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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.