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LAFF '08 INTERVIEW | "I'll Come Running" Director Spencer Parsons and "HottieBoombaLottie" Director

By Indiewire | Indiewire July 2, 2008 at 2:55AM

[EDITOR'S NOTE: indieWIRE is profiling the Narrative and Documentary Competition filmmakers who are screening their films at the Los Angeles Film Festival as world premieres.]
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[EDITOR'S NOTE: indieWIRE is profiling the Narrative and Documentary Competition filmmakers who are screening their films at the Los Angeles Film Festival as world premieres.]

In this installment spotlighting emerging filmmakers from the Los Angeles Film Festival, indieWIRE received remarks from "I'll Come Running" director Spencer Parsons, about is narrative feature detailing the ramifications of a Danish tourist's one night stand in Austin, Texas, and "HottieBoombaLottie" writer-director-star Seth Packard's comedy about a peculiar teenager.

I'll Come Running

What initially attracted you to filmmaking?

Maybe it was when I got to visit my grandfather at his nighttime job as a projectionist. After the show - "Freaky Friday" I think - he cued up a couple of my favorite scenes, one of which involved a dog running toward the camera. And he put it in reverse so the dog ran backwards. I remember that seemed pretty great.

What was the inspiration for this film?

I wish I had a really good answer like Nabokov's story about how "LolitaMelonie Diaz to possibly be in the film, and things were going well enough that I felt sufficiently comfortable to say something cheeky, and Melonie felt sufficiently comfortable to reach across the table and slap me for it. That not only got her the job, but made me start thinking of this film as a star vehicle. The other moment was after shooting one night in Denmark, producer Lars Knudsen and I were approached by these guys who were so drunk we could smell them for a while before we saw them, and they offered us 200 Danish Kroner (about $35) and an unspecified quantity of cocaine if we would drive them to the nearest Burger King. We didn't give them a ride or take their money or their drugs, and I can't say what it meant or why I think of it now. But somehow it made working on the film feel right. Maybe it's the inspiration for my next film.

Please elaborate on your approach to making the film...

We workshopped story and characters through rehearsal that included structured and unstructured improvisation, though the story had always been worked out through a highly detailed treatment. Major casting and some rehearsal took place before a true screenplay was written, and then a major rehearsal session took place again just before shooting, with the screenplay rewritten and reworked based on what we learned from that. We shot with two cameras, always handheld with a lot of freedom for the actors and going for a sense of intimacy. We shot in HD, which is cool and electronic, so I think handheld helped warm it up, but I want to give my DP Siobhan Walshe and second camera op Jeremy Rodgers some credit for keeping a steady hand, since warmth and intimacy definitely aren't the same thing as shaky-cam. Tried to keep the look quiet and clean to focus attention on performance, and to give us what we needed to shape it in editing. Editing and sound are always important, but I do find post-production to be an especially intense part of the process, with the "writing" of the film continuing right up through color correction and the very end of the sound mix. Luckily my co-screenwriter Line Langebek and the cast remained great collaborators through to the very end.

What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in making the film?

You might think it would be directing actors in scenes where they speak a language I don't know at all (especially once you let some improv in the door), but the Danish stuff was actually quite satisfying, and there were moments when I far preferred it because it allowed me to see the truth of performance itself without getting bogged down in words. But maybe I'm spoiled. Having actors like Jon Lange and Christian Tafdrup and Birgitte Raaberg to work with makes it seem easy.

What are your goals for the Los Angeles Film Festival?

Fabulous prizes or at least lovely parting gifts? I don't know. I just want to see some good movies.


HottieBoombaLottie

What initially attracted you to filmmaking?

I really believe the most important part of a film is the script and I wanted to write something that would be a vehicle to move my acting career forward.


What was the inspiration for this film?

More than I'd like to admit of this film is autobiographical. But it's also a mesh of all my nerdy friends. Almost all the stories either happened to me or one of my friends.


Please elaborate on your approach to making the film...

I wanted to center everything around the actors performances in the film. I tried to do everything I could to help the actors feel relaxed and in the moment. I let them know that if they changed any of their lines, as long as they were focusing on what their characters would focus on, I was gonna be really happy about that. Those were the performances that made it into the film. I let them know that if they didn't feel comfortable with their performance we'd always re-shoot it. If I didn't feel comfortable with their performance we'd re-shoot it. I made sure we both felt good about it before we moved on. So as a director, I just tried to get the actors in a place where they could be confident and really commit to their characters.


What were some of the biggest challenges you faced in making the film?

I wore a lot of hats in this film and there was potential for the roles to clash. I had to learn to move between them smoothly. For example, if an actor wanted to change a line, as a director I had to be willing to say of course. It's important for an actor to commit to the lines and make them their own, so the writer had to take a back seat.


What are your goals for the Los Angeles Film Festival?

I'm hoping my film can find a home with a distributor and people will be able to see it.

This article is related to: Features, Interviews





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