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by Ben Travers
April 30, 2014 10:24 AM
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Julia Louis-Dreyfus on How Television Embraces Women More Than Film

Julia Louis-Dreyfus is an icon of television. Her role as Elaine Benes on "Seinfeld" cemented that status, and she's only continued to contribute to her legacy with the network hit "The New Adventures of Old Christine," HBO's Emmy-winning political comedy "Veep," and even edging closer to the zenith of film by garnering Oscar buzz for her role in last year's more-than-a-romantic-comedy, "Enough Said." 

All this is to say, she's not only avoided the "Seinfeld" jinx plaguing her co-stars -- she's working overtime on projects she's passionate about. This includes the 2013 short film "Picture Paris," which she shot with her husband, Brad Hall, who wrote and directed the film. On the day of its iTunes release, Louis-Dreyfus took a few minutes to discuss her first foray into the festival circuit, what's next for "Veep," and how she's seen the television world change since she began her legendary run. 

Brad Hall (second from left) and Julia Louis-Dreyfus (right) on the set of "Picture Paris."

So you made this short film, "Picture Paris," with your husband Brad Hall. How did it come about and what made you decide to do a short film at this point in your career? 

Well, we first wanted to, so to speak, dip our toe in the indie film waters and we thought by making a short, that was the the most manageable way of doing it. After our first son left to go to college, this idea was just latched in my husband's head and it just felt very short film-y, as opposed to feature film-y, obviously. So we did it as sort of a passion project and made it as a short because we thought it would be a more manageable undertaking in terms of our time and our budget, too. 

That theme, of a parent whose kid goes away to college, was also an important aspect of your 2013 feature, "Enough Said."

I know! Isn't that extraordinary? It was similar, obviously with very different stories, but similar themes. That was purely coincidental. Imagine that.

"There's sort of a congenial spirit in the indie film world...people who were authentic, who were trying to earnestly make something of value creatively."

You're credited as a producer and obviously the lead actress, but you're also the wife of the writer and director. How much creative input did you have in the short? 

We collaborated very extensively on it, creatively, along with Julie Snyder who produced it with us. We cast a bunch of our friends in it: Rachael Harris. Jeff Perry. D.W. Moffett was in it, and these are all really good friends of us that we know from our Chicago days and working here in Los Angeles. It was absolutely a creative collaboration, and the filming actually was very run-and-gun in terms of the actual production. We had a small crew here in LA and a very small crew in Paris, and it was very down and dirty about getting it done. In a way it felt like our old theater days when we were much younger in Chicago, in terms of stealing shots, asking friends for favors, and changing clothes in the back of a car for the next scene or whatever it is. It was fun.

The short played at the Tribeca Film Festival last year and a few other festivals along the way. What was your reaction to "dipping your toe" in the independent film world? 

It was very pleasant. I mean, it was a lot of hard work, as everything seems to be in show business, but it was great fun to go to film festivals and meet other filmmakers. There's sort of a congenial spirit in the indie film world at these film festivals that was fun to be a part of, and it was also fun to meet other people who were authentic, who were trying to earnestly make something of value creatively. That was an exciting situation. Of course, everybody wants to make a living and needs to make a living and make money, but it feels as though the atmosphere going around the festivals was about the art itself and that was a very freeing feeling.

So are you looking to get further into independent film? Make another short? Is your husband working on anything new? Are you actively looking for a new independent project? 

Yes. Yes to all of the above. No kidding. I'm open to any material that's good. Be it a short film, be it a feature length film. I mean, good ideas aren't low-hanging fruit ready to be picked. They're sometimes very hard to come by. So I'm interested in good ideas no matter what form they take. So yes, yes, yes.

4 Comments

  • Mia | April 30, 2014 2:14 PMReply

    I really want her to do something else with Wanda S...

  • Brandon | April 30, 2014 11:30 AMReply

    Great article. I definitely need to jump aboard the Veep train.

  • Tristen | April 30, 2014 11:26 AMReply

    Great article! Love her!

  • Ann | April 30, 2014 11:09 AMReply

    Good interview. She sounds as vibrant as when she's acting. I agree with her that women are getting more good parts on television than in film, but it's improving overall. It helps to have good actresses and comedians like Julia, Tina Fey and Amy Poehler.