A scene from LUST FOR LOVE | © 2014 Gravitas Ventures

A scene from LUST FOR LOVE | © 2014 Gravitas Ventures

In Part 2 of this exclusive interview with Dichen Lachman, we talk with the actress/producer about the themes of LUST FOR LOVE, the romantic comedy film she produced with writer/director Anton King, which is now available on VoD and iTunes. Lachman also stars in the movie alongside some of her acting colleagues – Fran Kranz, Enver Gjokaj, Miracle Laurie, Felicia Day, Maurissa Tancharoen – from her two seasons as the character Priya on Joss Whedon’s TV series DOLLHOUSE.

AX: As far as the themes of LUST FOR LOVE, do you think that it’s saying anything new, or is it just a solid, traditional romantic comedy?

DICHEN LACHMAN: It’s traditional in a way. There are so many stories in the world, it’s just a different way of telling it. The theme of this film for me is just that you have to go after what you want, you have to be authentic, you’re always going to be better off being yourself, and if people don’t like you for that, then they’re not really worth knowing or having so close to you.  And – I’m not a guy, but I think for guys, [when trying to meet women] they do put on a persona or whatever, and the message is just, be yourself. Otherwise you’re not going to attract the right people anyway. And that’s what’s wonderful about Astor is, he is himself, it just doesn’t work, because he’s with the wrong girl. And then he tries something else and it’s not working, but really, ultimately, when he’s genuine and authentic, it’s the best. And for me, also, just having that diversity, playing such a key role, I think is interesting, because I’m Asian. It’s a new flavor in terms of telling this story. But it’s very much Anton and his sense of humor, and a little bit of an amalgam of some of the other people we know, like Jack Wilson, who’s one of the producers. He’s a bird-watcher. We actually went birding with him a number of times, so there’s a little bit of Jack in there, there’s a little bit of Anton, there’s a little bit of Anton’s brother. It’s a quirky way of telling a familiar story, and I think people enjoy it.

It’s not one of those films that might change your life – although for some people, it might. But I like movies that make you feel good. I like the ones that don’t, too, because they’re important, but sometimes it’s nice just to see a charming, colorful film that you feel good after you watch it. I see films where I’m depressed for a week because I feel so horrible about humanity, and I’m like, “People are horrible. They’re terrible. I don’t want anything to do with them. I don’t even want to be a human being.” And those films are very important, because they make you question the status quo, they make you proactive, they make you more involved in a cause, or they initiate something within you to go and be more charitable and get more involved, or think about the people who are disenfranchised or whatever. Those films are extremely important. But I never feel good after watching them. I saw BLACKFISH [about the mistreatment of killer whales at aquariums], which is a brilliant movie, and I was depressed for three days and I started getting involved and Tweeting petitions and wanting to do more, and that’s why it’s such a great movie, because it makes you want to be proactive. Our film is definitely not that. It’s the movie you watch after the other movie so that you can go to sleep and maybe have a smile on your face after feeling kind of down about the world [laughs]. It’s uplifting. I would love to make a topical film that really deals with issues. I’ve been working on some things now, but it just so happens that the first movie that I worked on is a charming romantic comedy.

AX: Going forward, are you writing, do you want to direct, or do you feel like you like producing, do you want to produce for yourself …?

LACHMAN: I have written things and I’m continuing to write. It doesn’t mean that it’s any good [laughs]. I’m just writing, and I think that the more you write, the better you get. One day, hopefully, I can have something that’s worth doing all this work for, because one of the things I’ve realized during this process is that when you start to make something, and we started this, and we were really obligated to finish this, because so many people came and backed us at the beginning. I think that if this film hadn’t been backed by Kickstarter, it would have been a more challenging process to complete, but because we had those Kickstarter backers, there was no way that we couldn’t deliver this film. And we begged, borrowed and stole to make sure that we could give those backers a finished product, as long as it took – although most films take far longer from script to screen. The average is seven years. Ours was two-and-a-half in terms of when Anton wrote it. So we did everything we could to deliver this movie, and during that time, I realized, when you take on a project and you want to make it, you really have to be committed to it, because it’s not going to be easy, and it’s a really long road. So if I do write something, I’m going to think very deeply about whether I want to commit the next two years or three years of my life making it happen, because that’s really what it takes.

You can’t just dabble in making film and then have it released. I mean, Anton has dedicated every single waking hour, pretty much, of his life to this film, sitting in front of the computer and doing research and getting all the moving parts together. As have I. I’ve been working to pay for the film or talking to Anton on the phone three, four times every day, trying to problem-solve and find people who can work on it for cheap. So if you do have an idea or a project, you really have to give it everything you’ve got. So in terms of me writing, directing or producing, I would love to do all of them one day. I want to make sure I’m prepared and that I have the skill set to do whatever task I’m doing at the time. I’m sure I’ll learn a whole bunch on the next job, if that opportunity comes along, but I do want to do it again. I just want to make sure that it’s worth giving so much of my life to and making the sacrifices for. Especially if it’s independent, because that’s what independent filmmaking is [laughs].

AX: Do you feel it was worth it on LUST FOR LOVE?

LACHMAN: Some days, if I’m being brutally honest, some days, I’m like, “Oh, my God, I don’t know why I started this.” And when you see something so many times [viewing different takes], you feel like, “Is this worth it? Is this worth all the money that we’re putting in?” We had, as I said, a huge sense of responsibility to the fans. It never left my mind. There’s a pressure to deliver for the people who supported us. But there were days that were like, “Why did we do this? It’s causing me so much stress and it’s so overwhelming. How many things need to be done?” Because essentially, it was just me and Anton, and people would kind of circle in when we were in a process with them. And we had some great people come and support us and help us make this film great, like my neighbor Alessandro Ongaro and Andrew Napier and Fuad Omar and Giorgio – he’s such a lovely man – and Joe Shapiro.

I’m glad we did that first screening [in Los Angelesin June 2013], because the audience really enjoyed the film, and that’s that moment when I thought, “Oh, it was all worth it.” Every time we heard people laugh, it was like a sense of relief. I’d invited some new friends who are in a completely different business, who have nothing to do with filmmaking, didn’t have any affinity to any of the actors, except knowing me socially over a period of time, and they were all like, “That was a really good film, it was so well done, it was good quality, I enjoyed myself.” And that was a real relief. It was like, “Oh, okay. This is going to make people feel good, and we did our job.” Because art, film, music, it’s there to initiate a feeling or an emotion or whatever. If people feel happy, then it was worth it.

AX: Who are your distributors?

LACHMAN: Gravitas Ventures are a VOD aggregator who have been doing this for a very long time. They’re really good at what they do and they’re enthusiastic and I think they work really well with filmmakers. They’re very good at having a dialogue with you and helping you get that thing that you worked so hard on out there, and I don’t really know what more you could ask for.

There’s a girl there called Mia Bruno, who’s just a ray of light. She’s so kind and so enthusiastic, and she adores the film. They’d been approached I think during the Kickstarter campaign, because I think there were some Whedon fans in the camp there. She absolutely lights up when she talks about the movie, and it’s kind of emotional for me and Anton to see someone respond like that, because we worked so hard on it and had given up so much to finish it that it just made sense to work with them in this part of the process.

AX: You’re also in an upcoming movie called TOO LATE. What is that?

LACHMAN: TOO LATE is a feature that is being shot on 35 millimeter film. The film is five acts, and each act is twenty-two minutes long and each act is only one take. So the whole film is five long takes. And John Hawkes is the lead, he plays a private detective. It’s beautiful. It’s not completed yet, but it’s one of those things that – I’m just an actor in the film – is a very rare and almost historic experience. The way this film is shot is so complex. If you can imagine a massive film mag on a camera on a Steadicam operator who’s switching out during the take and doing one long, twenty-minute scene without ever stopping, it’s just such an incredible experience, and especially doing it with someone like John Hawkes, who’s such an incredibly talented actor and such an amazing artist. He’s a musician as well. He plays sometimes at the piano bar here in Hollywood and he’s amazing. It was one of those, “I’ll never be able to do this again.” And I met the director, Dennis Hauck, because, before DOLLHOUSE, I auditioned for this little short film, and I didn’t get it, and [Hauck] called me and said, “Listen, I really wanted to cast you. There’s a number of reasons why I couldn’t, but I promise you, I really, really liked your audition and I’m going to write something for you one day.” And I think it was Season 2 of DOLLHOUSE he called me and said, “Hey, I wrote something for you, do you want to do it?” And I was like, “Sure.” And it was called SUNDAY PUNCH. And I shot that a day after I finished shooting the “Belonging” episode [which was a heavy, emotional episode for Lachman’s character] of DOLLHOUSE. So I was absolutely wiped out. I didn’t have time to prepare. Dennis loves writing these long monologues that just go on forever and ever, and I remember just cramming lines before the shoot. Anyway, we shot that and it went to a bunch of festivals. He thought about it and he started writing the feature, and he always had John in mind, he wanted to work with John, and he came up with this script, and I ended up being the same character in this film as I was in SUNDAY PUNCH. So it was a wonderful experience. Because of the twenty-minute takes, I had so many great rehearsals with [Hawkes] and I felt like I was in school or something, just watching him – I was learning so much and he’s such a generous actor, so I can’t wait ‘til that movie comes out, because I just want to see it, because I’m a fan of his and I think Dennis is a really great writer.

AX: Will LUST FOR LOVE be available on DVD?

LACHMAN: That’s another thing that I have to work on with Anton, is making sure that it’s available to the fans overseas, because there are so many who weren’t part of the Kickstarter, so they won’t be able to access it if we don’t put it on DVD. So I imagine it will be available on DVD in a few weeks. I’m sure that there will be people who will be frustrated if they can’t get it if they’re in Europe or Australia, so we’re doing our best to make it available to them as soon as possible. Seventh of February in North America, it’ll be available to everyone.

AX: Is there anything else you would like to say about LUST FOR LOVE?

LACHMAN: Just that it’s very important for me that people know how fortunate we were to have so many kind friends and people help make this happen. One of the wonderful things about filmmaking is that it is a collaboration and no one can do it on their own. Well, some people can, and they make interesting films, but you [usually] do need an army of people. And I also want to acknowledge that this never would have happened if I hadn’t been lucky enough to be invited into Joss’ universe. It’s an extraordinary privilege, not just because I’ve met so many great people who are part of that world in terms of journalists and fans who I keep in touch with, but just the people that he works with – he said to me once, he definitely also casts for sanity. He likes to work with nice people and because of that, I made some of the friends I’ll have for life on that show.

And I deeply care about these people, and being new to Los Angeles at the time, it really rooted me here. And now I feel like this is my home. And it’s not because everywhere else is not as good or whatever – the rest of the world is beautiful and I’m Australian and my family are in Australia– but I still really feel like this is home for me. I grew up in Katmandu, which was an incredible experience, obviously, to have lived there in the Eighties, it was so different to the rest of the world. I’ve lived in Sydney, I’ve lived in Melbourne, I’ve traveled, I’ve been to so many countries because my parents are in the travel business. But I’ve never felt at home anywhere until I came here. Maybe it’s because I’m half-Asian and I’m half-white and I’m a creative person. I don’t know. Maybe a psychiatrist would be able to tell me better, but I’ve never felt like I belonged anywhere. I always wanted to run away to somewhere else. And I definitely think that being a part of something like [DOLLHOUSE], with so many talented, great people, plays a part in [feeling at home in L.A.] I love this line from L.A. STORY that Steve Martin wrote for one of the other characters – “L.A.’s a desert where people come to build their dreams.” And for me, it really is that. This city is such a unique city. People come here with a specific purpose and there’s something really beautiful about that, and sometimes poetically sad, but this city is an incredible place, and it’s given me so much and I’m very fortunate.

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ArticleExclusive Interview: LUST FOR LOVE star Dichen Lachman chats about making a rom-com – Part 2

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