Exclusive Interview: Dichen Lachman on Lust for Love
Much of the cast of TV’s “Dollhouse” reunited in Lust For Love, in theaters and VOD this weekend. Fran Kranz stars as Astor, a hopeless romantic who asks his friend Cali (Dichen Lachman) for help getting his ex-girlfriend back. Cali trains him in the art of talking to women at various places in Los Angeles, and who else pops up but Felicia Day, Miracle Laurie and Enver Gjokaj? We spoke with Lachman, who also produced Lust for Love, by phone to discuss her passion project.
CraveOnline: Was Lust for Love a whole “Dollhouse” affair?
Dichen Lachman: It was in terms of the cast and it was a really wonderful opportunity to work with friends once again.
Was it always you and Fran, and then did you add Enver Gjokaj, Felicia Day and Miracle Laurie?
Yes, yes. We wanted to find out if we had the lead to the film and then once Fran wanted to do it, everyone kind of wanted to get involved because he’s such a great guy and a great actor. People love to work with him.
Was this one of the few roles that let you use your real voice?
No, I’d done a few. “Last Resort” they wanted me to speak with my natural accent and they did on “Dollhouse” in some episodes. I’ve been lucky in those terms, but the reason I didn’t do an accent in this one, and [writer/director] Anton [King] actually wanted me to, but I didn’t have the time because I was doing so many things. I almost didn’t have any business being in it because my focus was so split in terms of cleaning toilets and picking up trash and wrapping sets and ordering food. I was doing everything along with the crew and I couldn’t focus on doing an accent as well as acting and doing all of that. It would have been impossible.
What exactly did your producer credit entail?
Producing on this film meant doing everything. We had a very anemic crew but we had about 15 people who were also volunteering, but they had no experience. So a lot of it was just helping people understand what their job was going to be, helping the people who were experienced do their job. A lot of it was moving equipment, carrying sandbags, like I said cleaning, trying to keep everybody happy, warm and fed. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my life.
It also meant at the end of the day, this is a Kickstarter project but the only way the movie was going to be completed was if Anton and myself put our own finances into it. Otherwise we would never have been able to finish it. We ran out of money almost halfway through shooting the movie. Most films, even big Hollywood ones, are undercapitalize and need an injection of funds halfway through the job so I don’t think my producing experience is one that people really associate with that title. I think it was one that other independent filmmakers might understand but it was just everything.
I think most producers don’t get that hands on. You might be entitled to a grip credit also.
Mm-hmm. Chris Boulos and Brian Freesh might agree with you. Chris Boulous came and worked on our film and volunteered the entire time. Brian Freesh is a camera operator and he worked on the film every day and volunteered his time. These people were amazing and I couldn’t let them down by just sitting down and shooting the shit with people when they were moving heavy equipment. I had to get involved.
That’s big of you to put your own money into it. I don’t think any of the high profile Kickstarter movies had any of the filmmakers putting their own money in too.
I’m not familiar with all of the Kickstarter campaigns. There seem to be many of them. I know and have heard that a lot of them have trouble finishing the projects or sometimes even starting. One of the things that I recognize, I’m incredibly fortunate, along with my colleagues who are in this film, to have a fan base at all.
It was very difficult running a Kickstarter because sometimes we wouldn’t keep people up to date. They would get angry but oftentimes we’ve written to them and told them the priority is to deliver this film and Anton has been working around the clock. I’ve been working on other jobs to pay for the movie. Our priority was always give them a film, rather than just keep them up to date and maybe never finish the film. But there’s a huge responsibility to those people.
I understand that two years can be a long time to have to wait for something, but films on average take seven years from script to screen so I think we did okay. But that sort of responsibility to those people who believed in us and gave us their money is really what drove me and Anton to finish it because there were times when it just seemed so expensive that we almost felt like giving up, but how could you when all those people have showed up for you? Kickstarter is a very interesting thing. It’s a double edged sword but it’s also wonderful because it gives so many people the opportunity to do this. Who would give us the permission to do this if it wasn’t for those fans who supported us? I don’t know.
What do you think of this phenomenon of pickup lines and negs? Cami doesn’t say “neg” but she tells him to insult women with compliments, which is called a “neg” in the lingo.
[Laughs] I always said to Anton very few people have ever tried to pick me up. I think it’s because I look sort of scary, so I don’t have that much experience with it myself. I admire people who do it because it is terribly hard to meet people. What do you say? Not even of the opposite sex, of the same sex when you want to meet somebody new, you see someone standing in a corner and you think, “Oh, I might have a good conversation with them.” Man or woman, so any motive, whether it’s sexual or just friendly, it’s very difficult.
There are some people who don’t have that sort of filter, or they have enough confidence to do it, but I don’t do it. I don’t know if you do. If you’re at a party, it’s very difficult to just go say, “Hey, what do you do?” or “What’s your name?” It’s incredibly hard. So it’s nice that that’s encouraged in the film because I think I could do that more and other people should do it too, because you never know who you’re going to meet.
Well, there’s an idea that if you be sincere, that won’t be enough, so some people have come up with elaborate routines that include negs and other tricks. They seem to work and get people’s attention, but I think they may create more problems in the long run.
Yeah, there are some women who might respond to that and I guess it’s the luck of the draw. There are some who would probably be completely insulted, but I guess the best thing, and this is one of the things in the film, if you’re genuine, you’re always going to be okay. And if you’re not, then the other person doesn’t have an opportunity to respond to a truthful character trait that is you, and if they don’t like you, then you’re not going to want to get to know them anyway and if they do, then great because they got the best and the most honest side of you. For me, the message in the film for Astor, and for women and for men who are watching it, and I hope this came across, is just to be genuine and authentic. People will love you for who you are or they won’t.
It’s a lot of work to keep up an act.
It is. It is a lot of work.
A lot of the scenes in Lust for Love were “walk and talks.” Were those fun to do?
They were actually, and for all aspiring filmmakers out there, and something I have to remember is they’re incredibly efficient. All the walk and talks, outside of one which was a lighting nightmare just because of the angle of the sun, we had a day where we shot something like 10 pages in a couple of hours. When you’re shooting a microbudget film, that’s an incredible savings. Now I’m talking as a producer instead of an actor. It was very fast.
In terms of my relationship with Fran, it was really fun and fluid because you didn’t have to keep stopping and starting. Sometimes when you’re shooting something in a traditional way or they’re going into coverage, there’s a lot of stopping and starting. It was like being in a play. We just walked and talked like we were friends and someone happened to be capturing it. I really like shooting like that.
I just did another film with John Hawkes which is five 20 minute long scenes without any cuts. We shot for 20 minutes on an eleven-acre set going in and out of rooms, up and down stairs and the camera never stopped rolling. It was on 35mm film, so a huge challenge. I can’t tell you how rewarding that felt as an actor just to be able to just do a scene without stopping. It’s wonderful and I think people should do it more.
I’ve heard about that movie, Too Late. What do you play in it?
I play a ring girl, exotic dancer, but she’s kind of an entrepreneur really. She’s in two of the acts. They have one more act to shoot until it’s completed.
An eleven-acre set would mean you’re not in the boxing ring in the movie, are you?
No, I am. We’re in a room, we walk to a boxing room, we walk away from one, we go into other different rooms. It’s back and forth, everywhere. It was a very complicated setup and many, many rehearsals.
Are you still working in television?
Yes, I just came back from doing a show called “The 100” which is airing on The CW in March.
I’ve seen the first four episodes. When do you appear on “The 100?”
Much later. Jason [Rothenberg] has sworn me to secrecy. He told me, “Please don’t tell anybody about what role you play on the show.” So I said okay. I understand. He’s a very talented person and has an incredible imagination. You’ll see all of that unfold on the show. Actually, I’m only doing it because there are three “Dollhouse” writers there in the writers room. They were excited to have me come and join them playing this character so I’m very fortunate to have had the opportunity to be on the show.