News

Watch Out Duffer Brothers: Kin's Baker Twins Have Big Sci-Fi Ambitions

The Australian twins talk working with Shawn Levy, adapting their widely praised SXSW short, and casting a star in the making.

by | August 31, 2018 | Comments

Aussie twins Josh and Jonathan Baker arrived at South By Southwest in 2014 with BAGMAN, a short about a boy and a bag with mysterious contents. The brothers left the festival boasting universal praise for the short and a bonafide product they could package and pitch for their ultimate goal – a big-screen adaptation.

This week, that big-screen dream comes true in the form of Kin, the story of Eli (Myles Truitt), a young black boy who finds a mysterious metal box, rather than a bag, while exploring abandoned buildings in his home town of Detroit. And it’s the story of his brother Jimmy (Jack Raynor), who’s home from prison and owes some money to some bad people, one of them played by James Franco.

What’s inside the box? If you’ve seen the trailer, you know it’s big, destructive, and not from this world.

We sat down to chat with the Baker brothers about their Amblin-style inspirations and what it’s like being the other directing twin brothers for mega-producer Shawn Levy.

Producer Shaw Levy with Jonathan and Josh Baker (Photo by Alan Markfield)

ON ASSEMBLING A BIG-NAME CAST FOR A FIRST-TIME FILM

Zoë Kravitz, Dennis Quaid, and James Franco – not exactly names you expect to cast in your first film. But the Baker Bros. say Kin wasn’t a hard sell – the short, BAGMAN, did the work for them. “When we met with Zoë, we were still pitching and chatting about the project,” Jonathan says. “And at one point she just interrupted us to say, ‘You know I’m totally doing this.'” The brothers say it was a huge relief as she was their first choice to play Milly. Franco was an even easier sell. Producer Shawn Levy was working with the actor on Why Him? and slipped him a script; he read the early draft and signed up right away.


ON WORKING WITH PRODUCER SHAWN “STRANGER THINGS” LEVY

The short also enticed producer Shawn Levy to join the project, who – having previously produced the Duffer Brothers for Stranger Things – had experience working with co-directing siblings. The Bakers brothers told Rotten Tomatoes he was an incredible collaborator, and thought of him “as an older brother – Shawn is not that much older than we are.” The bond between between the Bakers and Levy infected the entire production, they said.


ON THE SCI-FI MOVIE’S MEDIEVAL INSPIRATION

There is a techno-infused neon quality to the art direction of Kin, which gives it a slick and edgy sci-fi feel – but its inspiration is much less modern. “It’s our genre-inspired take on The Sword and The Stone,” Josh told us: Eli’s ‘box’ is a transforming futurist weapon with untold capability, and he’s the Detroit-living young Arthur to discover it.

Zoë Kravitz (L) Jack Reynor (C) Myles Truitt (R) (Photo by Lionsgate )

ON CASTING YOUNG MYLES TRUITT IN THE LEAD

The film’s subject matter – a kid who finds an uncontrollable gun – has raised some eyebrows given the heated debates about gun control; the fact that the kid with the gun is a young black male has raised some eyebrows even higher. But the brothers say it was key to have a young, strong, black male in the lead role. “What was super important to us was to keep the cast diverse and pushing a young, African American lead in this film and having that be one of the biggest parts of the movie, along with family dynamic,” Jonathan said. They also praised Truitt, who turns in a star-making performance. “He did so much with just his eyes, it’s was so subtle you can’t help being intrigued by what he’s doing.”


ON KIN‘S VIDEO GAME CONNECTIONS

Watching the film, it becomes clear that the Baker Brothers drew inspiration from Spielberg’s and Lucas’ kids’ adventure movies from the ’80s – think Goonies and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. But some viewers are seeing different inspirations. “So many people said this was taken from this video game or this is ripped from Halo,” Josh says. “But if you make a comparison to The Last of Us…for both of us, we consider it high praise.”


Kin is in theaters August 31

 

Tag Cloud

American Society of Cinematographers richard e. Grant YouTube San Diego Comic-Con CMT Bravo Star Trek 2016 Christmas batman tv talk politics Lionsgate cancelled television Tomatazos USA APB 20th Century Fox Marathons Marvel Television Year in Review Creative Arts Emmys cults historical drama thriller 21st Century Fox miniseries streaming USA Network Podcast Captain marvel Martial Arts Paramount Network cancelled VH1 Sundance GLAAD Comic Book Music foreign Ghostbusters spy thriller LGBT Toys Adult Swim Watching Series GoT Opinion FXX Trivia children's TV finale cinemax Mary Tyler Moore Tumblr YouTube Red talk show DirecTV Rocky Mindy Kaling 24 frames Summer cars Thanksgiving period drama series TNT Superheroe doctor who TruTV science fiction ratings composers Black Mirror Valentine's Day Freeform movies dceu docudrama Vudu video ITV justice league Western Animation Netflix Christmas movies Emmys Apple TV Plus Ellie Kemper Anna Paquin President festivals christmas movies green book Pixar 2015 The Purge cats Polls and Games 2018 romance Binge Guide Sony Pictures Calendar werewolf spider-man Columbia Pictures crime drama Holidays cancelled TV shows supernatural Stephen King Turner Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt A24 Winter TV IFC Films Chilling Adventures of Sabrina Epix teaser mockumentary political drama Pirates Comics on TV Pet Sematary Universal Red Carpet Britbox Trophy Talk Holiday Super Bowl Comedy Central Disney streaming service BET canceled TV shows GIFs psychological thriller latino Family Nickelodeon HBO Max Marvel blaxploitation sitcom TCA Nat Geo Starz 2017 war comiccon game show comic award winner Television Academy Apple slashers true crime Amazon diversity TV Lifetime Christmas movies Tarantino Dark Horse Comics ABC Rocketman spinoff biography Premiere Dates Interview Disney Channel spanish language TIFF New York Comic Con binge See It Skip It nature Awards Tour Pop Election TV renewals National Geographic Quiz psycho technology TCA 2017 independent Reality Competition Set visit RT21 dragons Heroines Oscars Masterpiece adventure cops vampires Spring TV FX renewed TV shows Ovation Hallmark Pride Month Warner Bros. blockbuster Sci-Fi kids Brie Larson Sneak Peek Amazon Prime Video dramedy police drama MTV natural history Syfy Comedy TV Land Logo The Arrangement LGBTQ halloween jamie lee curtis Country Best and Worst NYCC facebook zero dark thirty free movies comics Kids & Family theme song Fox News Acorn TV Crunchyroll mutant YouTube Premium Awards travel Chernobyl Marvel Studios zombie toy story BBC America TBS Walt Disney Pictures book HBO Disney Musical Cartoon Network Writers Guild of America Teen Grammys Superheroes Hallmark Christmas movies Fantasy FOX Video Games spain Horror screenings NBC Paramount indie Esquire History transformers breaking bad Biopics quibi SDCC aliens golden globes Hulu strong female leads hispanic 45 cooking DGA WarnerMedia elevated horror disaster Film Festival Elton John south america CNN canceled sequel Mystery rotten movies we love MCU stand-up comedy 007 Song of Ice and Fire TCM Cosplay Classic Film crime thriller PaleyFest Arrowverse harry potter Extras Sundance Now witnail robots BBC anime space WGN DC streaming service Film Women's History Month anthology joker OWN versus Lifetime zombies Photos Amazon Prime 2019 Cannes First Reviews boxoffice Winners Star Wars The Walking Dead E3 Certified Fresh SundanceTV PBS E! cartoon Spectrum Originals ABC Family unscripted Countdown Drama Apple TV+ singing competition Turner Classic Movies Shondaland Schedule Food Network 71st Emmy Awards El Rey DC Comics cancelled TV series RT History casting revenge television Shudder Lucasfilm Peacock discovery Trailer social media serial killer Mary poppins what to watch Box Office YA Musicals Mary Poppins Returns crime Disney Plus crossover CBS hist X-Men CBS All Access Fall TV Disney+ Disney Plus Emmy Nominations romantic comedy SXSW ghosts First Look Character Guide VICE Netflix The Witch A&E adaptation Reality ESPN animated IFC Infographic Showtime Nominations sports Action game of thrones Mudbound Rock medical drama Spike TLC CW Seed based on movie Rom-Com MSNBC dc AMC DC Universe Crackle The CW