filmmaker

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Alexander Payne, Kay Cannon, and Eugene Levy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Alexander Payne
Guests: 
Kay Cannon
Guests: 
Eugene Levy

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Vittorio Zunino Celotto/Getty Images for BF

Filmmaker Alexander Payne on his film 'Downsizing'

Alexander Payne is an accomplished writer and director. He's won two Academy Awards for Best Adapted Screenplay for the films "Sideways" and "The Descendants." His other films have been nominated for tons of awards, too -- "About Schmidt," "Nebraska," and "Election." His films are known for their satirical nature, dark humor and usually include some sort of existential crisis. His latest film "Downsizing" is no exception.

The movie centers on Paul and Audrey, an average couple from Omaha, played by Matt Damon and Kristen Wiig. In an effort to combat overpopulation and global warming, people can be shrunk down to about five inches. But things don't go exactly as planned for the couple.

Jesse sat down with Alexander Payne to talk about his love of silent films, what it was like to achieve success for his thesis film shortly after graduating college, and how he bonds with his six-month-old through film. Plus, he'll tell us about his favorite sequence in "Downsizing," and why he loved directing the challenging eight minute scene.


Photo: Matt Winkelmeyer/Getty Images for SXSW

The Craziest Day Of My Entire Career: Kay Cannon

Kay Cannon is a brilliant and hilarious writer. You know her work -- she wrote all three of the Pitch Perfect movies. Before that, she spent five years on "30 Rock," first as a writer and then as a supervising producer. Kay then went on to work on Fox's "New Girl" and she also created the Netflix original series "Girlboss."

Her directorial debut, "Blockers" is in theaters now. In the film, three teen girls make a pact to lose their virginity on prom night. Their parents, played by Leslie Mann, Ike Barinholtz and John Cena, will do everything they can to stop them.

Kay Cannon tells us about the craziest day of her entire career, which starts on the Golden Gate Bridge, takes a scary private plane flight in a private jet and ends in an awkward meeting with John Cena.


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

Eugene Levy on working with his son on 'Schitt's Creek'

Eugene Levy is probably best known for his role as Noah Levenstein in the "American Pie" franchise. Noah is the nerdy, oftentimes clueless dad of Jim Levenstein (Jason Biggs). Noah's efforts to help Jim navigate puberty often result in embarrassing and awkward situations for Jim. The film series spans eight films, and Eugene is the only actor to appear in all of them.

He first got his start in improv comedy. He was a founding member of SCTV - the pioneering sketch comedy show that helped launch the careers of Rick Moranis, John Candy, Catherine O'Hara, and many, many more.

Recently, he's been reunited with Catherine O'Hara in the sitcom "Schitt's Creek." The show was created by Eugene and his son, Dan Levy. Eugene plays Johnny Rose, the patriarch of a socialite family that lost their fortune. Johnny and his wife Moira, played by Catherine, head to the last place they can call their own: the backwoods Canadian town Johnny bought as a gag gift the year before. Together the family pieces their life back together.

Eugene sits down with Jesse and talks about what it was like to work with his son on "Schitt's Creek," and why he almost turned down his iconic role from "American Pie."


Photo: SFMOMA

The Outshot: Rigo 23’s “found lost bird” posters

And finally, Jesse tells us about a recent visit to the Museum of Modern Art in San Francisco. He describes the lost bird posters collected by Rigo 23 in the 1990's from the Mission District in San Francisco. The posters reflect the lives of the people who posted them, but also serves as a reminder of a community that no longer exists.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Margaret Cho & Whit Stillman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Margaret Cho
Guests: 
Whit Stillman

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Margaret Cho on Growing Up Korean American, Breaking Through in Comedy and Gay Men She Loved and Lost

Margaret Cho has always found a way to make her life inform her art. With her work as a stand-up comedian, an actor and a singer-songwriter, she has used the events of her life, both good and bad, to inspire her. Whether it’s growing up as a Korean-American girl in San Francisco or breaking through the male-dominated world of stand-up comedy in the early nineties, Cho has always found a way use all of life’s experiences to create entertainment.

Cho famously co-created and starred in the first sitcom that focused on an Asian American family. All-American Girl was cancelled in its first season, but it became a part of American television history and helped lay the groundwork for sitcoms like Fresh Off the Boat. Since then, Cho has continued her standup career, and appeared in numerous film and television shows including Dr. Ken, Family Guy, Sex in the City and on 30 Rock, where in separate episodes, she played North Korean dictators: Kim Jong Il and later his son Kim Jong-un.

Margaret Cho sat down with Jesse to talk about beginning her career during the 90s comedy boom in San Francisco, growing up in a Korean immigrant family, and how the community around her family’s gay bookstore continues to touch and inspire her life.

Margaret Cho’s new album American Myth is now available on iTunes and on her website, MargaretCho.com. She's also out on tour this May and June.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Whit Stillman on Jane Austen, the Importance of Language and Being Inspired by 'Elf'

Whit Stillman is a writer-director who makes comedies of manners. With his films Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco, the director often explores the world of young upper-class adults who are struggling to find their way in the world both at home and abroad. The films were each made on modest budgets and received praise from critics; his very first film, Metropolitan, garnered an Oscar nomination for Best Screenplay.

His latest film Love and Friendship is adapted from Lady Susan, an unfinished novella by Jane Austen. The movie explores the familiar comedic tropes of Austen’s work including class, sexuality, deceit and manipulation.

Whit Stillman joined Jesse to talk about his love for Jane Austen, the importance of language in his films and how the comedy of Will Ferrell infiltrated his new period piece.

Whit Stillman’s new film Love and Friendship is in theaters this week.

A Criterion collection of his first three films (Metropolitan, Barcelona and The Last Days of Disco) are now available in special box set edition.


Photo: Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

The Outshot: Draymond Green

Jesse sings the praises of a basketball scrapper who may not get all the fame, but is no less deserving of the glory.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Thao Nguyen & Lance Bangs

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Thao Nguyen
Guests: 
Lance Bangs

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Mike Windle / Getty Images

Thao Nguyen on 80s Pop Music, Collaboration and Familial Estrangement

Thao Nguyen began her career as a singer-songwriter in her teens, while making change for customers at her mother’s laundromat. Her musical influences include country, folk and hip-hop, but her music is uniquely her own.

Her latest album as the frontwoman of the band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down is called A Man Alive, and takes its inspiration from Thao's complicated relationship with her father. Their estrangement began when Thao was a teenager and has continued into her adulthood. Her feelings of affection and resentment results in a musical experience that is both raw and intimate.

Thao Nguyen sat down with Jesse to talk about the importance of her collaboration with producer Merrill Garbus in the making of the album, the diversity of her early musical influences and the struggle to fit in while growing up as a Vietnamese-American.

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down's new album, A Man Alive is available now. The band is currently on a cross country tour; you can find those tourdates here.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Lance Bangs on His Intimate Approach to Filmmaking, Working on 'Jackass' and Exploring the Messy Living Habits of Stand-Up Comics in 'Flophouse'

Lance Bangs is the kind of filmmaker who would prefer jumping into the backseat of a car with a camera than being responsible for a huge budget and massive crew. His intimate approach to filmmaking has been appreciated and sought after not only for films and television, but also numerous music videos for performers including Sonic Youth, Nirvana, Green Day, Arcade Fire, REM and Kanye West.

He was even brought on to help film the intimate relationships within the MTV reality show Jackass, which focused on its talent performing incredibly dangerous and crude pranks and stunts.

Lance Bangs’ latest television show is the new Viceland series Flophouse. The show profiles the lives of up-and-coming stand-up comics and the sometimes questionable living conditions they live under while trying to make career for themselves in comedy.

Lance Bangs joined Jesse to talk about his why he prefers his intimate approach to filmmaking, his memories of working on Jackass and why he is attracted to the world of comedy.

The first season of Flophouse is airing now on Viceland Thursdays at 10:30pm.

The Outshot: Black Sabbath’s Paranoid

Jesse talks about the emotional depth to be found in Black Sabbath’s 1970 album, Paranoid.

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