This week's A.P.T. is the film Baby Lu by new up and coming film maker Emily Ray Reese. Below Emily tells about her story and how that story has translated into a film. As a new producer, she and her team need our support. Take a look at the video below and if you can pitch in, you can be awesome too!
Take it away Emily!
"Baby Lu" is a the first feature film to be helmed by writer/directed Emily Ray Reese. Baby Lu is a queer coming of age story set in a tiny out skirt town of Taos, New Mexico. Lucinda, a thirteen year old girl, is growing up under a well intentioned but unequipped single mountain man father. When an intriguing new woman arrives in their small New Mexican town, the two of them must grapple with new emotions and the confusion of Lucinda’s burgeoning sexuality. For the past 5 years, Emily has directed over 5 short films, a web series and commercial spots. This film would be her largest project to date and will also qualify as her thesis project and complete her MFA at the highly acclaimed Graduate Program at NYU. NYU's thesis films have a notoriety for success and often act as the stepping stone to a successful film career. NYU's graduate film program has been considered one of the premiere schools' since it's inception. In addition to top notch facilities, equipment, and curriculum, the program's esteemed faculty, which includes award-winning filmmakers such as John Tintori (Eight Men Out, True Love), Todd Solondz (Happiness, Storytelling), Spike Lee (Do the Right Thing, Inside Man), and Mary Harron (American Psycho, I Shot Andy Warhol) is what makes this program so successful. Every year award winning films come out the the students and alumni of the program. Last year God of Love won the student academy award and Winter's Bone won the grand jury prize at Sundance. Being a student in this program pushes them to tell unique inspiring stories and to pursue the best possible level of filmmaking. Baby Lu is nothing short of the exceptionally high standards of Tisch Grad Film.
1) How is Baby Lu a unique story?
The story of Baby Lu is inspired from my own unique upbringing in rural New Mexico. Growing up with my own mountain man father presented an array of experiences and challenges, which came to a head when I entered my teens and even more so when I realized I was gay. While it was difficult to speak with my
father growing up, we always had a way of tacitly communicating when he’d take me fishing or hunting. These moments bonded us forever, even though we could never
openly discuss my sexuality.
New Mexico and it culture of hunting, fishing, and "living off the grid" is a unique world that has hardly been explored in cinema. Especially in a story that places this lifestyle in conflict with a queer questioning character. This combination has developed a very unique and interesting story that must be told!
2) What excites you about writing/directing Baby Lu?
The setting and the character’s of New Mexico provide the inspiration and guide for my creative vision for this film. The cinematography as well as the performances will be directed to feel as beautiful and raw as the towns I grew up in. Striving for the authenticity of New Mexican life will make the subject matter and tone of Baby Lu come alive.
I was interviewed by Rick Romancito of the Taos News a few days ago and he asked what my goal for this film was. When thinking about it, I have always felt like an outsider between the two worlds that I live in. I always felt that I had different values then the hunting, gun loving community I grew up in yet I have always respected their way of living. Now that I am an adult and have become a part of a very liberal and queer friendly community here in Brooklyn, I still feel that I have to balance the politics of my upbringing with my current community. My goal for Baby Lu and it's story is that it can inspire some empathy that will allow us to identify similarities between both cultures. I hope that by seeing the world through Lucinda's eyes, I may be able to bring these opposing worlds together to cultivate dialogue and forgiveness.
3) What are some of the challenges?
Our biggest challenges will be casting and fundraising.
Lucinda the main character in the story must be cast perfectly for the film to work. Not only do I need to find the perfect girl but I would love for her to be native to New Mexico, so that she can . I have already begun exploring the middle schools of Northern New Mexico to find this special kid. Lucinda's father, Zeus, also has to be perfectly cast. I'm seeking an actor who can convey a physical presence that truly represents that "mountain man spirit" but also has a quiet power and simultaneous vulnerability behind his expression. Once we find these two actors the rest will surely all into place!
We have chosen to run a kickstarter campaign with a hefty goal of 50k and so far we have raised a whopping 10k! With 26 days left we are feeling optimistic. As long as we can get enough different sets of eyes on the project we can accomplish out goal and go into production in the fall. As an artist is is hard to see the creativity in fundraising and it's hard to ask for money. As we have gotten further into the process and with the help of a bunch of amazing people I have started to see fundraising as a good challenge. It has forced me to put myself and my work out into the world. Had I never done this no matter how many movies I make, without an audience there would be not point to them other then self therapy.
4) What's one thing you've learned that would be helpful for first-time writer/directors?
Collect an amazing team of collaborators! Honestly it takes a village to make a film and your movie will only be as good as those you have chosen to work with. Assemble your team according to those who's work you respect and who's company you enjoy. Once you have people on board you have to trust them to do their jobs.
Be sure to check out the video below folks.
P.S. - There is only 1 early bird seat left for Finding Center and only a handful of seats left total!