Tag Archives: Daryl Wein

Daryl Wein Is “Consumed” By GMOs

As a hot young filmmaker, Daryl Wein has made a name by tackling sexy subjects.

Breaking Upwards” explored non-monogamy, based loosely on his experiences with his writing partner/wife, Zoe Lister-Jones.

Sex Positive” followed a gay S&M sex worker who promoted safe sex at the height of the AIDS epidemic.

Lola Versus” showcased a single woman’s journey to find herself, after breaking up with her fiance.

Daryl Wein

Daryl Wein

Wein’s latest film is about a decidedly non-sexy subject: genetically modified organisms.

But it’s as important as anything the Staples graduate has ever done.

After eating up Jim Honeycutt’s high school film and video classes, Wein honed his cinematic chops at NYU’s Tisch School, and in USC’s film and TV programs. Yet it took 7 years for “Consumed” to come to fruition.

When Wein and Lister-Jones first stumbled on the subject of GMOs, they were engrossed. From farmers battling biotech corporations to everyday Americans eating new and novel foods unknowingly, they realized they’d found a deeply interesting and complex web of intriguing ideas, just waiting to be woven into a narrative film.

Wein was stunned to learn that — unlike over 60 countries around the world — the US does not label GMO products. It’s pervasive — yet consumers have no idea (or choice) in whether or not we each such food.

Remembering great thrillers of the 1970s, the pair wanted to revisit a time when filmmakers were not afraid to blend real-world politics with story structure and character development. They wanted to create an entertaining movie — but one that raised questions about a subject that (far too quietly) impacts us all.

A sample of GMO foods.

A sample of GMO foods.

They made “Consumed” through their own production company, Mister Lister Films. “There was no studio or big producer behind us,” Wein says. “We had only ourselves to trust.”

They assembled an “incredible” cast of actors, then shot in rural Illinois. “After years of research, we came face to face with farmers on the frontlines of this battle,” Wein says.

Wein and his cinematographer hope the film looks “as polished, beautiful and authentic” as possible, to accentuate the beauty of rural America.

Though GMOs don’t stimulate most Americans the way marriage, non-monogamy or S&M do, Wein sees a through line between “Consumed” and his previous works. He tries to shed light on untold stories. And, he says, “I’ve always been interested in ideological debate, whether it’s personal, political or the intersection of the two.”

The Westport native calls “Consumed” a “dramatic thriller.” He presents complicated information, while maintaining strong story and character development. He synthesizes multiple story points with complex political subject matter.

Consumed movie poster - Daryl Wein

Erin Brockovich has thrown her support behind the film. Senator Richard Blumenthal screened it for members of Congress. Wein and Lister-Jones are touring the country, showing it to food and environmental safety leaders.

Now Westporters can see it too.

Starting today, the film is available at www.ConsumedTheMovie.com. It’s also available on iTunes, Amazon, Google Play, Vimeo and select TV video-on-demand platforms.

Tonight (Tuesday, March 22, 7:30 p.m.), there’s a special showing at Fairfield’s Bullard Square Theater. Click here for details.

You’ll enjoy it, for sure. You learn a lot too.

Just don’t eat the popcorn.

Click below for the “Consumed” trailer:

Daryl Wein’s Latest Venture: “Lola Versus”

Daryl Wein started his film directing career at Staples. He went on to Tisch at NYU, and USC’s film and TV school.

Daryl Wein

Daryl honed his craft making indie films like “Sex Positive.” He broke out 2 years ago with “Breaking Upwards.”

Now — just 10 years out of high school — the multi-talented, mischievous director is taking the next big step.

Lola Versus” is his 1st studio film. In addition to directing, Daryl co-wrote it with his long-time girlfriend, Zoe Lister-Jones. The cast includes Debra Winger, Greta Gerwig and Hamish Linklater.

Fox Searchlight releases “Lola Versus” in New York and Los Angeles this Friday (June 8). The quick synopsis:

Dumped by her boyfriend just 3 weeks before their wedding, Lola enlists her close friends for a series of adventures she hopes will help her come to terms with approaching 30 as a single woman.

The Hollywood Reporter called it “convincing in its depiction of late-20s romantic anxiety (if not of that age bracket’s real estate realities)… broadly appealing without bowing too deeply to formula.”

It adds:

The script is particularly strong in its last act, avoiding easy fixes and new romance and instead allowing its heroine to act out just enough to finally get tired of herself. Its solitude-is-okay message is hardly novel, but Wein’s comfortable way of reaching that point will resonate with viewers still trying to achieve that particular brand of enlightenment.

The competition is fierce. This is summer blockbuster time.

But with the right promotion — and a few breaks — Daryl’s deft touch could soon reach audiences all across the country.

(Click below for the trailer. Click here for a story on Daryl and Zoe from last Sunday’s New York Post.)

‘Breaking Upwards’ Breaks Into NPR

Breaking Upwards” — the breakout film by Westport’s Daryl Wein that’s earned raves across the country — got an impressive shout-out today.

NPR’s “Morning Edition” used it to frame a story that examined a new trend in movies.

“Indies On Demand:  Now The Festival’s At Your Place” began:

Until recently, if you wanted to work on your indie cred by seeing the Next Big Thing in independent film, you had to hop on a plane to Sundance, Toronto or Tribeca.  But a growing number of independent films are also available on cable across the country as video-on-demand rentals — even while they’re playing in theaters and at film festivals.

Case in point:  the much-buzzed-about millennials romantic comedy Breaking Upwards, in which 20-something stars Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones breathe life and humor back into a genre you might have given up for dead.  Even before the film opened on the big screen in New York, you could watch it all over the country on cable TV, as a video-on-demand rental.

Wein explained why video-on-demand is not only not cannibalizing his audience — it’s helping it:

If someone at home rents it for six bucks, that’s something that might be more appealing to them so they don’t have to leave their house and go spend $12 in the theater, and then if they like it, they tell their friend, who may actually prefer to go see it in the theater.  So that right there helps us.

But not even the most indie-friendly 20-something — like Lister-Jones, Wein’s girlfriend, co-star, co-writer and co-producer — is ready to go all-video-on-demand, all the time.

“The ritual is lost,” she admits, comparing watching a movie at home, rather than on a big screen in an actual theater.

(Click here to read and/or listen to the entire NPR “Morning Edition” story.)

Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones -- see them in theaters, and through video on demand. (Photo by Alex Bergman)

And After The Show, They Went In And Cleaned The Restrooms

Westporters attending this afternoon’s premiere of “Breaking Upwards” at Fairfield’s Community Theatre might have been surprised to see Daryl Wein, Zoe Lister-Jones and Peter Duchan (above, from left) manning the ticket booth.

It was all in a day’s work for the trio, who wrote, acted in, produced, directed, played music for, edited, and God-knows-what-elsed the 85-minute indie film.  Daryl and Peter are long-time Westporters, and Staples graduates.

A sold-out crowd loved the movie, and the Q-and-A session that followed.

Which was held by — of course — Daryl, Zoe and Peter.

From “06880” To The New York Times

On Tuesday “06880” previewed “Breaking Upwards,” Westport writer/director/actor/producer Daryl Wein’s new movie that will be shown tomorrow (Sunday, March 28, 2 p.m.) at Fairfield’s Community Theatre.

This weekend, the New York Times joins the buzz.

We’re not talking a mini-review, all agate type and buried at the bottom of a Saturday page no one reads.

Not hardly.  Daryl; his girlfriend/co-writer/co-producer Zoe Lister-Jones; his Staples classmate/co-writer/associate producer Peter Duchan, and the entire cast and crew that helped make this indie film for the astonishingly low cost of $15,000, have scored a full-page feature story in tomorrow’s Sunday Times arts section.

A hugely laudatory story.

With 6 photos.

Including one plastered across the entire top of the page, showing Daryl and Zoe in exactly the type of scene that will be remembered years from now, when they’re accepting Oscars for lifetime achievements.

Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones, looking very movie-like. (Photo by Alex Bergman/Courtesy of the New York Times)

Writer Larry Rohter calls “Breaking Upwards” “almost a tutorial in how a do-it-yourself ethos can overcome the tough economics of the movie business.”

He describes the recruitment of the cast through Craigslist.  The clever use of inheritances and insurance to fund the film.  Daryl’s living room editing on a flat-screen TV.  Guerrilla marketing tactics like chalking the movie title on Manhattan walls and sidewalks.

And the importance of big names like actors Olivia Thirlby, Julie White, Peter Friedman and Andrea Martin to the success of the project.

Rohter likens “Breaking Upwards” to “Paranormal Activity.”  That indie film — also made for the price of a Hyundai Elantra — has grossed more than $100 million so far.  Coincidentally, “Paranormal” stars another Staples graduate:  Micah Sloat.

“06880” is glad the New York Times recognizes Daryl’s talents — and shares them with the rest of the weekend Arts section crowd.  We just hope that — on his way to super-stardom — Daryl doesn’t forget the little people.

Breaking Upwards With Daryl Wein

“An uncensored look at young love, lust, and the pangs of co-dependency.”

What more could you want in a film?

That’s the thrust of Daryl Wein’s latest production, “Breaking Upwards.” Theatrical distribution and video on demand start April 2 — but Westporters get a sneak peek at what the Staples graduate has created this Sunday (March 28, 2 p.m.) at Fairfield’s Community Theatre.

Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister-Jones. It's a scene from their movie, in which art imitates life.

Following the film, Daryl; his co-writer, association producer and Staples classmate Peter Duchan; Westport actor Toby Burns, and co-writer, co-producer Zoe Lister-Jones — who is also Daryl’s girlfriend and fellow co-dependent — will lead a Q-and-A discussion.

Anyone who knows Daryl — from his Staples Players days, to his groundbreaking “Sex Positive” film about the now-forgotten birth of the safe sex movement — understands that “Breaking Upwards” is quintessentially him.

The film loosely interprets a year in Daryl and Zoe’s lives as they explore alternatives to monogamy, the madness that ensues, and the answer to the eternal question:  “Is it ever possible to grow apart together?”

“Breaking Upwards” — which Daryl directed, co-wrote, acted in, played music for, produced and edited — won the Grand Jury Prize at the Brooklyn International Film Festival, and earned acclaim at SXSW.

It’s been called “an effortlessly hip and funny new indie flick that easily ranks among the best films about relationships.”

The wisdom and insights Daryl gained in Westport underpin the New York sensibility he brings to his work.  Calling him the Woody Allen of his 20-something generation might be a stretch.

But his career is on the rise.  He bears watching.

And Westporters can start watching on Sunday, next door in Fairfield.

(Not sure you want to see the film?  Check out the trailer — it’s very cool.  PS:  The original soundtrack is available on iTunes.)

Honoring Our Artists

Daryl Wein

Daryl Wein

Westport is an arts hotbed.  Not a weekend passes without exhibits, performances and shows.  We attract hgh-powered names; for a small town, we’re a big player.

But 1 of my favorite events is pretty simple.  Each year Westport’s Arts Advisory Committee honors our own.  There are low-key speeches, a slide show, live performances, and heartfelt applause from neighbors and friends.

This year’s 16th annual Arts Awards take place 2 p.m. Sunday (Town Hall).  All Westporters are invited.  You don’t have to be an artist to enjoy it.

Horizon Awards will be presented to 2 rising young artists — both Staples graduates.  Daryl Wein (SHS ’02) is an uber-talented actor/filmmaker.  His documentary “Sex Positive” has won prizes, and been released in 9 countries.  He is an NYU Tisch School and USC Film and Television grad.

Josh Frank (SHS ’00) is a trumpeter, composer and music producer.  He has appeared with the Metropolitan Opera and recorded with the  American Brass Quintet.  He is a Juilliard graduate.

Sally White

Sally White

Champion of the Arts recipients include Howard Aibel (longtime advocate of the arts, as a director, board member and concert sponsor); Suszanne Sherman Propp (singer/songwriter and music teacher extraordinaire), and — a truly inspired choice — Sally White (longtime owner of Sally’s Place, perhaps the last great music store on the planet).

Heritage Awards will be presented posthumously to 3 giants:  Dorothy Bryce (actress); Mel Casson (cartoonist), and Barbara Wilk (artist).

There are many ways to enjoy a Sunday afternoon in Westport.  Honoring our arts heritage — with our own supremely talented artists, musicians and filmmakers — might just be the best.

Dorothy Bryce

Dorothy Bryce

‘Sex Positive’: The Movie

Seder and safe sex.  Not the usual combination — but a winning one for Daryl Wein.

Daryl Wein

Daryl Wein

Two years ago the 2002 Staples grad — now a filmmaker — celebrated Passover with girlfriend Zoe Lister-Jones’ family.  Richard Berkowitz — a lifelong friend of Zoe’s mom — was there.  As Richard — now destitute and alone — reminisced about his life as a sex worker-turned-AIDS activist (he pioneered the concept of “safe sex”), Daryl realized he had stumbled on an important, and untold, story.

After reading Richard’s long-forgotten book, Stayin’ Alive:  The Invention of Safe Sex, the NYU grad recalled his days at Staples.

Sex education then, he says, involved “condom-on-banana antics, generally followed by chuckles of discomfort.”  He and his friends — who grew up hearing, but not really understanding, the safe-sex mantra — always thought of it as “a government-invented advocacy program.”  Researching Richard’s life, and poring through his vast print and video archives, Daryl realized safe sex actually resulted from “the tireless efforts of many fervent activists who paved the way for change.”

Today — with HIV rates again on the rise — Daryl knew this was a movie he had to make.

He spent months interviewing doctors, scientists, activists — and Richard himself.  Learning how many men died in the fight — both personal and societal — against AIDS, moved and impelled him.

The resulting documentary — “Sex Positive” — has received superb reviews at dozens of film festivals.  A Maryland reviewer wrote:

Sex Positive brings back all the horror, sadness, anger, and confusion of the early days of AIDS…. In the process, it offers a portrait of what it’s like to be a messenger burned for carrying an unpopular message — and offers a wake-up call to anyone who may, thanks to the medications that exist for checking and minimizing the symptoms of AIDS, once again live their sex lives as though immune, invincible, or just unconcerned.

“Angels in America” playwright Tony Kushner called it “a beautiful and important story.”

Richard’s book was recently reissued.  “He’s been brought out of hibernation,” Daryl says proudly.  “He’s back to actively promoting the safe sex cause all over the world.”

People often ask, Daryl says, how “a 25-year-old straight filmmaker ends up telling the story of a 53-year-old gay AIDS activist-ex S&M hustler.”  Daryl calls it his “generational duty” to do so.

After 8 years of Bush-backed abstinence-only sex education, Daryl says, “there couldn’t be a more essential time.  I feel I have to challenge complacency by instilling the values of those forgotten heroes, some of whom died in the fight.  One is still standing.”

(“Sex Positive” premieres this Friday, June 12, at the Quad Cinema, 34 W. 13th St., NYC.  Daryl and Richard will be there opening weekend for Q&As after the film.  Advance tickets are available through www.moviefone.com or by calling 212-255-2243.  The website is www.sexpositivethemovie.com.  To view the trailer, click here.)
Sex Positive