No, Shannon Lark and I aren't done making stuff yet. Yes, I'm still working on Ludlow. Being a one-woman band can be taxing, but it's neat to wear cymbals between one's knees.
Sorry, I need more coffee.
SHANNON LARK: With all the ballyhoo over Ludlow, Voyeur, and the 100 million other things that Stacie Ponder and I collectively have going on (ahh, the life of an artist), I suddenly realized while eating chocolate chip ice cream last night that we haven't even begun the wonderful journey of reporting on our first co-directorial feat: Lip Stick....
This wonderful little film came about when Stacie was developing the script for Ludlow. Never having worked together before, we felt (at least I did) that throwing out ideas into the open will help the creative errr...juices get flowing.
STACIE PONDER: That's right- that's how SHE felt. Here she was, this girl I barely knew- some actor for crying out loud- flapping her gums and throwing around all these "ideas".
Okay, fine...so I invited her ideas and I threw mine her way before I'd written anything. It was a strange way for me to put together a script, this "collaboration", but I loved having someone to really bounce ideas off of, even if mine often made no sense. And look! We got a whole 'nother script out of it.
SHANNON LARK: I had this idea that maybe the main character should be a chronic masturbator. I emailed Stacie in a flurry, all flushed in the face with excitement. From there I launched into an entire story about a woman who can't stop masturbating, with a serious case of vagina dentata on the brain.
I know, I know. This sounds like a porn. Actually, it sounds like a great porn, but the script actually is really, really fucked up- ie: my kinda horror movie.
Stacie humored me for a while, but I soon realized that this is a story I should take and run with, and might not be suitable for Ludlow.
STACIE PONDER: I am not one to question the whimsies of Shannon Lark (if chronic masturbation can truly be called a "whimsy")- it just...yeah, it wasn't the right...err, track to explore with the way Ludlow was coming together. If your main character is a CHRONIC masturbator, then that really needs to be addressed in the script, in my opinion. It's not quite like making your character chew gum all the time, which may only prompt a "Oh, I guess she really enjoys gum!" from the audience; if the lead is masturbating almost all the time, you should probably mention why she's constantly gettin' her diddle on,you know?
That said, I could see that Shannon was enthusiastic about this character tic, so I suggested she take it and run with it (boy, did she)...but that if she really wanted her character to masturbate in Ludlow, I'd work it in somehow.
Yes, this is the way we operate.
SHANNON LARK: So I wrote it up as a script, investigating how the story of vagina dentata is just about as old as jesus. It's been told throughout every culture, in some form or another, to keep boys away from strange women who might trap them with their feminine devices. It's classic. It's timeless. It's VAGINA DENTATA!!
STACIE PONDER: It's fun for the whole family!
Sorry, that's...really wrong.
SHANNON LARK: After a failed shoot in Oklahoma City due to finances, in early July I still had no idea how the hell I was going to get this film shot. I considered using the film crew around where I live, but then I realized how much masturbating I was going to be doing, and I decided against it. The neighborhood kid down the street doesn't need to be on a set like that, you know?
STACIE PONDER: Or does he?
SHANNON LARK: Ludlow came and went, and Stacie and I were forever changed and bound in sinners blood (and tuna juice).
STACIE PONDER: Okay, stop. Just to clear the air, she really means tuna juice. Like, juice from a tuna. A tuna fish. Juice. She spilled tuna juice all over one of the beds in our little room at the Ludlow Motel, and it stank up the place. Then later I spilled peperoncini juice all over the crotch of my pants, and that stank up the place even more. Sometimes having a cast of, at most, three and a crew of one is a good thing.
SHANNON LARK: We shot Voyeur in San Francisco, and throughout all the ridiculous amount of technical difficulties and rampantly loose car brakes, we came out OKAY. It dawned on me right before I went on a trip to LA that Stacie and I could do this movie together. We practically made a feature in 2 days, so what could possibly stop us from making Lip Stick with absolutely no money? I milled it over with Stacie and we agreed to co-direct the film.
STACIE PONDER: It's never stopped me before, that's for sure. I've never had a budget over a whopping low-4 figures, and before Ludlow, I kept things within the $50 range. SHOCKING, I know.
I've never "co-directed" anything before, but Shannon and I had already established a very collaborative working style, so I figured it would be more of the same- I'd just end up with a fancy credit. But of course I was flattered she wanted to make this movie with me, so I was all, "Yes, please."
SHANNON LARK: Then I did an interview with the Last Blog on the Left, where I acted like a complete nutcase. I was so excited that I was shaking and sweating by the end of the interview. I reached for more coffee and hauled ass on getting the props together. I wanted to bring as much as I could to the table.
After being on the road for about 3 weeks I flew to Burbank and Stacie picked me up at the airport. We were so excited for what was in store: shooting the remainder of Ludlow, Lip Stick, and then off to Death Valley to roast our hair off. I won't go into detail about Ludlow, or Death Valley, because I'm sure we will cover in that in the "So I Made a Movie: Ludlow" series, but know this: IT WAS AWESOME.
STACIE PONDER: Yeah, hmm. I should update people on the happenings Ludlow at some point, I suppose. Until then, yes, I wholeheartedly agree: we ended up having an incredible week of making movies and roasting in the sun and freezing under the moon. I LOVE DEATH VALLEY.
SHANNON LARK: Stacie had recommended we shoot at the Amargosa Opera House, which has a motel connected to it, right outside of Death Valley. Marta Becket owns the Opera House and paints all over the walls: the headboards, bathrooms, ceiling borders, everything! I researched the website and decided on the perfect room. When we arrived to the motel it was f-ing hot, but nothing like what we were going to experience in Death Valley. Stacie had mentioned it was out in the middle of nowhere, but I didn't think there would actually be NOTHING out there. Luckily, the motel had a restaurant attached with a really, really nice waitress who gave us grapes they grew out there. How the hell they were able to grow grapes out there is beyond me. It must have been in a special greenhouse...or something.
STACIE PONDER: Some time ago a friend tipped me off about the Amargosa, how it was this amazing, kind of magical place out by Death Valley, and I'd originally intended to go there to shoot Ludlow. Once that script was finished, though, it was patently obvious that it wouldn't suit my needs- it's a weird place, but not creepy enough...certainly not fleabag-y enough. Though it's in the middle of nowhere (like Shannon said, there's NOTHING around), the building itself doesn't feel isolated, if that makes sense. On top of all that, it's a good 4+ hours away from Los Angeles, and I certainly couldn't ask the other actors to drive out there to shoot for a couple of hours. The Amargosa never left my mind, though, so when Shannon and I started talking about Lip Stick, I threw it out there. I'm just glad she found it as intriguing as I did.
SHANNON LARK: After eating and unpacking the car into the incredibly small room we were shooting in, we immediately set up and got down to business. Our neighbors were definitely in for a treat.:)