Quiver Distribution releases 13 Minutes in select theaters on October 29th, 2021.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Even though the tornado in 13 Minutes is integral to the plot, I think that what the movie is really about is the human spirit and connections. What do you think?
Peter Facinelli: Yeah, I think that you're right on for that. This, to me, is not a disaster movie. It takes place during a disaster, but it's really about overcoming things during a disaster and how you can watch humanity come together and grow through it. Some of the characters don't, but there's an opportunity there. I think that that's really true to life. Look, there's the Hollywood version of 13 Minutes which is Twister with Bill Paxton with all of the cows flying around and it was really exciting. What really drew me to 13 Minutes was that it felt really grounded. It felt like there were separate storylines of 6 different families, but you get to see how they are all interwoven together at some point. I think that that's a microcosm of humanity and what we're going through right now in the sense that we're all separately going through a disaster of Covid, but we're all really intertwined. We can grow through it and some people will be better for it and some people won't grow through it and won't learn things from it. With 13 Minutes, the entertainment and the drama is in watching humanity deal with something this big and how it puts your life into perspective---the smaller things in life when you become less insignificant.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Who do you think is ultimately responsible for bringing a character to life: the actor, the writer, the director or the audience?
PF: I think that it's a collaboration of all of those people. The audience plays a big part of it as well. There's a test that they do where they show you a picture of a blank face and they ask the person what they see---is the person happy, angry or sad. Normally, it's a blank face, and the person will project their thoughts on that picture. Similarly, in film, sometimes less is more. Sometimes as an actor, you can do less and the audience will meet you halfway and take on those feelings that you're going through because they're projecting what you're going through in that moment because they've seen what you're going through. So, I think that the director is responsible a little, for sure, because it's the director's medium and he's telling the story. The actor shows up to play the part and then there's an audience. It's really a collaboration of all of those and the writer as well.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Brad doesn't help the survivors right away and even has to be asked to help an injured survivor. He does apologize, though, before helping him. What do you think that says about his decency as a human being? What do you think was going through his mind at that time?
PF: The beauty of the subtlety of how I played that and how you perceive it could be taken in a lot of different ways from an audience member. For me, what I think Brad was going through was a shock seeing the destruction first-hand in these people. Normally, he's a personality. He's a meteorologist and, in some ways, an entertainer. He's always talking into the camera, but there's a barrier there that's removed from the actual event. Now he's in the heart of it and seeing the destruction with his own eyes which is causing his shock because he's also imagining, "Is my own house still standing? Is my daughter still there? Is my wife alive?" And then he's being asked to help a stranger or race to find out if his family is okay. I think that, in that situation, any human being would be torn. He has his own family who he has to make sure is okay and this person in front of him is bleeding. He does make the choice to help the person, but that has to be a hard choice for anybody. Knowing if you help this person, maybe you get there too late and you could've saved your own family.
NYC MOVIE GURU: 13 Minutes deals with virtues like hope, compassion and perseverance. Which of the virtues displayed in 13 Minutes do you think should lead the way in life?
PF: I don't think that one or the other has to lead the way. 13 Minutes is like an onion. If you unpeel it, there's hope, compassion, xenophobia, the farming struggle, and how being hearing-impaired affects someone when they can't hear things on TV that could affect their lives. So, there are so many different layers in 13 Minutes. The beauty of it, going back to what you had said, is the audience participation: which one do you connect with? Because whichever one you're connecting with is the one that should lead the way.
NYC MOVIE GURU: 13 Minutes shows the cruel and ugly side of nature through the tornado. Do you think that nature could be seen as a villain in the film?
PF: I wouldn't say that nature is the villain because nature is just doing its thing. Nature is just coming along and sending an opportunity and shining a light on humanity and saying, "This is where you were at the beginning of this. Now the stakes are so high that all the insignificant, smaller stuff is going to be put aside because your main goal here is survival. Then, after you've come out of that, are these 13 minutes going to change your life or not?" Some of the characters' lives change and some of them don't. I like that because I think that that's true to humanity. Not everybody comes out of this event going, "I've had this epiphany and I feel different about life." There was an opportunity there for them to grow, and you could choose it or not choose it. So, it's hard to say who the villain is. I think it's more of a study on humanity and how they deal with going through a crisis and growth. I think that it's a microcosm of what we're going through now.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Francois Truffaut once observed that a great film has a perfect balance between Truth and Spectacle. 13 Minutes has Truth in the human connections and Spectacle in the natural disaster, but I also think that it has Truth within the Spectacle and Spectacle within the Truth. What do you think?
PF: I think that it's a fine balance in 13 Minutes. That's what drew me to it and [writer/director] Lindsay Gossling did a really fine job of balancing it. You have the Truth and it feels very grounded. Then you have the Spectacle of the storm and then, you're right, there's Spectacle in the Truth of the storylines and a lot of Truth in the bigger Spectacle of this storm coming. There's a balance of all of those within 13 Minutes, and I think that's what makes it entertaining and compelling to watch. There's the Hollywood version of 13 Minutes, Twister. You can go see a big Spectacle film like that and there's nothing wrong with it. It was fun and entertaining. 13 Minutes felt like a very grounded version and just balancing out all of that is what made it really interesting for me to be a part of and watch. When I was watching the film and got to see the storm and that sky turn black, I've been in storms. I've driven in those storms. It's terrifying. To see it on a big screen, you can almost smell the ionization in the air that happens before the rain comes.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What's the purpose of struggle in life?
PF: Struggle is an opportunity to grow. If life was all wonderful and you woke up and had all the money in the world and no problems, it would be great for a while, but then it would become boring as well because there's no room for growth there. When you have obstacles and struggles, there's real opportunity for you to grow. So, in 13 Minutes, I don't know if it would affect Brad in the sense that he grows through something other than that he's a person who really takes pride in his job and he's an entertainer. Now he's faced with, towards the end of the movie, a situation where he wants to help all these people get through something and he does care about humanity as a whole. All of sudden, it hits him at a very personal level. Normally, as Brad is a weatherman and meteorologist, he's dealing with other people's struggles. Even though he has a hearing-impaired daughter and has his family, he's dealing with bigger struggles for humanity when he's telling people to get to shelter. All of sudden, that hits him really hard because now he's faced with it personally. Then he has to make a decision of work vs family, and he obviously chooses family. He's live on air and has to race out of there and try to save his own family. There's a heart-sinking feeling when you can't reach loved ones during a disaster of, "Is that the last time you're going to see them?" I've only experienced that once personally with my own daughter when she went missing for 10 minutes during a trip in Italy. For 10 minutes, I couldn't figure out where she was. She happened to be fine, but those were the longest 10 minutes of my life because I wondered if it was the last time that I was going to see her. So, for Brad, racing to his home while not knowing if the destruction that he's seen many, many times hit all these other people has finally caught up to him and his family. There's drama in that and that's what's interesting to watch.
NYC MOVIE GURU: Would 13 Minutes work well in 3D?
PF: Yes, I think that 13 Minutes would work well in 3D, although the balance might be thrown off and it would become more of a Spectacle. The beauty of it is that the Spectacle is already there in the sense of the storm. Making it more of a Spectacle, I don't know if that would throw the other smaller Truths of the storylines out of proportion. Right now, it just seems like such a good balance, so I don't know if I would need to see it in 3D, although it might be fun to watch. Maybe on an IMAX would split the difference, so you get a bigger screen. It's scary enough. I watched a screener of it on my TV, and when you're in that storm, you feel like you're there.
NYC MOVIE GURU: What film do you think would pair well with 13 Minutes in a double feature?
PF: Maybe watching Twister and 13 Minutes back-to-back would be a fun thing to watch because you get to see the bigger Hollywood version of it and then the smaller study of humanity--the indie version where you're more focused on the characters and how they all interweave.