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Monday, April 25, 2011

Variety loves "Rid of Me"

by admin

Just got home from the premiere of Rid of Me at Tribeca Film Festival. New York City was a blast!

Check out this glowing review of James Westby’s new film in Variety:

Rid of Me
By John Anderson
April 23, 2011

An Alcove Prods. and Parkwood East Film Co. presentation. Produced by Katie O’Grady, James Westby. Co-producer, Raija Talus. Directed, written, edited by James Westby.
With: Katie O’Grady, Orianna Herrman, John Keyser, Storm Large, Theresa Russell, Ritah Parrish, Adrienne Vogel, Melik Malkasian.

Bracingly original, alarming and droll, the righteously ribald “Rid of Me” should prove a breakthrough for helmer James Westby and his producer and leading lady, Katie O’Grady. Pic also offers further evidence of the remarkably innovative indie cinema being produced outside New York and Los Angeles — in this case, Portland, Ore., where the domestic meller and the horror movie have met, wed and proven fruitful. A devoted cult following seems more likely than Pacific Northwest rain, although a reasonable ad budget could mean bigger things.

Reveling in risk, Westby has his central character, Meris (O’Grady), do something so alarmingly disgusting in the flash-forward that opens the film that it’s a wonder the character recovers our sympathies. But she does: As the story proper begins, Meris, newly married to Mitch (John Keyser), is heading back with him to his Oregon hometown. He’s lost his computer company, while she’s dewy-eyed in anticipation of wedded bliss. The move is a step down for Mitch, and Mitch is a step down for Meris: When she makes him eggs benedict for breakfast, he puts ketchup on it. This is not going to end well.

The lighting is creepy, the ambience dreadful, but they don’t hold a candle to Mitch’s old friends, who welcome him warmly back into the fold while treating his new wife like a leper. The physicality of the characters underlines Meris’s outsider status: She’s tiny, they’re intimidating; she’s quiet, they’re loud. But it’s their uncharitable nature that makes them such self-satisfied monsters. No one attempts the slightest gesture to make Meris feel comfortable, and while she initially befriends her new neighbors, the Masuds (Adrienne Vogel, Melik Malkasian), she ends up snubbing them after hearing others suggest the couple might be Al Qaeda.

Matters escalate over the course of a series of dinner parties, until one evening when Meris drinks too much and blurts out something embarrassing Mitch told her not to repeat, and the die is cast. From there, O’Grady makes Meris a figure of pity, horror, revulsion and, to Mitch, profound embarrassment; in one scene at a karaoke bar, she croons a soul-scarring, cringe-inducing song of love and reproach that makes one’s skin crawl. Ultimately, the pic demonstrates, it’s not living well that’s the best revenge; it’s just sticking around.

Westby employs all manner of techniques to keep the audience off guard and engaged, cutting together kinetic musicvid-style romps and freeze-frame tableaux, all held together by a terrific soundtrack that includes songs by Part Time Pony (“Hot Tranny Three Day Messy Weekend”), Laura Gibson and Shelley Short, and Cambodian pop star Ros Sereysothea. Helmer handled shooting and editing duties himself, very effectively.

Link to article.

Congrats to all involved and to Oregon film!

 

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Trailer & Poster for "Rid of Me": A ‘Low Budget Mean Girls for Adults’

by admin

The staff of Lana Veenker Casting will soon be taking off to New York City for the world premiere of a film we cast, James Westby’s Rid of Me, starring Katie O’Grady, Theresa Russell (Black Widow, Bad Timing), Storm Large, Art Alexakis (of Everclear) and more.

Check out the trailer and poster!

Can’t wait to see Oregon take Tribeca and the Big Apple by storm!

Friday, September 4, 2009

James Westby’s new film "Rid of Me" is a thriller

by admin

Check out the trailer for the latest James Westby film, shot in Oregon and starring Katie O’Grady, John Keyser, Storm Large and Theresa Russell:

Please support Oregon filmmaking and spread the word. Be sure to comment on YouTube as well. Those hitcounts count!

(Stay tuned for the “Rid of Me” comedy trailer….)

Friday, February 13, 2009

Oregon Film “Rid of Me” to Star Theresa Russell, Art Alexakis and Storm Large

by admin

After triumphing at last year’s Tribeca Film Festival with “The Auteur,” director James Westby ups the ante for Oregon film
February 13, 2009

PORTLAND, ORE. With all the buzz around the big Hollywood blockbusters such as “Twilight” shooting in Oregon as of late, local director James Westby’s latest project, “Rid of Me,” could easily slip by unnoticed. Except that Westby has quietly assembled the A-team of Oregon cast and crew–and a few household names to boot.

His previous movies “Film Geek” and “The Auteur” triumphed on the festival circuit, earning a loyal online following on websites such as YouTube (nearing 10 million hits) and garnering sales of “The Auteur” on Amazon, iTunes and soon on Netflix. Modern-day distribution channels in place, the Oregon filmmaker set out to shoot his next project.

With a modest budget and barebones production already underway, Westby confides that “[Rid of Me] already feels like the best film I have ever been associated with. An amazing cast that you won’t believe.”

A cast that included, at the outset, rockers such as Art Alexakis, former frontman of the band Everclear, and Storm Large of Storm and the Balls, who recently gained national recognition on CBS’ “Rock Star: Supernova.” But Westby felt that the role of Storm’s mother might also be right for an actress with some cachet and sought out the services of Oregon casting director Lana Veenker, to see who might be interested.

“We were overwhelmed by the response to the casting breakdown we sent out in LA,” says Veenker. “Agents of some of the top actresses in the business were beating down the doors to work on this tiny film, all because they wanted the opportunity to be involved.”

When Westby saw actress Theresa Russell’s name pop up in his email, however, his heart jumped. “This Theresa Russell idea is OUT OF CONTROL,” he scribbled to Veenker. “Have you seen her in ‘Straight Time?’ Or in ‘Bad Timing?’ ‘Black Widow?’ OMG. She even looks like she could be Storm’s Mum.” A few phone calls later and Russell’s flight to Portland had been booked.

Westby’s dream team also includes some of Oregon’s top crew and talent. Actress and co-producer Katie O’Grady (“Management,” “Untraceable”), who was billed as “hilarious” in “The Auteur” by Variety and whom Westby calls “incomparable,” takes her turn as the lead character Meris.

“Getting to work in Oregon has been a great benefit for us,” says O’Grady, “because the Oregon film community has been so generous with equipment, resources, locations and time.” She cites the examples of Bruce Lawson (key grip on nearly every major film that has shot in Oregon over the last 20 years) and creative agency Sockeye Creative, who have provided tremendous resources for their mom-and-pop shop. “It’s humbling to work with such strong talent. There’s not one weak link in the cast or crew. Everyone is pitching in to make this the best project James has ever done.”

And it may very well be, if the final project is as good as the dailies reportedly are. Cast and crew are pinching themselves already: “There’s a fluidity to James’ work that is incredible to observe; it’s like watching him conduct an orchestra. He’s musical and his creative eye is next to genius,” marvels O’Grady. Very promising news for Westby and his team, and for Oregon itself.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Oregonian Movie Review: "The Auteur" Hits Bottom in Portland

by admin

A film we helped cast, which has screened at festivals around the world, finally opens in Portland this evening! We can’t wait!


Oregonian Movie Review: “The Auteur” Hits Bottom in Portland
by Marc Mohan, Special to The Oregonian
Thursday December 04, 2008, 7:07 PM

Arturo Domingo is an artist. In his medium of choice, he crafts unique, personal works with a style all their own. Unfortunately for Arturo, his medium of choice is hard-core pornographic film, so critical respect and wide public acclaim have largely eluded him, not to mention personal happiness.

All that just might change, though, on a trip to Portland for a retrospective of his films and a chance to reconnect with the one bright spot in his otherwise fairly pathetic life. “The Auteur” is an inspirational story about finding out what’s really important in life: true friends and lots of on-screen nudity[…].

Link to full article.


WANT TO SEE “THE AUTEUR”?

Get your tickets from Cinema 21. (Warning: Not suitable for all audiences. Hilarious comedy, sweet love story, but lots of nudity. I mean LOTS.)

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Oregonian Celebrates Creativity

by admin

The Ultimate Northwest magazine included in this Sunday’s paper featured a story on Oregon creatives. Lana’s excited to have her interview alongside David Walker’s:

The People Issue: Celebrating Creativity
Meet 25 of Portland’s most creative thinkers
Ultimate Northwest
Special Section to the Oregonian
October 26, 2008


FILMING FRENZY

LANA VEENKER
CASTING DIRECTOR

Seeing stars: After third-generation Oregonian Lana Veenker spent about a decade working and studying in Europe, she returned to Portland in 1999. She’d gained experience working for a casting agency in London and thought, after a brief pit stop in her hometown, she’d move to a bigger city. But then one thing led to another, and a temporary stay grew permanent. Mere months after landing back in Portland, Veenker, 41, was getting casting jobs. She started her own company with, as she recalls, “a laptop and a cell phone.” Now, her agency has helped cast such movies as “Paranoid Park,” The Road,” “Feast of Love” and “Management.”

All in a day’s work: As a casting director, Veenker and her staff work on a range of projects. For independently made features by Portland-based directors like James Westby, Veenker helped cast primary roles in his festival favorite, “The Auteur.” For Hollywood flicks, Veenker generally casts “day players” — people who come in for supporting roles and have a couple of speaking lines. But the company has been asked to look for lead actors: Gabe Nevins, star of “Paranoid Park,” responded to an open casting call.

Portland as film town: “I was at the Berlin film festival in February,” Veenker says. “People said, ‘You’re a casting director in Portland? Does anything shoot there?’ So I said, ‘Well, I’ve worked with Gus Van Sant and Jennifer Aniston and Viggo Mortensen’…. By the end of the festival, those people were saying Portland’s the next Toronto.”

Link to full article.


 

 

 

 

 

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Variety Raves About "The Auteur" at OutFest

by admin

Just got back from the West Coast premiere of “The Auteur” at OutFest in Los Angeles.

Here’s what Variety has to say about the film:

OutFest
“The Auteur”
Variety
July 22, 2008
by Robert Koehler

It’s not easy being “the Kubrick of porn,” a label that burdens fame-obsessed, jealousy-wracked Arturo Domingo at the center of James Westby’s erratic mockumentary, “The Auteur.” Like his “Film Geek,” new pic is about movie culture in Westby’s base of Portland, Ore. Half of the laughs stem from X-rated spins on famous movie titles, but a gentle, less ironic humor also occasionally pokes through. Nifty indie-fest entry should sidestep theatrical altogether and go straight to vid, where the porn action is these days anyway.

Link to full article

Congrats to cast and crew!

 

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Casting Teens for Gus!

by admin

At long last, I’m poking my head back in here. Clearly, blogging is not my medium. 😐 Mea culpa.

I’ll quickly summarize the whirlwind of the past few months, so I can update you on the latest news:

May 2006:

We were hired to do the Oregon and Washington casting on a Morgan Freeman movie for Lakeshore Entertainment, called “Feast of Love,” based on the Charles Baxter novel. Actually, we’re still working on it. It’s been great working with the producers, crew and the very lovely Robert Benton who is directing. Just one last session this weekend and we should be about done.

June 2006:

Besides the regular commercial biz coming in, we did a major spot for Nike, requiring 150 talent for a night shoot at a shopping mall. Oy! I won’t even go into the craziness of that gig; I’ll just say that I bow to the producer for pulling it off with such class. If WE thought it was insanity, I can’t even imagine what HIS job was like.

We also managed to cast a few indie shorts, a music video, a couple TV pilots and some educational stuff, but the big fun came working on James Westby’s new feature “The Auteur” (based on his short by the same title). Hilarious script. I can’t wait to see how it turns out!! And I think I can pretty safely say that, after working on that film, I’m probably the only person on the planet who has been embraced by Mother Teresa, the Dalai Lama…and porn star Ron Jeremy(!). But those stories are for another day.

July 2006:

We actually got FOUR whole days off on the 4th of July holiday, so that was amazing and fun. We picked up on “Feast of Love” again when we got back, finished up bookings on “The Auteur” and scrambled through several more commercial gigs, before getting a call from Gus Van Sant’s producer about casting his new film, “Paranoid Park,” based on the Blake Nelson novel.

I don’t have a lot of time to go into it now, because we’re heading into MAJOR cattle calls on August 3rd and 5th to find teens for the film, but anyone interested can check out the MySpace page we’ve set up:


www.myspace.com/ParanoidPark

We need 14-18 year olds of all types, plus we’re going to need skateboarders 14-30 at our next cattle call on August 15th. Check it out and tell everyone you know!

Later!