Set Visit: Extract
For a number of years, I was working behind a desk while I would do anything and everything to check out JoBlo.com,
AITH and even a few other websites that would peak my movie loving interest. And since I worked at a law firm, you had to be careful as to which sites you perused. One time, I even found my co-worker eyeing some of the most pornographic imagery you could ever imagine. His image of choice was a very attractive blonde with humongous breasts, the kind that makes every mans best friend stand at attention. Believe me, it was
far more than just a naked chick he continued to ogle. And such is life working in an office, the curious fellow looking at boobies soon found himself out of a job
ironically, for another reason, but still
Mike Judge gets it. He gave every horn dog teenager something to aspire to with "Beavis and Butthead." He brought out the boss from hell and all those co-workers that drive you completely insane and made them public. When my previous career brought in consultants to help run the firm smoother, I couldnt resist the pleasure of mentioning to them that I hoped they werent like the Bobs funny thing was, our Bob was a she. Mr. Judge has the gift of bringing everyday, average joe schmoes to the forefront. Whether it is King of the Hill or his previously mentioned work, he seems to understand the working class plight. By doing this he offers up humor with a frank and sometimes sad satirical tone. And for me, that is when he is at his best. Now, he looks to be returning to that with EXTRACT, a film which I had the pleasure of visiting the set of, in the lovely Commerce, California well, maybe not necessarily lovely.
|Jason Bateman||Ben Affleck|
|Mila Kunis||Kristen Wiig|
|JK Simmons||Clifton Collins, Jr.|
Synopsis: Jason Bateman stars as a the owner of an extract factory stuck in the middle of a crumbling workplace and personal life. His wife (Wiig) is dating a gigolo, an employee in his factory (Collins) gets injured while a con woman (Kunis) wants to use that accident for her own gain with the help of an ambulance chasing lawyer (Gene Simmons of KISS).
When I arrived at crew parking, I made my call to Amy Cohn who was more than accommodating on this visit. She was my contact at the location and she quickly sent for a van to pick me up. As I was waiting, I wondered how many other journalist would be tagging along for the fun. Once the van arrived, I began talking to the driver about Mikes career. While I didnt love IDIOCRACY, I still saw the talent behind it. We both agreed that the rest of his work, his more honest work was what made him special. I for one love that he creates this blue collar environment that is true to life in a satirical way. So after some great conversation and an easy van ride, I found myself at the factory where Mikes blue collar world would come to life. With this, I soon found out that there was not one other journalist in sight. It was me and only me that day, which is always a treat when visiting a set.
I was met by Amy, who I had talked to over the phone but not in person. I quickly grew to like her as she made me feel very welcome. We exchanged hellos and she brought me to where they were filming. I sat down with one of the films producers, John Altschuler and he filled me in on what I was about to see. The actors on set included Joel, the manager of a bottle extract company played by Jason Bateman and Clifton Collins Jr. as his up and coming assistant, Step. The stage was set as an assembly line is thrust into disaster because one of the employees is passing out flyers to his bands concert the band is Gods Cock. Sort of like Godsmack but different. While this is usual fare for employees who have outside interest, this irks a couple of the women working with this rock and roll rebel. The ladies decide that if he wont work, neither will they. It all builds up to a bit of nastiness in the work environment which might have something to do with testicles. I think I will avoid giving away too much here.
While I didnt catch the climax of the sequence, I did see the buildup. Jason Bateman plays the poor slob trying to keep things running smoothly just as well as youd expect. But it is Clifton Collins Jr. that will be stealing the laughs this time around. His Step character feels like many of the assistant managers that Ive known throughout my life. In fact, Step is just as moronic as a certain fellow that worked with me at a copy services center years ago. And Clifton is absolutely perfect here. Each and every take seemed to work better and better including a hilarious moment where Jason told his underlings to Shut it!. While Mike Judge watched each and every take, he seemed very happy with his actors. Even though I only spoke to Mr. Judge a couple of times in between shoots, I could tell that he seems to be a terrific director to work with. Both him and John were very happy that I figured out the film must take place in Illinois. Ironically enough, I had just been there as my current Facebook picture can attest to. I was visiting family and saw a whole lot of familiarity in these characters.
Now one of the elements within this film that seemed to make for a unique shooting experience, was that this factory laden area of California is home to a real life bottle extracting company. While they were shooting the film, the company was up and running. But they were more than welcoming to the cast and crew. You really cant beat making a film in a honest to goodness working factory. In fact, John even talked about the experience along with Mike Judges quest for realism, He wasnt going to make the movie if it doesnt look right, if it doesnt look real. Throughout the whole movie this factory is actually in operation while we are shooting. And sometimes you cant tell whos a real employee and who is not a real employee. And you know, Mike is so detailed that its seamless.
John also talked about what they were trying to accomplish with this film. After IDIOCRACY, they wanted to return to what could be called a true Mike Judge film. For this was the film that should have been made after OFFICE SPACE, but with that films early failure, they wanted something more commercial. John spoke about how EXTRACT is finally seeing the light of day. He [Mike Judge] wrote this movie to follow up OFFICE SPACE. But everybody thought that OFFICE SPACE was such a failure that he couldnt get anybody [to make it] and [we read it] and said, this is vintage Mike Judge. So what we did is, we raised the money completely independently. So we wouldnt get f*cked with or we wouldnt get off track. And whats great is, we had to finance it and Miramax came in just for distribution. So we are doing a Mike Judge movie the way that it really should be made.
It is always inspiring to hear that movies like this can be made. In fact, more of them should be made like this. To be able to tell the story you want without a ton of suits advising you of what they feel the audience wants to see. And as John said, this seems to be truly a vintage Mike Judge film. There was a very confidant atmosphere with cast and crew. In fact, when I headed over to do the interviews with the talent, I found that this confidence is genuine. I spoke to J.K. Simmons, Clifton Collins, Jr. and of course, Mila Kunis and Jason Bateman. Each one of them seemed to be thrilled that they were making a truly funny comedy.
While oftentimes you cant really tell if the film you are watching being shot is really going to make people laugh, I have little doubt this one will. While we have to wait and see for its 2009 release, I am very much looking forward to the finished project. When I was at the MAX PAYNE junket a few weeks ago, Mila and I spoke about EXTRACT again. She said shed seen some of it and it was hilarious. So really, what is not to like? Youve got Mike Judge, Mila Kunis, Jason Bateman, Clifton Collins Jr. and the great J.K. Simmons plus a whole lot more. It looks like a whole lot of funny may be coming our way. Stay tuned for the one on one interviews that took place throughout the day. Hell, Jason, Mila and I even spent some time looking for naked videos of the beauty Caren Kaye and her film MY TUTOR which Mila hadnt seen. And ironically, neither had Jason. Both he and Caren co-starred in the short lived sitcom Its Your Move back in 1984. More on that later
Let me know what you think. Send questions and/or comments to JimmyO@JoBlo.com.
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