12 Years a Slave

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New Orleans’ own Bryan Batt will call Baton Rouge home while on the set of MTV’s Scream. Batt is known for his role on AMC’s hit television series Mad Men. Batt famously played Salvatore Romano, the art director at Sterling Cooper. His time away from Mad Men has been fruitful. You can see him in 12 Years a Slave and he has also written two novels.

The show will star Bella Thorne (The Duff), Willa Fitzgerald (Royal Pains), Bex Taylor-Klaus (Arrow), John Karna (Premature) and Carlson Young (Key and Peele). Willa Fitzgerald’s character is the popular teenager Emma Duvall. Taylor-Klaus will play preacher’s daughter Aubrey Jensen. John Karna will play Noah Foster, the logistical student. The beautiful Carlson Young will play the adorable mastermind Brooke Maddox.

In Scream, Batt will play Quinn Maddox, the town’s mayor and father of Carlson Young’s Brooke Maddox. Bryan Batt knows that no one is safe in this slasher series. “I hope I don’t die the first season, but it is a slasher series,” he says. “Some people have already gone.” At least Batt has a great attitude and has high hopes for a future demise. “I hope it’s bloody, gory and memorable,” he says.

Watch the Scream trailers hereScream stars Bella Thorne, Willa Fitzgerald, Bex Taylor-Klaus, John Karna and Carlson Young. Wes Craven’s slasher dynasty will take on the screens in your living room opposed to the box office. Directed by Jamie Travis, Scream comes into your homes on Tuesday, June 30 at 10pm.

Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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Scoot McNairy On Fire

by Micah Haley on March 30, 2015

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This interview first ran in the March/April 2015 issue of Scene Magazine. The second season of Halt and Catch Fire returns to AMC on Sunday, May 31.

A bat out of Dallas, Texas, Scoot McNairy can’t slow down. After breaking out in In Search of a Midnight Kiss and leading Godzilla director Gareth Edwards’ micro-budgeted 2010 film Monsters, he has starred in thirteen films. Last year, he appeared in five films including Gone Girl, Black Sea, Frank, The Rover and Non-Stop. McNairy’s memorable but virtually unrecognizable in all of them, a testament to his talent and evidence that he’s quietly becoming one of the best actors of his generation.

In David Fincher’s Gone Girl, McNairy plays Amazing Amy’s most damaged ex. In 12 Years a Slave, his character Brown playfully coaxes Solomon Northrup into slavery. In Killing Them Softly, he steals scene after scene alongside Brad Pitt and Ben Mendelsohn. In David Michôd’s The Rover, he’s Henry, a petty criminal hardened by an economic apocalypse. In Ben Affleck’s Best Picture winning film Argo, McNairy is the voice of dissent against a preposterous plan dreamed up to smuggle six Americans out Iran. He appears alongside Matt Damon in Gus Van Sant’s Promised Land.

The Texas native also anchors AMC’s Halt and Catch Fire, a 1980s period piece set in the second wave of personal computer innovation. It’s a new AMC show that’s so good, I expect Walter White to walk on screen. He plays Gordon Brown, a talented computer engineer trapped in a cubicle at a profitable Texas electronics company. In the first season, he sees an opportunity in Joe McMillan, a silver-tongued shark who could sell salt to the Dead Sea. Together, they set out to change an industry still in its infancy. Season two is set to return to AMC this summer.

Scoot connected with me over Skype from Atlanta, Georgia, where he’s currently filming the highly anticipated second season of Halt and Catch Fire.

MH: You currently star in Halt and Catch Fire, which is such a great show. It’s set in Texas in the 1980s, where you were raised. Did you grow up with an awareness of the so-called Silicon Prairie?

SM: No, not really. I didn’t know much about computers when I was a youngster. And I definitely don’t recall the area having anything to do with computers. I spent a lot of time [in that space] with my dad when I was a kid. He was a financial planner, so on the weekends, he was always driving to clients’ houses and I’d go with him. I read the show and it kinda reminded me of that. I feel like I knew the world so well from the 80s. When I got on the show, I started seeing things around the house like blankets and pictures on the walls that we had in our house. Which I guess a lot of people had in their houses: it was a Sears catalogue type of thing. I thought, “Gosh, this is such a blast to the past seeing all this stuff.” I felt like I really knew a lot about the world of Dallas in the 80s. But, I did not know there was anything going on there with any kind of computer boom.

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MH: Halt caught me at just the right time. I had just read Walter Isaacson’s biography of Steve Jobs, which is really a prelude to the era of Halt and Catch Fire. I’d also read this great book called Masters of Doom, which is about the video game revolution that happened in the late 80s and early 90s. That’s a short time after the events of the first season, and Halt occupies that magical time in between, pregnant with possibilities after the first boom in the personal computer market.

SM: I didn’t know much about the video games. What was Masters of Doom?

MH: They were these kids, some from Texas and some from the Midwest, that all ended up in Shreveport, Louisiana at this software company that sold subscriptions. Their business model was “Subscribe to us and we will send you video games, word processing software, spreadsheet software and all this stuff.” They start making these games for this little company, and one weekend, they decided to use their work computers to port Super Mario Bros 3 to the PC, hoping Nintendo would license it and they could sell it. Nintendo didn’t. So they took the tech, started their own company and made Commander Keen. Then they made Wolfenstein 3-D.

SM: No way! I remember that when I was a kid.

MH: That game was huge, so they went out on their own, dropped their distributor and self-distributed the video game Doom, one of the biggest games of all time.

SM: Yeah, my brother was super into Doom and Final Fantasy.

MH: The thing that really interests me is that these guys are entrepreneurs. They’re driven just like the Henry Fords who worked in the technology of the past. They are driven to create and so much of that is embodied in Halt and Catch Fire.

SM: Yeah, man! They were innovators. Without giving you any spoilers, I have to say: you’re really going to like the second season a lot. And I can’t say anything more than that.

MH: Awesome! I can’t wait. I’m primarily a film guy, but there is just something about that entrepreneurial spirit that I identified with. I think it’s present throughout the independent filmmaking community, too.

SM: I read that Walter Isaacson Steve Jobs book right before we started shooting. That was probably one of the best biographies I’ve ever read. So much so that I went out and bought the biography he did on Einstein. I come from the same background of super independent filmmaking, where there’s no more than like six or seven people in the whole production. You’re shooting stuff in cars and ripping shots. It’s the same thing. It’s like building a small company and just crashing it.

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MH: In Halt and Catch Fire, you play Gordon Clark, who has already attempted being an entrepreneur at the beginning of season one, experiences failure, and now he’s doing it again. Where is he at the beginning of season two?

SM: Gordon really had something to prove. He had a very large chip on his shoulder and he was really struggling. Are his ideas good? Is he smart? Does he have something to offer to this industry? Obviously, his dream was to always build his own computer. But through season one, he really struggled with that and also with the control that he wanted over the way that his computer could be built. In season two, we jump ahead in time. I can’t say how far. But you get to see what has happened over that time period that we jump. I think that Gordon’s feeling a little bit like riding on the coattails of success when we pick up with him.

MH: Gordon’s partner and occasional adversary is Joe McMillan, who is this sort of Steve Job-sian salesman character. He’s almost too slick for his own good. At first, Gordon seems really put off by Joe’s polished exterior. What do you think it is about Joe that Gordon decides to take a chance on?

SM: When we pick up with Gordon, he’s been burnt out. He’s given up on his dream, his goals and his life. And this guy Joe McMillan walks into his life and tells him, “You are a genius. This article that you wrote is visionary. I wanna work with a guy like you.” It starts to fire that juice back inside Gordon to think, “Okay. Wow, there’s somebody that believes in me. But he’s such a prick!” And I think that that’s the inspiration. Gordon is looking for adventure. He’s looking to create and his dream’s always been to build a computer. And he’ll do anything for that to happen.

However, he has a family that he has to think about. That’s the one hurdle. As bad as he wants his dreams and his goals to happen, he doesn’t want to lose his family over it. Joe McMillan is a guy that you really want to keep at arm’s length, and I think that Gordon’s completely aware of that. Yet, he crosses that line back and forth. Working with Joe is exciting, but like Steve Jobs, Joe is really hard on Gordon.
One of the things that I really connected with in Steve Jobs’s biography was that he was so hard on people. But when you interviewed the people who worked for him, they say, “He was so mean to us but he got us to do things that we didn’t even know were possible.” That’s just a fascinating process. I felt that I’ve dealt with that in my past in Texas, growing up in Texas football and working with some acting coaches. That’s really a liberating feeling, when somebody’s really hard on you but they get you to do something that you didn’t really know you were capable of.

MH: There’s got to be a trust factor with those coaches and teachers that makes you tolerate their sort of Whiplash-ian intensity.

There’s more!

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The opening and closing films for the 2013 New Orleans Film Festival have been announced, along with the names of some of the other films that will be showing throughout the week of the festival. There will also be special appearances present, representing the opening film.

Opening the NOFF on October 10 at 7pm is 12 Years a Slave, a heart-wrenching film based on the true story of a black man who was born free in upstate New York, but is tricked, drugged and sold as a slave to a greedy and malicious slave owner (Michael Fassbender). Starring Chiwetel Ejiofor as the once-free Solomon Northup, 12 Years a Slave tells the unforgettable story of a man struggling to stay alive when everything has been taken away from him. After twelve years in captivity, he meets a Canadian abolitionist, played by Brad Pitt, who changes his life forever.

There’s more!

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24th Annual New Orleans Film Festival Announced

by Catie Ragusa on August 12, 2013

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The New Orleans Film Festival kicks off this fall! The festival will be held at the Civic Theater, October 10-17, opening with the premiere of Steve McQueen’s New Orleans-shot 12 Years a Slave. Based on a true story, the festival opener is about Soloman Northup, a free black man who was kidnapped in 1841, sold into slavery and held captive for twelve years.

The festival will close with Bayou Maharajah: The Tragic Genius of James Booker, an exploration of the life and music of legendary pianist James Booker, who struggled with society’s innumerable prejudices throughout his life. Filmed in New Orleans, the documentary was directed by NOLA’s own Lily Keber.

All-Access passes to the 24th Annual New Orleans Film Festival will go on sale Thursday, August 15. For more information, click here.

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TRAILER: ’12 Years a Slave’

by Catie Ragusa on July 18, 2013

Directed by Steve McQueen (Hunger, Shame), 12 Years a Slave has received its first trailer.

Shot in South Louisiana, the film is based on the true story of Soloman Northup, an African American man who was born free during the time of slavery, but was kidnapped and sold in 1841. He didn’t regain his freedom until twelve years later.

The film stars Chiwetel Ejiofor as Soloman Northup. It also stars Brad Pitt, Benedict Cumberbatch, Paul Giamatti, Quvenzhane Wallis, Sarah Paulson, Paul Dano, Scoot McNairy, Garrett Dillahunt, Alfre Woodard, Dwight Henry and Michael K. Williams.

12 Years a Slave opens wide October 18.

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