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SxSW 2017 Interview: SERVED LIKE A GIRL director Lys Heslov

by Jason Whyte

"SERVED LIKE A GIRL is a about a group of female veterans who vie for the title of Ms.Veterans America and the struggles and obstacles they face as they re-enter civilian life. It's a film about facing adversity and coming out stronger on the other side." Director Lys Heslov on SERVED LIKE A GIRL which screens at the 2017 South By Southwest Conference.

Congratulations on your film playing in Austin at SxSW this year! Is your first time here and are you planning to attend your screenings?

I am a first time director and have never been to SXSW. I plan on attending every screening with BELLS on.

Welcome to SxSW, then! So how did you get into this movie-making business?

I was an independent film producer and when my husband made GOOD NIGHT & GOOD LUCK (Grant Heslov, film producer) his life sort of changed overnight and I really needed to be with my kids so I took some time off, started a charity and went back to college. Once my kids were older, I decided to get back into producing. I never intended to direct SERVED LIKE A GIRL, it just sort of happened by default. Thank god it did!

How did the documentary come together for you?

I was having lunch with a couple of friends. One was journalist, Gayle Lemmon. She had spent a great deal of time in with female veterans. She said to me, "Hey did you know there is a competition called Ms. Veteran America and it was created to raise awareness for homeless female veterans?" That was all I needed to hear.

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

Good music, laughter and Casamigos Tequila with soda and extra lime.

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

My biggest challenge was that we were always running out of money. It compounded an already stressful situation as I was hearing some pretty horrific stories while filming. I contracted shingles twice in eight months. I think my most rewarding moment was hearing Linda Perry, Pat Benatar and Neil Giraldo record the song they wrote for Served, which plays at the end of the film. It validated the movie and really empowered me to believe I was on the right track. But I would have to say most importantly was the love, trust and connection that grew with my subjects in the film. They will forever be in my heart.

I would love to know about the visual design of the movie and how the look of the film was done!

Most of the doc was shot on C300. My cinematographer, Rita Baghdad and I were the entire crew. We wanted the doc to look and feel to be very intimate. For the final competition we had five cameras and a jib. We really wanted to have an epic look for Vegas. Rita and I became family. We spent a lot of time in Comfort Inns all over the country.

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

I LOVE Austin. It's one of my favorite cities. I can't wait to see the film on a big screen and watch with all my vets in the same room. I am so excited I can't sleep at night.

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

We have been invited to more festivals but I'm unable to share any information yet as they haven't been formal announced! Visit the official site and follow us on Twitter at @servedlikeagirl for up to date information on the film and our journey.

If you could show your movie in any theater outside of Austin, where would you show it?

At Grauman's Chinese Theater in Hollywood. It's epic and so much history. (Editor note: Get an IMAX version prepared!)

What would you say to someone who was being disruptive during a screening, even if it was your own screening?

I would politely ask them to stop or leave. I would never walk out of a film. I would wet my pants first.

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?

EVERYONE has a doc in inside them. Look in your wheelhouse, find a subject you are passionate about and don't give up especially when the going gets tough, and trust me it will get tough.

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

My favorite film of all time is BEING THERE with Peter Sellers.

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 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: 03/10/17 04:57:53
last updated: 03/10/17 05:02:14
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