Welcome to the Larry411.com Guest Columnists! April 27, 2013
In my travels to the best film festivals in…
On Saturday, October 19, 2013 I attended the highly anticipated Florida Premiere of Favor at the Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. The screening took place at the historic Cinema Paradiso in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The film was a selection in the American Indie Features section.
Most of the dozen or so American indies I saw at FLIFF this year were dark comedies, usually involving crimes and misdemeanors. One that got it right was Favor, a slow burn, edge-of-your-seat thriller from multi-hyphenate writer/director/executive producer/cinematographer/editor Paul Osborne.
The film opens cold, no credits or title needed, and launches right into the critical scene which provides the premise for the narrative. Kip (Blayne Weaver) and Marvin (Patrick Day) are lifelong best friends. Each has committed to the other a promise to be there, for anything, at any time. Now it’s time for Kip to call in the favor. A surreptitious night in a motel with a local waitress (Rosalie Ward as Abbey) threatens to derail his successful career and marriage – not because the illicit affair might be found out, but because something awful happened in that room and Kip needs Marvin to help bury the evidence.
Shot in Los Angeles during the summer of 2011, this is the first full-length narrative feature for Osborne, who’s worn various hats on a dozen film and television projects. He previously wrote, directed, edited, and produced the critically acclaimed documentary Official Rejection, which won both the Audience Award and the Spirit of the Independent Award at the 2009 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival, along with awards at Ohio’s Oxford International Film Festival, the dead CENTER Film Festival, and the Atlanta DocuFest. That movie, about the pitfalls of struggling filmmakers trying to get their work into festivals, (perhaps) ironically laid the groundwork for Favor’s successful fest run. Osborne also won several festival awards for Ten ‘til Noon (2006), on which he’s credited as Writer, Executive Producer, and Additional Editor. Favor debuted at the Phoenix Film Festival in April and went on to play the Tallgrass and Austin Film Festivals before arriving in Fort Lauderdale.
Weaver and Day are front and center, with one or both onscreen from opening to closing credits, and their chemistry, in what amounts to a perverse buddy picture, is what makes Favor so authentically visceral. The team could have gone the farce route but the sensibility remains firmly in serious territory with only the occasional gallows humor to break the tension. It’s a bold choice but it works.
Blayne Weaver made a name for himself as the voice of Peter Pan in several early 00s Disney productions. Astute readers of this site might recognize him as the writer/director of Weather Girl, one of my Top 10 from the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival. He has over 30 TV and movie projects to his credit, including 2001’s Joseph Gordon-Levitt picture Manic, which he co-wrote with Michael Bacall. Patrick Day began his screen career as Bobby Wayne in 1987’s Ernest Goes to Camp. He’s since become a familiar face on both the big and small screens with over 20 titles under his belt.
The talented supporting cast includes Christina Rose, Alison Martin, Cheryl Nichols, and Rosalie Ward. Osborne’s wife Leslie, also producer on the film, has a pivotal role as a blind date for the hapless Marvin. Genre legend Jeffrey Combs (Herbert in Re-Animator) makes a crowd-pleasing appearance as well.
Osborne shot the picture himself, primarily using practical light and handheld camera throughout. In addition to being his own editor, this helps give the film a true indie look and feel. With a 1.85:1 aspect ratio, the film's cinema vérité style is elegantly punctuated by a sparse, barebones score from composer Joe Kraemer. He’s penned the music for over 85 theatrical and TV movies, winning a BMI Award for 2012’s Jack Reacher, and collaborated with Osborne on several projects.
This is what a low budget American indie can, and should, look like. In an industry filled with forgettable cookie cutter popcorn fare, Osborne’s work is a shockingly dark and unflinching neo-noir crime thriller that Tarantino would applaud. Put Favor on your list and prepare for a cerebral sucker punch.
NOTE: See my photos of the Florida Premiere Red Carpet and Q&A. I selected Favor as one of my Top 8 English Language Narratives from the 2013 Fort Lauderdale International Film Festival. Conspicuous Pictures produced, with Osborne and Amy Byer Shainman as Executive Producers along with producers Leslie Wimmer Osborne and Tiffany J. Shuttleworth. The movie is set for VOD release next spring through Gravitas Ventures.
The official trailer is below along with a candid, in-depth video interview I conducted with Osborne about Favor and indie filmmaking in general. There are NO spoilers in the interview. Also below are official character posters.
Official Facebook: facebook.com/favormovie
Official site: favormovie.com
Official Twitter: @PaulMakesMovies
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In my travels to the best film festivals in…