“Filmmaking is a terrible business, but one of the greatest hobbies ever,” says director Adam Reid, Independent Spirit Award nominee for his film “Hello Lonesome.” Reid’s film is a collection of three interwoven short stories about the desire to love and be loved. Reid got his start in filmmaking when, after years struggling as a “terrible” actor in Los Angeles, he took a job producing promos for Comedy Central in New York. While he doesn’t enjoy the business aspect of making movies, Reid hopes to make 30 more films. But in the meantime, Reid is preparing for his new role as a father.
What’s it about? It’s about a bunch of characters looking for a spark of true connection wherever they can find it.
Reid says: “I tell everyone we made ‘Hello Lonesome’ for $50,000, which is true. What I always forget to tell people is that I don’t want it to be judged any differently because of that. As part of the audience, when I watch a movie I don’t care how much it was made for, I just want to be transported or entertained or touched, you know? At the same time, as a filmmaker, I always find it inspiring that it’s possible to make a movie outside of the system with limited resources and get some real recognition for it.
“With ‘Hello Lonesome,’ I decided to pick up the camera and shoot it myself even though I’m a rookie cinematographer. All of our locations were donated. We didn’t have an art department or a stylist. The entire crew on set was five people. I thought it would be a struggle working this way, but really, it was a gift. Working super small made it a more intimate experience. We were able to spend every minute of our fifteen-day shoot focusing on the actors, getting right down to the real business of mining their souls and making each other laugh.
“I was one of those nerdy kids playing with cameras in the backyard. I have a distinct memory of freezing a movie on the VCR and realizing that it was a made-up world and that someone was responsible for creating it. My background producing promos spoiled me. I was always given the control to see my projects through from inception through post. Most directors do not have that luxury. I’ve since been very fortunate to be able to write, produce and direct almost everything I work on. I treat every project like a mini-film. Making an actual film was only a matter of time.
“I love the [filmmaking] process so much at every phase; writing the script, creating the world, working with the actors, post production… all of it. The challenge is also the joy, making it a cost-effective and sustainable hobby.
“I want to make thirty more films. At the same time, I don’t enjoy asking for permission or borrowing millions of dollars to do it. I want my work to be successful on it’s own terms, just for existing. Of course, films do soak up resources and require a team. So, finding that balance and getting only the help you really need becomes so important. It makes you examine all of your decisions with a microscope and prioritize accordingly.”
Reid’s inspirations: “For me it was less about direct inspiration from specific films, and much more about appreciating how filmmakers I admire approach their work.
“Robert Altman is a genius with both his actors and the camera. He knew how to get out of the way and let everyone do what they do best. I’ve also always admired Woody Allen, for his loose approach and for finding a way to just make the movies he wants without the business side infecting his films.
“Creatively, Spike Jonze brings so much sensitivity, lightness, and wonder to all his projects. His movies always excite me. If I could steal anyone’s career it would be his. Yet he creates on this huge scale, which is the opposite of my approach. My latest thinking is that the technology has changed so much these past few years, that now we can make true magic with so much less.”
Reid on his John Cassavetes Award nomination: “More than anything, getting this nomination means that ‘Hello Lonesome’ is that much more likely to be seen and appreciated. To me, the Cassavetes Award in particular is the ultimate Spirit Award, being the Independent-iest of all the categories. It’s about resourcefulness, and all of the films in this category are mind-blowing examples of what’s possible on a limited budget.
“I’m learning that a film is a little bit like a child and directors are like parents. You have all these hopes and dreams for your film. You want to support it every way you can but ultimately you need to get out of the way, let it be what it wants to be and try not to fuck it up.
“So here we are, and ‘Hello Lonesome’ is up for this very cool award, and I’m the proud parent. Honestly, it doesn’t quite feel like it’s happening to me. It’s a bit more like I’m watching from the sidelines. Mostly, I’m just so happy for my team and for the actors and everyone who put so much time and love into making it.”
Future projects: “I have a feature project I’m working on that is a nerd fantasy come true and quite different from anything I’ve done before.
“Meanwhile, I have an amazing job as the Executive Creative Director at Bodega where I get to be creative and play with a ton of supremely talented people. We’re always making something different and cool. This week I’m directing a book trailer I wrote, which is really more of a short film, for a ‘Godfather’ prequel coming out in May. My wife is also nine months pregnant with our first child, so that will surely be an exciting production.
“I have too many ideas and I’m not sure when I will get to make them all. But maybe that’s a good thing. There’s a quote from Leonard Bernstein I like, ‘To achieve great things, two things are needed; a plan, and not quite enough time.'”
Indiewire invited Best First Feature and John Cassavettes 2012 Spirit Award Nominees to tell us about their films, including what inspired them, the challenges they faced and what they’re doing next. We’ll be publishing their responses leading up to the awards ceremony on February 25.
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