Interview With Lynn Shelton

When we learned local filmmaker Lynn Shelton’s latest film, “Your Sister’s Sister” will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival next month, we though we’d toss her a few questions about the film and her future projects. Below is a transcript of that interview.

Hotsplice (HS): First of all congratulations on having Your Sister’s Siter world premiere in TIFF. This is a huge leap forward for you, but it also seems like the exact evolutionary step in your career.

We thought we’d ask you a couple of questions to get Seattle and the world excited to see your latest feature.

The official TIFF film description reads, “Still mourning the recent death of his brother, a bereft and confused man finds love and direction in a most unexpected place.”  Seems like a tonal shift for you. There must be more to the film than this. Should we expect to have some classic Lynn Shelton laughs?

Lynn Shelton (LS): Oh there are definitely laughs: “a comedy of errors”, Emily coined it, quite aptly. I don’t think Mark Duplass has ever been funnier, in fact. But the film is poignant as well.

HS: The film stars your longtime collaborator Mark Duplass, who also has a film in the festival. However this time you added some big guns into the line-up; Emily Blunt (The Adjustment Bureau) & Rosemarie DeWitt (Cinderella Man). How did you pull that off and did they adjust/take to your intimate working style?

LS: It was surprisingly easy to entice veteran actors to this project. I think if you’re used to bigger, more traditional sets, the opportunity to work on a smaller scale and in a more intimate way is probably pretty attractive. It also helped that we weren’t asking for a huge time commitment from them (production was only two weeks long.)

As for how the gals adjusted to the intimate, semi-improvised style of shooting, Emily and Rosemarie were total troopers, game for whatever was thrown at them. I couldn’t have asked for a more delightful experience and I hope they feel the same

HS: We at NWFF really appreciate that you’re keeping it Pac NW, especially since we know that Washington Film Works suffered a major blow to their incentive program earlier this year.
Will that impact your ability to continue to make amazing work in Seattle? And to that end What’s your next Seattle project?

LS: The loss of Washington State’s incentive program could not come at a worse time for me as a director. It’s such a total bummer because I’m now at a place in my career when I am developing projects on a larger level and the lack of that incentive program is going to make it impossible for me to shoot those projects locally. It just doesn’t make financial sense for the financiers. All I want to do is shoot in Washington state, but unless that tax incentive comes back, I may never be able to do that again. It drives me absolutely crazy. (I will say this: if the program does come back next year, I can guarantee that I will make it my personal mission to bring as many multi-million dollar productions to the state as I possibly can in the years to come!!!)

HS: Looking at the rest of the Contemporary World Cinema section, what film are you most excited to be screening alongside?

LS: I cannot believe the line-up at TIFF. I’m humbled to be screening next to some of my favorite filmmakers of all time: Steve McQueen, Andrea Arnold, Lynne Ramsay, Alexander Payne, Guy Maddin, to name a few. I think the film I may be most excited to see is “Pina”, the film that Wim Wenders made about Pina Bausch’s work. Finally, 3-D technology used in the name of true art! Wow, I absolutely cannot wait.  I’m also looking forward to seeing films I know nothing about, made by folks I’ve never heard of. That, to me, is the quintessential film festival experience.

HS: Thanks for your time and good luck in Toronto!

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