Thursday, July 9, 2009

The Little Film That Did

Last June, Steve Clare (Prost Amerika, Seattle Fine Arts Examiner) and I took Lynn Shelton up on her offer to visit the set of Humpday. Shortly thereafter, I filed a digressive dispatch about our field trip, while he interviewed the director via email prior to the Centerpiece Gala premiere at this year's Seattle International Film Festival.

At the time I wrote, "I have no idea whether this micro-budget film will actually 'work' or not. Based on the quality of Shelton's previous efforts, though, I have faith. The scenes were intriguing, and since she's working with a more experienced cast, the movie might even attract more attention than We Go Way Back and My Effortless Bril-
despite—or even because of—the fact that she made it on a smaller scale."

Shelton, Leonard, and Duplass at Sundance '09

Since completion, Humpday has attracted far more attention than I could have
ever possibly predicted. Shelton has traveled with "the little film that could" to Sundance, SXSW, Cannes, and Edinburgh and has appeared in a number of high-profile publications, including The New York Times. It's rare for a local film to receive this kind of exposure. It's also incredibly exciting and extremely well deserved.

Since Clare used a few of my questions, I secured his permission to repro-
duce his Q&A here. Humpday opens in Seattle and New York this Friday.

***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** ***** *****

Clare: In as many or as few words as it needs,
how does a Seattle filmmaker become a success?

Shelton: By making regular sacrifices to the aztec fertility goddess CIHUACOATYL.

Clare: Do you intend to stay in Seattle and continue to make film here?

Shelton: Yes, I do.

Clare: Was there a pivotal moment when it
dawned on you Humpday was going to be big?

Shelton: When Mark Duplass said he'd do it, I had a hunch. Signing
Joshua Leonard on added to my hopes. And when Alycia Delmore
said yes, I pretty much knew I had a blockbuster on my hands.

Clare: What have you learned about male bonding since My Ef-
fortless Brilliance
? Do you like us more, the more you find out?

Shelton: You become even more adorable with every movie I make.

Clare: In an unashamed moment of unadulter-
ated "luvviness," pay tribute to your co-stars.

Shelton: Yes, my actors are talented. Incredibly talented. But what impressed me even more was the high level of commitment they brought to the set. The only possible way a film like this could have ever worked was with that kind of engage-
ment on the part of the entire cast, and those guys brought it, they really did.

Clare: Mark [and Jay] Duplass made Baghead and you've made
Humpday. Is there something to be said for one-word film titles?

Shelton: Only when you combine two words to
make one. There is something to be said for that.

Clare: What's next for Lynn Shelton?

Shelton: I plan on making more films.

Clare: Do you have any interest in making a film about women?

Shelton: No. Girls are boring. Just kidding! I'm very
excited to work with the female race some day.

[We Go Way Back, her feature-film debut, focuses on a female character.]

Fennessy: How much of the dialogue was improvised?

Shelton: 110%

Fennessy: What do your parents think about it?

Shelton: My dad and stepmom saw it at Sundance and lov-
ed it. My mom and stepdad will see it at SIFF; I have high
hopes that they won't disown me but you never know.

Fennessy: Have you ever been to Hump?

Shelton: No; it always sells out before I can get a ticket!

[Slightly revised from the original text.]

Related reading: Click here for my '06 interview with Shelton and here
for the '08 interview Clare and I conducted with Mark and Jay Duplass.

Endnote: Humpday opens in Seattle on 7/10 at the Harvard Exit (807 East Roy) and in New York at the Angelika Film Center (18 West Houston St.). According to Shelton, the film "will roll out to other cities in the weeks following (for a complete list, please refer to the Humpday website)." Images from Magnolia Pictures and indieWIRE.

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