‘Beautiful Boy’ Cast on How the Actors and Filmmakers Created a Family on Set (Exclusive Video)

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“Beautiful Boy,” the Golden Globe-nominated true story of a family struggling with a son’s heroine addiction, is a heartbreaking portrayal of a family contending with crisis — but a family nonetheless.

While filming “Beautiful Boy,” the cast and filmmakers said in an exclusive featurette given to TheWrap that they created their own dedicated family on set to support each other, much like the real-life Sheff family on which the film is based.

“There was this incredible moment when the Sheffs visited us on set and saw the family we had recreated and there was this deep sense of love and a bond between everybody — Steve Carell, Timothée Chalamet, Maura Tierney, Amy Ryan,” producer Jeremy Kleiner said in the exclusive clip.

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Directed and co-written by Felix van Groeningen, “Beautiful Boy” is based on the best-selling pair of memoirs “Clean: Overcoming Addiction and Ending America’s Greatest Tragedy” and “Beautiful Boy: A Father’s Journey Through His Son’s Addiction” from father and son, David and Nic Sheff. The film chronicles Nic’s survival, relapse and recovery, as his family copes with his addiction over many years.

In the featurette, the cast and filmmakers discuss the performances of the actresses portraying the pivotal women in Nic’s life – Tierney, who plays Nic’s stepmother, and Ryan, who plays his biological mother.

“Maura’s performance is extremely subtle and really beautiful,” Kleiner said. “You are aware there is a deep bond between Maura and Nic.”

Also Read: Timothée Chalamet Battles Addiction in ‘Beautiful Boy’ Trailer (Video)

Carell said of Tierney and Ryan, “Just love them. Terrific actors.”

Chalamet, who gushed about getting the opportunity to work with Ryan, who also worked for years with Carell on “The Office,” said they all became a team on set.

“I get a definite sense of commitment from everybody to the story and to the real-life people,” Carell said in the clip.

“Beautiful Boy” is now streaming on Prime Video.

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Short Documentary Oscar Nominees on Advantages, Intimacy of Short Form (Exclusive Video)

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With Netflix, HBO, and other digital outlets looking for top quality, half-hour documentaries, the short doc format has gained a new surge in interest from filmmakers and viewers alike. This year’s Oscar nominees in the Best Documentary Short category are grateful for it, telling the crowd at TheWrap’s Screening Series that making a documentary shorter has its advantages.

“For me, it’s really freeing actually to make something that’s pared down to fewer elements,” said Kate Davis, director of “Traffic Stop.” The documentary interviews Breaion King, a black schoolteacher in Texas who made headlines after a police dashcam video of her being violently arrested after a routine traffic stop went viral.

“It just felt more like a poem, which was right for this particular story. It’s not a big legal case. It’s not the O.J. trial. The idea was just to put you in this woman’s shoes for a moment and imagine being in her life.”

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Davis was joined at The Landmark Theater in Los Angeles by her producer, David Heilbroner, as well as directors Frank Stiefel (“Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405”), Thomas Lennon (“Knife Skills”), Elaine McMillion Sheldon (“Heroin(e)”) and Laura Checkoway, along with producer Thomas Lee Wright (“Edith + Eddie”).

“The short form allowed us to keep everything in scene,” said Sheldon, who followed three women in Huntington, West Virginia, that have devoted themselves to fighting the town’s rampant heroin addiction problem. “We never forced the viewer to stop and watch someone talking to the camera unless they were in scene doing something.”

While last year’s nominated short docs included three films about the Syrian refugee crisis, this year’s contenders followed a diverse range of Americans tackling topics like mental health, police brutality, elder law, addiction, and in the case of Thomas Lennon’s “Knife Skills,” incarceration.

Lennon followed a restaurant in Cleveland called Edwin’s, which employs recently released inmates and teaches them the ways of French cuisine. Lennon says he found himself rooting for the restaurant and its workers to succeed, but also tried to keep some distance between him and his subjects.

“Even though I was very sympathetic…I never accepted any free food from the restaurant. I never let Brandon [Chrostowki, founder of Edwins] anywhere near any of the footage I shot,” he said.

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Frank Stiefel, on the other hand, took the opposite approach with “Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405.” His film follows Mindy Alper, an L.A. artist who attended a class with Stiefel’s wife and who uses her art to help with her severe depression and anxiety. The film delves deep into Alper’s troubled childhood and the daily struggles she has with her treatment, so Stiefel allowed Alper to see every cut he made to make sure she was ok with what parts of her he was going to show to the world.

“There’s a point where she starts to shake and I had to make a decision whether I was going to be a filmmaker or a friend,” Stiefel said. “I told her, ‘Mindy, I have to film this, I’m sorry.’ I determined that I would show her every cut. I knew I was in a sensitive area and I didn’t want to do damage.”

Sensitive areas are what Laura Checkoway had to face when she made “Edith + Eddie,” a film she expected to be about an interracial couple that fell in love at the age of 95 and 96. Instead, she ended up filming a tragedy as the two were forcibly separated when one of Edith’s daughter claimed legal custody of her and made her leave her lifelong home in Virginia.

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“A friend texted a photo of the couple that was going around online,” Checkoway said. “I just kept staring at this photo and wondered what it would be like to fall in love at that time in your life. Little did I know that it would become a look at elder law and the legal guardianship system.”

Though each film had its own unique circumstances and obstacles, all the panelists agreed that having a camera in the room changed how both they and their subjects behaved and encouraged both sides to show deeper truths.

“There’s a curious thing about having a camera and asking questions…it makes you brave,” Stiefel said. “To not ask the question that’s going to make everyone uncomfortable would be to fail. Having a camera certainly makes me braver. I know why I’m there and that I can’t evade the thing that’s giving me anxiety because not asking the question is going to be horrible.”

All the Oscar nominated films in all three short film categories can be seen in theaters this weekend. Click here for more information.

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‘Heroin(e)’ Director Investigates How Small Towns Battle With Opioids: ‘It Was Pills, It Was Heroin’

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“Heroin(e)” director Elaine McMillion Sheldon opened up on Wednesday evening about the deep and devastating impact the opioid epidemic is having to small American towns.

During a discussion at New York’s Landmark 57 West theater, Sheldon said the problems have long since escalated from addicts popping pills.

“It’s getting worse, it’s not heroin anymore. It was pills, it was heroin, now it’s Fentanyl, now it’s Carfentanyl — that’s elephant tranquilizer,” she said. “Four out of five heroin users started with a prescription, they started with a pill.”

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Sheldon, who spent 35 days documenting the opioid epidemic in Huntington, West Virginia, said that while she found no shortage of hopeful stories, the experience didn’t fill her with confidence.

“I didn’t see any great solutions or amazing work, I hate to say,” she said.

Sheldon was joined by fellow director, Derek Peck, who was also on hand to discuss his short “Ram Dass, Going Home.” The work looks at legendary psychedelic guru Ram Dass, now living out his old age in Hawaii.

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“He had been such an influential and seminal figure in the ’60s and ’70s,” Peck said. “I was very interested in exploring themes about life and being and death itself. He really embodied the full range in popular American life.”

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The two films are among the 10 finalists for this year’s documentary short Oscar competition and while together they could not be more different, they shared some core thematic similarities such as drugs and death.

The discussion with the two directors was led by TheWrap Managing Editor Thom Geier.

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Netflix Aims to Go Back-to-Back as ‘Heroin(e)’ Makes Oscars Short-Doc Shortlist

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Nine months after winning its first Academy Award for the short documentary “The White Helmets,” Netflix is back in the running with its short-doc “Heroin(e)” landing on the Oscars shortlist in the Best Documentary Short Subject category.

That film, about three women fighting the opioid epidemic in West Virginia, will be going up against a field that also includes “Edith + Eddie,” a film about the oldest interracial newlyweds in the U.S. that was previously nominated for both the IDA Documentary Awards and the Cinema Eye Honors.

The shortlisted films, with production companies:

“Alone,” The New York Times
“Edith+Eddie,” Heart is Red and Kartemquin Films
“Heaven Is a Traffic Jam on the 405,” Stiefel & Co.
“Heroin(e),” A Netflix Original Documentary in association with The Center for Investigative Reporting, A Requisite Media Production
“Kayayo – The Living Shopping Baskets,” Integral Film
“Knife Skills,” TFL Films
“116 Cameras,” Birdling Films
“Ram Dass, Going Home,” Further Pictures
“Ten Meter Tower,” Plattform Produktion
“Traffic Stop,” Q-Ball Productions

Also Read: 170 Films Enter Oscars Documentary Category, Setting New Record

The films were chosen by volunteer members from the Academy’s Documentary Branch from among the 77 eligible films. (Last year, 61 films qualified; the year before, 74 did.)

The shortlisted films are now available to all members of the Academy’s Documentary Branch, who will vote to choose the five nominees beginning on January 5.

Nominations will be announced on January 23.

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