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Interview: Lake Bell On Her Love Of Movie Trailers & Her Directorial Debut 'In A World...'

Photo of Oliver Lyttelton By Oliver Lyttelton | The Playlist May 2, 2013 at 2:25PM

Sundance London was something of a homecoming for actress/writer/director/producer Lake Bell. Though born in New York, Bell began her career studying acting at London's Rose Bruford College, a stone's throw away from the O2 complex where the festival was taking place. And what better place could there be for the international premiere of the feature directorial debut from the star, who's consistently impressed both in TV roles like "How To Make It In America" and "Children's Hospital," and on the big screen in the likes of "It's Complicated" and "Pride & Glory."
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Rupert Pupkin King of Comedy De Niro
What were the films you were looking at beforehand? What were your big influences here?
The ones I kept on my desk were: "King of Comedy." Amazing. Scorsese, who knew? Hilarious. Dark and tragic and hilarious, and I love the musicality of the performances in that movie. "Hannah and her Sisters," Woody Allen. Needless to say, Woody Allen is an influence to a myriad of people, but there's a reason for that. Again, tragically comedic. And I really love "Bob and Carol and Ted and Alice," Paul Mazursky. I always felt really drawn to that. It's a little more poppy, visually, but I like the tone of comedy, how very serious things are happening, and there are genuine stakes emotionally, not life or death, but emotional stakes, and yet it's hilarious. And "Citizen Ruth," that sits right on top.

The party scenes reminded me of "Shampoo" a little too.
"Shampoo," yeah, that's on there too. And also for the dance between social relevance, and what's going on in the world, so on the TV, the reality TV shows and stuff. We actually shot those fake reality shows. But yeah, "Shampoo" actually is a huge influence, in how to dance between a multitude of thematics without being annoying.

You mentioned cutting down some of the other plotlines in the cutting room. Did the film change much in post-production otherwise?
It did. In comparison to other films, and to my short film for instance, that really changed, that went from 26 minutes to 12 minutes. But my film, because of the way it was written, there was less room for it to be massively altered in intention. I manipulated a couple of story points, but I didn't have the real estate to really alter it as much. I didn't overshoot, really, I didn't have the luxury. And I didn't have the luxury of overwriting. So it was very nuanced work, the edit. Seven months of nuanced work.

In A World cast
Having been through your first feature now, what's the one thing you would change next time out?
OK, I'm going to ask for more days of shooting. Maybe just like two more days. And then most important, which I did not see coming, I'm going to ask for more days for the mix. It's the kind of things you just don't anticipate, you're like 'I'll be so happy when I'm there, because so much will have been done,' but no, there's a lot to be done, it's again supremely nuanced work. But yeah, I learned bucketloads of things. Even just as a producer, assembling the project, I'll be so much savvy to the... bullshit.

So are you working on something new already?
I'm on draft one, but I wouldn't talk about it yet. I'm excited about it, it's an ensemble comedy.

The film made a pretty big splash at Sundance. Have the studios come calling already?
Totally. That is a great compliment, and honor, it's cool to feel in the game. But I feel like I'm old enough to feel prudent about it. I feel like I'm still in my freshman year of filmmaking, and respect that very much, and I wouldn't want to do myself a disservice by biting off more than I can chew. But beyond that, I feel like what your second project is, is somehow the most profound. I'm trying to figure out if I'd at least start by only doing films that I write, or if I'm moved by a script, taking on someone else's project. But ultimately, again, it comes down to hours in the day and days in the year. If I said, "Yeah, I'll rewrite this movie for this studio and direct it," that's a two or three year commitment when you can't do other things. Because I know myself, I will not phone it in. If I was capable of phoning it in a little bit, then maybe, but I haven't done it long enough to know how to do that. I would obsess over it, inject every ounce of my soul into it.

Roadside Attractions will release "In A World..." later this summer. 


This article is related to: In A World..., Lake Bell, Interviews, Sundance London, Interview


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