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#SXSW: True Crime Meets Cold Weather

Photo of Anne Thompson By Anne Thompson | Thompson on Hollywood March 17, 2010 at 3:31AM

Well, I checked out writer-director Aaron Katz's third film Cold Weather to see what the fuss was all about.
Thompson on Hollywood

Well, I checked out writer-director Aaron Katz's third film Cold Weather to see what the fuss was all about.

No question Katz and his team know how to make a sharp, funny, visually stunning movie on a shoestring. But while shot in naturalistic light with talking heads, this film is more complex than Katz's prior efforts (both are available on Amazon). Shot in 18 days on 25 locations, Cold Weather deployed Katz's usual tiny crew, who all stayed in one house in Portland, Oregon, and now share shorthand.

Much of the conversation at the Q & A was about gifted cinematographer Andrew Reed shooting with "very fast" Red cameras and two days of filming with costly lenses that produced some arresting shots, particularly one fancy zoom into a couple standing on a bridge in front of a roaring waterfall.

The movie started out, Katz, said, as a brother-sister relationship drama but his extensive crime reading, especially E.W. Hornung (who is cited in the film), led him to explore how normal folks would react to a real crime. The brother (Cris Lankenau) and sister (Trieste Kelly Dunn) and a pal (Raul Castillo) get involved in solving a mystery, in a childish innocent way that recalls the Hardy Boys.

The filmmakers were also new to such genre conventions as action stunts. They considered using firearms, but backed off. Lankenau loved all the running and action, often on streets that weren't blocked off. "Give me the knife, I wanted to cut something up!" Katz studied YouTube videos on how to slash car tires, worried for Lankenau's safety. Dunn was scared while driving a car with a hood mount that she'd ruin the expensive camera. The cameramen spooned in the trunk so they could get out and retrieve the footage.

IFC is circling the film. Filmmaker interviews Katz.

This article is related to: Festivals, Genres, Reviews, SXSW, Independents

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.