Festival Spotlight: Five Ways to Leave Your Lover
Written by Alli Rock | Posted by: NewEnglandFilm.com
Vermont native Lukas Huffman brings a New England sensibility and a snowboarder’s edge to his “kinetically charged” narratives. Huffman channels that into Five Ways to Leave Your Lover, a film that celebrates “the contemporary American social tapestry” through exploring that “universal moment: romantic disconnect.”
Alli Rock: What inspired you to create this film?
Lukas Huffman: I chose a theme, ‘romantic disconnect’ or ‘ways to leave your lover,’ which would be universal to all different cultures and societies. My interest was to take this universal emotional experience and place it in as diverse situations as I could get my hands on. So, you see a younger gay couple, a middle-age Russian couple, and a classic senior couple all working through the same issues. Ideally this A) lets us meditate on how emotional drama complicates as we get older, B) can be caused by different triggers in different social contexts, and C) is a universal human experience that actually unites all humans.
AR: Why did you choose to shoot in 16mm and how did that impact the film’s production?
Huffman: I wanted the film to have a timeless look, which you can only achieve with film. Ideally one could watch this in 2012 or 2112 and still connect with the visual information and not feel like it’s ‘old’ or ‘new’ looking. A lot of HD imagery that is shot now (with super dynamic focal shifts, ect.. any thing you see on vimeo.com), will look dated in five years. As for the production; it’s so fun! When everybody walks onto set and we literally only have 3,500 feet of film to work with, people get VERY focused. The crew, the actors, everybody comes together and doesn’t want to blow it, so we all work that much more intensely, since you can’t just do take after take.
AR: You tell such a diverse range of stories with such a wide range of actors. What was that like, and what was it like trying to bring that all together?
Huffman: I took my time shooting these, so it didn’t seem like much of a feat to bring it all together. I truly enjoy learning about people who are different than myself, so it’s a great joy for me to work with people other than my demographic, which is white, middle-class, straight creatives. The elderly couple was really wonderful, as the female actor Marty Terry was 84, and the male actor, Paul Stenard was 89. They level of life experience they bring to their performances cannot be ‘acted’ or faked.
AR: How has living and working in New England affected who you are as a filmmaker?
Huffman: I’m drawn to rugged characters, which is typical of New Englanders. And, I’m sure all New Englander’s agree, I’m attracted to fall light, like in the afternoon. That light defines a lot of New England iconic imagery, and was how I tried to shoot the Virginia vignette (however, VA is not in New England, but the light is similar.) And, New Englander’s have a sense of honesty that can rub folks the wrong way (compared to a West Coast laidback niceness), but is great for drama!
AR: How was your experience at the Green Mountain Film Festival?
Huffman: It was amazing. It takes place in my hometown, so the screening for my film was packed with family and friends. It’s so great to share years worth of work with people close to you.
Five Ways to Leave Your Lover is screening as a part of the NewEnglandFilm.com Festival from Sept 1 through October 15. Check it out here.