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SxSW 2017 Interview: EASY LIVING director Adam Keleman

by Jason Whyte

"EASY LIVING is the portrait of a makeup saleswoman having a bit of a thirtysomething crisis, and trying to pick her life up in the most disastrous of ways. I would also say it is about this American idea of achieving success at any cost and the delusion of being successful and having a fulfilled life. It's a mix of comedy and drama, and a few thrills in there as well." Director Adam Keleman on EASY LIVING which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

I hear you are back at SxSW this year! Tell me about your past visit!

My short film GOING BACK screened at SXSW in 2010. That was my first time there, and I haven't been back since. I'm excited to screen my feature for the first time, especially to a welcoming, film-savvy Austin audience. I will be attending all my screenings.

Great to have you back! How did you get into this filmmaking business?

When I got out of college I started working on friends' projects, as well as PA-ing in Los Angeles. I was also a freelance film journalist and critic at the time. There wasn't much pay in writing or PA-ing, so I decided to make stuff- hoping that I would eventually make money as a director down the line. I made my short GOING BACK with the help of some crew members I met on various productions I had worked on.

How did EASY LIVING come together for you?

It was a long process. I started writing EASY LIVING in 2011, and I later applied to some grants in 2013. The Jerome Foundation awarded us a production grant. My producer Laura Wagner and I worked on the script throughout the years. When we felt it was ready, we showed it to a casting director in 2015 and we started going out to actors. It all came together when Caroline Dhavernas signed on for the film and then it was a mad dash to get the film made in the fall of 2015.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you? How much coffee?

I don't really drink coffee. It makes my heart beat too fast. I have become a tea drinker more and more. It's either that or Diet Coke. Moviemaking, and art making in general, is a struggle in itself, but such a privilege if you are awarded the opportunity. I want to do this the rest of my life as that's what keeps me going. It's so much fun.

What was your biggest challenge with this project, and the moment that was the most rewarding to you?

Casting was a challenge for me, and the editing process. I sort of shot myself in the foot showing the film too early to people when it wasn't ready; that affected the editing process, and maybe not in the best of ways. The most rewarding aspect is the actual work; collaborating on set with department heads, working with the actors, and playing in a make-believe world.

Could you tell me about the the visual design of the movie and what camera did you film with and your relationship with the cinematographer, James Axel West?

I had worked previously with my DOP James Axel West on my other two shorts, and we had developed a shorthand. I felt like, on my first feature, it was best to work with someone who understood my visual taste and the way I worked. It would just be a more efficient way of working, not to mention that James is a very talented, easygoing guy. We shot on the Sony F55 camera. We wanted to create a muted palette overall but with some bold accents of color. I generally like longer medium-to-wide shots that allow actors to move freely within the frame. The film has a sort of medium two-shot vibe with some slow zooms and pans. I worked with the production designer Dani Broom-Peltz to develop the early-mid 90s period piece feel.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie here in Austin?

Folks in Austin have very interesting, they have eclectic taste, so I am excited to see how they respond to the film. It seems like there are a lot of cinephiles in Austin, and my movie is sort of an homage to Robert Altman movies and Barbara Loden's WANDA, and John Huston's FAT CITY. I think they'll appreciate those aspects.

After the film screens at SxSW, where is the film going to show next?

We're hoping to play more film festivals after SXSW and build a word-of-mouth enthusiasm for the film before we try to secure distribution.

If you could show your movie in any theater, where would you screen it and why?

I love the Alamo Drafthouse South Lamar. It's where I screened my short the last time I was at the festival in 2010, and it feels like coming full circle in a way.

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive during a movie?

It happens all the time in NYC, and let me tell you, New Yorkers do not put up with that at all. I would probably shush them into submission, or if that didn't work, I would just yell "be quiet" or "turn off your phone." It's almost unavoidable these days, but I say if you are going to look at your phone the whole time, then don't come to the movie theater.

We have a lot of readers on our site looking to make movies or get into the industry somehow. What is the ONE THING you would say to someone who is wanting to get into the filmmaking business?

It really depends on what you want to do. If you want to be a filmmaker or screenwriter, you can do that anywhere. You should make something with whatever resources like locations, people and props are at your disposal; create the story around these elements, and you can do it cheaply with what you have. If you want to be an agent, or manager, or TV writer, or a publicist, then move to Los Angeles and intern/work from the ground up.

And finally, what is the greatest movie you have ever seen at a film festival?

It is difficult to name just one. The best movies I have ever seen at a film festival were Cilo Barnard's THE ARBOR at the Tribeca Film Festival, and the Gaspar Noe film ENTER THE VOID at SXSW. Watching Asghar Farhadi's A SEPARATION at the New York Film Festival was another one for me. I had no idea what to expect walking into these movies, and I was sort of left dumbfounded after the fact. My favorite film of all time would probably have to be Robert Altman's NASHVILLE.

Be sure to follow EASY LIVING online via Facebook!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview as part of our coverage of SxSW 2017. To see the entire series click on the Live Report sidebar on your right. We will have interviews posted all throughout the festival so be sure to visit us often for more coverage!

This is one of the many films screening at the 2017 SXSW Conference in Austin, Texas taking place March 10-18. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to www.sxsw.com/film or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

Jason Whyte, efilmcritic.com
Twitter: @jasonwhyte / Facebook: jasonwhyte / Instagram: jason.whyte

link directly to this feature at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/feature.php?feature=4042
originally posted: 03/09/17 13:18:55
last updated: 03/17/17 10:35:41
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