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LAFF ’10 | Director Adam Reid on his Low-Budget Multi-Narrative “Hello Lonesome”

LAFF '10 | Director Adam Reid on his Low-Budget Multi-Narrative "Hello Lonesome"

Lonely since his wife left him and alienated from his daughter, a cantankerous voice-over artist (played by the instantly aurally recognizable Harry Chase in his first on-screen role) strikes up an unlikely friendship with his regular deliveryman. Many suburbs away, an elderly widow loses her license to drive and turns to her wry younger neighbor for nostalgic cuddles and comfort. Meanwhile, a young urban sports fanatic meets a girl online and unexpectedly falls in love, though the trials the couple endure prove even more unexpected. Adam Reid’s enchanting, compassionate debut weaves together the worlds of six lonely individuals as they negotiate the age-old process of giving and receiving love. It isn’t easy, and it never happens the way they expect it, but for these isolated souls, there’s an oddball magic in the way they make connections they never imagined. Wonderfully acted and written, the intimate exchanges in this triptych of tales percolate with laughter and longing. As the film itself says, “A little hello can go a long way.” [Synopsis courtesy of LAFF]

Hello Lonesome
Narrative Competition
(USA, 2010, 91 mins, HDCam 23.98)
World Premiere
Directed By: Adam Reid
Producer: Adam Reid
Screenwriter: Adam Reid
Cinematographer: Adam Reid
Editor: Scott Rankin
Cast: Sabrina Lloyd, James Urbaniak, Lynn Cohen, Harry Chase, Nate Smith, Kamel Boutros

[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.]

Reid on being the nerdy aspiring filmmaker and his dreams being realized…

I was a nerdy kid with huge plastic glasses and big fluffy hair. I wanted to be an inventor for a while, which led me to build flame throwers out of super soakers, but once “Back to the Future” came along my brain was irreversibly hard wired for movie making.

My first production gig ever was four months on location as a production assistant on the TNT Mini-series Rough Riders. It was directed by John Milius and the best introduction to filmmaking ever. Then a real breakthrough came writing and producing promos for Comedy Central, which led to some directing for the network. Shooting a ton of spots gave me the confidence to make my first film, While the Widow is Away, a twenty-minute film that eventually won a handful of festivals and was shortlisted for an Oscar nomination. (Which, sadly, we didn’t get. I’m over it. Mostly.)

Currently, I’m the Executive Creative Director at the New York based production company Bodega. I work with a small collective of ridiculously talented friends making commercials and promos. One of the latest is a book trailer I wrote and directed for “Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter.”

The evolution of “Hello Lonesome”…

There are three stories in “Hello Lonesome” and each one is personal to me in a different way. Lynn Cohen starred in my short and knew that I wanted to work with her again and take full advantage of her talents. I wrote the character of a fast driving widow just for her. I wrote the role of Bill Soap, inspired by all the voice-over guys I had worked with as a promo producer. The third story is most personal to me. It’s based loosely on my sister Lisa, who was in her 30’s when she met a guy online and then shortly after discovered she had advanced breast cancer. He married her and stood by her, though it’s bittersweet because they didn’t have enough time to see what kind of a team they could really become.

The nitty gritty of the shoot…

“Hello Lonesome” was shot in 15 days with a principle crew of six. I operated the camera myself and relied heavily on my gaffer, sound man, make-up artist, and two PA’s. We didn’t employ a single dolly or crane shot. Gorgeous locations were key without an art department. I think some of the actors were nervous when they arrived on set for the first time and saw that it was just me and my camera, but making Hello Lonesome on this micro-scale was ideal. I was able to focus completely on the actors and their performances.

On not trusting Manhattanites to drive…

Every stage of developing “Hello Lonesome” was a challenge but there wasn’t one thing that was insurmountable. Lynn Cohen told me that she could drive and I believed her. It wasn’t until we were on set that I learned she hadn’t driven a car in twenty years (she lives in Manhattan). Every other scene in the movie has her driving! My friend Michele Shapiro is a bad-ass rally car driver who is petite like Lynn, so we put a grey wig on her and she tore it up for us. Close-up shots of Lynn driving became our big special effect.

On the excitement and worry of taking “Hello Lonesome to an audience…

I’m most excited about sharing the performances, especially introducing Harry Chase to the world. Even though he’s been the voice of almost every product and brand imaginable (From Captain Morgan’s Rum to Disney), this is his first ever on-screen role and he’s a true force of nature.

I also can’t wait to see how audiences react to the three stories and how they connect. To me, one of the biggest clichés in independent film are intersecting story lines that are linked via some absurd contrivance. At the same time, some of my very favorite films are multi-character ensemble films. With “Hello Lonesome,” the stories are linked completely through theme alone. I think the result is something very different than what audiences are used to.

Reid on influences…

Part of the writing process was taking apart “Amores Perros” to see what made the three-story structure work so well. From a tone perspective, I love movies that have that rare ability to blend humor with heart. (like “Junebug,” “The Barbarian Invasions” or almost anything by Alexander Payne.) I was also was looking at successful micro-budget features like “The Puffy Chair” and “Primer,” great movies that made so much with the little they had at their disposal.

Reid’s on his new projects…

My wife Nell and I are working on a script together that’s about a cheese monger who is tasked to craft the world’s greatest cheese plate for an eccentric millionaire’s dinner party. I’ve been describing it as Romancing the Stone with cheese which isn’t exactly right. It’s equal parts international heist film and love story. The working title is “Maxwell Rothchild’s Ultimate Cheese Plate.” I’m also writing a sort of Bond film told from the perspective of the gadget man titled “Research & Development.”

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