The Brass Teapot marks the feature-film directorial debut of Ramaa Mosley. Dealing with Mosley’s love and fascination of magical objects, the film stars Juno Temple and Michael Angarano as Alice and John, a married couple very much in love with each other and also very broke.
As they try to stay one step ahead of their dire financial situation, Alice suddenly comes into contact with a mysterious brass teapot and soon discovers that it spits out money anytime she hurts herself intentionally or otherwise. But while it looks like she and John have suddenly found the answers to all their troubles, they eventually wonder just how far they are willing to get the money they think they need.
Mosley got her filmmaking start at the age of sixteen with her documentary We Can Make a Difference, which was about global pollution’s effect on children, and it received the United Nations’ Global 500 Award in Geneva, Switzerland. Since then she has directed commercials with some of the top companies in the business as well as music videos for bands like the B-52s and Creed. She later went on to win best director at the First Glance Film Festival for her short film Grace, and she won the 2011 Audience Choice Award at Dance Camera West for her film In Dreams I Run Wild.
Last week I was lucky enough to have a one-on-one conversation with Mosley during The Brass Teapot’s press conference at the SLS Hotel in Beverly Hills.
Check out the interview below.
We Got This Covered: Coming from the world of documentaries, commercials and music videos, what was the main difference between doing all that and making your first feature film?
Ramaa Mosley: I think really the level of physical pain that I would have to go through to make the movie. You train to do a 100 yard dash, right? And that’s what I’ve been doing. I graduated college and I started doing commercials and music videos fifteen years ago, and I have become a really good 100 yard dasher. Then a movie comes into my life and it’s like a long, long marathon. So the difference was just figuring out how to endure that level of physical exertion to keep going because there’s no real comforts on an indie movie. There isn’t the ability to have that director’s chair. There isn’t even a time to sit down. You’re shooting seven or eight pages a day, and in our movie it was stunts and effects in almost all the scenes so it was just full on.
There were other differences too like not having a client on set but having a team of producers who are collaborating. That was a new experience for me because I’m very used to working for brands, so to be able to then go and make a movie and have it be both my own expression and this group expression was really a learning experience.
We Got This Covered: I read on IMDB that you had also done a short film called The Brass Teapot back in 2007. How would you say the short film differs from this movie?
Ramaa Mosley: The way this started was it was a short story, and I read the short story which was really dark and kind of a horror short story with a middle-age couple and I was really taken with that. So I really want to explore that idea, and what I found though is that the people who are really reading the story were 16 to 24, so they were a younger demographic. That’s when I decided that we should make a comic book. I grew up reading comic books and I love comic books, especially indie comic books. So I really enrolled Tim Macy (the screenwriter) in this idea, and we happen to engage with all these amazing artists from Fiona Staples who works for DC comics to Matt Kindt who won an Eisner Award, which is one of the biggest comic book awards, to Niklas Asker who’s in Sweden. We had a lot more than that, but those were like the big guys.
Together we developed this comic book, and the comic book help to really percolate and really create a vision of what the film should be and to get the tone right. It was clear to me that the tone I wanted to live in was entertaining and fun because those were the movies I grew up on that I loved.
There’s been a lot of movies that have been made that are horror movies and that are similar tales and fables with different objects. The difference was that the legend of the brass teapot is real; there are people searching for it. I don’t know if you saw any of the research that’s being done by the Theosophist Society but they’re in Yunnan Province, China and they are searching for the teapot.
I don’t how they’re funded, but they know specifically the 20 previous owners from Caligula to Genghis Khan to Hitler. They have images, they have paintings, and they have an incredible wealth of information. So I just got really excited by the idea of telling this story about this true legend and making it fun and entertaining and redeeming. We want the characters in the end to triumph. Genghis Khan didn’t triumph over the teapot, Hitler we know what he did with it. The question is, will Alice and John triumph? I wanted to tell an inspiring story.
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