"Lien on Me": Dildo and Fart Jokes Slammed Between Two Slices of Silly
|Sean Wing and Heather Williams in "Lien On Me"|
Before we start, a moment of full disclosure: I've know photographer/playwright/actor/ director/screenwriter and filmmaker David Beatty for over a decade. He was a member of my late theater company, Rude Guerrilla, where he taught acting classes and I directed him in several productions. We've traded editing notes on our films, Surviving New Year's and Snuff and, most recently, he shot press photos for my productions of The Revenger's Tragedy and pool (no water).
I also know several cast members of his brand spanking new web series, Lien On Me. As a result of those myriad connections, no forthcoming reviews will be appearing from this critic.
Just consider this an introduction: David Beatty, meet Art Whore Readers. Art Whore Readers meet David Beatty.
David Beatty: Crap. Good idea! Actually, I would trace the answer back to a process of elimination. Initially, we did want to make a feature film, but it's so difficult to get your work seen when you make an indie picture. We didn't want to depend on film festivals or distribution deals, so we decided to produce something that would be seen on the web. We knew it couldn't be a full length movie because, as a society, we haven't quite come to the point where we're comfortable watching a 90-minute movie on our computers, but we were seeing all these great shows on the web: Children's Hospital, The Guild, Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, Easy to Assemble, Wainy Days and Back On Topps,to name a few.
Give me a little background. How many actors in the cast? How many episodes? How much did it cost? Locations? What equipment did you shoot it with?
Our principle cast is an ensemble of seven actors. The majority of talent working on this project went to school together at UC Davis about six years ago. So far we have 12 episodes. We are shooting everything at my house in Huntington Beach as the primary location. It's right beneath the flight path of Long Beach airport, which is fun for sound quality. And with dogs barking, lawn mowers and traffic, it makes a perfectly loud environment for filming...but it's free, so we keep our bitching to a minimum. Overall cost is very low. Everyone in the cast is working for next to nothing (which means we pay them in hugs and rainbows) But the truth is, everybody wants to do this project. They're inspired by it because it gives us a chance to work together. Our most expensive production cost is renting our camera. We shoot in 720p HD with a Panasonic P2 HVX.
I fell asleep one afternoon while reading a book called The Freedom Manifesto by Tom Hodgkinson.There was a radio playing soft jazz somewhere in the back of the house. Tom's book is about how to live stress free. It says we should all quit our jobs, stop paying bills, stop buying so much crap, invite friends to live with you, have a garden and raise chickens and pigs. Give up all worldly possessions and find a your own true meaning of life. Hard to believe I dozed off while reading this poetry, but when I was asleep the radio switched from jazz to an NPR interview about the recession and people losing their homes to foreclosure. I woke up with an idea for the show. True Story.
|Dyan McBride and David Beatty in a scene from "Lien On Me"|
What's it like to be directed by someone that you wrote the script with?
Nino is a very talented director. We've worked together on five other projects. He has directed me in three, I directed him and he was my cinematographer on my last film. As a director, he knows exactly what he wants when we shoot. Because he is also our editor, he can get what he wants quickly without wasting time. On average, we shoot two (sometimes three) episodes in one weekend. That's also testament to his working relationship with our primary cinematographer, Steve Smith. Steve is a very talented DP and camera operator with a long resume who fortunately doesn't mind slumming it with us. His ability to look at the boards, watch a rehearsal, and light the scene in a short amount of time is tantamount to our operation.
How did you meet all these actors? How did the different acting styles and techniques of such a big cast work out?
Most of us met while going to school at UC Davis. We have worked together for a long time and we understand each other. However, when we shot the first few episodes, we didn't have our bearings yet. We were not exactly sure what the "feel" of the show was going to be. There was a learning curve as we worked. It took us till our fifth or sixth episode to find our groove. Fortunately, we're shooting the show over the course of several months, so it gives us the opportunity to reflect on our work and make changes accordingly.
Nino would say "The economic downturn was rubbing all our faces in itself long before we started rubbing people's faces in the economic downturn. Where would Dr. Strangelove have come from if a bunch of paranoid government officials had not pointed nukes at each other? Or would we have had It's A Wonderful Life if there was no one jumping off bridges?"
Have any new project(s) coming up?
Of course, there is always something on the horizon. In fact there are two, one of which is an indie feature film.
Do you have any advice to young DIY filmmakers?
There are no excuses. Do it Now!
In fact, start by watching my web series. Go there right now and watch. Then tell all your friends to watch. If you do this you will learn a valuable lesson in film making.