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SxSW 2015 Interview: LAMB director Ross Partridge

LAMB - At SxSW 2015
by Jason Whyte

"A man meets a young, aimless girl in a parking lot in the slums of Chicago and they start an unlikely friendship. He decides to help her avoid a bleak destiny by taking her on a road trip to Wyoming to show her all the beauty of the outside world. The only catch is: No one knows about the trip except the two of them. The experience shakes them in ways neither expects." Director Ross Partridge on his film LAMB which screens at the 2015 South By Southwest Film Festival.

Is this your first SxSW/Austin experience and are you going to attend your screenings?

I have been to Austin a few times; the first time ever being when we shot a scene in the film BAGHEAD at the TGIF downtown with the Duplass Brothers. Now that I think about it, I nearly got arrested that night! Long boring story that involved expired license and beer.

I've been to SXSW several times with BAGHEAD, THE FREEBIE, THE DO-DECA-PENTHALON, the latter of which I co-produced, and last year with WEDLOCK which was a web series starring Rob Corddry, Mark Duplass and Jennifer Lafleur that I co-created and directed. I will absolutely go to the LAMB screenings. It is such an honor and opportunity to screen the film at the fest. It is also a great way to catch up with people.

Your favorite barbecue/food in the city?

Not TGIF. South Congress Cafe for brunch is delicious. But the food trucks are all amazing, too!

Your favorite beer in Austin?

Anything in a free green bottle.

What do you love the most about showing movies in Austin and Austin in general?

People love films here, clearly. They love film and love beer. Alamo Draft House was the first place I ever drank during a film!

Tell me a bit about your background and how you became a filmmaker. Also what have you worked on in the past?

I always have been an actor, but writing has long been a way to quell the lag times between acting jobs. I originally went to college to study film at UCSC but my roommate was a theater director and I before I knew it I was a theater major doing play after play. Filmmaking was always such a mystery I wanted to try and crack.

So how did LAMB all come together for you?

A brave producer who had the balls to fund such an independent film. The visions of producers should be really acknowledged more in the community. They are the ones who risk so much to keep art going.

What was your process in getting the film together? Talk about your producing partners and key collaborators.

The author of the book, Bonnie Nadzam. Without her, there is no film. I read her book and was so blown away by it, then I gave it to Jennifer Lafleur and said, "I want to make this into a film. What do you think?" She read it, loved it, and told me it was so bold and daring that I had to do it. I tweeted my first tweet ever to the author. Twitter led to email which led to phone calls which led to lunch, and we became fast friends. The rights were already taken, but due to expire soon. I put in an offer the day the prior rights expired and the rest is history. We did it. I had a great cast and a dynamite crew lead by producer Mel Eslyn (THE ONE I LOVE) who is a serious force of nature.

What was your #1 challenge with this movie, and how did you over-come it?

Casting Tommie. We knew the film wouldn't work without the right young girl to play Tommie. She had to be versatile, fearless, and up to the challenges that the role posed. We saw some incredibly talented young actresses, but I knew the moment I met Oona Laurence that she was our Tommie. She was the brilliant light and glue that held the whole thing together. Working with her was one of the great experiences I have had in this business.

If you had to pick a single favorite moment out of the entire production, what would it be? The moment where you thought "I had something"?

On only our third day of shooting we had to shoot the final scene of the movie. During a take that was a close-up of Oona in her final moments, I looked up from the scene and saw our sound mixer wiping tears from his eyes.

What keeps you going while making a movie? What drives you as a filmmaker?

My girlfriend-slash-co -producer Jennifer Lafleur. She is capable of anything and gave me the confidence to attack this giant task. My crew inspired me by all constantly going above and beyond and keeping things so fun and light. I drank an early morning espresso, but my phenomenal AD Drew Langer's nick name is "Mountain Drew." I left the soda drinking to him. He's good at it, like he is at everything he does.

I'm curious about the technical side of the film, your relationship to the director of photography, what the movie was shot on and more tech related things.

We shot RAW files on the Arri Alexa. Cinematographer Nate Miller and I decided we wanted to have as much latitude and ability to color-correct since we were shooting in summer and were concerned about blasted sunlight. We wanted to be able to find the darkness in the film and bright sunlight was going to be a battle in our urban environments. We also wanted to have the flexibility to re-frame, punch-in, or do things in post that we could not achieve during shooting due to time and budget.

What are you looking forward to the most about showing your movie at SxSW and in Austin?

As our first screenings are at one of the Alamo Drafthouse locations, I am interested to see if the film encourages people to drink more or to stop drinking altogether.

After the film screens at South By Southwest, where is the film going to show next?

I'm excited to screen the film in Europe at some point.

Alamo Drafthouse and Paramount theaters in Austin aside, if you could show this movie in any cinema in the world, which one would you choose and why?

I would love to screen at the Ziegfeld Theater in New York City. It's an incredible theater and being from New York it would mean a lot to screen there. The energy in NYC is unlike anywhere else.

What would you say or do to someone who is talking, texting or being generally disruptive during a screening of your film?

"Excuse me. I'm sorry but I'm confused...did I pay to hear your words?"

There are a lot of up and coming filmmakers both at SxSW and reading our site. What would you want to tell them if they are aspiring to become a filmmaker?

Just go and do it, no matter how big or small. You will learn very quickly what works and what doesn't. Making films is a science mixed with sweat and a whole lot of heart. Talking about making film is not part of the actual have to get out there and do it.

And finally, what is the single, greatest movie that you have ever seen?

Films evolve and encompass so many things; it's hard to lump them together and judge them that way. One of many that has always stuck with me is THE RED BALLOON. It captures everything I love about the magic of film and how sometimes they can make us feel.

Be sure to follow LAMB on Twitter at @LambTheFilm!

We hope you enjoyed this SxSW filmmaker interview in our 35+ filmmaker interview series. 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 2015 SXSW in Austin, Texas between March 13-21. For more information on this film screening times, point your browser to or use the SxSW GO App for Android and iOS.

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

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originally posted: 03/10/15 13:48:31
last updated: 03/11/15 12:21:20
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