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The View from Here
2014, 75m, comedy, drama, romance
Korea Herald: ‘The View from Here’ a Mirror to the Human Condition'
Providing insights into expat life in Korea while exploring the topic of porn addiction, “The View from Here” provides an accurate representation of the human condition, [avoiding] portraying any ... characters in a positive light.
“I don’t think it’s realistic... I don’t think it is who people really are. I mean, if you want to show someone rainbows and puppy dogs, save that for Facebook. But if you want to show reality and what people are, that’s what movies are for."
10 questions with The View from Here director, Kevin Lambert at the half-way mark.
Monday, May 30th, 2016
1Hi Kevin! I loved this film. Thanks for letting it be a part of our 2016 Spring Festival. First, what was the initial seed that made you want to make this film? Back in 2011ish, I went with some friends to a coastal island in Korea just outside of Incheon to stay for a weekend. It ended up being pretty profound all things considered, and in the morning I stood out on the patio overlooking the ocean which the night before was full of water, but now it was just mud. Mud for days. I just imagined what would happen if someone got caught out there. Turns out it's actually quite dangerous and more than a few veteran fishermen have drowned as the tide came in. Then the story came pretty quick actually.
2This is your first feature film. How did you know you were ready and what's the biggest thing you learned from making it? I don't think I really thought about whether I was ready or not... or maybe I did; a friend, Nick Neon had just finished a zombie thriller and I was quite impressed. I wondered why I hadn't made one myself. Of course, I didn't have an idea at the time. When I did get the idea, I ran with it. The script was still rough when I started casting... That's what I learned: to let it breathe and screw the script. Actually, I look back and I learned more than I bargained for. Much of it being that directing is only as much an art as it is a trade... You're the muse and HR all rolled up in one. You need to choose wisely and act wisely.
3You wrote the script as well. The acting in this is so fantastic I couldn't tell if the lines were scripted or improvised. Was everything scripted? Did you improvise a lot? How did you get such fantastic performances? Turns out, a year of rehearsals kind of takes on a life of its own. We did have a script (it was rough but complete). Though, it was constantly being revised through rehearsal. The characters formed in Miles' apt as we crafted the scene. In the end, we had a pretty concrete script, but the pacing was all done by beats. "This is point A and that is point B. You get from this moment to that moment and I don't care what you do in between." The rest is really on the actors. They were 100% in it and really lived in those skins for a while. I couldn't have asked for a better pair of leads.
4Your two leads (Miles Meili & Wendy Taylor) do such an incredible job on this film. How did you meet them and what was it like working together? I was dating Wendy at the time, and Miles and I performed LaBute together on stage (where he saved me from my own lack of preparation). The nice thing about Seoul is that there's a thriving theatre and film scene that's collaborative and supportive and doing really good work because that's what happens when you give wayward liberal arts majors enough to live on and reasonable free time. I had directed Wendy before and her and Miles are both gifted improvisers and wily spirits and giving... that's the thing. Actors that are looking out for each other that's a gift.
5Can you share a war story from the shoot? Another growing pain? Man, at some point I completely lost my shit... Convinced that I was just a rotten turd of a person for yelling at Wendy (which undoubtedly I was) I pretty much went catatonic with guilt and the shoot shut down. It took Raoul and Ed to put me back together, with Ed getting everyone off set, and putting a camera in my hand, and the love of Wendy and Miles to perform the scene that just completely stumped us one more time... and it was perfect. Absolutely gorgeous and Miles took it in a completely different direction (towards compassion) and because we ended up changing the shooting schedule the scene didn't work... but I still keep that take as the best shot of the whole damn film (and it's not even in there).
6What made you decide to shoot in South Korea and what was the experience like? Korea is our home for now. This is where we live, where we work and where we find our creativity. It's a bit limiting to only set our stories here (which can be cheated, my short Caliban's was shot in Seoul but set in the Miami) but limitations are helpful.
I'm currently working on an expat trilogy of sorts that I hope to complete before leaving. The immigrant experience is one that most Americans and first worlders (for a lack of a better term) willfully choose to not understand, but it's essential to understanding what the world is like now -- it's all connected.
As for the experience, it's actually a great place to make films... gear is easy to find, crew is readily available, and because there are few regulations... police generally don't care -- now the drunk ajosshis are a pain in the ass, but they usually make for great B-roll.
7What's the film that made you want to become a filmmaker? Don't know... Pulp Fiction? Seriously, I dragged all my high school friends an hour to Charlotte to see it in Dale's mom's station wagon. That and John Woo. The Usual Suspects and Kids came out around the same time I joined the local film club and shot my first scenes. And then Dogme 95 changed my world. in college I was really into Vito Acconci and William Wegman and NamJun Paik... so most of my early stuff was sequential, but lacking clear narrative.
8I loved the opening scene so much. I thought their chemistry and their history felt so real. What's your favorite scene and why? Well I mentioned the scene after my catatonic toddler tantrum, but that later became the night scene where Izzy agrees to go out with the Korean guys after trying to seduce Ray but he's busy looking at porn. We originally shot this in the daylight and she comes back in to tell him she's made plans with the Korean guys and Ray is supposed to be dead against it and really resentful, but Miles took it the other way, and that's where the sweet moment came from... maybe it's just me seeing it then, but for me that one shot makes it all worthwhile.
9We're at a very interesting time where indie film has turned upside down. What are your thoughts on the current state of indie film and distribution? I remember I would rant about the (future) democratization of media production (and I bet a few friends still recall me ranting about it) and it's happened. I thought it would be a bit more awesome for me, but I still love what we're able to do... it's a first world complaint to say, "the democratization of the media has made video and film work worthless". Is it worthless to filmmakers with new found access in parts of the world where a grainy cell phone cam makes the nightly news? So what if my story doesn't go to Sundance? The real important stuff can exist because cameras are cheap and ubiquitous and distribution is available to all... and I'm still convinced the world is looking for the great stories and I hope to make one of them.
10What's next? Currently, I'm working on a script about coming and going. "Wherever I am; I am what is missing." That's what Strand said. It's gonna be a feature shot on less than four thousand US, and that's the way we have to do it because I don't have much more and there's another one coming after that. I'm tired of trying to compete for "production value"... Aren't we at a point where BluRay actually looks a lot like old Hi8 in how intimate it is? And really, is it that hard to pull off decent "production value" these days? It's still in the story where we take chances and show what we're made of.
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
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