Five Questions With... Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz (THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON)

In Spotlight Film THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON, Zak runs away from his care home and teams with fugitive Tyler to go on the adventure of a lifetime. Featuring Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Zack Gottsagen, John Hawkes, Bruce Dern, and Thomas Haden Church.

We spoke to writers/directors Tyler Nilson & Michael Schwartz. Read more with them below, and see the film on Sat, June 22 at 7:30pm and Sun, June 23 at 2:45pm!

Note: Young Film Lovers between the ages of 18-30 can see this film for just $10 with code NFFYFL30 online or at the box office!


NFF: Can you talk a little bit about your inspiration for the film?

TYLER & MICHAEL: We wrote THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON  after a heartfelt conversation with our friend Zack.  He’s a born entertainer and had been studying acting and dance most of his life when he told us that he wanted to be a movie star.  We replied honestly that there weren’t a lot of opportunities or roles written for people with Down syndrome to star in movies and he asked, “Then why don’t you write one for me?”  

NFF: What was the casting process like, and where did you find Zack? When did you know he would be your star?

TYLER & MICHAEL: The role was written specifically for Zack, we spent a lot of time together talking about life, movies, adventure, and what he likes and doesn’t like.  A lot of the dialogue in the movie are things that he’d said to us in conversation.

Our biggest challenge wasn’t casting Zack it was keeping him in the role.  Before we landed with producers that "got it" at Bona Fide and Armory we had offers to finance the movie but only if we’d cast a known actor without a disability playing disabled.  

The rest of the cast that filled out with perfect fits.  I’m so proud of the performances given by Shia LaBeouf, Dakota Johnson, Bruce Dern, John Hawkes, Thomas Haden Church, and Jon Bernthal.  Legendary wrestlers Jake “The Snake” Roberts and Mick Foley were amazing to have on set and they added depth and authenticity as well.

NFF: There's both a "buddy comedy" and "road trip" vibe to the film, although this is a uniquely original take...were you inspired by other films in those genres?

TYLER & MICHAEL: There’s a lot of movies that we love and every day we break down films and talk about what types of elements work well to make audiences feel certain ways, connect to characters, and trigger emotions.  Tonally we were influenced by HUCK FINN, STAND BY ME, MUD, etc.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

TYLER & MICHAEL: First and foremost we’re staying as present as possible with THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON.  We want to support the movie every way we can so audiences go see the work our whole team put from producers, to actors, and crew. 

Beyond that we have a TV show that we’re developing with LuckyChap based on our experience living in an illegal tree house surrounded by raccoons and mountain lions in Los Angeles (Money was tight right before we left to shoot THE PEANUT BUTTER FALCON) and a feature that we’re keeping under the radar for the time being.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

TYLER & MICHAEL: Everything that we’ve heard about Nantucket has been extremely positive.  We’ve always wanted to go to the island and the reputation of the festival is that a lot of the focus is on writing which is such an important part of the process and often overlooked. 

With any movie the goal is for the audience to connect, feel something, maybe identify with a character, and have an authentic experience.  When we premiered at SXSW the reactions exceeded expectations and the film took home the audience award.  In Nantucket we hope the audience is taken in by the mix of hope, heart, and drama as well in a way that might make their day, week, or life just a little bit better.

Five Questions With... Paul Downs Colaizzo (BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON)

In Spotlight Film BRITTANY RUNS A MARATHON, a young woman who hides her insecurities with humor becomes determined to turn her life around one block at a time training for the New York City Marathon. Featuring Jillian Bell, Michaela Watkins, and Utkarsh Ambudkar. Winner: Audience Award, Sundance.

We spoke with writer/director Paul Downs Colaizzo about this funny and heartwarming film. Read more with Paul below, and see it at NFF on Thurs, June 20 at 3:15pm and/or Sat, June 22 at 4:45pm!

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NFF: Can you talk a little about your inspiration for the film, and your relationship to the "real" Brittany?

PAUL: The screenplay was born out of the late night talks I had with my friend Brittany when we were both in our mid-20s. In trying to define success and fulfillment for ourselves, we started to wonder if we were capable of more than we’d always believed.  As an experiment in pushing herself, she went for a run. Before she’d returned home from the run, I’d come up with a rough outline of the film. Brittany and I have a rare friendship, with the kind of insight and support that somehow, almost cyclically, finds a way of inspiring each of us.

NFF: Are you a runner? Which do you think is harder: running a marathon, or finishing a script (and getting it made)?

PAUL: I am not a runner, I’ve never been a runner, I actually had to get double ankle surgery while we were in post because I was physically not created to stand for long periods of time, let alone rely on my feet to get me from one point to another quickly.

So, answering for myself, I’d say running a marathon would be harder than getting this movie made because 26.2 miles of relying on my joints would be impossible while getting this film made was only near impossible.

NFF: What was the casting process like, and/or when did you know that Jillian would be your Brittany?

PAUL: Finding our Brittany started about 9 months before we started filming. Jillian had read the script, I’d been a huge fan of her work, but I knew that exploring a part specifically like this one would be a new exploration for her. We met and had a few conversations about what we both wanted out of this movie, how we wanted the world to see this character and her journey, and it became clear we both had the same goals, and that this was going to be a very vulnerable and personal experience for her. And it felt like it had the chance of being an electric performance. Jillian brought her heart, soul, and then some to the role and I’ll be thankful for her hard work forever.

NFF: What are you working on currently, and/or where can we see more of your work?

PAUL: I’m currently finishing up a script I’ve been toying with for a couple of years now. Stay tuned.

NFF: Why are you excited to screen in Nantucket, and/or what do you hope Nantucket audiences might relate to or takeaway from the film?

PAUL: What I’ve learned traveling the film festival circuit with this movie is that every demographic finds an emotional way into the movie. I’m interested to see how Nantucket audiences respond to the film in a moment-to-moment way, and even more excited for them to experience the totality of the journey in the way all of our audiences have responded so far. I want Brittany to stick with them long after they leave the theater.

Latest GLEASON Trailer Promises to be a Tearjerker

Clay Tweel's (Finders Keepers, NFF2015) hit documentary from the 2016 Sundance Film Festival goes inside the life of Steve Gleason, the former New Orleans Saints defensive back who, at the age of 34, was diagnosed with ALS and given a life expectancy of two to five years. Weeks later, Gleason found out his wife, Michel, was expecting their first child. A video journal that began as a gift for his unborn son expands to chronicle Steve’s determination to get his relationships in order, build a foundation to provide other ALS patients with purpose, and adapt to his declining physical condition—utilizing medical technologies that offer the means to live as fully as possible.

Click below for the latest inspirational look at this powerful documentary.

Spotlight Documentary GLEASON plays the Nantucket Film Festival on Friday, June 24 and Sunday, June 25. Director Clay Tweel will be in attendance.

Watch a clip from SPOTLIGHT comedy, "My Blind Brother"

From Variety, "’s weirdly refreshing to see a romantic comedy where selfishness, resentment and sloth are presented as unabashed virtues." "Such is the charm of Sophie Goodhart’s “My Blind Brother,” (played by Adam Scott) which takes an ostensibly dark premise — a man of few qualities attempts to steal his overachieving blind brother’s girlfriend — and turns it into a featherweight frolic as winningly unambitious as its central couple played by Nick Kroll and Jenny Slate."  -- Andrew Barker

We proudly present MY BLIND BROTHER as a 2016 SPOTLIGHT selection. 

Click below to watch a clip.  Courtesy of Deadline Hollywood.

Jeff Feuerzeig Unravels Fact from Fiction in SPOTLIGHT doc "Author: The JT LeRoy Story"

"This is the woman who played the man who became a transsexual and fooled the world for years." Polly Vernon, The Guardian.

Vernon refers to Sally Koop, the public persona of "JT LeRoy," a creation of Brooklyn writer, Laura Albert. and the subject of Jeff Feuerzeig's engrossing documentary, Author: The JT LeRoy Story.  LeRoy, who first appeared on the literary scene in the late 1990's, became an overnight sensation by writing "confrontational tales that hinted at a troubled past" and quickly amassed a cluster of celebrity friends.  But it all came to a screeching halt when it was discovered LeRoy wasn't real

Jeff Feuerzeig's documentary recreates the events leading up to the discovery, and over a series of interviews with the director, Albert tells her side of LeRoy's origins story.  

We proudly present AUTHOR: THE JT LEROY STORY as a 2016 SPOTLIGHT selection.

HERO_Savannah Knoop in AUTHOR THE JT LEROY STORY. A Amgnolia Pictures release, photo courtesy of Magnolia Pictures.jpg

Molly Shannon Shines in Dramatic Role in SPOTLIGHT film "Other People"

Molly Shannon teams with SNL alum, and first time filmmaker, Chris Kelly (Broad City), to star in her latest dramatic role, this time about a mother battling cancer.  Despite the film's serious focus, it maintains a thread of humor as Shannon's character, Joanne, and her son, David (Breaking Bad's Jesse Plemons) navigate the realities and poignant moments surrounding her decline in health.  Bradley Whitford (The West Wing) rounds out this stellar cast in Kelly's affecting and unforgettable dramedy.

We proudly present OTHER PEOPLE as one of 2016's Spotlight films. 

Watch Molly Shannon, Jesse Plemons and Bradley Whitford discuss their roles, with director, Chris Kelly.  Courtesy of THR

SPOTLIGHT Documentary "Gleason" Chronicles Steve Gleason's Fight

"With seemingly no restrictions from his subjects, director Clay Tweel delivers far more than just a typical inspirational living-with-disease doc: This is a portrait of a family forced to completely readjust their lives, never flinching from the accompanying fears and frustrations." -- Geoff Berkshire, VARIETY

Making a departure from his 2015 truth-that's-stranger-than-fiction doc, FINDER'S KEEPERS (NFF 2015), director Clay Tweel provides an intimate look at the journey of NFL star, Steve Gleason, and his family after his diagnosis with ALS.

We proudly present GLEASON as one of 2016's Spotlight films.