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Interview: Director Josh Hyde of ‘My Friend’s Rubber Ducky’ at Midwest Independent Film Festival

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CHICAGO – With the evolution of marijuana legalization, and the continued hilarity of people getting high, the time has come for a new age stoner comedy. “My Friend’s Rubber Ducky” – written and directed by Josh Hyde – has its Chicago Premiere at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, June 7th, 2016. For complete information, click here.

The film is basically a four person comedy, having to do with an uncollected debt and the Stockholm syndrome. When Joseph (Jordan Kenneth Kamp) seeks to get a long-lost loan back from Oliver (Kenneth Yoder), kidnapping the deadbeat seems the only solution. Joseph enlists his stoner roommate Tee (Alex Hardaway) and girlfriend Mauve (Rinska Carrasco) to help keep Oliver in their apartment until he pays, and unexpectedly the captors and their victim begin to bond.

Josh Hyde
Director Josh Hyde Sets Up a Shot for ‘My Friend’s Rubber Ducky’
Photo credit: Josh Hyde

Writer/director Josh Hyde graduated from Southern Illinois University in 2003, interned at Kartemquin Films in Chicago and got his MFA from Ohio University. His first short film was “Chicle,” which led to his first feature film, “Postales.” Hyde utilized his talents as a writer, director and editor on his second feature, “My Friend’s Rubber Ducky,” and the film is making its Chicago Premiere at the Midwest Indie.

The Midwest Independent Film Festival is a year-round movie event in Chicago that takes place the first Tuesday of every month, at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema. The festival has been recognized by Chicago Magazine in their “Best of Chicago” issue, and has become one of the top places for local filmmakers, producers and actors to network in the city, as evidenced by the heavy hitters in attendance.

HollywoodChicago.com spoke to Josh Hyde via phone, and he talked about the evolution of the stoner comedy, as well as his philosophy as a filmmaker.

HollywoodChicago.com: This is basically a stoner comedy. What do you think has changed about stoner comedies in the last 40 years, since the days of Cheech and Chong?

Josh Hyde: I think the modern stoner comedy is more mainstream, and less political than the Cheech and Chong era. Those 1970s comedies were about both the complexities of pot use and the complexities of the world. In the modern era, pot use often is used as a punchline, but not necessarily given any meaning or context. So what I like to say is that we made a spiritual and absurdist stoner comedy. What’s changed currently, of course, is that marijuana has become legal medically and recreationally, that is really interesting to me.

HollywoodChicago.com: You have four actors, who are doing stage play-like dialogue in a confined space. What did you encourage them to do to make their actions more expansive?

Hyde: The main thing was to pit everybody against each other as characters. We had a 13-day, low budget shoot, and structured the script accordingly. I wanted to keep this production technically small, to connect to the actors while we were shooting, so we could expand on the playful elements.

The script was totally written before the shoot, which gave us room to improvise. We’d shoot the scripted material, and then we would expand on it and play. I am always learning, and since this was my second feature, I wanted to make it smaller and more relatable.

HollywoodChicago.com: You shot this film in Chicago in the winter. What did you want to use about the character of that season, again to either contrast or enhance the mechanics of what was happening in the story?

Hyde: Honestly, that happened accidentally. [laughs] We were set to shoot in the summer, but there were delays, and the earliest we could shoot was winter. But it turned out to be amazing. We could never pay for the snow and atmosphere, and it helped to convey the cold outside world in contrast to the apartment, and how they are trapped by it. Also, Oliver can’t escape because its cold outside, so it keeps him in the apartment. It was an unexpected part of the filming that really helped.

Josh Hyde, Alex Hardaway
Josh Hyde Directs Alex Hardaway in ‘My Friend’s Rubber Ducky’
Photo credit: Josh Hyde

HollywoodChicago.com: You experimented a bit with shot composition, especially when you were in the confined spaces of the apartment and the car. Do you carefully shot list or story board a scene, or were you allowing the set up, blocking and rehearsal process drive the composition when you were actually shooting?

Hyde: I do both, mainly because my producer likes it, to understand what the coverage will be. I like to also line the script with actor beats, and that helps to break down performances. I assign the coverage according to the bigger beats of the action, in how each actor uses emotional ups and downs.

I used a simple camera aesthetic. Before the kidnapping, I started with all wide shots, to include the whole atmosphere. Once the abduction takes place, I immediately went to single shots, cuts and reverse shots. Everybody became isolated in their own world. As everything starts to loosen up between the characters, I used panning shots to connect them. And finally, we come back to the wide shots as the resolution becomes clear. That allows the audience to be both trapped with the characters, and come back with them.

HollywoodChicago.com: I ask this of a lot of beginning filmmakers. In the sense of ‘What Would Jesus Do,’ which director would you have on the rubber band around your wrist when you’re stuck for a solution, as in ‘What Would _____ do’ and why?

Hyde: I’m going to have two – ‘What would Robert Bresson and Andrei Tarkovsky do?’ Many times, filmmakers fall into a trap of trying to create something new, when the avant-garde references of the past can easily celebrate their message, and the intuition that comes through the work. Those master filmmakers wrote about becoming a spiritual filmmaker, and have those emotions reach the audience.

HollywoodChicago.com: How would you pitch your movie to the potential audience to get them to attend on Tuesday night?

Hyde: Have you ever gotten high on a movie? [laughs]

The Chicago Premiere of “My Friend’s Rubber Ducky,” written and directed by Josh Hyde, will be at the Midwest Independent Film Festival on Tuesday, June 7th, 2016, beginning at 6pm at the Landmark Century Centre Cinema (2828 North Clark in Chicago). Click here for details about the festival and how you can participate in what Chicago Magazine called “the place to be and be seen for veteran pros and up-and-comers.”

HollywoodChicago.com senior staff writer Patrick McDonald

Writer, Editorial Coordinator

© 2016 Patrick McDonald, HollywoodChicago.com

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