"Small Apartments" director Jonas Akerlund interviewed for SHOOTONLINE

Spotmakers Set To Debut Films At SXSW Festival

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."

"Small Apartments" co-star named among Best L.A. Stage Performances of 2011

Scott Sheldon, who plays the hilarious Officer Smith in the upcoming feature, "Small Apartments," which will debut March 10 at the South by Southwest Film Festival, has been named by "Stage and Cinema" as one of the best stage performances of 2011 for his role as Moony in the Tennessee Williams play, "Moony's Kid Don't Cry," staged by The New American Theatre in Los Angeles.

In "Stage and Cinema," Harvey Perr writes, "(Tennessee) Williams, of course, loved actors, and wrote some of the greatest parts in the history of the American theater; actors have so much fun playing them, and that particular joy was expressed in Five Beauties. But of the five one-acts, it was in Williams’ early and uncharacteristic “Moony’s Kid Don’t Cry” (one of the five) that Scott Sheldon exploded into one’s consciousness by transforming himself into the hapless Moony."

And in an earlier review, The Los Angeles Times hailed Sheldon's performance as, "bravura."

Read the the "Stage and Cinema article here, and the Los Angeles Times article here. Link to the play here. Unfortunately, the play has closed its run. So, look for Sheldon when "Small Apartments" hits theaters.

World Premiere and Screening Dates Announced for "Small Apartments" at South by Southwest 2012

The World Premiere of the dark, indie comedy "Small Apartments," directed by Jonas Akerlund with screenplay by Chris Millis and starring Matt Lucas, Billy Crystal, Johnny Knoxville, Juno Temple, James Caan, Dolph Lundgren, James Marsden, Rosie Perez, Peter Stormare and many more is scheduled for Saturday, March 10 at the South by Southwest Film Festival in the Narrative Spotlight Section at 9:15 PM in the Alamo Lamar A Theater, 1120 South Lamar Blvd, Austin TX. There will be FOUR screenings throughout the festival between March 10 and March 17. Full schedule here.

Featured in Liz Smith's Column...

The below item ran in Liz Smith's Feb. 7 column. The column is featured on wowowow.com and syndicated in newspapers throughout the country.


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: