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2013, 72m, comedy, drama, romance
Being in a relationship during the holidays can either bring out the best of times or the worst of times. On the way to his hometown of Red Lodge, Montana, Jordan proposes to his boyfriend of two years, Dave. The engagement should only enhance their holiday cheer, but things take a turn when Dave suddenly changes his mind and says "no" to marriage. Jordan barely has time to process his feelings of rejection, what with the festive merriment provided from Aunt Vanity, distant adopted sister Lisa, and Lisa's quirky boyfriend Lace. Jordan spends his Christmas going through the motions.
Cast: Richard Pierre-Louis, Joseph Lim Kim, Stephnie Weir, Diane Kylander, Jessica Garibay
10 questions with Red Lodge director, Dan Steadman at the half-way mark.
Friday, August 26th, 2016
1"Red Lodge" comes across as a deeply personal movie. Is it based on a true story or directly inspired by personal experiences? Thanks for saying that. The story is not lifted from my life, but Dave and Jordan are both pieces of me. Then again, so are Aunt Vanity, Lisa, and Lace. It's where I was at in my life, when I wrote it. Two decades of the single life, and I was obviously sorting out what I was looking for in a lifelong relationship. I was also frustrated that most of the films I was watching with gay characters in lead roles were campy and cliched stereotypes. All of the quality movies (for mainstream audiences) about gay life involved dying or wanting to die. There had to be room for a Christmas movie about regular, gay folks going through a relatable hiccup in the relationship.
2What are some of your favorite romantic comedies? Before Sunrise, Before Sunset, and Before Midnight are my biggest influences, outside of the work of Nicole Holofcener, James L. Brooks, and Mike Leigh.
3Throughout the movie you cut to Jordan directly addressing the camera. This stands out in what is otherwise a naturalistic ensemble piece. Was this something you had in mind from the beginning or were these scenes added later? It was a technic I loved from one of my favorite TV series, "Once & Again." I loved how the black and white allowed us to get into the mind of Jordan - his psyche, his inner thoughts.
4Your movie spends much less time telling a story than just spending time with your characters, trusting that an audience will find them appealing. This is a pretty risky way to make a movie. What gave you the courage to try this? Well, thank you. It is light on plot and heavy on character development. The theme of my company, Circa87, is to find the epic in every day life. I think quiet tension between two people can feel epic. Especially during "the most wonderful time of the year." That heightens the stakes. That is the stuff of life I like to examine. I do it obsessively in my own life, when it comes to examining myself, why not take that to the screen?
5Your cast is so relaxed and comfortable with each other on screen. Did they know each other before working on this movie? They did not. We had no rehearsal before the movie. Rich and Joseph were two of my favorite actors to work with in Los Angeles. Rich had starred in a film I co-wrote and co-EP'd called "Jesus People." Joseph had been in our project "The Mascots." We discovered them both at an NBC Diversity Showcase. They didn't know each other, but they're incredible actors. (I also had them share a location in close quarters, where they stayed during the shoot.) I know there was one scene where the family was playing a game. It was low energy and the actors were worried about stepping on each other's lines. So we stopped everything and did a 30 minute rehearsal. That fixed that problem. For the rest of the night, they were fantastic (once they learned they could interrupt each other).
6What was your shooting schedule like? Was it a lengthy shooting process? It was a ten day shoot, maybe one day off in the middle of the ten days. I had to hire actors who could do five takes or less of most scenes.
7What was it like to shoot in Montana? Were locals supportive? Did you use any local crew? Very supportive, yes. The 5 person crew (two camera ops, DP, 1st AD and 1 sound woman) were all from Montana. The guys were right out of college. Brett A. Frager, my DP, has now DP'd nearly all of my films. He's incredible. Ivy Bryan, my sound recordist, had worked for years in New York before moving to Montana. So I was very lucky to have the crew I had. Even the artist, Kailee Lance, who's paintings grace Aunt Vanity's walls, was local to Billings, MT.
8"Red Lodge" can be seen as a romantic or anti-romantic movie. Are you a romantic? I am certainly a romantic, with a healthy, skeptic's eye.
And thank you for that. I'd like to think of the movie as both romantic and anti-romantic. Hopefully that means there's a balance between cynicism and heart.
9Did "Red Lodge" play at many festivals? What has your experience been trying to get the movie out into the world? A few festivals, yes, but I wanted to get the movie directly out to the public. The first wave of publicity came from my amazon release. Then the movie played on OUT TV in 4 European countries and Canada. I'm grateful for every eyeball -- and most grateful for everyone who has taken the time to write.
10What's next? This fall I film "The Racket," a movie about four senior citizen women who accidentally start a cult with impressionable young millennials. I'm also shopping my sitcom pilot "American U." Check it out (for free) at circa87.com
About the Interviewer: Jay Stern
Jay Stern is a film and theater director and producer based in New York City. HIs two features "The Adventures of Paul and Marian" and "Spirit Cabinet" were shot back to back and recently appeared on Fandependent Films. Jay is a founder of the Iron Mule Short Comedy Film Festival, which has screened monthly in NYC since April, 2002.
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