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2014 Sundance “Trading Cards” Series: #17. Jonathan Duffy (Hellion)

2014 Sundance "Trading Cards" Series: #17. Jonathan Duffy (Hellion)Eric Lavallee: Name me three of your favorite “2013 discoveries”…
Duffy: University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) and Dr. Paul Gardner. These guys delivered a medical miracle to our family and saved the life of my brother-in-law. The Bay Area Film community – My heart has been overwhelmed by the new friends that we have made since arriving in the Bay Area. Their talents inspire me and their consistent encouragement is something I will always cherish. Shanghai Dumpling King in San Francisco – this place makes me so happy.

Lavallee: Question 2: You’re batting 1000 (or 2 for 2) with films produced going to Sundance. What important lessons did you learn on Pit Stop that you applied to Hellion?
Duffy: One of the really great things that has happened of late is that a number of truly talented people have come out and said things like “I am not an expert”, “I am not perfect” and “I struggle” in talking about their own craft. It’s kind of wonderful to hear those things said because when we set out to make Pit Stop I was not an expert, I was not perfect and at times I struggled. Ultimately, I learned that all of that was okay and to just trust my gut, trust our team and if need be ask a friend. Knowing that gave me confidence as we went forward with Hellion. I think the other lesson was to be grateful. It is a real privilege to be able to be a part of these things and I am incredibly grateful to everyone who has helped us.

Lavallee: For those who aren’t familiar with the backdrops, I was wondering if you could detail some of the locations that the Wilson family inhabits.
Duffy: Well location was incredibly important to our entire team and I think we all are in agreement that Hellion would not be Hellion if it was shot anywhere else. The Hellion family will forever be grateful to the warm welcome we received from the residents of Port Neches and all the surrounding communities. One of the locations I would like to highlight is the “Galveston house” as it is referred to in the film. The house is actually located in Crystal Beach Texas. It was ravished by hurricane Ike. It is my understanding that this house was actually one of the few that was left standing. I cannot image dealing with that kind of loss and having to rebuild but people do it time and again. I really love the way that Kat wove that loss into the story and how she and Brett our DP visually conveyed it.

Lavallee: In reading a SFFS Grant Winner bio, we learned that you actually have an organic food business venture. Besides excellent craft services on set, are the two related purely with a nickels and dimes standpoint?
Duffy: I think the two are related in that my involvement in them reflects an aspect of my personality. I get incredibly excited by the idea of starting things, solving problems and team. I co-founded because we wanted to disrupt the existing food distribution system, support farmers and help people eat healthy foods. At the time this was an idea I just could not walk away from. I had that same emotion when I read the script for Pit Stop and for Hellion.

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2014 Sundance "Trading Cards" Series: #17. Jonathan Duffy (Hellion)

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Eric Lavallée is the founder, CEO, editor-in-chief, film journalist, and critic at, established in 2000. A regular at Sundance, Cannes, and Venice, Eric holds a BFA in film studies from the Mel Hoppenheim School of Cinema. In 2013, he served on the narrative competition jury at the SXSW Film Festival. He was an associate producer on Mark Jackson’s "This Teacher" (2018 LA Film Festival, 2018 BFI London). In 2022, he was a New Flesh Juror for Best First Feature at the Fantasia International Film Festival. Current top films for 2023 include The Zone of Interest (Glazer), Inside the Yellow Cocoon Shell (Pham Thien An), Totem (Lila Avilés), La Chimera (Alice Rohrwacher), All Dirt Roads Taste of Salt (Raven Jackson).

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