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Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #53: Lance Edmands Explores the Mythology of His Maine Hometown In ‘Bluebird’

Meet the 2013 Tribeca Filmmakers #53: Lance Edmands Explores the Mythology of His Maine Hometown In 'Bluebird'

After spending time as an editor on various films, including “Tiny Furniture,” Lance Edmands decided to write and direct his own feature. “Bluebird,” starring John Slattery, explores the human connection to the cold, looming landscape of a small Maine town and the struggles of forgiveness when a small mistake has rippling effects. Having a strong connection to the film’s geography, Edmands hopes that his film transports audiences into a new world like a dream.

What it’s about: In the frozen woods of an isolated Maine logging town, one woman’s
tragic mistake impacts several lives, leading to unexpected

About the filmmaker: I was born and raised in a small town in Maine and moved to New York
City in 2000 to attend NYU. After I finished film school, I began
working as an editor, cutting documentaries, commercials, and features. I
edited “Wild Combination: A Portrait of Arthur Russell,” “Brock
Enright: Good Times Will Never Be The Same” and “Tiny Furniture,” among
others. I began writing “Bluebird” in my spare time, and when it was
accepted into the Sundance Screenwriters Lab in 2010, I began to think
that I could actually get the film made. I brought on all of my talented
friends from NYU and other places, many of whom I had been making films
with for years. Kyle Martin (producer) and Jody Lee Lipes
(cinematographer) are two of my best friends and they were on board from
the start. We were actually able to raise some money, and we began
shooting in northern Maine last winter.

What else do you want audiences to know about your film? As a filmmaker, I’m primarily inspired by environment and atmosphere. To
me, the relationship between people and landscape is completely
fascinating. I think this fascination is ultimately what compelled me to
explore the mythology of where I grew up. In Maine, the dense forest
looms ever present, reminding us that nature is king and we are simply
at the mercy of its will. I was drawn to the stark images found in
Maine’s northern-most mill towns: a school bus driving down a country
highway, a snowmobile racing across a frozen lake, the old paper mill
billowing smoke, logging machines tearing down trees… The atmosphere
is terrifying and lonely, yet serene and beautiful at the same time. It
was an incredible contradiction and I wanted to make a film with this
same multi-layered atmosphere. I like to say that the story developed
slowly over time, like a Polaroid. At first I saw only abstract shapes,
colors, and textures until a complete picture emerged. Ultimately, it
became a film about how people find meaning and connection despite the
growing sense of isolation found in rural, forgotten America. It’s about
feeling stranded or trapped in a situation and how that leads to a
yearning for transcendence. Sometimes the way we seek this transcendence
can be misguided. I found that the landscape of Northern Maine was the
ideal backdrop to examine how love struggles against the unforgiving
chaos of the natural world.

What was your biggest challenge in developing this project? Despite the obvious financial challenges that come with making an
ambitious film on a low budget, we were also shooting in the dead of
winter in northern Maine. We shot on logging sites that were 10 miles
into the woods and we lost a couple production vehicles in that
treacherous commute. It was also frequently below zero. The coffee at
the craft service table would freeze before you could drink it. The
nearest town was an hour away so we had to become part of the community
as we were shooting. Luckily, they supported us whole-heartedly, and we
couldn’t have asked for better hosts. They let us borrow school buses
and destroy logging equipment. The police officers even vacated the
station for a day so we could shoot there. Fortunately, not a lot of
major crime takes place in the middle of the woods. It was also a
challenge to put together an ensemble cast that fit into our vision for
the film. We wanted actors who audiences didn’t necessarily have
preconceived notions about who could also fit into the world
authentically. Thanks to casting director Susan Shopmaker, the cast is
incredible, with one of the best stage actors of her generation (Amy
Morton) alongside veteran film and TV talent like John Slattery and
Margo Martindale. We also have younger, hugely talented actors like Adam
Driver, Emily Meade and Louisa Krause. Plus, we even cast some roles
locally to get some truly authentic faces.

What would you like Tribeca audiences to come away with after seeing your film? My hope is that the film is an enveloping, cinematic experience. I want
to transport people to a place that they’ve never been, both emotionally
and geographically. While the film has a gripping story that drives the
film in a narrative way, I’d also like audiences to find meaning in the
environment, tone, and world we’ve created. There’s a rich secondary
layer that is equally as satisfying as the story itself. I think a film
works best when it’s telegraphing its ideas through light and sound in
an almost subconscious way, like a dream.

Did any specific films inspire you? “Bluebird” was inspired by a wide range of filmmakers, from Robert Altman
and Ingmar Bergman to Claire Denis. Some of the films I referred to when
we were shooting were Tender Mercies, Paris Texas, Silent Light, and
Silkwood. I was also thinking a lot about Raymond Carver and Sam Shepard
as I was writing.

What do you have in the works? I’m developing a few different projects at the moment. There is
an original screenplay as well as some adaptations in the works. I’m
excited to start exploring another world as rich as the one in Bluebird.

invited Tribeca Film Festival directors 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 2013

Keep checking HERE every day up to the launch of the festival on April 17 for the latest profiles.

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