Mar 31, 2012

A BAG OF HAMMERS THEATRICAL RELEASE

A BAG OF HAMMERS THEATRICAL RELEASE

May 11, 2012 -- NEW YORK CITY / May 18, 2012 -- LOS ANGELES 

Jan 1, 2012

Director Brian Crano one of PASTE MAGAZINE's Best New Filmmakers of 2011

Not only does Crano deftly juggle humor and pathos simultaneously, he also juggles actors with wildly different styles, from classically trained (Rebecca Hall, Carrie Preston) to mainstream-swimming (Jake Sandvig, Amanda Seyfried) to child prodigy (Chandler Canterbury) to the comedic force of nature that is Jason Ritter."

Sep 16, 2011

BAG Special Screening @ The Light Factory - Charlotte, NC - OCT 20

THIS IS GONNA BE FUN!

A BAG OF HAMMERS 
Directed by Brian Crano
2010 / USA / Color / English 

Thurs. October 20- Sat. October 22
7:30 PM 
Hodges Taylor Art Consultancy 
(401 N. Tryon - Transamerica Square) 
$5 Members / $7 Non-Members 

Not Rated / 87 min  

For directions and parking, click 
here.

Sep 1, 2011

BAG to be the closing night film at EDMONTON FILM FESTIVAL

We are very excited to be playing at Edmonton, it's an honor to be asked to be the closing night film.  

Aug 30, 2011

Audience Choice Award @ Sidewalk Film Festival

We're very pleased to announce that A BAG OF HAMMERS just won the Audience Choice Award for Best Narrative Feature at Sidewalk Film Festival in Birmingham Alabama!

BIRMINGHAM's BLACK AND WHITE Review

A Bag of Hammers (direct- ed by Brian Crano) relates a story of human foibles and unforeseen circumstances from which Michael Ritchie (Smile, The Candidate) and Bill Forsyth (Local Hero, Comfort and Joy) once gleaned comic gems. Like a scenario from an O. Henry or Damon Runyon yarn, two con artists—whose only real talent is for downright theft—find them- selves responsible for a young boy. The somewhat precocious kid has recently moved to the neighbor- hood under the unwatchful eye of his job-desperate, cruelly detached mother (Carrie Preston of “True Blood,” defining white trash). What follows is an intriguing and wholly original study of complex relation- ships, told in an alarmingly offhand and humorous manner, consider- ing the dire nature of what actually takes place. Leads Jake Sandvig and Jason Ritter are a natural pair of tragic goofs, but English actor Rebecca Hall (Vicky Cristina Barcelona, Frost/Nixon) owns every scene she’s in, mainly because her eyes own the camera. Johnny Flynn’s marvelous sound- track is a near masterpiece. (A Bag of Hammers, Saturday, August 27, 12:45 p.m., Carver Theatre) 

BIRMINGHAM WEEKLY HEARTS BAG:

A Bag of Hammers—Saturday, 12:45, Carver Theatre Given the title of this film, one might think viewers were in for some violence-laden mafia flick, but the opposite couldn’t be truer. The film, directed by Brian Crano, begins as an off-the-wall buddy comedy about two itinerant, small-time con-men. It’s all snarky dialogue at first, but just when the film has you laughing, it socks you with a surprisingly sentimental core. Forced to deal with the all-too real lives of the collapsing family next door, the two hucksters find their own comfortable existence changing in unexpected ways. It’s a rare film that can make you honestly laugh and cry in the same sitting, but the performances by almost every lead in Bag of Hammers is superb, and tilt this film from good to great. SG

Jun 6, 2011

Variety Reviews BAG

A Bag of Hammers
By JOE LEYDON
First-time feature helmer Brian Crano maneuvers some tricky tonal shifts with impressive ease in "A Bag of Hammers," a droll, quirky comedy with a pleasant amount of heart. Set to start a North American theatrical run in August after months of buzz on the fest circuit, this offbeat indie could nail fair-to-middling B.O. if receptive reviews and word of mouth help spread the word.
 
Longtime buddies Ben (Jason Ritter) and Alan (Jake Sandvig) are twentysomething L.A. slackers who revel in their arrested adolescence, blithely taking risks and cracking wise while operating a valet-parking scam to steal cars. Despite the admonishments of Alan's sister, Mel (Rebecca Hall), who's kinda-sorta sweet on Ben, the two friends are content to remain reckless and irresponsible -- until responsibility is more or less imposed upon then.
 
After leasing their next-door rental house to Lynette (Carrie Preston), a stressed single mom who may be working her own scam, Ben and Alan strike up a friendship with Kelsey (Chandler Canterbury), the new tenant's 12-year-old son, whose maturity level is slightly above theirs. But he's also a neglected latchkey kid, leading Mel to lodge a complaint with child welfare authorities.
 
One thing leads to another, Lynette drops out of the picture, and Ben and Alan wind up accepting Kelsey into their household. And, for a while, into their valet-parking scam.
Working from a witty script he co-wrote with Sandvig, Crano manages the difficult feat of keeping his comedy on an even keel, even during moments that are jarringly serious or genuinely discomfiting.

In the latter category, there's a scene in which Lynette, strapped for cash after failing to find employment, desperately offers sexual favors in lieu of rent to Ben and Alan. There are probably a dozen different ways this scene could have turned crude or smirky or both, and it's a credit to Crano and his actors (especially Preston) that the aud has no reason to laugh, and every reason to expect the worst.

More often than not, however, "A Bag of Hammers" is very funny, with Ritter and Sandvig trading snarky quips to hilarious effect and Todd Louiso ("High Fidelity") periodically swiping scenes as a larcenous garage owner who earnestly but unsuccessfully courts Mel, played by Hall as a woman for whom any intelligent man would risk making a fool of himself.

As Kelsey, young Canterbury initially recalls Francois Truffaut's description of his Antoine Doinel alter ego in "The 400 Blows" -- a child who is not merely mistreated, but not treated at all -- making the character's appreciation of Ben and Alan as surrogate fathers both comical and poignant.

Oddly enough, the pic's final scenes suggest that Crano and Sandvig studied, of all films, Spike Lee's "25th Hour" for inspiration. If so, they learned their lessons well.
An MPI Media Group release of a Manor Film presentation of a Two Ships and a Locomotive production. Produced by Peter Friedlander, Lucy Barzun Donnelly, Jennifer Barrons. Co-producer, Jake Sandvig. Directed by Brian Crano. Screenplay, Crano, Jake Sandvig.

With: Jason Ritter, Jake Sandvig, Chandler Canterbury, Rebecca Hall, Todd Louiso, Gabriel Macht, Carrie Preston, Johnny Simmons
Camera (color), Bryon Shah, Quyen Tran; editors, Brian A. Kates, Travis Sittard; music, Johnny Flynn; music supervisor, Nick Bobetsky; production designer, Bradley Thordarson; art director, Angela How; costume designer, Michelle Sandvig; sound, Robert Sharman, Thomas Curley; supervising sound editor, Matt Vowles; assistant director, Stuart Richardson; casting, Brad Gilmore. Reviewed at Nashville Film Festival (New Directors), April 18, 2010. (Also in SXSW Film Festival -- Spotlight Premieres.) Running time: 85 MIN.

May 13, 2011

eFilmcritic.com Review!

"You know the old tale about the slacker ne'er-do-wells who are suddenly forced to face responsibility. Tales is more appropriate, and of course you do. Now, remember the last time you were faced with such a film and it turned out to be the kind of honestly funny and sweet tale that is often failed by pandering filmmakers? Brian Crano's A Bag of Hammers turns out to be that rare tale that surprises in its maturity while never losing the reality of leopards trying to change their spots. 

Your two slackers in question are Ben and Alan (Jason Ritter & Jake Sandvig), two best friends who specialize in the kind of phony valet service that gives you a ticket and then steals your car. If anything can qualify as their good deed of the day, it is renting out part of their duplex to the unemployed Lynette (Carrie Preston) and her young son, Kelsey (a very good Chandler Canterbury). When Alan's sister, Mel (Rebecca Hall) notice that living conditions over there might not be up to the child's standards, the boy's handsome teacher and former Child Services worker (Gabriel Macht) may be just the answer for the single mom. Or does Kelsey's situation stir up some old feelings in the pals to take charge, both of whom were the product of neglect and forged their friendship because of it?

It all sounds like a by-the-numbers script by Crano and co-star Sandvig, but they refuse to shy away from the harsher implications involved with Lynette and the economy, nor in the potential of a child being traded through the system for food stamps. The film does take some dark turns along the way, but necessary ones to shake the guys into a new reality (though their seemingly easy-to-trace valet scam is never in danger.) The first ten minutes of the film with Ben & Alan's banter perfectly establishing their relationship and a hilarious encounter with Ben's ex (a cameo by Amanda Seyfried) is funnier than the likes of any of the faux responsibility films we saw in 2010 (Life As We Know It, etc...) Those laughs continue throughout the film but never at the expense of some rich, dramatic truths. 

Bravo to Crano and Sandvig for not cutting away from a bravura monologue delivered by Ritter (who deserves a shot in the next James L. Brooks or Judd Apatow production) that perfectly bridges the shifts in tone. There is also a wonderful bit of wish fulfillment for the future in a late sequence that recalls the strength of similar moments in (500) Days of Summer and Spike Lee's 25th Hour. A Bag of Hammers can't help but simplify the reality of the situation just a little, but that doesn't stop it from feeling more real than the spate of condescending trite that has come before it."

May 9, 2011

Soho House Screenings Announced

Members only.  NYC / Miami May 13, 2011.  Los Angeles May 16, 20111.

Screen International Article About BAG

May 2, 2011

Whysoblu.com review of BAG

A Bag of Hammers is very much a film that I hope many will get to see.  It has all of the right kinds of charm and energy that one would hope for in an independent film from talented young filmmakers.  While the film will eventually see a limited theatrical release, it is definitely one that should be picked up in whatever form is available to a wide audience.  The spark within the cast is superb and the writing is clever and well done.  Bringing in both comedy and drama, I was highly entertained throughout this film, which is all I ever ask for.  The added bonus is how well crafted the film was and meaningful the relationships between the characters were.  Surprised and delighted indeed.

Newport Beach Film Festival kicks off to big crowds

"A conversation at the Lido Theater with screenwriter Aaron Sorkin (“The West Wing,” “The Social Network”) played to a huge house, as did a directing panel I moderated to a room full of filmmakers and producers featuring Penelope Spheeris (“Wayne’s World,” “Suburbia”), Oren Kaplan (“Hamill”), Brian Crano (“A Bag of Hammers”) and Irish filmmaker Tom Hall (“Sensation”)."

Apr 27, 2011

Jason Ritter interviewed by Crave Online about BAG

Newport Beach Film Festival Directing Panel

Bag director, Brian Crano, will be a panelist at the Newport Beach Film Festival's Directing Panel.  

Saturday, April 30, 2011 at 1pm Triangle Square.  The seminar is free and open to the public and if we're lucky there will be pamphlets there.

Apr 17, 2011

Sunday's Nashville Film Festival screening SOLD OUT!

Nashville Film Festival Screenings Tonight and Tomorrow!

If you're near Nashville, you should go check it out and enjoy.

Mar 29, 2011

Gordon and The Whale Interview With Brian Crano director of A Bag of Hammers

Brian Crano's first feature A BAG OF HAMMERS premiered just a few weeks ago in Austin at the SXSW Film Festival, where I saw it and instantly fell in love (with the film, not Crano - sorry, dude, that just might be too creepy). A BAG OF HAMMERS follows two misfit best friends, Ben and Allan (played by Jason Ritter and Jake Sandvig, respectively), who get by doing no good. They're thrown a bag of hammers when they take a mother and fatherless boy under their wings.

I unsuccessfully tried to interview Crano in person at the festival, but my schedule kept train-wrecking so he was nice enough to pass along his email for us to conduct an interview that way. After the break is our conversation about the film, which I believe you will find very fascinating, especially if you're a young filmmaker hungry for originality and exposure. Enjoy! 

A BAG OF HAMMERS is your first feature. The film deals with serious tones but in a lighthearted and comical way. Where did the idea of this film first come from?

In the most simplistic terms from a desire to make a buddy comedy. At the time we wrote the script, pre- Apatow rightly turning into the Sun, pre- Wedding Crashers, there was a kind of buddy comedy drought. I wanted to use the central relationship in the film -- two best friends -- as a metaphor for alternative families and the tropes of a buddy comedy seemed like the perfect fit. The idea was to start the film true to that style, broad comedy - light on consequence and kind of lure the audience into a false sense of security about what they are watching. Then when the plot turns and the rug is pulled out from the two lead characters to do the same thing to the viewer, so the tone and seriousness of the film is suddenly asking a lot more of them emotionally than what they might have bargained for. This was very deliberate, as I really believe that form and content should marry, so I want the audience to be on the same ride as the characters. It's fun for me to have seen this play out for the first time with an audience at SXSW. It was a big experiment that seemed to work really well, there were a lot of laughs and a lot of sniffles in all the right places. I never want watching the film or anything I do to be a passive experience. I want the audience to have no sense of where the story is leading them and really fight to preserve some sense of genuine surprise, which is such a rare, rare thing to feel when you go to a film, the economics of which dictate that they must branded and advertised within an inch of its life just to get you to the theatre.

You’ve worked with Rebecca Hall three times now [first two have been Crano’s shorts, RUBBERHEART and OFFICIAL SELECTION, respectively]. What is it about her that makes you want to keep casting her in your films?

I met Rebecca in the early 2000s when I cast her in a workshop of a play that I wrote, 12th PREMISE. And it turns out, without knowing it at the time, I had cast my favorite actress and one of my best friends. We approach work in the same way, I think. Rebecca wants to be challenged. She works hard, is rigorous in her approach but has a really good time on set. She's always treading new ground. And she's never a pain in the ass. When you work with Rebecca, it's like one less thing you have to worry about because she will reliably do something brilliant, much better than whatever you had in mind. I will keep offering her work forever and hope very much she keeps saying yes.

I have not seen your shorts, but I have seen A BAG OF HAMMERS and it’s obvious you have an eye for finding actors who mesh well together on screen. What’s your casting process like and how do you know when you’ve found the right people?

Casting is really a fun process. So I like to take my time withit. With BAG we knew that the chemistry between the two leads was critical to the film's success. I wanted to meet a lot of people, to just talk withthem first, get a sense of who they were, how they like to work and what they thought about the film. Then if they seemed like they would fit in, we would have them come back in and read. This took a few months but was worth it because you end up discovering people like Jason Ritter, who I hadn't thought of for the role and ended up being perfect; or Carrie Preston whose audition was so strong it changed my perception of the character. I come out of theatre background where the idea of repertory company is really prevalent and it appeals to me greatly. There are about ten or twelve actors that no matter what I'm doing, I'm always looking for a way to cast with them.

You wear many hats in all your films (writer, director, producer) - do you want to keep this trend going or would you like to eventually just write or direct?

I think that I'll keep it up. I really enjoy the various stages of the process, and they all interrelate, so why not? I'll keep directing what I write, but I'd like to produce for others as well. Rebecca has a movie that she's working on that I would like to work on as a producer. And I am attached to direct a film that I didn't write, at the moment, which is really exciting. It's a very different process being not emotionally attached to any particular part about the script, having no baggage or whatever. It's been really cool starting this process. But ultimately, it's so appealing to have an idea and see it through from the writing process through completion I think I'll keep doing it all.

A BAG OF HAMMERS deals with young adults who unconsciously refuse to grow up. Being 28, I relate to it because there are times when it hits me that I’m almost 30 and still don’t have it all together, so I often call my sweet mother to see if she’s proud of what I’ve down with my life so far. With that awkward introduction to my personal life, does any of this story come from your personal experiences?

I think the part of the story that relates to my personal experience the most is about the desire to have a family and the knowledge that that family isn't going to be made up of a husband, a wife, 2.3 kids and a dog. In another way, the film is about people who have had bad things happen to them and still have to move forward. That is close to my experience, my mother was very sick for a while and the weight of that stays with you and changes you, whatever you are doing. But I'm a total momma's boy and definitely seek approval constantly, so you are not alone.

What’s it like having your feature premiere at a very prestigious and popular film festival like SXSW?

It was really very special. It took six years to make this film and throughout that process you are really formulating the A side of a conversation. South By gave us a huge platform to hear the B side of that conversation and let us engage with a big broad audience. It was honestly the festival where we wanted to launch the film because, having been there in the past, the energy and spirit of the festival was right for this kind of movie. And the whole SXSW team was so great to us and the response to the movie down there was so strong -- it was a dream.

A BAG OF HAMMERS is on both Facebook and Twitter. How do you think this has helped market the film?

Well it certainly makes us more accessible. People have written us little questions or notes, and we've been invited to screen at other festivals via these mediums so that is helpful. It's also a useful way for us to feedback, watching Twitter after screenings was kind of a group pastime. And the obvious things like sharing reviews and press stuff with people who are keeping an eye on @abagofhammers orabagofhammers.com (shameless plug).

What’s next for A BAG OF HAMMERS?

We're screening at Nashville Film Festival and Newport Beach Film Festival and we've been asked to screen at a few others. And we're in the process of selling the film, which is a nice thing.