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'Gimme the Loot' Director Adam Leon Talks His Indie Bronx Adventure, Meryl Streep and 'Barry Lyndon'

Thompson on Hollywood By Sophia Savage | Thompson on Hollywood March 28, 2013 at 4:17PM

Adam Leon's "Gimme the Loot," which took home the Best Narrative Feature award at SXSW 2012, opens in Los Angeles this weekend with a 96% Fresh rating to back it. The festival hit, which also went to Cannes, New Directors/New Films, the San Francisco, Los Angeles and Seattle Film Festivals, got the attention of director Jonathan Demme when the Jacob Burns Film Center (in which both Demme and Leon are active) screened it for him. He was happy to come on board as Presenter when IFC approached him. Leon tells Charlie Rose that Demme thought it was an "ego boost" to be asked, but Leon insists it was his honor.

"Gimme the Loot"
"Gimme the Loot"
What was your budget and length of shoot?

Our production budget was $65K, our total budget was about $100K more than that. We shot for 21 days and a couple reshoot days.

Biggest challenge of getting this film made?

Casting. We have all these non-professional teenage actors, and they're amazing, but finding them was tricky, in particular finding Sofia.

Do you want to continue to make independent films, or are you hungry to work with bigger budgets in the studio system?

I want to tell stories that thrill and excite and audience and work with excellent, dedicated, smart people who are on the same page as me. I think that can be possible at various levels and with various types of stories, but it's a challenge to pull it together no matter what. I do love that challenge though.

How do you think "indie" filmmaking has evolved over the past five years? The festival scene? And do you think those changes are positive?

I guess the digital revolution is the key thing, not just in terms of keeping film costs down, but also the ability to shoot in so many places with a small crew. I think of "Frances Ha" and the Paris or "visit home" sequence, or even the recent Kendrick Lamar and A$AP Rocky videos shot there where you can just take a few people and go jump on a plane and do it.

If you could only watch one movie over and over again for the rest of your life, which would it be?

"Barry Lyndon"

You're directing a silent black and white film; which two living actors do you cast?

I would cast Meryl Streep. That's really all you need, she can play both parts.

Best advice you've ever received? And the worst?

I would say the best advice I received was, "Go make Gimme the Loot" and the worst was, "Don't make Gimme the Loot, it won't work." I'm glad I listened to the former because at least for us, we're proud of this movie, it's what we wanted to make and we're so excited that some people seem to agree.

This article is related to: Interviews , Interviews, Gimme the Loot, Festivals

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Born and raised in Manhattan, Anne Thompson grew up going to the Thalia and The New Yorker and wound up at grad Cinema Studies at NYU. She worked at United Artists and Film Comment before heading west as that magazine's west coast editor. She wrote for the LA Weekly, Sight and Sound, Empire, The New York Times and Entertainment Weekly before serving as West Coast Editor of Premiere. She wrote for The Washington Post, The London Observer, Wired, More, and Vanity Fair, and did staff stints at The Hollywood Reporter and Variety. She eventually took her blog Thompson on Hollywood to Indiewire. She taught film criticism at USC Critical Studies, and continues to host the fall semester of “Sneak Previews” for UCLA Extension.