Published March 07 2013
Los Angeles movie company debuting 'Brass Teapot' at Fargo Film Festival
The Los Angeles film production company, led by several businessmen with North Dakota and Fargo ties, brings its newest project, “The Brass Teapot,” to the Fargo Film Festival tonight.
“The Brass Teapot,” directed by Ramaa Mosley, stars Juno Temple and Michael Angarano as a young couple who discover a teapot with magical powers.
Tonight’s screening is dubbed a “sneak preview,” but it’s essentially “The Brass Teapot’s” national debut. The film was shown at the Toronto International Film Festival in September 2012, but won’t open in New York and Los Angeles until April 5.
This is the second year in a row that Northern Lights has brought a film to the festival. Last year, it screened the comedy “High Road.”
A few weeks ago, we caught up with Mosley and Northern Lights’ co-founder Kirk Roos – both of whom will be in attendance for tonight’s screening – to find out how an independent film like “The Brass Teapot” gets made.
From pre-production to the Fargo Film Festival
The entire process started back in 2010, according to Roos. That was when Northern Lights Films first received the script for “The Brass Teapot,” one of the hundreds of scripts that cross their desk.
“We read probably 300 scripts a year, and there are maybe another 1,000 scripts we could have access to if we wanted to,” Roos says.
The script, written by Tim Macy, is based on a short story by the same name. In it, a couple down on their luck discovers the teapot, which dispenses money when its owner feels pain.
The script caught the eye of Roos right away, he recalls, but he wondered whether Northern Lights should wait to get onboard.
“It was a great script, but there was nothing really tangible there yet,” he says.
A few months later, when Temple attached herself to the film, Roos knew Northern Lights needed to get involved.
Temple had a minor role in last summer’s “The Dark Knight Rises,” and was recently given the 2013 EE Rising Star Award at this year’s British Academy of Film and Television Arts Awards.
“We said, ‘Let’s get in on this before we lose the opportunity,’” Roos says.
It would still be another eight or nine months until filming started, but after Temple signed on Roos and Northern Lights felt confident they had found a good thing.
“Some projects come and go, and you’re never really sure,” he says. “But with ‘The Brass Teapot,’ we were always pretty sure with the concept of movie. By the time we got Juno, the ship moved a lot faster then.”
As producers, Northern Lights’ role was part investor, part day-to-day work, Roos says.
“Our role in the investing side is one of a handful of investors in the film,” he says. “But our job was also to help elevate and give creative advice to the project, and be a part of the team that did day-to-day management.”
Once the film was completed, Roos, a North Dakota native, started thinking about how he might be able to bring it to the Fargo Film Festival.
“I’ve been a longtime fan and friend of the festival, so I really wanted ‘Teapot’ to be included,” he says.
Unfortunately, the process of making that happen proved difficult. Roos first tried to make the film an official selection for the festival, but because of the negotiations involved with the film’s distribution deal, the timing didn’t quite work out.
“There’s a lot of sensitive PR and release date conflicts in any film,” he says.
In February, though, he came up with the idea of doing a “sneak preview” at the festival, rather than having the film be an official festival selection.
“It was great timing that the festival timed out well with our theatrical release,” he says. “The official ‘first sneak preview’ was a way for us to screen it in Fargo, and still roll out our other premieres and official theatrical dates.”
Mosley, too, was happy that they were able to show the film in Fargo.
“I was really excited when Kirk brought up the idea,” she says. “I had heard from other filmmakers that it’s a very warm film festival to be at.”
The finished product of “The Brass Teapot,” Mosley says, is a darkly funny film that’s punctuated by the performances of Temple and Angarano.
“They’re really shining stars,” she says. “They took characters that other people might find unlikeable – they make you fall in love with them, and root for them. Their performances in this movie are very exceptional.”
Mosley also thinks people will find the film’s provocative interplay of money and pain particularly interesting.
“It’s that idea of how far a person would go for money,” she says. “In this time of economic downturn, I thought, it’s interesting how people continue to think they need to buy more stuff.”
That aspect of the film has played a major part in its marketing campaign, and Roos is interested to see how fans react to it.
“When we first saw the script, we thought it would be fun to market it that way,” he says. “When people leave the film, hopefully they’ll talk about it. What would you do to get 100 grand? That might be a fun thing to chat about.”
If you go
What: “The Brass Teapot” at the Fargo Film Festival
When: 7 tonight, followed by an on-stage interview with producer Kirk Roos, director Ramaa Mosley and actor Steve Park (best known for his role as Mike Yanagita in “Fargo”)
Where: Fargo Theatre, 314 Broadway
Info: Single session admission is $8
Readers can reach Forum reporter Sam Benshoof at (701) 241-5535