues arenít unique to Funeral
it was still certainly a challenge at times.
$64-question of course, where can your movie be seen?
call it the $3-10 question because Funeral
be yours to own or rent at this low low
But you must act now!!! Funeral
had a theatrical release in LA earlier this month.
Iím a fan of seeing films in the
so I was very happy about that. Funeral
now available on VOD/Digital and yes,
DVD, at all the usual places like iTunes, Amazon, VUDU, YouTube, Shaw (if
youíre in Canada) and more. And Iím told itís now available
in quite a few markets around the world.
you can tell us about audience and critical reception of Funeral
quite pleased with the filmís festival run and the response it got. Funeral
great fests, including the Twin Cities Film Fest, Key West Film Festival,
Twister Alley Film
Gig Harbor Film Festival, Jim Thorpe Independent Film Festival, Vienna
Festival and more. The film was nominated for quite a few awards and took
of them including a few for Best Comedy and some for Best
the end of post production the film also got the attention of Mike
of the Testicular Cancer Society, and we ended up partnering with the
educate and get the word out about men checking themselves more frequently
cancer. During the recent LA run of the film a number of survivors came
out to see the
They came up to me after and told me how much they enjoyed it and laughed and
stuff. That was really awesome to hear.
Any future projects you'd like to
recently put together a few testicular cancer PSAs that Iím quite proud
of. They came about as
result of my relationship with the Testicular Cancer Society. They will be
released in the
weeks. I got to work with a lot of great people on them and Iím excited
for people to see
also working on a series with Ethan and Dominic Rains (Dom plays TJ in Funeral
Day). We are
in the early stages, but hopefully weíll be able to share more soon.
What got you into acting to begin with, and did
you receive any formal training on the subject?
didnít act at all prior to university, but I appreciated theatre and I
loved going to the movies
I was younger. My parents exposed my sister and I to the theatre and to
films from a
early age. Iím very fortunate for that. When I went to university
(University of British
I wasnít sure what I wanted to focus on. I had wanted to take an acting
class for some
so decided to try my hand at it. I auditioned and didnít get in at
first. I tried again, got in
loved it. I ended up getting a degree in theatre and continued my training
at the Atlantic
Company in NY for a bit and then got my post grad from the London Academy
Dramatic Art in London. You probably got that from the name.
What got you into
I was at university I took a theatre directing class and really enjoyed
it. It was a lot of work
it was really fascinating having to look at the whole picture in both a
broad sense and also in
extremely detailed way. Certainly different than as an actor when mostly
looking at a script
your character. I also appreciated collaborating with the writer and
actors in a way that
different than what I had experienced as an actor.
that experience I directed a couple of one acts that Kris (writer of Funeral
Day) wrote and
took the show on tour. I directed a few more smaller theatre things, but
then didnít direct
for a number of years. I then decided to produce and direct a short film
that I acted in
well. I wasnít really convinced that I should be acting and directing at
the same time, but I had
really great crew and felt comfortable taking on both roles because I knew
I had good people
to help guide me when needed. Thatís the longer answer.
short answer is that I got into directing so I could have more control.
Actors, filmmakers, whoever else who
Feeling lucky ?
any of my partnershops yourself
for more, better results ?
The links below
will take you
are a lot of people - actors, filmmakers, artists, musicians - who inspire
me so Iíll just list a
and be upset with myself later for leaving out so many.
Seymour Hoffman, Michael Fassbender, Cate Blanchett, Woody Harrelson,
Michelle Williams, Michael Stuhlbarg, Michael Shannon, Chiwetel Ejiofor,
Adrian Lester, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton, Naomie Harris,
Schoenaerts, Michel Gondry,
Barry Jenkins, Paul Thomas Anderson, Julie Taymor, Dee
Alejandro G. IŮŠrritu, Derek Cianfrance, Rachel Morrison,
Emmanuel Lubezki, Basquiat,
Monroe, Sigur Ros, Shara Nova (My Brightest Diamond), Sufjan Stevens,
Enigk, Prince, Jonathan Safran Foer. Iím also inspired by the actors in Funeral
not just saying that. Getting to work with such talented people kept me on
my toes. I had to
up. And that goes for people on the other side of the camera as well.
Your favourite movies?
Festen (The Celebration), Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind,
Moonlight, Fargo, Punch Drunk Love
and many of PT Andersonís films - to name but a few.
movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?
Instagram = @FuneralDayMovie & @TheJonWeinberg
you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?
already said too much. Thanks so much for having me do this!
for the interview!