Mickey Sumner, Cloris Leachman, and James Wolk in a scene from This Is Happening. Photo courtesy of the production.

Mickey Sumner, Cloris Leachman, and James Wolk in a scene from This Is Happening. Photo courtesy of the production.

I’ve hit the ground running over at the HotPixel Post Production blog, starting the year off with a bang – and a new Hot List! This month’s focus is on writer/director, Ryan Jaffe, who is making his feature film directorial debut with an independent film that’s already generating a lot of buzz in Hollywood due to the top-notch writing, and a stellar cast that includes James Wolk (Mad Men), Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha), and Cloris Leachman. The film is called This Is Happening, and you can check out my interview with Jaffe over at the HotPixel blog!


In 2000, writer/director Ryan Jaffe’s father asked him and his brother to take ten days to visit his dying grandmother. After having beaten cancer twice in the 1980s, Jaffe’s grandmother was fighting the disease again, and after a series of blood transfusions would likely not survive much longer. So, the Jaffe boys made the trip, though it wasn’t the easiest trip to make. Jaffe and his brother didn’t have the closest relationship, and were very different people. Add that to the fact that their grandmother wasn’t the most demonstrative person in the world and, as Jaffe explains, “It was three people thrown into this ten-day trip who really didn’t have that much in common.”

That trip led to a screenplay Jaffe wrote called This Is Happening, the story of an estranged brother and sister who are forced to go on the road together to track down their suddenly fugitive grandmother. Now, at 40, Jaffe has completed the film and is on the verge of releasing this story out into the world that’s been over ten years in the making.

The film stars James Wolk (Mad Men) and Mickey Sumner (Frances Ha) as the brother and sister, and Cloris Leachman as their runaway grandmother, as well as a supporting cast rounded out by Judd Nelson and Rene Auberjonois. To Jaffe, “It’s a dysfunctional family movie, and ultimately what I think it’s about is a journey where you need to find your family in order to find yourself. Which I think is the opposite a lot of times of coming of age experiences where it’s like ‘Run away from your family and you’ll figure yourself out.’ But it’s actually, even if you can’t stand your family, run to them, and maybe it’ll work out.”

For the full interview, or to leave a comment, CLICK HERE!

And if you’d like to nominate someone on which I should shine a spotlight in an upcoming Hot List post, email me at teresa[at]hotpixelpost[dot]com!