Wizard World: The Baker Twins talk Kin

Kin directors Josh Baker and Jonathan Baker speak at a Q&A panel at Wizard World Chicago for their new film. Photo by Danielle Solzman.

The Baker Twins, Jonathan Baker and Josh Baker, were on hand for a panel during Wizard World Chicago to discuss their upcoming sci-fi film, Kin.

The duo, according to Jonathan, originally thought they would pursue a career in comic books.  It’s this thought that made Wizard World Chicago the perfect place for their panel.  The panel preceded a Saturday night advanced screening of Kin, opening in theaters this Friday.

Jonathan said that they wanted to put a 1980s sci-fi vibe into the film while also giving it an indie feel.  The 1980s provided some really great sci-fi films so this is a lot to live up to.  I should stress that I have not attended a screening of the film.  In addition to showing the trailer, two clips were screened from the film.  A short featurette showed off the work from sound designer Joseph Fraioli.  Fraioli previously worked on their short film, Bag Man.  His contribution is said to be the most impressive part of the film.

While they will always call Australia their home, they moved to New York in 2007 to pursue a career in directing advertisements.  Josh commented that he thought filmmaking was far-fetched.  Through advertisements, they worked with three-time Oscar-winning cinematographer Emmanuel Lubeski and two-time winner, John Toll.

It’s the Australian perspective that helps to provide their lens on the film.  It’s their first feature film so of course, it’s so personal for the twins.  They see themselves as an outsider in Hollywood.  It’s fair to say that this informs the point of view that they bring to the film.  The film, appropriately enough, is about an outsider.

The twins grew up with the same taste for everything.  Because they share directing duties, they feel that they can get more things accomplished.  They don’t see themselves as the type in which both must approve something before it happens.

Kin is influenced by the aforementioned short film, Bag Man.  The lead character finds a sci-fi rifle.  It’s the indie vibe that leads one to believe it’s a Sundance-esque film but then there’s the sci-fi MacGuffin shows up.

The twins wanted to make the film something of its own.  According to Josh, they had wanted to find where the most interesting story lies.  It’s not just a sci-fi film as coming-of-age, road trip, crime drama, and brotherhood themes are involved.  The film was inspired by the likes of Mud and Out of the Furnace.

“Family is at the heart of all the relationships in the film,” Jonathan said.

As Bag Man was being accepted into festivals and premiered at SXSW in 2015, people would ask them if they had any feature films.  Lucky for them, they had a pitch document and knew where they wanted to take the story.  According to Josh, they found a production company, 21 Laps Entertainment.  They were developing both Stranger Things and Arrival.  They had seen the short but the pitch got the ball rolling.

Regarding the casting, Jonathan described it as being awesome to collect that kind of cast.  They felt that Miles Truitt made the role his own.  That said, Josh was nervous about Miles growing up too much on his first film.  Miles grew some three inches on the set of the film!  On Jack Reynor’s casting, Josh said Sing Street was “really great and probably didn’t get the love it deserved.”  He’s a tricky character according to Jonathan.

For the sci-fi gun at hand, Jonathan said that they had a prop built to look as real as possible.  It’s his first feature film so the whole thing is practical.  There were challenges that came with creating the visual effects because of the stunt work and blowing things up.  The biggest one in question, per Josh, was the wall gag.  In light of what happened to a stunt performer on Deadpool 2, Jonathan said they wanted a safe space for both actors and stunt performers.

A strip club set was built with both lighting and pull-away walls.  Without the pull-away walls, they film probably wouldn’t work in the same way.  The sets were designed by Ethan Tobman.  Tobman designed the sets for Room.

The film was shot in Toronto but set in Detroit.  Because of this setting, there is a theme of decay in the film.  A shot of flowers being placed on a grave in the cemetery depicts a Terminator 3-esque abandoned building.  Because of shooting in Toronto, it meant that the Nevada casino depicted in the film could not be a real casino due to the law.  It’s illegal to film within a Toronto casino!  This meant having to bring in all kinds of slot machines from across North America in their own fake casino depicted in the film per Jonathan.

Trailer enthusiasts will be upset to learn that the shot of the table being flipped did not make the final cut.

Kin may have taken up the last 3.5 years of their lives per Josh but he looks at movies differently after making their own–even ones he doesn’t care for.  As for Jonathan, he commends anyone who goes through the trenches of making a film.

Summit Entertainment will open Kin in theaters on August 31, 2018.


Danielle Solzman

Danielle Solzman is native of Louisville, KY, and holds a BA in Public Relations from Northern Kentucky University and a MA in Media Communications from Webster University. She roots for her beloved Kentucky Wildcats, St. Louis Cardinals, Indianapolis Colts, and Boston Celtics. Living less than a mile away from Wrigley Field in Chicago, she is an active reader (sports/entertainment/history/biographies/select fiction) and involved with the Chicago improv scene. She also sees many movies and reviews them. She has previously written for Redbird Rants, Wildcat Blue Nation, and Hidden Remote/Flicksided. From April 2016 through May 2017, her film reviews can be found on Creators.

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