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AN INTERVIEW WITH Lilia Le Dieu, PRODUCER
As a filmmaker, please introduce yourself.
I’m Lilia, a film producer, Vietnamese, born and raised in Belarus. I’ve got experience in marketing, but shifted to producing after working in an animation production company and creating content for my YouTube channel. I’ve lived in Los Angeles for a few years, where I immersed myself into the filmmaking industry, have produced and worked on numerous independent and commercial shoots and built a great network of like minded professionals and artists. Now I mainly work with independent filmmakers and produce commercial projects.
Why did you become a filmmaker as director and producer?
Directing attracted me because I could bring my vision and lead the team to transform it on screen. I loved guiding actors and finding true talent.
I turned to producing because my management, budgeting and other organizational skills were needed, and once I realized how challenging it is
to find a producer that you can trust with your script, I found my calling. Producer’s title seems a bit mysterious because it covers so many responsibilities. As a producer I get to oversee the project from start to finish. Raising funds, negotiating with vendors, partners and other professionals was something I really enjoyed and every time I get to meet a talented and skilled collaborator, it brings me so much joy. I’m always looking for people I can work with in the long run and try to attach them to the next project I’m on. There’s a lot of satisfaction and reward in building a solid team with strong ethics and skill that you can count on.
Give some more information about yourself and the films you have made so far, about your experience?
I’ve produced over seven short films in the last couple of years, and all of them were selected or won awards in major international film festivals.
“Breadcrumbs”, the short film I produced and co-directed, was one of my first and biggest projects. I’ve worked with crews of different sizes
and was also coordinating post-production teams. After the films were completed, usually my job was to set promotion and distribution strategies,
pitching for studios and streaming platforms, and overseeing festival applications. The other film I recently produced, “Paintless” has been selected
to over twenty international festivals. My experience was not always smooth but that’s the integral part of working your way up and becoming
more confident in your decision-making. I think the most important thing is to surround yourself with people that are as passionate as you are.
What are the films or people that had an impact on you and deeply inspired you to become a filmmaker?
There are a lot, but I must say “Catch me if you can”,“Breaking Bad” and almost all Martin Scorcese movies were the biggest influences.
They showed me that unconventional ways of storytelling and a well-developed protagonist can make a big deal.
I was always drawn to thought-provoking dramas that put you into an uncomfortable position, where you’re not sure who you are rooting for.
Performances by amazing actors, such as Bryan Cranston, Leo DiCaprio, Meryl Streep and many more, also were a big drive for me to dive into producing - there’s so much excitement in discovering talent, especially young actors at the start of their careers. And when you receive a self-tape or see
an audition that gives you goosebumps - this is when you know that weeks and months of search and casting paid off.
You have made your specific film "Breadcrumbs" which was Officially Selected in the
"American Golden Picture International Film Festival".
As a filmmaker, why did you decide to make it?
When I got the script, I immediately knew that this is the story that people need to see. The movie is about a guy that helps a stranger and then
gets aggravated when he doesn’t get credit for it. In fact, he gets the opposite. The set-up is straightforward: one guy asks a stranger for bread
and they engage in a long conversation about altruism and good deeds. I think that there are many ways one can interpret this story,
but first of all I want the viewer to ask themselves: “Would I still do a good deed if I didn't get anything in return and couldn’t even tell anyone about it?”. I do feel that virtue-signalling and performative help have become more and more widespread, especially with social media and easy ways to share. The other theme that this film touches upon is having the right to tell other people how they should think and behave. Basically,
it’s the moral questions that guide us every day but we rarely analyze them. I think everyone can make their opinion on these subjects after watching and the views would differ a lot, which I really like. Provoking a conversation and getting people to discuss your story without
a definite “yes” or “no” is quite amusing.
What were some of the challenges you faced in making this film?
I think that two challenges I’m most proud of solving were finding the right location in LA and editing. We were looking for an endless-looking
hallway and couldn’t afford building it from scratch. So we used a short hallway with office rooms, put a green screen at the wall and elongated
it in post. Our PD worked with practical lights and wallpaper and transformed it. With VFX and color grading we achieved the desirable look that
was important for this story. Picture editing was also challenging, as the traditional dialogue editing did not work here.
It was a puzzle that required many days to solve but eventually the director and I were very happy with the result, even though at the stage
of rough cut we even considered picking up some shots. We felt like we did not have enough takes.
Let us know more about your experience in the film "Breadcrumbs"?
It was an amazing journey, and I’m very grateful for the cast and crew that worked very hard on it. Everyone’s effort counted towards a great result.
We shot 18 pages within two shooting days (with overtime), and it was mostly due to thorough pre-production and experienced crew.
Cast was also well-rehearsed so we didn’t have to do many takes. Shooting in LA was not easy as we wanted to go for an ambiguous look
in terms of setting, time and place.
What was it like to work with all your cast and crew?
I’m very pleased with everyone who has worked on “Breadcrumbs”, the dedication from the actors that made this story feel so real and convincing.
The commitment we got from everyone: line producer, who solved a lot of arising daily issues, sound mixer that held the boom for 4 minutes straight on a long take, our colorists that spent days and weeks, making sure every frame is consistent. I’m also amazed with our DP who managed to shoot an 11 minutes scene with two characters just talking at a doorway in a way that made it believable, intriguing and never boring.
For you, what was the biggest lesson you had to learn after making this film?
Don’t settle for anything less or go for a compromise due to costs or other limitations, strive to get the best means possible.
Movies are a puzzle and every element needs to add up to create a wholesome picture. Always push harder and be consistent with your vision
and initial plan. It was difficult for us to make some decisions but in the end it was all worth it. Also, hire post-production people ahead of the time
to speed up the process and complete a movie quicker.
What keeps you inspired to continue filmmaking?
I simply can’t see myself in anything else - for me, filmmaking is the only thing that has so many different facets and covers both business and creative arts. I also think that film is the most convincing and powerful media form. And with so many available opportunities and platforms,
today you can reach the audience easier than ever. In a simple way, every day I get inspired with good music and people I meet.
The most important part is distributing the film. What did you do for distributing this film?
Our goal was to pitch it as a proof of concept for the feature film, a prequel about the main character. We also reached out to producers and studios
that could help us to get more eyes on the film and help us with distribution. I’m very excited to release “Breadcrumbs” on streaming platforms
once we finish the festival circuit. So far we have received fifteen selections at prominent film festivals.
What are your filmmaking goals?
My goal is to produce unique and compelling films that will be used as prime examples in film school and art history books.
“Breadcrumbs” isn’t a traditional movie, but it found its audience and got the attention we wanted, so that was a good indicator that
I’m on the right track. I want to produce feature films and TV series that can leave food for thought.
What is your next project?
I can’t share all the details but am very excited to work on a comedy mini-series. Currently we’re developing a script and gathering ideas
for each episode. It’s a unique idea with a very funny premise and I’m sure many people will appreciate its humour.
We’re also developing a few scripts for short films and a “Breadcrumbs” feature.
GOOD LUCK Lilia
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