AUSTIN, Texas, February 17, 2012, Robert Goldrich --- Over the past year, director Jonas Akerlund balanced a workload of close to 30 commercials, five music videos and a feature film, Small Apartments. The latter—with a cast that includes Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, James Caan, Johnny Knoxville, Juno Temple and James Marsden—makes its world premiere at the South By Southwest (SXSW) Film Conference and Festival slated for March 9-17 in Austin.
Akerlund is one of several helmers with spotmaking ties (he is repped by Serial Pictures) to have a feature-length film at SXSW this year. Small Apartments is a dark comedy in which a man accidently kills his landlord, kicking off a wild journey that meshes both humor and more serious considerations. "The movie is really about hope and not giving up, opening up your mind to deal with changes in life," related Akerlund. "The film starts out like a traditional comedy with strong characters and funny moments. Yet as the story unfolds, it becomes more serious, offering a bit of a message and an emotional aspect."
Akerlund first came across Small Apartments 10-plus years ago. "I always loved the book. This is one of those passion projects that I've been hoping I could get made into a movie one day." One of the stumbling blocks for Akerlund was finding "someone special" to play the main character, Franklin Franklin. "The question for me was always, 'who is the guy brave enough in Hollywood to become Franklin?' A few years ago I cast my eyes on Matt Lucas, an English actor, mostly known for the U.K. TV series Little Britain. I liked what I saw and promised myself that if he wants to do Small Apartments, I would somehow get this film made. I sent him the book and the script, and got an instant response from him that he wanted to do the movie."
It took another year or two to get the film going. Favors had to be called in so as to make production viable within a limited budget. "We decided to shoot in Los Angeles, which might seem odd to some in that it can be more expensive to produce here. But it was a good decision because this is a character-driven film and we needed a strong cast," noted Akerlund. "We aimed high on the cast and when you're asking actors to do you a favor and work for less, you've got a much better chance if all they have to do is roll down the hill and shoot in L.A. rather than them having to fly to Canada, Prague or somewhere else."
This will mark Akerlund's first time attending SXSW. "I'm not much of a film festival guy," he related. "Yet I've heard about South By Southwest the past two or three years, even got some phone calls from friends who were there and told me I would enjoy the experience. From what I've heard, it seems that it's becoming what Sundance used to be, which sounds like it could be a good place for a weird movie like mine."
Akerlund said that another "good place" for him is the spotmaking arena. "It's what I do the most of and without my experience in advertising, there's no way I could have done movies and documentaries. Commercials have helped me in collaboration, creatively and on the practical side."
SPOTTED AT NYC’s The London hotel: comics Tom Green, Rob Schneider (and Rob’s wife Patricia), and screenwriter Chris Millis. Rob was making the talk show rounds, pumping up his new CBS sitcom, “Rob,” which is doing very well after only four episodes. (These days, if a sitcom doesn’t explode after one week, it can disappear!)
By the time the Schneiders joined Green and Millis at the hotel, the kitchen had closed. But never underestimate the power of celebrity “handlers.” After some smooth talking, the staff at The London managed to keep the guys and the rest of the party in a good mood, well nourished and with no lack of libation. Nothing like a hit TV series to get a stove working again.
The full column can be seen here:
BY OLIVER LYTTELTON | JANUARY 10, 2012 | Indiewire.com
Synopsis: An overweight man, Franklin Franklin, lives in an apartment complex and dreams of Switzerland, but finds his neighbors leaking into his life.
What You Need To Know: On the "randomly assembled cast" meter, only one film in 2012 is able to compete with "Battleship" -- "Small Apartments." The latest film from music video veteran Jonas Akerlund, it features among its ensemble James Caan, Billy Crystal, Johnny Knoxville, Rosie Perez and Dolph Lundgren. Based on Canadian (huh? Canadian?) writer Chris Millis' award-winning novel, British comedian Matt Lucas ("Bridesmaids," "Alice in Wonderland") toplines this quirky dark comedy, compared by some to "A Confederacy of Dunces," with Juno Temple, Amanda Plummer, Saffron Burrows, DJ Qualls, Rebel Wilson, Peter Stormare and David Koechner also along for the ride. Akerlund's hyperactive style did no favors to his near-unwatchable "Spun" or "Horsemen," but this seems like enough of an oddity that we're intrigued to see more. Also intriguing to note, ex-Roxette frontman Per Gessle is scoring the film (actually, Roxette is still touring and selling out stadiums).
When? Slated for Sundance, but absent from the line-up, we're sure it'll do the festival route later in the year. (“Small Apartments” will premiere in March 2012 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in Austin). Read full article here.
Small Apartments (World Premiere)
Director: Jonas Åkerlund, Writer: Chris Millis
When Franklin Franklin accidentally kills his landlord, he must hide the body; but, the wisdom of his beloved brother and the quirks of his neighbors, force him on a journey where a fortune awaits him. Cast: Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, James Caan, Johnny Knoxville, Juno Temple, James Marsden, Dolph Lundgren, Saffron Burrows, Rosie Perez, DJ Qualls. Full article here.
Millis adapted the screenplay and is executive producer.
In the movie, in addition to Crystal, are Matt Lucas, Johnny Knoxville, James Caan, Dolph Lundgren, Juno Temple, Peter Stormare, James Marsden, Amanda Plummer, Saffron Burrows, David Koechner, David Warshofsky, Rebel Wilson and Rosie Perez, according to Millis’ blog.
How the movie will be distributed after the festival has yet to be determined.
“I’d really love to do something big in Saratoga,” Millis said.
LOS ANGELES— If you’ve been waiting to see Billy Crystal, last a movie lead nine years ago in “Analyze That,” back on the big screen, wait no more.
Mr. Crystal, this year’s Oscar host, will appear in a supporting role in “Small Apartments,” an indie film that will screen at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Tx., during a film program that runs from March 9 through March 17, the festival announced on Thursday. Directed by Jonas Åkerlund, “Small Apartments” is a comedy, based on a script and novel by Chris Millis, about a deadbeat who kills his landlord. Click here for New York Times article.