“L FOR LEISURE is an impressionistic, episodic comedy about laziness, wandering and wasting time. Hanging out with teenagers when you’re thirty, smoking nutmeg to get high and eating pie until you fall asleep”, reading a plot introduction like this, how can you not be intrigued?
Directed by Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn, L for Leisure doesn’t take itself seriously, it is an homage for the 90’s young adult comedies with a little bit of a Whit Stillman flavor. Crazy dialogues, dog in clothes, pot, endless conversations about nothing. It’s just a period of time in the lives of these characters that have a lot to say but all of it is mostly uninteresting. As if you spent your holidays on the lake with the characters of Saved by the Bell or Melrose Place, what do you think they would talk about? There you go; you either love it or hate it. And I love it.
I applaud their sense of humor and desire to push the envelope and make something entertaining and a little strange. For instance, we have a scene where the cast goes crazy over trying on jeans, as if it was a strange GAP commercial.
The film has an amazing soundtrack that works very well to put you in this parallel world mood. I feel that this project could only be made by two great friends, their sense of humor and collaboration are important to succeed in this experimental friendship tale.
Screened at Rotterdam, the directors Lev Kalman and Whitney Horn talk about L for Leisure.
Gomes: Why using Kickstarter and how was the experience?
Kalman and Horn: We used KS a little different than usual. When we launched our campaign, we’d already produced more than half of L for Leisure and needed funds to get the production finished. That worked out well because we were able to use a lot of clips from the movie as part of promoting the KS. It was a relatively small campaign - mostly friends and family contributed to the project - but it was crucial to getting the film done.
Gomes: Where the idea of L for Leisure came from? Also, the cast was mainly composed but non-actors, why?
Kalman and Horn: We like mixing actors and non-actors - the rhythms that creates in scenes. Also we usually write characters with a performer already in mind, so naturally that tends to be our friends.
As for L for Leisure, the overall structure was kinda described by our circumstances. We were living on opposite coasts, Lev had a full time job, and most of the actors we wanted were students or had jobs. So we made a movie during vacations, and had it take place over a series of episodes so we didn’t have to worry about haircuts staying consistent and what-not. As for the specifics that was all inspired by stuff that’s happened, dreams, TV, etc.
Gomes: While I watched L for Leisure, it was obvious that your friendship was a big part of the humor in the film. What is like to have this partnership with each other in terms of filmmaking?
Kalman and Horn: We’ve been working together as long as we’ve been making films so we don’t know what to compare it to. It’s alright?
Gomes: It feels like a very personal film. Since the whole filming process took 4 years, would you ever expected that: 1) if the film would ever be complete; 2) it would be selected to be screened at Rotterdam?
Kalman and Horn: Rotterdam’s been a very supportive festival with us. Our last film BLONDES IN THE JUNGLE (2009) played there, and that was our first big international screening. It’s through Rotterdam that we got to know L4L cast-members Gabriel Abrantes, Benjamin Crotty and Mati Diop, as well as our Associate Producer Paolo Moretti. So we have a lot of affection for the fest and they’ve shown us some love back - it was our top choice for L for Leisure’s world premiere.
Gomes: The soundtrack made by John Atkinson is terrific. A lot of work was put into it, as if it was just another character in the film. Were you involved in any way in the decision making process to create such an epic soundtrack?
Kalman and Horn: Yeah we very closely involved. Nearly every piece was written specifically for the film, and the music was revised as ideas and edits developed. We’re old friends of John’s and have worked with him a long time, from him acting in some of our work, to our doing videos with his band Aa to him kinda supervising the original soundtrack to BLONDES IN THE JUNGLE.
Gomes: What are you next projects?
Kalman and Horn: We’ve got a few things coming up - the biggest projects are:
1. A short sexy-detective-thriller comedy called Peruvian Bodies.
2. Two Plains and a Fancy: a feature length “spa western” that’s set in the 1890s.