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)


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.


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.


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 )


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.”


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

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