Interview with Writer/Director/Producer Ri Versteegh
The Social Interactions and Misunderstandings of Lonely Lil
Congratulations! Why did you make your film?
As a comedian I like to explore subjects that by nature seem difficult to take lightly. Isolation, loneliness and lack of connection seems to be an epidemic in our western society. And even though we seem to communicate more than ever it seems to me intimacy is lost. I was curious to make a series about that.
Imagine I’m a member of the audience. Why should I watch this film?
It will make you grateful for the relationships in your life and make you want to be more compassionate to the one who seems to struggle with their social skills.
How do personal and universal themes work in your film?
I am a Swedish immigrant in America and although much looks the same on the outside, the cultures are vastly different. I had to learn the social cues and how to blend in as an American in order not to see “off” in every interaction I had. To feel as though every other person received a handbook of how to live and you are the only one doing the best you can is a universal theme.
The need to connect is deep within all of us. To make it a comedy where we can laugh at Lil is personal for me. I have found that my willingness to to look at what is broken and wounded increases when I look at it from the angle of comedy. They say comedy is tragedy plus time. I always say if you don’t have time, you better find a new perspective. Tragedy plus an odd perspective also makes comedy.
How have the script and film evolved over the course of their development and production?
A great deal. In the beginning the thought was for Lil to keep her audience hostage. And I say audience, as she is narcissistic and wants to speak only about herself. It developed into a much sadder woman. I had to let go of the easy laughs in order to stay loyal to Lil. The series turned out to be much more serious than I at first thought. I was inspired by Jake Gyllenhaals character in “Nightcrawler”. I strongly feel that Lil is a version of him.
What type of feedback have you received so far?
The audiences seem to have strong feelings about it. It has a loyal following that loves her. Others find it almost offensive in its sadness and in the time it takes. They expected a more accessible comedy series and this challenges it’s audience to look at isolation and loneliness. It seems to be agreed on that it is a new take on comedy. It has been said that this is what Luis CK would be doing if he was a blonde Swedish woman.
Has the feedback surprised or challenged your point of view?
Both. I keep being surprised about how much people relate to Lil and talk about her as if she is an important person that they have come to know. The people who felt that I owed them more accessible laughs with an opportunity to “Zone out”, surprised me. I am used to it from doing stand up comedy but I felt that with a series like this called “Lonely Lil” I had prepared the audience for something slightly different. The feedback that people say it is so new different and original has also surprised me. We never know that ourselves. As I am diving into doing another season I am looking at where I can stay true to the story while giving people an easier way in.
What are you looking to achieve by having your film more visible on www.wearemovingstories.com?
I hope to have more people feel inspired to discuss difficult subjects. Of course I feel strongly about women in film and want to inspire and support other women making movies.
Who do you need to come on board (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists) to amplify this film’s message?
Sale’s Agents, journalists and buyers.
What type of impact and/or reception would you like this film to have?
I would like this series to comfort the disturbed and disturb the comforted. I hope to have the affect that so much dark comedy has had on me. I get to feel like I belong and like I am doing good for trying to make sense of what does not make sense and that while doing that life is not that serious at all. We will never get out of here alive.
What’s a key question that will help spark a debate or begin a conversation about this film?
In a time when we seem to communicate more than ever before are we becoming lonelier and more isolated?
Would you like to add anything else?
Only the last episode of season 1 is shown at the Fantasia Film Festival. Lonely Lil: American Father Figure. This episode addresses our need to be taken care of and what happens when it is not met, what do we do to comfort ourselves.
We Are Moving Stories embraces new voices in drama, documentary, animation, TV, web series and music video. If you have just made a film - we'd love to hear from you. Or if you know a filmmaker - can you recommend us? More info: Carmela
Length: 40 min
Directors: Ri Versteegh and Josie Martineaux
Producer: Ri Versteegh
Writer: Ri Versteegh
About the writer, director and producer: Ri grew up in Sweden and moved to California as an 18 year old, got her BA from USC, became a lifetime member of The Actors Studio and begun performing as a stand up comedian. Since then she has produced 2 pilots, two original series for the web, one stand up special and written several more projects.
Looking for (producers, sales agents, buyers, distributors, film festival directors, journalists):