Director Mark Raso on His Unsentimental Road Trip Movie ‘Kodachrome’
One of the many films to world premiere at this year’s Toronto International Film Festival was director Mark Raso’s Kodachrome. Written by Jonathan Tropper (This Is Where I Leave You) and based on the 2010 New York Times’ article by A.G. Sulzberger, Kodachrome is a father/son redemption story told during a road trip to get a few rolls of Kodachrome film developed before the world’s last lab closes its doors for good. The thing to know is the father is a famous photographer who shoots exclusively on celluloid (Ed Harris) and his A&R son (Jason Sudeikis) haven’t spoken in a decade. The two are only taking this road trip together because Harris’ character is dying, and Sudeikis’ character was promised something that might help his career by going with him. Also along for the journey is Elizabeth Olsen, who plays Harris’ assistant/nurse.
Unlike some films which feature two people who haven’t spoken in years resolving all their differences in the first or second act, Ed Harris plays a real asshole that is difficult to be around. He doesn’t care how he’s treated the people around him even when this might be the last time he can resolve many old grievances. As you might expect, Ed Harris knocks it out of the park with his performance.
Shortly after seeing the film I sat down with director Mark Raso for an extended video interview. He talked about how he got involved with the project, how the script changed during development, the casting of the main actors, what he learned from early screenings, how he got Pearl Jam to give them a song for the soundtrack, the challenges of scheduling a movie, what it was like working with 21 Laps and Shawn Levy, and so much more.
- How did he first get involved in the project?
- When he got involved did the film already have any of the cast?
- Talks about the casting process.
- How Sudekis can play an asshole but also still be likeable.
- How the script changed when he got involved because originally it was a bigger budget FOX movie.
- Was it a challenge to keep the characters flawed and not have some sort of big Hollywood transformation?
- Who did he show the film to for early feedback?
- How did early screenings impact the finished film?
- How long was his first cut compared to the finished film?
- How did they get a Pearl Jam song in the film?
- Talks about casting Jason Sudekis and Elizabeth Olsen.
- Was it tough to pull off the scheduling due to the cast?
- When did he finish the film?
- Did he always want to premiere the film at TIFF and when did he find out they got in?
- Talks about working with 21 Laps and Shawn Levy and the benefit of having another director on the team while making a movie.
- How does he like to work on set in terms of number of takes?
- Does he like to storyboard? Talks about how he likes to shot list and a very detailed plan.
- How the shots are very deliberate with the main cast.
Here’s the official synopsis for Kodachrome:
Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, and Ed Harris star in this touching road movie that doubles as an elegy for analog in the digital age. Times change, film formats come and go — but familial grudges never fade. Featuring vivid performances from Jason Sudeikis, Elizabeth Olsen, and four-time Oscar nominee Ed Harris (also at this year’s Festival in mother!), and shot entirely on film stock, this road movie from director Mark Raso is a moving portrait of a father and son learning to truly see each other. Matt Ryder (Sudeikis) is only in his thirties, but technology is already wreaking havoc on his life. An A&R man for a boutique record label, Matt’s feeling increasingly irrelevant as the music business grows more shallow and myopic. The digital age also feels like the end of an era for Matt’s father, Ben (Harris), a famous photographer who shoots exclusively on celluloid. Following a grim diagnosis for Ben and after years of estrangement, Matt is approached by his father’s assistant, Zooey (Olsen), to accompany them on a personalized pilgrimage. Ben wants to take one last trip to Parsons, Kansas, so he can develop some rolls of film before the world’s only remaining Kodachrome lab closes its doors. Matt reluctantly agrees, but harbours no illusions that he and the old man will ever resolve their grievances. Kodachrome is both heartfelt and tough. Ben is no angel, and Matt will need more than a pleasant drive to bury the hatchet. Still, time and travel have a way of putting things in perspective, and these two may just get somewhere before the road comes to its end.