Anne Lower is on a mission. The L.A. based indie filmmaker is working furiously to finance her passion project, They Live Among Us. The first three episodes of this ambitious web series can be viewed on YouTube, and Lower’s quest has been chronicled at http://theyliveamongus.com/.
My interview with her reveals an intelligent, funny, and tenacious woman, who knows what she wants, and will settle for nothing less.
SHM: How goes your never-ending hunt for financing?
AL: I just wrapped our IndieGoGo campaign for Episodes 4-6; we ran a bit short. There is still about 6k to go, so I’ll continue efforts. Once we launch 4-6 I am working with more traditional forms of financing through investment groups. Life is a never-ending adventure.
SHM: Are you any closer to filming the next three episodes?
AL: We begin photography on February 10th. I cannot wait to get back onto the set; now that we have established the world and those who live in it, the storyline begins to unfold. I’m referring to these three as “ Bloody. Sexy. Fun.” I hope the viewers agree. The cast and crew are anxious to get back into our playground as, obviously, am I.
SHM: Talk a little bit about what it was like filming the first three episodes on such a small budget (without permits, insurance, etc).
AL: It was interesting. That’s a word that we use in my family to put a positive spin on challenging circumstances, haha. There were times when it was liberating, in that scenes would simply happen. They would develop a life of their own, and we – myself, the cast, the crew – were there along for the ride. That is the drug of art and of creation. Being in the moment, the zone. It’s exhilarating. There were times when it was a little frightening. I had leased a warehouse, but the shoot was cut several hours short when the landlord returned early, drunk, high and with a heavy metal band – he had decided to throw an impromptu rave – and ejected us onto the streets after midnight in the garment district. We still had several hours worth of scenes to shoot. People were sleeping in the streets; the air stank of urine. It was a very emotionally dismal night for me. And there were times when it was frustrating. The Peg/Ted sequence suffered because radio towers blew out the lavalier (wireless mic) channels, so we had to move to boom. Kendra and David are both astounding actors; I did not want to disturb their process through amplification… but dialogue was terribly muted. “Fix it in post” is simply not an option. And yet, that poverty was also liberating, for it forces creative solutions. With a lot of money can come a lot of fat. I need much more money to do honor to this series, but I’m grateful to have been forced to think creatively.
SHM: Where did that budget come from for the first episodes — out of your pocket?
AL: I launched a Kickstarter campaign and raised just under 6k once fees were taken out, and threw an additional 6k of my own in. It wiped me out… but I was determined to see this project come to fruition.
SHM: How did you come up with the idea for a Tweetathon to gain funding, and did it work?
AL: A.D. Lane, a British indie filmmaker – @indywoodFILMS – had run a similar campaign that I watched. He went 92 hours or so – I ended up pulling 90 total, and ten days later, at the end of the campaign, another 42– and I thought that it was a great idea. At the same time, Jay Donovan of Office Hooky Chat – @ohchat – reached out wondering how he could help. I told him that I was going full Jerry Lewis for the campaign and pitched the Tweetathon to him. In the words of Quentin Tarantino, we had ourselves a Bingo. I raised a little over $12k, which left me with about $10k after the fees were applied.
SHM: Speaking of which, your video blogging during that tweet marathon was pretty entertaining. How important is it to keep a sense of humor amongst the chaos?
AL: Oh, it’s tantamount to survival. Not only in the Tweetathon, but in life. People – especially those with a robust viral presence – often take themselves way too seriously. They confuse viral celebrity with IRL (in real life). I can assure you that the two are not the same. Life is short and uncertain. It’s a much more adventuresome ride if you can laugh at yourself along the way, you know? I had fun making the vids – I would just pull them out of the air. They help keep me awake. I mean, seriously, Country Cousin It? What the hell was that? Jambi? Don CorleAnnie? And, of course, the infamous Headdesk. At least once a day I am reminded that the internet is forever.
SHM: The unconventional narrative of TLAU is refreshing. I love the fact that the first episode follows one guy, who would seemingly be the hero, only to veer off in an unexpected direction. Where would you like to see the series go, in terms of character/story arc.
AL: I used the first three episodes to establish the world and the characters within it. The next installment is where the story really takes off. The central thread is the gothic love tale between Caim and Serafina, and the two love triangles – one supernatural, one mortal – that they are ensnared in. But there are several other storylines that early on may not seem connected, but slowly they are woven into the central storyline. I’ve referred to TLAU as a rich tapestry, and indeed it is.
SHM: You’ve said this project is gothic romance meets urban horror meets film noir. What film/television/literature inspires you?