Debuting in American theaters this week is Kin, the debut feature from filmmakers Jonathan and Josh Baker. Normally, as you know, a new feature-length sci-fi isn’t cause for attention from this website, but Kin is a bit special to us—the film is based on the duo’s 2014 short film Bag Man, and while short films have launched many careers in features and television over the life of Short of the Week, Kin is one of the few projects from this decade’s sci-fi proof-of-concept boom to successfully complete a feature adaptation.
We were quite high on Bag Man when it came out, covering the short on the site, doing a Q&A with Josh and Jonathan, and granting it a place on our year-end S/W Awards List. Unfortunately we’re a bit lazy and didn’t reach out to brothers in the midst of their current press push, but fortunately they’ve been hitting the press circuit to promote the feature and we’ve been keenly reading what’s come out. If you want to catch up on Kin, and the directors’ journey to get it made, there is a lot of great material, starting with our initial coverage of the short:
With a mysterious duffle bag in hand, a 12-year old boy takes us on an introspective journey out of the city and into the remote countryside of upstate New York.
Click to Read our 2014 Q&A
What’s interesting in re-reading the Rob Munday’s review and interview is that, yes, even in the midst of what I now consider the hey-day of sci-fi proof-of-concepts, the grounded dramatic approach the Baker brother’s took felt special. The interview cements that as they reference David Gordon Green, and not a big-budget franchise filmmaker as inspiration. It’s also clear that they already had the feature in mind (a good tip we include in our Be Everywhere All At Once release strategy).
For a good general feature on Josh and Jonathan’s background as commercial directors, and why they waited so long to tackle scripted narrative, we recommend Aaron Crouch’s piece in The Hollywood Reporter which includes other interesting nuggets on how Shawn Levy of 21 Laps (Stranger Things) pitched the brother’s on how their company was the right fit, and also delves into the discussion around James Franco, who stars in the film and was in the midst of allegations of sexual impropriety.
For a more personal take on their background getting started in filmmaking check out this short 1st-person essay Josh and Jonathan wrote for Talkhouse.
If you want to go deep, /Film and Collider have you covered. Jacob Hall conducts longish, far-ranging interview with the duo, in which the brother’s give a little love for the online short film scene (thanks for the shoutout guys). If video is more your style, Steve “Frosty” Weintraub delivers 30min of Q&A for Collider that boldly goes into the Baker’s history as Agent Smith doubles on The Matrix sequels(!) among other fun factoids, and is especially good at delving a bit more in-depth into how the sausage gets made in developing and executing a projects such as this one.
Unfortunately Kin isn’t doing so hot with the critics, at the moment sitting at 34% on Rotten Tomatoes. Reading the reviews however, it seems a lot of the objection people have to the film is its wildly variating tone, caused by its mashup of traditional genres. That however is probably the number one reason I loved the original concept! I’m hoping to check out the feature tomorrow, and look forward to reporting back. In the meantime if you do catch it, let us know what you think in the comments.