Exclusive Interview With Ondi Timoner On Brand: A Second Coming

Brand A second Coming

You touched on it a bit there, but I’m sure you had plenty of phenomenal things that you ultimately had to leave out. What’s your process like for deciding what doesn’t fit the narrative?

Timoner: I’m dreaming of DVD extras and webisodes and realizing that none of it is going to see the light of day if I don’t actually get rid of some of it. It’s a wild process. It’s almost like being at South By and you meet a bunch of people. Most of them, I don’t know about you, but you don’t end up talking to again. But a few of them, your agenda is so aligned, or they make an impression. You might go two months and then they pop into your head, so we would cut things because we would just make conscious decisions like, this entire storyline of Russell going to Angola Prison is amazing. And literally, we probably spent cumulatively between all four editors, about two months. I don’t think there was an editor who didn’t work on it for at least two weeks. We wanted to put this in the movie. At the end of the day, there was really no explaining how this fit. It just took us on too much of a right turn, narratively speaking. It’s about following the story and really being true to that story. I thought indiewire did a really cool review yesterday where they talked about all the different kinds of components, the themes of the movie, the story points that are woven together and how usually it would be this totally disjointed narrative, but somehow it turns into this narrative. I probably had to cut some of the strains out of that.

But like I said, with the person you remember months later, sometimes you’ll be like, “Do you remember when we had that thing in the movie?” And then it comes back. Several of the scenes or moments or quotes were cut and then found their way back. There was this incredible quote, incredibly funny thing that Noel Gallagher says that I literally flipped a coin. Last week. I flipped a coin and then I flipped it again. It was should this quote be cut out. It was going to be at the end of the credits, be this Easter Egg for everybody. Twice in a row it was heads and it got cut. I’m not saying that’s the way you should go about cutting your film, I’m just saying that’s what it came down to.

The whole movie’s up to coin tosses.

Timoner: Well, you know what’s fun about coin tosses? If you don’t actually really agree with the coin toss, you realize that when the side that you don’t want flips up. Then you go, “Eff that! I’m putting that in anyway.” And both sides it came up heads and I was like, I’m just going to cut it. When in doubt, cut it out. I actually have about seven more minutes I want to cut out of the film.

What’s next for the movie?

Timoner: We don’t know. We’re determining that now. A lot of different buyers are looking at it all over the world and in America. I feel like I’m quoting Russell’s dad: “All over the world and in the states.” A lot of buyers are looking at it. But it’s all rights available. Obviously I think it’s a theatrical film, as you saw if you were at the premiere. The audience was erupting in laughter. At one point Russell says something and the whole audience burst out in applause. When he talks to Tom Ashbrook on NPR. I think it’s the kind of thing that people will love to experience in the room together. Nice and loud and huge. But all artists want that. These days theatrical is less and less common, but I don’t think this is a normal documentary. It’s really such a dramatic ride. I hope it gets to play theatrically. I think it’s an event film. Then I hope it ends up on everybody’s devices. And affect everybody to get involved, like Russell wants.

Are you working on anything else right now?

Timoner: I made another movie here that’s part of a project I have called atotaldisruption.com. Our motto is “Get smarter, faster, together.” It’s really about taking the internet and the technology at our fingertips and empowering all of us with our origin stories of some of the greatest leaders of the internet revolution. It’ a way of tracking the change we’re going through, which is really happening very quickly. Augmented reality, virtual reality, all of that. But also, how did Jack Dorsey even start? What about Tony Hsieh? What’s his advice? Taking those stories and de-mystifying them and humanizing those people so that we can all realize that we can become them. Just like with Russell. We can become impossible visionaries, we just have to decide to take on what seems impossible and to be impossible in terms of not listening when people say it’s ridiculous. We all need to step out of line right now and try and do something that seems crazy. That’s the project, A Total Disruption. We’re launching a course too called Lean Content that’s a 10 segment course to empower artists and educate artists.

I’m set to direct a scripted film about Mapplethorpe. Robert Mapplethorpe that I’m producing as well as I wrote. I took it through the Sundance labs. That’s an incredible time in New York history and American history where another impossible visionary who couldn’t help do what he did changed the face of art and politics in America. It’s an important story to tell that I hope I’ll be blessed enough to tell this year. I’m also writing a script about my parents’ lives. My dad founded an airline that was the fastest growing airline in the history of America. Put deregulation through congress and did all these crazy maverick things. He was also an impossible visionary. Then his neck was cracked in a massage and he had a stroke when I was nine years old. But he lost no intelligence. My mother stuck by him, and it’s an incredible story. It’s sort of like Diving Bell and the Butterfly meets Catch Me If You Can. I’m forgetting what else. Meets like Tucker or something. It’s an exciting project and especially challenging to write since I’m there daughter. It’ll be very personal. Probably the most important thing I ever do with my life besides raise my son.

“Never A Dull” moment is what it’ll say on my gravestone should I ever die. Maybe I won’t. There is that movie The Immortalist. People are working on it and we’re documenting those people.

That concludes our interview, but we’d like to thank Ondi for taking the time to talk.