Interview by Caryn Coleman, Director of Programming/Special Projects at Nitehawk Cinema
I am of the belief that there’s never been a bad time for horror films, particularly if you’ve known where to look. But there is certainly a moment happening where filmmakers are creating works that relate to audiences more immediately than ever before. Perhaps it’s that horror is becoming increasingly inclusive, offering us more diverse perspectives on the world around us. Or maybe the idea of a genre filmmaking is more fully embraced by a new generation of independent filmmakers. Whatever way in which we can think about it, there’s no mistaking that we live in a time when we are getting really fucking good and unique horror stories.
Films like Emma Tammi’s The Wind are a part of this genre revolution. It’s expansive and isolating; shot like a true-blue western, The Wind tells the tale of “prairie madness” in the 19th century midwest as it tackles the frontier, demons, gender roles, and the ever-maddening howl of the wind. It’s beautiful, it’s haunting, it’s the real deal.
I’m thrilled that Tammi took the time to answer some of my questions about her debut narrative film. Take a read and then be sure to see it in the cinema (as it should be seen) at Nitehawk Williamsburg this week.
Caryn Coleman: I’d love to start off by asking how you connected with The Wind’s writer Tessa Sutherland to develop her short film, based on such a fascinating aspect the western frontier in the 19th century, into a feature?
Emma Tammi: We connected through one of the film’s producers, Chris Alender (Soapbox Films). He and Teresa are both Florida State University alums, and he had seen her short film several years ago and encouraged her to develop it into a feature script. Soapbox Films had come on to help with post-production for a documentary (Fair Chase) that I co-directed a while back, and they thought of me as a potential director for The Wind. Teresa and I met, and hit it off. We shared a vision for what the film could be, and really enjoyed the process of refining the script together. I hope to continue collaborating with her on other projects for many years to come.
CC: Can you talk a little bit about how you approached marrying elements of the western genre with the horror genre exploring themes inherent to both like isolation, madness, and the female experience?
ET: At its core, this film is a psychological thriller. The framework is a western, and the brutality of our characters’ daily lives pushes us into the horror space throughout the film (sometimes even heightened by the supernatural). This is all to say, we were dealing with an incredibly fun mash up of genres! But the theme of isolation and the specifically female POV of our protagonist (Lizzy) was the guiding compass that held all these elements together. As long as the creative choices supported Lizzy’s journey and internal struggles – which often manifest externally, as well – the blending of genres worked to strengthen the whole.
CC: The Wind, much like Robert Eggers’ The Witch, visualizes stories from American folklore that involve conquering land, religion, and the effects of solitude. And it does so in a way that centers around the relationship between a woman and nature (and makes the audience question as to whether or not what’s happening to these women is real or imagined). What is it about this sort of historical storytelling that interested you?
ET: When writing this script, Teresa had been inspired by actual historical accounts of women homesteading at the end of the 19th Century. I loved that this story drew upon a folkloric element of American history – the belief that women used to go mad on the plains because of the incessant wind – and then jumped off the deep end, into a totally new realm. One of the books Teresa used for research (“Pioneer Women”) was coincidentally a book I had picked up as a teenager, after visiting the west (Wyoming) for the first time in my life. I also visited the location of the classic western film Shane on that trip, which was awe inspiring. On multiple levels, The Wind was tapping into things that had captured my imagination growing up – only this time, with a much darker lens! But the most surprising and compelling element of the story was that it also felt incredibly relatable today. Lizzy’s emotional arc resonates in 2019, and I think that is the most exciting kind of historical storytelling – when it taps into the now.
CC: How did you work with your cinematographer, Lyn Moncrief, to develop the visual language of this film?
ET: During pre-production, Lyn and I were referencing a bunch of different films (as well as paintings, photos, etc.) to develop the visual language of this film. We decided to shoot with anamorphic lenses, to convey the vastness of the landscape and also capture a lot of empty space within the frame for our characters to interact with – often times increasing the sense of solitude and isolation, which ultimately escalates to fright. Once we got to our locations in New Mexico, our shot lists changed daily. We were continually trying to find ways to film the same cabins in new and interesting ways, and help emphasize the emotional and psychological states of the characters within each scene.
CC: And lastly, the cast. Caitlin Gerard is a revelation! Can you tell us how she got involved with the project and how you incorporated speaking German into her character?
ET: She is a revelation! Caitlin was one of the last actors who auditioned for this role, and we cast her within an hour. She brought huge range to this role, upon which the whole film hangs, and grit. I don’t think the character of Lizzy would’ve worked without either of those things, and she nailed it. We had a last minute table read of the script in LA before heading to New Mexico to start filming, and in a side-bar conversation, Caitlin mentioned that her mom’s side of the family is German and that she spoke the language fluently. Teresa and I had previously discussed incorporating an immigrant background (very common at the time) to the character of Lizzy, adding another layer to her struggle with this inhospitable land. Caitlin presented the perfect opportunity to develop that idea, so we tweaked the script at the eleventh hour to incorporate that element.
Nitehawk Cinema, New York’s original curator of dinner and a movie, launches private event rentals at its new Prospect Park theater which showcases breathtaking views of Brookyln’s flagship park.
“We are now offering customizable, private events at Nitehawk Prospect Park. We have had huge success with these at Nitehawk Williamsburg, from world premieres, corporate outings, birthday parties to weddings and proposals. We have a dedicated events team that handles all the details in putting these together, and we’re excited to offer these memorable experiences at Prospect Park.” states Deanna Nokes, Event Director at Nitehawk.
Nitehawk Prospect Park features seven state-of-the-art screens, hosts two bars and is a Brooklyn landmark with design elements that date back to 1928. Once known as the Sanders Theatre, the 650 seat cinema is located in the historic and completely redesigned Pavilion Theater. Situated on Bartel-Pritchard Square, the theater is easily accessible by public transport and the restored mezzanine is the perfect place to celebrate a birthday, happy hour or professional function.
The catering menu, which utilizes locally-sourced ingredients, features a delectable selection of platters including Grandma’s Meatballs, Jerk Chicken Dumplings, and Chorizo Patata Brava Taquitos. A queso fountain is also available that comes flowing with Nitehawk’s staple tater tots, chips, a toppings bar, and a dedicated chef. The beverage choices include signature cocktails, local beers, and specialty drinks that may be crafted to thematically align with a special event hosted at the cinema.
Nitehawk Prospect Park theaters vary in size from 48 to 194 seats and are available Mondays through Thursdays for screenings, birthday parties, graduations, and corporate meetings. Rental prices vary based on the specifics of the event and can be personalized to create an ideal way to commend any occasion. If you wish to book a private event at Nitehawk Prospect Park, please email email@example.com.
On Wednesday, February 13th, Win (formerly Women in Need) and Nitehawk Williamsburg will be the first in New York to screen a new 35mm print of Sean Baker’s The Florida Project to increase public awareness and build momentum around Win’s mission to help support homeless women and children.
The Florida Project stars Academy Award nominee Willem Dafoe and follows a precocious six-year-old and her ragtag group of friends whose summer break is filled with childhood wonder, possibility and a sense of adventure while the adults around them struggle with hard times. $7 of each movie ticket sold will benefit Win. In addition, Nitehawk will be offering a specialty cocktail during the screening and $1 from each drink sold will go directly to the organization.
The event will begin with a short film and introduction by Chris Valens, Director of Special Events at Win. “Women and children in need make up more than 70 percent of New York City’s homeless, and we’re grateful for Nitehawk Cinema’s support to help Win break the cycle of homelessness and put families on the path to stability,” said Christine C. Quinn, President and CEO of Win. “The proceeds from this benefit screening will help further our efforts to provide the solutions and services needed to support this vulnerable population.”
Caryn Coleman, Director of Programming at Nitehawk states, “We’re thrilled to be one of the first theaters to screen a brand new 35mm print of Sean Baker’s The Florida Project, one of the best films in recent memory, the way it was intended. More crucially, the issues of hidden homelessness and the impact on single-parent families explored in the film provides a perfect opportunity to partner with Win in order to highlight and support the important work that Win does within the New York community.”
The need to expand social services for homeless children and women is a dire one. Nitehawk Cinema is beyond humbled to support Win in helping decrease the number of homeless families in New York City’s shelter system and will continue to advocate for important community issues surrounding homelessness.
There’s so much to toast in the month of February: We’re one month closer to spring; The Big Game; The Oscars; and the sweetest day of them all, Valentine’s Day. We all deserve a great love story and whether you’re in Williamsburg or Prospect Park, Nitehawk has a selection of heart beating titles to celebrate.
One could expect that GROUNDHOG DAY would be an exercise in tedium. Fortunately, we can all thank the comedic god, Bill Murray for getting us through. This film is a hilarious joy ride through the peaks and valleys of life. Even the greatest days are best lived only once.
LOVE IS LOVE: This weekend, Nitehawk Williamsburg ignites its LOVE IS LOVE series with PARIAH, the intimate debut feature by Dee Rees, set in Brooklyn, that explores a teenage girl’s queer identity. Love can manifest in many ways and our midnite section takes an appropriately bizarre turn that dark lovers will adore with THE WILD BOYS. This program will lift spirits and expose the unavoidable power of the heart. Love isn’t always easy but it’s almost always worth it.
LOVE IS LOVE will continue all month long at Nitehawk Williamsburg with:
Feb 8 and 9 – CRASH (Midnite)
Feb 9 and 10 – NOTTING HILL (Brunch)
Feb 12 – BEFORE SUNRISE (Film Feast)
Feb 15 – SEVEN CHANCES (Live Cinema Sound)
Feb 15 and 16 – ONLY LOVERS LEFT ALIVE (Midnite)
Feb 16 and 17 – LOVE, SIMON (Brunch)
Feb 22 and 23 – BOUND (Midnite)
Feb 23 and 24 – LOVE & BASKETBALL (Brunch)
CASABLANCA: A landmark film in a landmark theater! Nitehawk Prospect Park welcomes one of the most revered films of all time, CASABLANCA. Starring Humphrey Bogart and Ingrid Bergman in a love triangle in the city of Casablanca. Grab your loved one and celebrate Valentine’s Day with this classic at Nitehawk Prospect Park.
Feb 14th – CASABLANCA (7:00PM)
Brooklyn, New York — (January 28, 2019) Nitehawk Cinema, New York’s original dine-in theater, launched new specials that are sure to warm appetites and sizzle taste buds this winter. At Nitehawk Williamsburg, guests can delight in tantalizing cocktails and refreshing dishes with an emphasis on seasonal and locally sourced ingredients.
With an already impressive menu, Executive Chef Michael Franey introduces a number of new mouthwatering items geared to embrace the latest culinary trends while striking a delicate balance between healthy and delicious. “Winter gives us the chance to showcase some lesser-known and used produce, like sunchokes, parsnips, and winter citrus fruits, along with all of the fantastic local products that we pride ourselves in sourcing and highlighting. I think that this menu really shows that we aren’t a typical dine-in movie theater.”
Adding a new dimension to mainstay classics like the Nitehawk Burger and Homemade Beef Jerky are Peking Duck Skewers. A soy, sesame, and Thai chili marinated duck breast is served over a broccoli slaw made from a vinaigrette made from orange juice, red wine vinegar, dijon, and agave syrup. A new crispy quesadilla features roasted poblano peppers, cremini mushrooms and brussels sprouts sprinkled with shredded Oaxaca cheese and served with a special molé sauce.
For guests looking to indulge on more mindful options, Nitehawk purveyed a meatless burger from Impossible Foods that is topped with guacamole and a spicy tahini aioli. The new Roasted Vegetable Salad is a hearty choice of baby carrots, parsnips, and sunchokes while Nitehawk’s Kale Salad is bursting with sweet citrus flavors. Since popcorn has always been a movie theater staple, Nitehawk created a vegan-friendly option that is seasoned to perfection with Thai red curry, lemongrass, ginger, lime and drizzled with red curry coconut oil.
Nitehawk’s new beverages are crafted to spice up any cold weather occasion. Beverage Director Robert Giles states, “The winter beverage menu features elevated classic cocktail recipes showcasing seasonal accents and bold twists. Each drink was chosen to fulfill a specific space on the menu, from hot winter spiced ciders to our coffeehouse influenced Negronis. My favorite is our winter inspired draught Gin and Tonic!”
Nitehawk’s Gin and Tonic features a house-made tonic syrup comprised of preserved lemon, toasted peppercorns and brown sugar, utilizing an Aviation Gin, an American made spirit based out of Portland. With an extensive list of movie-themed cocktails, the Barry Lyndon is a light yet sophisticated gin sour that features Perry’s Tot Gin which is infused with pink peppercorn, lemon juice, earl gray tea, and pamplemousse liqueur. For beer lovers, Nitehawk welcomes Five Boroughs Pilsner which imparts soft floral and grassy aromas to create a crisp and bitter finish.
Get cozy this winter and comfort the soul with new wintery items at Nitehawk Cinema Williamsburg. The lineup of new dishes includes:
Thai red curry – lemongrass, ginger, lime, red curry coconut oil.
PEKING DUCK SKEWER
Szechuan marinade, broccoli slaw, crispy duck skin
Brussels sprout, poblano pepper, cremini mushroom, Oaxaca cheese, molé
Beef meatball, Fra Diavolo sauce, mozzarella, basil, Mike’s Hot Honey
Tuscan kale, satsuma orange, tangerine, ricotta salata, puffed quinoa, blood orange vinaigrette
ROASTED VEGETABLE SALAD
Sunchokes, baby carrot, parsnip, radicchio, hazelnut vinaigrette
Red sauce, white sauce, little gem, cucumber, pickled red onion, pita, choice of house cut fries or salad
Guacamole, spicy tahini “aioli,” poppy kaiser roll, choice of house cut fries or salad
About Michael Franey – Executive Chef
After graduating from The French Culinary Institute in 2003, Michael worked for the James Beard Award-nominated chef Cindy Wolf for 4 years, working his way up from commis chef at Charleston Restaurant to Sous Chef at Petit Louis Bistro. Michael returned to New York and found employment with Kimpton Hotels, where he was part of two separate opening teams, one in Baltimore with Food & Wine Top 10 Best New Chef Michael Reidt and in Philadelphia with James Beard Award-winning chef Guillermo Tellez. When Michael returned to New York, he was on the opening team for Andaz 5th Ave and opened the gastro-pub in Manhattan, Tavern29. Michael then came to Nitehawk Cinema in 2012 and sought to bring his Southern and Mid-Atlantic inflected take on American cuisine. He then left to join the Craveable Hospitality Group in 2015. With CHG he helmed the kitchen at David Burke Fabrick and opened SaltBrick Tavern. He rejoined the Nitehawk family in May 2018 as the Executive Chef.
About Rob Giles – Beverage Director
Over the past three years, he has been managing partner for two distinct cocktails bars, Erv’s on Beekman and Until Tomorrow, designing seasonal menus which utilize a plethora of culinary techniques to achieve unique flavor combinations. The bars that he opened have received numerous accolades, including national top 10 lists, and in 2018, Robert was nominated as an Eater Young Gun, a national merit which highlights the top talent in the United States under 30 years old. His restaurant philosophy is to create relaxed and laid back environments, and believes that the true purpose of any service establishment is to serve as public meeting place for people of all walks of life. He joined the Nitehawk family in September 2018 as the Beverage Director.
About Nitehawk Cinema
In 2011, Nitehawk helped to overturn a Prohibition-era state liquor law banning alcohol in theaters, to become the original curator of dinner and a movie in New York State. With two Brooklyn locations, Nitehawk Cinema has grown into New York’s premier dine-in theater, pairing exemplary first-run and repertory film programming along with tableside service. Nitehawk enhances the cinematic experience by creating a specialty menu with fresh, local house-made ingredients inspired by the films we love, a live band accompaniment, special guest Q&As, and the annual Nitehawk Shorts Festival.