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Matthew Modine Discusses being part of the new film JOBS

Matthew Modine as John Sculley in JOBS, opening August 16, 2013. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson/ Distributor: Open Road Films

Matthew Modine as John Sculley in JOBS. Photo Credit: Glen Wilson/ Distributor: Open Road Films

“Here’s to the crazy ones. The misfits. The rebels. The trouble-makers. The round pegs in the square holes. The ones who see things differently…they change things. They push the human race forward. And while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius.The greatest artists like Dylan, Picasso and Newton risked failure. And if we want to be great, we’ve got to risk it too.”

-Steve Jobs

JOBS is a biographical film based on the life of Steve Jobs, from 1974 while a student at Reed College to the introduction of the iPod in 2001. Steve Jobs is portrayed by Ashton Kutcher, with Josh Gad as Apple Computer’s (now Apple Inc.) co-founder Steve Wozniak. Matthew Modine plays John Scully who becomes CEO of Apple and I had the pleasure to talk with him about the film.

You play John Scully who left Pepsi to run Apple. How did you prepare for this role?

I was introduced to Mr. Scully and we met at his place in NYC. Scully was quite generous with his time. It’s not always necessary, and many times you can’t meet the real life character one is portraying. Film is a often a fictitious re-telling of “facts.” You can do research about how a person behaves, learn about their thinking process and decision making, their speech patterns and physical characteristics. Facts are often no more than opinion. Akira Kurasawa brilliantly demonstrates how “facts” are in the eye of the beholder in his classic film, Rashomon. We know there are three, sometimes more, sides to a story. His. Hers. And the truth. There was great value in meeting Mr. Scully and learning his side of the Jobs story.

I know you have been a huge fan of Apple and what it can do. How has technology helped your creative process? For example that amazing, award winning,  Full Metal Jacket Diary APP you created.

Yes, I am an Apple user. I’d bet that most creative people prefer Apple Computer products. Not just because they’re beautiful, but because they’re so intuitive. During my research for the JOBS film, it was cool to learn about all the Apple people responsible for the design and function of the products. In addition to the Full Metal Jacket Diary book, I used Apple computers to develop the Full Metal Jacket Diary iPad app, edit my films, create the bilingual children’s app Punky Dunk and so much more.

You make such compelling short films. Are you making another one now?

Thanks. I’m so happy with my last short, Jesus Was a Commie. The award winning film has played at film festivals the world over and can be seen online on my Film Annex page. I’m presently developing two feature films, Walk Like a Man and The Rocking Horsemen.

You live in Los Angeles now. What do you love about LA and miss about New York?

I’m living in Los Angeles. New York is my home. I came out here to make my two features. I miss everything about NYC. Los Angeles is cool. I’m living near the ocean and the people in my neighborhood are friendly. So there is that. But I miss my friends. As the saying goes, absence makes the heart grow fonder.

You are also a talented photographer. How has the technology of cameras changed for you over the years and your creative process with that medium?

I haven’t been able to embrace digital photography. I enjoy what artists are creating with the new technology. And it’s wonderful that new, emerging artists, people that couldn’t before afford photography because of film, developing and printing costs, have the opportunity to express themselves. I’m stuck in analog, film, and negative photography.

Long before biking became the phenomenon it is today, you started seeing the benefits of that years ago both for the economy and the environment. What environmental issues are important to you and how can people pitch in?

There are hundreds of things each of us can do everyday that will have a positive impact on the environment. Bicycling is one simple thing we can do to reduce carbon emission and reduce our dependence on oil. We need to remind ourselves everyday that there is “No Away.” When we discard something, it goes someplace. Being conscious of waste is the first step in reducing consumption. The next step is reminding yourself that the resources of our earth are finite. Not infinite. Whether or not you believe in climate change, you have to acknowledge the fact that there are more people on the earth than ever before. And the bulk of those people are consuming resources and producing waste at an unsustainable rate. So become conscious and live by example.

How do you think the film and TV business has changed over the years?

Film distribution may be the most dramatic change. A film has an opening weekend today and that’s kind of it. Films used to have “legs.” They could find their audience over a few weeks. That’s kinda over and gone! Following the careers of artists has also changed. Growing up I knew what the films of my favorite actors were. I knew what they had made and what they were working on. When their films came out, it didn’t matter if they were good or bad. You watched them the same as you watched athletes. I mean, you can’t hit a home run every time you get up to bat! You enjoyed the career of an actor. That seems lost today. Perhaps its reality TV. Youtube. Social media. Who knows what all contributes to the new climate. It’s not bad, it’s just different. Things change!

You worked with some amazing directors and continue to do so. Could you say who you learned the most from? I’m sure they all taught you something.

I’ve learned from most of the directors I’ve worked with. Maybe the best lessons have come from the directors that, lets say, lacked artistic ability. The worst thing to do is to try and copy another director’s style. The most important thing is to prepare. Once you see and hear your film, toss it away and trust your intuition.

JOBS, directed by Joshua Michael Stern and starring Ashton Kutcher, Josh Gad, Dermot Mulroney, Lukas Haas,  J.K. Simmons, Matthew Modine, James Woods is playing in theaters nationwide.

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About Cynthia Parsons McDaniel

Cynthia Parsons McDaniel works as an artist in the mediums of video installation, collage and illustration and diorama. She recently attended the National Academy Museum School in New York City for Drawing and Visual Story Telling and Monotype Printmaking. She had her first collage piece in a group exhibition at the museum. She has written about design, film and theater for METROPOLIS, ELLE DECOR, IN STYLE, ELLE, DAILY NEWS, FASHION JOURNAL and NEWSWEEK. She has contributed to five books on design and film related subjects. She was nominated for an emmy while a producer at NBC. She was head of pr and marketing at Cannon Films, New Line Cinema and VP Grammercy Pictures, then special projects editor at IN STYLE and Features Editor New York Daily News. McDaniel then went back to working with actors on MAD MEN, WEEDS AND 30 ROCK and doing personal publicity and creating Tony, Emmy, Grammy and Academy Award Campaigns. She has produced events and handled press including European Film Awards in Berlin, Cannes Film Festival Party at Hotel Du Cap With WME, at Sundance Film Festival and Elton John's Oscar party, re-opening of the Hall of Mirrors and the Royal Opera House at Versailles and the Bob Hope Memorial Library Ellis Island. The short she co- produced was shown at both the Tribeca Film Festival and the London Film festival. She recently did props for Boardwalk Empire including window displays using antiques from Olde Good Things. She is a member of Pen + Brush and the Art Directors Club. She has most recently written a one act play about early broadway and created the props by hand using various antiques and paper techniques. She currently writes travel pieces and continues to profile actors and directors. She is currently working on her first solo exhibition.
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