In Austin, I caught a showing of the new film ‘Liars Fires and Bears‘. It was a damn fine piece of cinema and was named one of the ‘Top Ten Films at the Austin Film Festival,’ right up there with big guns like David O. Russell’s ‘Silver Linings Playbook’ and Robert Zemeckis’ ‘Flight.’
Now, I will do my best to do the film justice. Here it goes —
The film follows down on his luck twenty-something Dave who just needs to catch a break, which just isn’t coming any time soon. Dave gets blackmailed by Eve, a lonely 9 year-old girl who will do anything to find her older brother, her only family. Dave is forced to take Eve on the road, with each step leading them further down a path that can’t end well.
Dave is played by Lundon Boyd, who also co-wrote the script with director Jeremy Cloe. Lundon is currently on the road with the film, logging hundreds of miles to bring ‘Liars, Fires, & Bears’ to film festivals across the country. I caught up with Lundon for a quick interview in between his travels.
CJ: I saw your film ‘Liars Fires and Bears’ at the Austin Film Festival. It’s incredibly well crafted with some great characters at the heart of a road film. When I explain the film to friends I always focus on the awesome friendship between your character and Megli Micek’s character. As the co-writer and the lead of the film, what do you see as the focus of the film? How do you pitch it?
LB: I focus on the age-old story that’s been told many times over of the teacher/student relationship and how they both learn from one another. Of course, I pitch it as, “A 9-year-old fakes her own death and blackmails a slacker into finding her brother.” Then when people give me a confused look I quickly add, “it’s a comedy” then they seem more comfortable watching it.
You got a lot of positive word of mouth going on for the film. Have you been surprised by the reactions the film has been getting? Do you feel like the film accomplished what you set out for it to do?
It’s the best kind of surprise you can ask for. The fact people want to watch it at all is enough for me. The film accomplished exactly what I was hoping for which is people weren’t bored. That’s really all I care about. Tell a good story and don’t bore anyone cause people pay for this stuff. It sounds simple but it’s really hard not to bore people.
What was the writing process like with co-writer and director Jeremy Cloe? Were you both on the same page as to what the film should be?
The writing process consisted of me being 3,000 miles away (in Alaska) from Jeremy and emailing drafts back and forth. As far as the same page I always side with Jeremy, always, I would try and convince him of things but if it didn’t take, I tried not to push cause, he is the director and my own philosophy is, at the end of the day, he’s the captain. I respect those roles. I do believe even as a writer, the director is the final author of the film. I know that’s not a popular belief but it’s what I think.
Did you and Jeremy work from a shared core idea?
The idea came from a short film we did called “Sad Story”. Jeremy pitched me on the idea of “a little girl driving a car, running away from someone” and I thought, there’s something there. Of course my main concern was how do I fit myself into this idea, cause I’m an egotistical actor. At the time I was watching a lot of Peter Bogdanovich movies and I always love those stories of a teacher/student relationship. My favorite one lately being Martin Scorsese’s “Hugo”, but I love antagonistic relationships and especially one’s where two people have nothing in common. It’s just instant drama. Scenes write themselves.
Anyway, we had some success with “Sad Story” and people kept telling me “this should be a feature” and I would shake that off thinking “nope.” Then Jeremy Cloe called me up and said “Let’s make this a feature” and I said, “That sounds like a great idea”. The core idea stayed the same – “mature little girl helps immature older guy and vice versa”. That was always the skeleton but like anything, the details are what make it special.
The character of Eve is coming from a very pained yet determined place, which causes her to make some pretty bold choices. When you and Jeremy were writing the script, was there any conversation or concern about having Eve be seen as unsympathetic due to, let’s call it ‘trauma,’ that she causes her parents?
Haha, you know, this has been brought up to both of us many times and I think it says a lot more about us, then it does anything cause no matter how many times we talked about this “moment” in the movie, not once, did we think “that’s too far” and maybe because I know kids who’ve done, let’s say, something similar.
But really, my favorite films are dark, dark films, like Abel Ferra movies, for example, Bad Lieutenant and he’s wildly unsympathetic but he’s the lead and incredibly interesting and while I wouldn’t compare our movie to that in ANY way shape or form, I would say that the 9-year character of Eve is a little wild, a little rock and roll, a little dark, and she does some adult stuff but if she wasn’t this way and she didn’t do the things she does, I just don’t think I’d wanna watch this movie. She’s a badass and it’s a character Megli Micek created and I love that character, I care about that character regardless of what she does cause I relate to her. If it shakes people up, I like that.
‘Liars Fires and Bears’ has been making an impressive run on the festival circuit. I met you in Austin for the Austin Film Festival and it sounded like you were pretty much on tour with the film. As someone who has never made a film, I’m always curious to know what the goal is with films at the festivals. Do you go with hopes of just getting it front of eyeballs or is there more of a plan behind it all?
Honestly, it’s to get noticed. It’s to make stuff like this interview happen, it’s for the exposure. Cause you want distributors to take notice, you want the best possible deal for your movie so most people can see it. At the end of the day, you want people to say, “oh man, I really like that” and have them recommend it to there friends. That way when you go to make the next movie and it says “from the makers of Liars Fires and Bears” people get excited.
I know our wonderful producer, Constanza Castro is in talks with some distributors but its trying to find the best deal in terms of getting the biggest audience right now but like everything with independent movies, it’s a process. Having people really jazzed and happy they saw something you spent a couple years of your life on is pretty thrilling as well.
I heard you mention that you mostly live and work in Alaska, which sounds just insane and pretty damn cool. How do you find a balance between having a real job up in Alaska and filmmaking?
This is my last year (2012) in Alaska, It’s been a tough going. It’s a difficult place to live. Only the strong survive there. I work in the wonderful industry of “Asbestos Abatement” and it’s mostly seasonal work so my winters I run away from Alaska and try to make movies. It seems to work out mostly but now I’m making the move to L.A. and I’ll have to fight off all the beautiful people for some gigs.
Which came first for you, the acting, or the writing?
The acting cause I think it’s the most fun then the writing cause I couldn’t get any acting work. All respect to good writers, it’s very difficult.
As an aspiring writer, I always wonder when anything is ever actually done. When did you and Jeremy decide, ‘This script is ready to shoot’? From that moment on, how long did it take to actually begin production? Did the script evolve during that time or did you two do your best to leave it be?
I say the script is ready all the time, haha. Jeremy is wiser and it’s really his movie and he wanted it to be better and he made it better. So we kept at that script, up until the day before shooting and even after that there was dialogue polish’s here and there, for certain characters. Whenever there was a day off in production, me and Jeremy would be in his office rewriting.
What’s the plan for ‘Liars Fires and Bears’ once the festival run is over?
Distribution hopefully will be done by then, I know we have only a couple more festivals to go to. Both the director Jeremy Cloe and Constanza Castro will be in Graduate school in L.A. and I will be a homeless person there on the streets knocking on their door. I know Constanza Castro would like to start a feature of her own and Cloe will never stop making movies and hopefully never stop casting me.
Do you have any projects coming up?
I have two projects coming up, one with a very talented Director Adam Zielinski which will be very different from “Liars Fires and Bears” called “REX ’84” and another film with “Ryan & Cody LeBoeuf” who are very odd ducks and I’m sure will make movies that will make people take notice.