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Thursday, 10 March, 2011 3:55 AM
'Answer This!' to be screened during the Detroit Independent Film Festival
Watch "Answer This!" at the Uptown Birmingham 8 on Friday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m.
DETROIT -- Chris Farah grew up in Ann Arbor and attended the University of Michigan. He recently moved to Hollywood to start his own production company. The film director came back to Ann Arbor to shoot his first motion picture on the U-M campus by the name of "Answer This!" He hired 10 production assistants from the university's screen arts and cultures department. Farah was able to shoot the first football game game and the first day of classes in 2009. The film, originally known as "Trivial Pursuits," is now called "Answer This!" and will be screened at the Detroit Independent Film Festival.
"I went to the University of Michigan for undergraduate and graduate," Farah said in an exclusive phone interview. "I decided to move out to Hollywood to pursue entertainment five years ago or so. Before that, I worked as a journalist and did New York City. That was kind of a long journey, but definitely a fun one."
What's the story of your new film, "Answer This!"?
"It's about somebody who has a lot of questions in his life," the director explained. "He's a graduate at the University of Michigan and he actually is really into the smaller questions. He really loves to play trivia. It really is a way to avoid the bigger questions in his life. He's really, really great at trivia, but really, really bad about figuring out about what he wants to do with the rest of his life, what he wants to do with his job, with his relationship with his dad, with his relationship with his girlfriend. It's kind of a coming of age story that became that world, specifically in pub trivia."
With thousands of possible places to shoot a movie, why Ann Arbor, Mich.?
"Certainly, the film incentives helped, but more than that, for me and my brother, the producer of the movie, Ann Arbor was the place that we grew up in," he added. "We felt such a strong attachment to it. It really made sense to have the unique setting of our first movie. It really wouldn't make sense in any other place. It was really great. It helped me to connect more with the main character of the movie to have him feel such a strong bond with the city. One of the main parts is to answer, Paul, is whether or not to leave town and go out someplace else. That's an issue that I did myself so it all works out pretty well that way."
The film will be shown on Friday, March 11 at 9:30 p.m. at the Uptown Birmingham 8. Will you be in town for the screening?
"Unfortunately, I won't because we have to schedule a shoot here this weekend," Farah said. "My brother and I also work for a website called FunnyorNot.com and we've had a shoot for the last month and we weren't able to change that."
What's next for "Answer This!"? Can we expect a theatrical release or a DVD release?
"Both, I think," the director explained. "For Michigan, specifically, we're talking to chains over there to have a statewide release that would pretty much be all over the place. We're also going to be doing a college tour. The movie, like I said, takes place on a college campus and we feel that would be pretty well for the audience. All that's going to be happening right around September and October of this year."
How much of the cast and crew were from Michigan and how many were from California?
"One of the stars of the movie, Ralph Williams, is actually a really well-known professor from the University of Michigan," he added. "He plays a professor from the University of Michigan. The other stars are actors from Los Angeles. They did a really phenomenal job. Our cast has gotten really great reviews. In addition to that, everybody else--the extras, the other roles are all local actors. As for crew, that was almost entirely from Michigan. In particular, we used a lot of students from the University of Michigan who were working for the very first time."
Would you have made the film without Michigan's 42 percent tax incentive?
"No, that really made it happen," Farah said. "When we did get the check from the state back, that helped us do things like the promote the movie and actually bring the movie to theaters in Michigan so audiences can see it."
What are your thoughts on Gov. Snyder's proposal to cap the incentives at $25 million per year?
"Whatever the number figure may be, it's pretty widely agreed that Gov. Snyder's plan would end the film incentive," the director explained. "That, I think, is pretty bad after three years or so. So many people have started to finally develop and grow this industry for it to all of the sudden be shut down and taken away like that would be a real waste. Especially for something that was not only bringing a lot of great jobs to Michigan, but was also really energizing people and invigorating them."
Would you support lowering the incentives to 30 or 35 percent instead?
"Yeah, I definitely think that's one good approach," he added. "The main thing, I think, is to still try to engage with the entertainment community. If your in the entertainment industry, Los Angeles is all of a sudden after a few years of really bringing cooperation, you just get this slap in the face. Whatever the number figure is, you just don't really feel welcome anymore. You don't feel that the state wants your business or really cares about it in any way whatsoever. Gov. Snyder's plan was basically just like, OK, we're just going to have a unilateral move without really talking with people in the industry or what would keep this thing going."
What's next for you in terms of films or television shows?
"I've been directing a lot of stuff for FunnyorNot.com recently," Farah said. "I'm working on a couple of other feature scripts right now. One of them is a romantic comedy and I very much like Ann Arbor and I'd very much like to shoot them there. If there's no film incentive, that would make that impossible."
Tickets for the premiere of "Answer This!" are $10 and can be purchased online or at the Uptown Birmingham 8 Theatre box office. The Uptown Birmingham 8 Theatre is located at 211 S. Old Woodward Ave. Birmingham, MI. For more information on the Detroit Independent Film Festival, call (248) 762-1615 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Photo credit: www.usalendingandrealty.com
Professor Ralph Williams is one of the stars of "Answer This!" Director Chris Farah is pictured on right.
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