Interview with Jeremy LaLonde: Part I

As we know, Jeremy LaLonde is working on an exciting new indie film entitled Sex After Kids. The ensemble cast includes familiar faces from Lost Girl including Zoie Palmer, Kris Holden-Ried, Paul Amos (who plays Vex), and Katie Boland (who played The Morrigan’s assistant). The funding campaign (with a goal of $50,000) for the film kicked off last week, and has already raised over $14,000. Please continue to spread the word to make sure they reach their goal.

We had the opportunity to interview Jeremy, the writer/director of Sex After Kids. Many of you might be familiar with his previous work, The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard, which also starred Zoie and Kris. Jeremy graciously took the time to answer our questions (which include a few submitted by other fans) and shared his thoughts on the writing process, getting into the industry, Sex After Kids, working with Zoie and Kris, and much more.  Enjoy the first part of our two-part interview below. The second part will be posted tomorrow.

 

How long have you been making films? How did you get started?

JL: How long is a piece of string? ;-)  Forever.  In high school my buddy Zach Melnick and I made a lot of little films for fun (he’s actually someone I still work with – he was the director of photography on The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard and will likely be who I get to shoot Sex After Kids).  We ended up winning this contest for Lever Ponds called “Your Future, Your Say” and that gave us some money and we used it to buy better equipment to make “better” movies.  After high school we applied and got grants to make historical documentaries and that put us both through college and university and gave us a solid boot-camp in filmmaking.  You can check those projects out at http://www.visualheritage.ca/ it’s actually something Zach is still working on.  I was around for the first five, but he keeps it going.  God bless him.  I sold out and moved to Toronto and started working in the film and television industry.  I work mostly as an editor and am slowly working towards a career where I can focus more on writing and directing.  I love editing too though – I see all three of those jobs as extensions of the other.  A story is told once when you write it, again when you shoot it, and then one final time when you edit it.  And it continues to change – so to be able to do all three of those is a big part of how I approach filmmaking.  I’m not sure I’ve answered the question.  I suppose I got started when I realized that there wasn’t anything else I’d be able to do with my life.

 

How long does it normally take you to write a script, from the initial idea to the finished project? ~Submitted by WP

JL: This answer is going to piss people off.  First off, there’s that old saying that to become good at something you need to put ten thousand hours into it.  I’ve been writing stories since I was about five years old so I think that I’ve put that time in several times over.  Each project is vastly different.  I tend to write the actual script of something quite quickly, but that’s because I outline a lot, so I have a clear sense of the over-all story.  And then I just get to play.  I think that there’s also the tendency to rewrite for the sake of rewriting at some point.  It could be because you don’t have any new ideas, or because something isn’t getting made.  I think some stories get ruined that way (some get better!).  The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard took four years to get made, and through-out that time I was re-writing it – but I wasn’t working on it the entire time.  Sex After Kids has been extremely quick.  I had the initial idea at the beginning of the new year and wrote a lot of notes.  Then I approached actors that I wanted to work with and that helped me form the stories and place people where I thought they’d fit – or in places where I thought they could have some fun with something new for them.  The actual script for this film came together faster than anything I’ve written before.  It’s by no means the final draft, and I’m revising it still, but I think it’ll be close.  I’ve always been a fast writer, I think that comes from being an editor as well.  Mostly I think it’s just because I can make decisions quickly where a lot of other writers get caught in the trap of procrastinating.  I have two children now and so I get a limited time to write and that alone tends to make you more efficient.  So again, I haven’t really answered this probably because there isn’t one answer.  It’s another “how long is a piece of string” kind of answer.  I think if you give someone six months to write something they’ll take six months.  If you give them six weeks they’ll write it in six weeks.  Will one be better than the other?  It’s impossible to know.

 

When you watch the actors bring alive the characters, do you ever second-guess any of the writings or is it all set in stone by the time you begin shooting? ~Submitted by Tedra

JL: If I wanted my writing to be set in stone I would write poetry or novels.  (for some of my terrible poetry check out The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard) Filmmaking is collaboration and I think when you see bad movies it’s often because the people behind it don’t realize that.  A script is a blueprint – it’s a starting point.  You have to be free to let it become what it wants to become and with each element you add, especially actors, it changes.    That being said by the time we’re getting ready to shoot something I’ve put a lot of thought into the stories and characters and so the story beats are what they are.  Those aren’t going to change.  But the nuances can and will.  I think a big part of a director’s job is to hire good, smart actors and just let them do their job (and then take credit for their brilliant performance).  A good actor does their homework, they show up to rehearsal and set prepared.  I’ve had the experience during the script stage where actors have given notes that help inform or change the work, and that’s the time for that to happen.  You can’t be fucking around with that kind of thing on set.  By the time you’re on set you damn well better know what you want and need out of the scene.  If you don’t, no one else will, and you won’t get it.  I encourage people to play and explore on set.  I think that the worst thing you can do to an actor is give them notes before you’ve even seen what they came up with first.  You hired them for their talent – let them show you what they’ve come up with!  Then correct them, if need be.  It’s like adding salt to a meal before tasting it first.  You went to the restaurant, you ordered this meal, let’s assume that the chef put some thought into how it was prepared.  You probably don’t need the salt!  Give your actors the benefit of the doubt.  That’s how a lot of lovely surprises come out.

 

What advice do you have for people who want to get into movie making? ~Submitted by WP

JL: If there is anything else you can do for a living – do it.  I love what I do, but I’m not doing it to get rich or famous.  There are far easier ways to do both.  I do this because I actually don’t know what else to do with myself.  So if you don’t have the fire in your gut it’s a really hard thing to make happen because it takes all of you.  It’s a hobby and a job at the same time.

Now, if you’re bound and determined then it’s about luck.  Sounds shitty, right?  All luck is, is when opportunity meets preparation.  If you want to be a filmmaker – be a filmmaker.  Learn everything you need to learn.  Read books.  Take seminars.  Listen to Director commentaries on DVDs.  Know what the hell you’re talking about, and so when a rare chance comes upon you, you can reach out and grab it.  There’s no one path to becoming a filmmaker.  I still look at other filmmakers and wonder how they got to where they are and why that hasn’t happened for me yet.  You’ve got to get out there and meet people, and make a good impression.  Be someone other people want to work with.  There’s an old saying that behind every over-night success there’s ten years of struggle that nobody talks about.  Unless you’re born into connections no one is going to knock on your door asking you if you’ve got an amazing project and can they help you make it – you have to get out there and just make it happen for yourself.  The world belongs to those who ask.  Don’t be ashamed of your dreams and goals either, let people know what you want – you’d be surprised who might be able to help you.  The person who got the script for my first film to our eventual investors was a chef.

 

How did you first come up with the idea for Sex After Kids?

JL: I have two kids.  Does that answer the question?  It started mostly out of frustration in that I have a few projects in the works but they’re just stalled waiting for other people to make decisions.  And so I saw what Edward Burns has been doing in New York with his projects and realized that I have all the same assets that he does.  I have access to great actors and great crew, and I have enough knowledge of the process at this point that I could put something like this together with some help.  So I knew that I wanted to do a low-budget ensemble piece.  And then I saw an article in one of my wife’s parenting magazines about the subject and it hit me – no one has really explored this topic in detail (that I know of).  And then it became a flurry of inspiration and ideas.  It came together very quickly, and I’ve been very fortunate to have a lot of really talented people want to be involved.

 

Do you think the film will have a wide appeal to non-parents?

JL: This is the eternal quest – making a film that everyone will love.  It’s a fools errand.  Not that those films don’t exist – it’ s just that you can’t set out with that intention.  I’d like to think that people will enjoy this film regardless of their parental status, but I don’t know if those people will be initially interested in the subject matter.  In a lot of ways this is a film that preaches to the choir (luckily it’s a really large choir).  I think that initially the subject matter might not be super-appealing people that aren’t parents, but as they see some of the stuff (like our campaign video) they realize that this film is going to have an edge and honesty about it when it comes to the topic.  This is a comedy, but I’m not pulling any punches.  I’ve had some thoughts about parenting that I’m not proud of, and they’re in the film.  I like to do work that’s honest and that hits home.  Using an ensemble you’re able to really explore a topic from different angles and different sides.  Ultimately what this film is about for me is how relationships change, and if you can’t grow and change with them, then it’s not going to work.  And I think that’s pretty universal for people whether or not you have children.  So if we’re able to make that come out in our marketing and press material I think people will be able to look past the parenting stuff and see what’s at the heart of the film.

 

My experiences of mothers–particularly those with newborns or toddlers–is that they turn into “baby bores”, who can’t talk about anything but their little darling, and are completely unaware that non-mothers have little to no interest in what the kid had for dinner, how long it slept, or the frequency of its bowel movements. How are you going to break this “baby bore” tendency? ~Submitted by Chrissy

JL: I hate parents.  That’s not entirely true – but they probably annoy me as much as they do you, and I do deal with this topic in the film, and I kind of mock those kind of parents to some degree.  Also, this isn’t a film about kids – it’s a film about what having kids does to a relationship.  Like I mentioned above, this isn’t a film about how cute kids are and how great it is to have them.  It’s not about them being a bad thing either though.  And since you asked – my kid had salmon and roasted potatoes for dinner, slept like shit, but peed and pooped like a champ on the toilet!

 

What are your thoughts on the challenges of scheduling and writing for a large ensemble cast?

JL: I really don’t want to think about that… writing for a large cast is easy – especially for a cast this talented.  Scheduling is a different beast.  But we’re not shooting the film all in one big chunk.  And I always knew we wouldn’t be.  We’re working with a small crew and so we’ll be able to wrangle everyone together easier than if we were working with the usual massive crew.  Three people in our cast will be shooting the third season of Lost Girl while we’re shooting this film so we’ll have to work around that schedule – but we’re prepared for that.  We don’t have a lot of shooting days for this film compared to most films, but our shoot will be spread out to accommodate for our cast.  It’ll work out… because it has to!

 

Will there by any chance be a lesbian couple in the movie? ~Submitted by giftofamber

JL: There is a lesbian couple in the film!  And if you want to know who is playing them you’ll have to help our Facebook page for the film get to 250 likes.

 

Without giving too much away, would you be able to give us some hints as to the type of characters that Zoie, Kris, Paul, and Katie will be playing?

JL: Again, once we’re at 250 fans I’ll reveal a lot more.  But I’ll say this – I’ve never seen any of them play the kinds of characters we’re having them play in this film.  It’s going to be a lot of fun.  I’ll give you this nugget – Zoie and Paul are siblings in the film.   That’s all you get… for now!

 

In the second part of our interview, Jeremy gives us an idea of how big Zoie’s role will be and shares his experiences of working with Zoie and Kris, as well as lots more interesting stuff (there’s even a mention of Anna). Look for it to be up sometime tomorrow! In the meantime, if you want to find out more about who will be playing whom in Sex After Kids, go and “like” Sex After Kids’ Facebook page.

 

One Response to Interview with Jeremy LaLonde: Part I

  1. D says:

    Great interview! Can’t wait for Part II. Thanks!

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