Father of Invention

Father of Invention

Kevin Spacey stars in Anchor Bay Films' FATHER OF INVENTION, a film directed by Trent Cooper. Photo credit: Patti Perret. Property of Anchor Bay Films. All rights reserved.

Father of Invention (2010/2011)

Opened: 10/14/2011 Limited

Village East10/14/2011 - 10/20/20117 days
Laemmle's Moni...10/14/2011 - 10/20/20117 days

Trailer: Click for trailer

Websites: Home

Genre: Comedy/Drama

Rated: PG-13 for sexual material and language.


Millionaire infomercial guru, Robert Axle (Kevin Spacey) loses everything when one of his inventions has a design flaw that accidentally chops off the fingers of thousands of customers. After serving eight years in prison, a disgraced Axle is released, and ready to redeem his name and rebuild his empire with a new innovation. However, Axle's ex-wife (Virginia Madsen) has spent all of his money and moved into his house with her new husband (Craig Robinson). Out of desperation, he finds a part-time job as a janitor, and is forced to move in with his estranged daughter (Camilla Belle) and her overprotective roommates. Despite these setbacks, he is determined to pitch his newest gadget and rebuild his infomercial empire. But the world has changed in the last decade, and Axle finds himself out of step with current technology, his family and the self-confidence that made him king of the infomercials in the past. With all his wheels spinning, Axle soon realizes that before he can be successful with his new creation, he must first reinvent himself.

Also starring Heather Graham, Johnny Knoxville, Anna Anissimova and John Stamos. Written by Jonathan D. Krane and Trent Cooper. Directed by Trent Cooper.

Director's Statement

Father of Invention is a timely story about the self re-invention of washed-up infomercial guru Robert Axle, played by Kevin Spacey. What initially spoke to you in the script as a filmmaker?

I've always been drawn to movies about really charismatic, brilliant characters that had it all, lost it all and are now fighting to get it all back. Whether it's Ebenezer Scrooge or Jerry Maguire, these guys have a certain passion that enabled them to succeed beyond their wildest dreams, but that same quality caused them to lose sight of what is important--love and family. I think we all love to see these stories on film because it's so satisfying when they finally get their priorities straight and find true happiness. To me, the infomercial world is a new and exciting way to tell a timeless story.

The film features an eclectic cast of well-known actors. What led to casting them and what was it like working with them?

It is an incredible cast, starting with Kevin who is so right for this part. Once he came on board, it opened a lot of doors for us. The movie itself is all about finding creative ways to connect disparate parts, things you wouldn't normally think of as going together. But when you finally do put them together it's magic, like peanut butter and jelly. So we were looking to do that with the cast. Seeing Kevin Spacey in a film with Johnny Knoxville was, in my opinion, a really fresh idea and it totally paid off. The same was true with Craig Robinson and Virginia Madsen--a pair you'd never expect but, again, it really works. We also felt Camilla Belle grounded the story emotionally, which enabled Heather Graham and Anna Anisimova to push their characters, which is exciting to watch. Then we got some great cameos from people like John Stamos, Michael Rosenbaum and Red West, all actors I've loved over the years. They dug the script and wanted to be involved. It was very cool and rewarding for me to see it all come together.

What specifically drew Academy Award®-winner Kevin Spacey to the project?

I think he was really drawn to the redemption aspect of the story. He related to it in the same way I did. This once brilliant, now broken man is fighting to get his life back, wrestling with the balance between career and family. I think Kevin was also excited about the tone of the comedy. He is a very funny guy in real life, one of the funniest guys I've ever met. We all think of him as one of the great dramatic actors of our time but most people don't know his roots are in stand-up comedy. I learned so much working with him. One of the coolest things was an appreciation for the silent film star Buster Keaton. Kevin is a huge fan of his. If you watch the way he approaches the physical comedy in this film, it will remind you a little of Buster. Particularly when the whole world is falling down around him, Axle stays perfectly still and just breathes. Buster used to bring down the house with that. But really, that's just one tiny element of what he brought to the table. Kevin really gives a well-rounded, brilliant performance here--so emotionally connected to the character, so broken, so desperate to get back on track and so true. I think that's why the comedic moments seem to sneak up on us.

Some of the funniest moments in the movie come from the ideas that Axle and other characters have for infomercial "inventions." How did you come up with these ideas?

Robert Axle is adamant that he's not an "inventor." He is instead a "fabricator," meaning he brings existing inventions together in a way that makes them more productive. Ergo the "Robert Axle Ab-Clicker:" Part Abdominal Crunch Machine. Part TV Remote control. "Now you can channel surf and work those six pack abs all at the same time!"

But yes, the gadgets were a lot of fun to come up with. We really empowered the entire crew to help. Everyone was trying to come up with these "Robert Axle Fabrications." We wanted them to be a little kitschy but also very realistic, the kind of thing you'd expect to see on a late night infomercial. My favorite was the Robert Axle: Pepper Cam. It is part pepper spray; part digital camera. And the slogan is "Now you can defend yourself and photograph your assailant at the same time!" I actually would buy one of those for my wife if I could.

New Orleans is very well-captured in the movie. Why did you choose to make it there?

New Orleans is an amazing place to shoot. The crews are great and so is the food, the music, the vibe. It's awesome. They also have a very competitive tax incentive program, and we really felt good about bringing some business to their economy, post-Katrina. But in the movie, we never tipped our hat to NOLA. We wanted this story to feel like it could happen in any American city. The locals may recognize New Orleans but most won't. It's not a version of that town you've ever really seen on film.

A lot of Steve Yedlin's photography in this film was inspired by Woody Allen's Manhattan. We designed several long "evolving" master shots where we start on a wide shot, let the actors motivate the camera move and land on a single thing that you track with and live in for the remainder of the scene, or vice versa. On a smaller independent film, you learn pretty quickly that you don't have the luxury of covering a scene with a million different shots. So we were constantly looking for artistic ways to get multiple looks out of one or two camera set-ups.