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An Interview with Dan Pedersen, Writer and Director, and John Klein, Producer of Limerence

by Mike Haberfelner

February 2016

Dan Pedersen on (re)Search my Trash

John Klein on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie Limerence - in a few words, what is it about?

 

DAN: Official synopsis:

“Phoebe, whose powers and perceptions are fueled by her goddess namesake, lives an isolated life in the antique movie palace left to her by her absent parents. Although her brother, Alden, is supportive, he is at a loss to be helpful. When Tig, a confident and outgoing lesbian, turns up to hawk fliers for her play, Phoebe is a bug on a pin, instantly and overwhelmingly caught in Tig's unwitting spell. Phoebe undergoes a private trip down the rabbit hole, her intense longing transmuting into visions and dreams and hysterical jealousy, which culminates in her stunning visual confession of desire and need for connection.”

Essentially, the film is about the experience of lovesickness. Our main character is a woman who falls in love but finds herself incapable of expressing her feelings in any real way. She just tries to choke them down and ignore them, but eventually the fantasy takes on a life of its own, and her desires are unleashed. We want to show how and why love--or the hope of love--can make people do really crazy things.

The fun part is taking the audience on that roller coaster with her. Our story gets extremely trippy and weird at times, but there’s a method behind our madness. We want to make the audience feel as disoriented and turned on and confused as Phoebe feels.

 

How did the project fall together in the first place?

 

DAN: It started as a simple love story the lead actress Angela Riccetti and I cooked up to push the boundaries of our skillset. We started talking about our personal experiences with love and heartache, and we quickly realized that the fine line between love and mental illness was a really interesting place to go. Our story got more and more surreal over time, and strangely, the weirder it got, the more real it felt. Falling in love is an intense thing. It rewires you as a person. So telling a story about a very real, literal physical transformation just felt right.

John saw an early version of the script and was down to help make the film from very early on. He was a real voice of reason in the latter stages of the writing process, and of course, he’s an awesome producer. If you saw the script, you’d know just how insane this film will be to make, but he’s handled every challenge I’ve thrown his way with ease. There’s absolutely no way we’d be able to make this film without his leadership and support.

 

JOHN: At Glass City Films, we’ve always had this undercurrent of testing the boundaries of genre. For example, my two films as a director, Chrysalis and Happily After, both are hard to peg and describe to people. Is Chrysalis a horror/zombie film or a drama about these three characters struggling to survive in a barren world? Or is it a love story between Josh and Penelope? Can it be all of those things? Is Happily After a romance, a drama, or a thriller, or some strange mismash of all three?

So for us, Limerence was a perfect continuation of our company’s journey. It’s set in the Midwest with almost an entirely Chicago-based cast and crew, which always ranks high on our list of priorities, but it’s also a difficult story to pin down! Is it a love story? Do the disturbing, unsettling elements of our film trend towards horror or fantasy? In the end, all films, to us, are about characters, and the choices they make that define them, and the growth they experience as a result of those choices and their consequences. Whether we’re talking about zombies or love stories or coming-of-age films, if you don’t care about the characters, it’s a worthless endeavor. For us, character transcends genre, and Limerence has character in spades.

 

Dan, what were your sources of inspiration when writing Limerence? And is any of the movie based on personal experiences?

 

DAN: Yeah, a ton of the film is based on some personal experiences I had dealing with unrequited love. The “thermostat” in my head is always turned up a little too high for my tastes, so when I feel something, I really feel it. I obsess over things. I had a small nervous breakdown once after falling in love with someone who wasn’t particularly interested in me. I wanted to stop feeling the way I did, but the more I tried to stop, the bigger the feelings became. I was a mess.

Other inspirations? We have tons. We’ve talked for hours and hours about films that mess with the viewer’s sense of reality, films like Fight Club, Black Swan, Under The Skin, Amelie, Persona, Donnie Darko, or even the ending to 2001: A Space Odyssey. There’s something unique about film in that you are communicating primarily with symbols and images, not words. It gives you the ability to speak directly to a viewer’s subconscious. It’s very primal and raw.

 

What can you tell us about your film's intended look and feel?

 

DAN: Inside out. A light emerging from the darkness.

I’m being intentionally vague. :) A lot of the strategy behind this film is to use everything BUT words to affect the audience—iconography, symbolism, music, sound, color, composition, juxtaposition of images, even references to other stories, etc.

We actually want you to watch the film and “get it” and still not be able to put it into words in a way that feels complete. We want you to experience Phoebe’s anxiety, her confusion, and her obsessive hope surrounding this new person in her life. We want to grab your heart and and knock you on your ass, because that’s what falling in love feels like. Words just don’t do the job.

 

JOHN: Part of the appeal for me is the idea of cinema as something that conveys feeling and emotion, not necessarily just plot or information. You will walk out of this movie, this visual experience we’re creating, and hopefully have a visceral reaction it, something that helps you as a viewer understand what it’s like for someone to fall in love so deeply and completely, and overwhelmingly.

 

Anything you can tell us about your key cast yet, and why exactly these people?

 

DAN: Angie’s our lead actress, but she also developed this story with me over the last five years at this point. So it’s safe to say this role was made for her. She is the perfect vehicle for this character. She really knows how to play vulnerability and awkwardness when it’s called for, but there’s still a fire (no pun intended) underneath it that is hard to ignore.

As far as the other cast goes: Michaela Petro plays Tig, the object of Phoebe’s affections, and she’s just as magnetic in real life as Tig needs to be in this film. People just fall in love with her when they meet her, so she has that quality we needed to make this story make sense. As soon as I found her I stopped looking. She just was Tig.

Timmy Hart Barron plays Alden, Phoebe’s younger brother who helps run the theater with her. Timmy’s known mostly as a comedian and improviser, but there’s a big heart and a lot of sympathy underneath his brand of humor, and that was exactly what we were looking for in Alden. We needed someone in the story to serve as witness, to care about Phoebe but push her when necessary. Also, frankly this story needed some tension-breaking and comedic relief, otherwise the audience would collapse underneath the weight of Phoebe’s limerence.

 

At least part of Limerence is filmed in an old movie theatre - so you just have to talk about that location for a bit!

 

DAN: Two old movie theaters actually, both movie palaces that are close to a hundred years old each. The Pickwick Theater in Park Ridge is our primary location—it’s most of what you see in the trailer. The Art Deco architecture is perfect for our “modern myth” approach to this story. Everything about it feels imposing, heavy, ancient and mythological. It looks like a temple. And that statue in the lobby, and those masks in the marquee! We were already playing with those themes in the screenplay, and when we saw the Pickwick we just knew it was the perfect environment for our story.

Our other location is the Music Box Theater in Chicago. That’s where we shot a lot of the actual projection booth footage. Thank goodness they were willing to work with us, because the Music Box is one of the last theaters left that still actually run a dual-projection film system. Most theaters dumped that stuff and moved on to the automated platter systems or digital projectors years ago, but the Music Box still does it the old way, and they do it very, very well. It requires a lot of craft and attention to detail to run film like that. You have to change reels every 20 minutes, so the work demands a lot more care and attention to detail. You have to be in that booth all day taking care of those machines. As a result, a lot of projectionists have to find ways to deal with that isolation or they start to feel anxious and trapped.

These locations are more than just eye candy, they really help us tell the story. Phoebe’s lonely, obsessive and prone to fantasy. She feels trapped by her responsibilities to the theater, but she’s the only one really qualified to run it. Being a great projectionist is one of the few things she’s got going for her. I think when the audience sees these locations, sees how demanding it is to operate that sort of projection system, they’ll just get the character that much quicker.

 

John, where do you see the challenges when it comes to producing Limerence?

 

JOHN: One of my favorite things about Limerence, apart from the obvious thematic elements, is that location Dan just described: an old movie house, which suggests a character and history all its own. Our teaser’s movie theater is a composite of the Music Box and the Pickwick Theater because both have elements we absolutely love, and the eventual film will also be a composite of those two theaters.

But working in a theater, and especially in a projection booth, means logistical and scheduling challenges: we’ll have to work around the theater schedules, so our days will be shorter, and filming in a real projection booth means very closed quarters and minimal room for lighting setups and camera angles! Part of our budget also accounts for insurance requirements, rental costs, and other needs. And that says nothing about teaching Angie to work with the projectors convincingly on screen!

In addition, there are many visual effects in the film, some of which will be supplemented with CG FX but most of which Dan wants to do as much practically as possible. And that always presents a challenge in terms of time on set, but the result is always worth it because it feels more tactile for the audience. Filmmakers like Peter Jackson or Christopher Nolan will always supplement their CGI artistry with practical elements like miniatures or forced perspective or models, and that’s something that impacts not only the story but the audience’s reaction to it!

Either way, though, I think it’s safe to say we’re super excited to tackle all these challenges.

 

As far as I know, you're presently running a fundraiser for Limerence - so what can you tell us about your campaign?

 

JOHN: Yup! We’re in the midst of a Kickstarter campaign to raise $35,000 to produce Limerence. Our first Kickstarter campaign - for the post-apocalyptic feature film Chrysalis - raised over $35k in the summer of 2012 and the resulting film went to over 30 film festivals and won awards all over the country, so we owe a lot of our success to Kickstarter and to our backers who supported us! And we really believe in crowdfunding as a way to bring backers and fans into the discussion about the film, to bring them into the process of making the movie. So we’re updating every day with new looks into the process: interviews with the actors, notes from myself and Dan, behind-the-scenes videos, photos and sketches from the shoot, and even some fun Valentine’s Day surprises.

 

Once the funds are raised, what's the schedule - and any idea when and where the film will be released onto the general public yet (though I know it's probably waaay too early to ask)?

 

JOHN: Right now, we're aiming for a shoot in the late summer. Originally we hoped to film shortly after the Kickstarter wrapped, but our schedule has to align with theater availability, and the campaign would butt up right against when the theaters would start getting busy again. And we’ve got a ton of pre-production work still to do with storyboards, costumes, production design elements, visual FX testing, and the usual logistics! So we're hoping for a two-week shoot in mid-August 2016, followed by a very thorough and vigorous post-production process and hopefully a completed film by February 2017!

 

Any future projects beyond Limerence?

 

JOHN: Nothing at the moment from the Glass City Films side! Between wrapping up Chrysalis’s festival run and starting up Limerence this year, I imagine we’ll be focused on this film until it wraps and starts its own festival run in 2017. On my end, I’ll be directing a short horror film, tentatively titled Cry It Out, later this spring and finishing that over the summer.

 

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USA  amazon.com

Great Britain (a.k.a. the United Kingdom)  amazon.co.uk

Germany (East AND West)  amazon.de

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DAN: I’ve read some early drafts of Cry It Out. It’s definitely my favorite type of story, something that takes a fairly common and relatable issue and just completely turns it upside down and inside out. And it’s got that great blend of horror and sick humor that we all seem to love.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, Kickstarter, whatever else?

 

Kickstarter: https://www.kickstarter.com/projects/glasscityfilms/limerence-a-mindbending-short-film-about-lovesickn

Website: www.limerencefilm.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/limerencefilm

Twitter: @glasscityfilms, #limerencefilm

Proof-of-concept teaser - https://vimeo.com/152594268

BTS #1: Story and Character - https://vimeo.com/154140812

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

DAN: Yeah, one thing! You know that last shot in the teaser? A lot of that was done in-camera with practical FX. I’ll leave it to you guys to guess what part and how we pulled it off. :)

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
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... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
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directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

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