How the Baker Brothers turned a 15-minute short film into the Hollywood must-see movie of the summer
While ‘Kin’ is their first feature film, the Baker Brothers have over 15 years of filmmaking experience collaborating with brands including, Nike, Beats By Dre, Google and more.
Filmmakers Jonathan and Josh Baker, also known as the Baker Brothers, have their first feature film ‘Kin’ hitting theaters this week, which was adapted from their short film ‘Bag Man’ which premiered at SXSW (South by Southwest) in 2015. The brothers are known for their artistic yet gritty style, transporting audiences into new worlds with the blending of genres and tone.
While ‘Kin’ is their first feature film, the Baker Brothers have years of filmmaking experience collaborating with award-winning cinematographers and creatives directing commercials for brands including, Nike, Beats By Dre, Google and more. Their unified voice is one that lends itself well to storytelling, which is very evident in their first ever feature film ‘Kin.’
Starring Jack Reynor, Zoe Kravitz, Dennis Quaid, James Franco and newcomer Myles Truitt, ‘Kin’ follows adopted brothers (Reynor and Truitt) who embark on a dangerous adventure running from a violent criminal who is out for blood, with their only protection being an otherworldly weapon that holds mysterious powers. Meaww sat down with the dynamic duo to get an inside look into the making of this unique and wildly entertaining film.
With over 15 years of filmmaking experience in the commercial world, the brothers had an itch to do more and to tell a longer story. The next obvious step was to create short films, which is how the soon to be major motion picture ‘Kin’ ended up getting made.
"Back in 2014, we were making ads for quite a while, they were like 30-second pieces, so really we wanted to tell something longer. We put a couple of short films together over the years, and had fun doing it, and we basically thought lets put all our favors, people that we have worked with for nine years in New York, crew members and visual effects companies, and see if we can put just all of that into one short that maybe is a little longer,” Jonathan explained.
However, their short film ‘Bag Man’ was unique in many ways. It was something that felt like a quiet yet explosive journey, playing with everyone’s expectations. Originally, the brothers' intentions were not to make this into a feature film, they were merely experimenting with different types of storytelling to see what worked. Josh shared how after making the film, they had the feeling that Hollywood would come knocking soon enough, and they knew they needed to be prepared for that.
“Over Christmas we went to Costa Rica and we basically just sat there and said, 'What is interesting about this story? What elements do we want to take? What elements do we want to change?’ And we figured out pretty quickly that we wanted to tell a story about brothers, specifically unconventional brothers that are completely different from each other in every way.”
After having success at SXSW and becoming a staff pick on Vimeo, ‘Bag Man’ was a hot commodity with an array of Hollywood executives interested in turning it into a feature film. They finally met with Dan Cohen and Shawn Levy of 21 Laps, and their visions for the film just clicked. Hollywood is always looking for something different, which Josh explains is why everyone was so interested in the story from the get-go.
“I think the concept of something fresh and unique gets people’s mouths watering in Hollywood. I knew we had something different because the whole concept for us tonally was trying to mesh different things that we love about cinema into the same world and make it all fit together. We have a 14-year-old kid as the lead who is living in a very adult, brutal world, so what would that look like?”
One of the things that makes ‘Kin’ such a unique film is that it blends genres in a cutting-edge and surprising way. Jonathan explained how mixing science fiction with a gritty reality was fascinating for them, grounding the story and creating layers. “I think what really intrigued us was putting slicker sci-fi stuff, mixed with the grittier reality that would end up becoming grounded sci-fi, if you will. And then putting an emotional base under the whole thing with the family story, and to just see all of those aspects play together in the sandbox.”
The cast of ‘Kin’ is excellent, but it was a long and arduous process that ended up having a great outcome that they only could have dreamed of. Besides getting a killer cast, Josh explained how important it was for it to be diverse as well.
“What was super important to us was retaining this diverse cast and pushing a young, African American lead in this film and having that be one of the main ingredients. There were many conversations about having this be a more diverse cast, and it has been very important to us for a long time and I’m glad that this is now in the spotlight.”
After audiences see ‘Kin,’ it is very likely that they will want to see more. As Jonathan puts it, there is obviously more story to be told after it ends, but it’s up to Hollywood to make that decision, as it wasn’t their original intent.
“So we weren’t necessarily leading to a specific sequel, but it was more about leading the audience to something that they can imagine in their minds, and build out that universe, wondering where the character will go and what is the next story. So obviously, there is a sequel to be told after this movie and I think it comes down to the classic answer, if people are interested, we’d be interested in telling more. We definitely know where its heading and kind of need to dive into it more to figure the whole thing out. But yea, the answer is if people are interested, for sure.”
Lionsgate will release this dynamic sci-fi thriller on August 31st. Watch the trailer here: