September 30, 2020

Episode #69: Filmmaker Andrew Cohn on Writing and Directing The Last Shift

Andrew Cohn is an Emmy-Award winning filmmaker, screenwriter, and founder of Seven34Films. His feature documentaries include Medora (executive-produced by Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci), and Warriors of Liberty City (executive-produced by Lebron James). His first narrative feature, The Last Shift, executive-produced by Alexander Payne and starring Richard Jenkins, Shane Paul McGuie, and Ed O’Neill, premiered at Sundance this year and was released in theaters on September 25.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What you will learn:

  • The importance of a good production designer, and why Adri Siriwatt was such an asset to The Last Shift; also the importance of letting a film speak for itself. [0:00-10:07]
  • What first sparked Andrew’s interest in documentary films and why he focuses on the characters and the world they inhabit, as opposed to using those characters to make a pre-determined point. [10:07-20:20]
  • How understanding characters in an authentic way was handled in the documentary Medora, and how Steve Buscemi and Stanley Tucci got involved. [20:20-29:03]
  • How Andrew’s professional ambitions turned from teaching to filmmaking, and how he became a filmmaker without film school or formal education or training in film; also, what made him choose to move on from documentary films to writing and eventually directing a narrative film. [29:03-39:50]
  • How a phone call from screenwriter, director, and producer Alexander Payne opened doors to working with an amazing cast and crew on his first feature film, The Last Shift. [39:50-48:06]
  • How the controlled balance of comedy and drama and be a vehicle for finding truth in stories, and how Andrew was able to come in under budget by limiting the number of locations and characters in his screenplay for The Last shift. [48:06-56:30]
  • Why he enjoys shooting films in Chicago, where he found the brilliant crew behind the new season of Fargo to help him film The Last Shift. Also, how Andrew chooses which festivals to enter after completing a film, and why film festivals are so important for filmmakers. [56:30-1:03:52]

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