Nursing a heartache after breaking up with his boyfriend, Jérôme cannot bear the notion of spending Christmas alone in dreary Paris. He spontaneously books a flight to Los Angeles, where he hopes for fun, sun, and maybe even a little Hollywood stardom. Upon arrival, however, Jérôme’s dreams are deflated by poor public transportation, dumpy hostels, and phony Hollywood fringe folk. The journey is not completely fraught with failure, however, as he befriends a sexy pot dealer, a gorgeous trans hooker, and an aging drag queen with her own jaded take on Hollywood. [Description courtesy of LAFF]
“Hollywood, je t’aime”
In English and French with English subtitles
Directed By: Jason Bushman
Producer: Charles Herman-Wurmfeld
Screenwriter: Jason Bushman
Cinematographer: Alison Kelly
Editor: Phillip J. Bartell
Cast: Eric Debets, Chad Allen, Michael Airington, Diarra Kilpatrick, Jonathan Blanc
Music: Timo Chen
U.S.A., 2009, 95 mins, color
[EDITORS NOTE: This is part of a series of interviews, conducted via email, profiling International Spotlight and dramatic and documentary competition directors who have films screening at the 2009 Los Angeles Film Festival.]
Please introduce yourself.
My name is Jason Bushman. I’ve lived in three cities in my three decades: Odessa, Texas; Los Angeles, California; and Paris, France. My work as a filmmaker has so far been supremely focused on place, and these are the places which have made me who I am today.
What initially attracted you to filmmaking, and how has that interest evolved during your career?
I’ve always been interested in drama – my first acting gig was playing a munchkin in a community theater production of The Wizard of Oz. I was six. Acting led to writing, which only recently led to directing. This project is really a culmination of all that, even though I’m not acting in it. It’s about acting, among other things, and I never could have made the film without the rich experiences I’ve had as an actor in LA.
Have you made other films?
I’ve directed one other film, a thirteen-minute short called Serene Hunter.
What prompted the idea for this film and how did it evolve?
Even though the stories are different, “Hollywood, je t’aime” derived from “Serene Hunter” – or, at least, the public presentation of it. The star of both films, Parisian Eric Debets, was in California for Frameline and Outfest, circa summer 2007. He was a thirty-something first-time actor getting really good reviews for his performance, and for the first time he was considering a life in the arts. I’d been wanting to write a Los Angeles story for awhile – particularly one that included riding the bus, as that is something which I uniquely enjoy about my life in LA. I started to meld Eric’s Hollywood desire with my own Hollywood experience, and the script kinda wrote itself. It was a bit of a cautionary tale, in my mind, but also an unconventional queer love story.
Please elaborate a bit on your approach to making the film.
A lot had to be coordinated on this project, and the fact we were working in two languages and representing two countries was a special challenge. But it was all about networking, who we knew could get the job done at a price. It was a total ‘family’ film, in that my partner Charles Herman-Wurmfeld and I made it together, with Eric and Jonathan Blanc (also from Serene Hunter) and all these other characters from other times and places in our lives. I guess that’s what any film is, but because it’s my first feature I’m just appreciating that element of the business. Seriously, Hollywood, je t’aime. Los Angeles has so much to offer creative, hard-working people: I feel lucky to call it home. This film is my love letter to LA.
What other genres or stories would you like to explore as a filmmaker?
I have several scripts in various stages of development, and I’m way into developing and adapting new material, too. I think my voice is well-suited to the queer niche market, so that’s an ever-present interest. But I’m also into stories about France and French culture, about race and gender and how we bridge our divisions, and just generally about where we’re going as citizens of the World.
What is your definition of “independent film”?
For me, independent film is a grass-roots effort. It’s a private artistic and business endeavor, really, funded from all possible avenues and budgeted to provide the most bang for the smallest buck. In the evolving distribution means provided by the internet, I’m quite confident true independent film will prosper – delivered directly to the audience without the traditional middlemen. If we look at the example of the music industry, we can see what’s coming: the market is more crowded, for sure, but the cream rises to the top more evenly than ever before.
How do you define success as a filmmaker?
I’m only interested in filmmaking in so far as I am interested in the subject matter. Success for me is creating a story which is entertaining enough to keep the audience in their seats, but which also imparts something as well. Movies which make the audience think are the kind of movies I’m interested in making; and if this film does that, then I’ll consider the endeavor a success.