Interview: Eric Norcross (Writer/Director, ‘Lipstick Lies’) – Philip K. Dick International Film Festival

LIPSTICK LIES’ finds Allie (Samantha Rivers Cole) is away on her honeymoon with her husband Will (Matthew Krob). They’ve enjoyed their time on the Hawaiian island of O’ahu and the impending day of departure ways heavily on the both of them, so much so that the very idea of returning to the mainland is threatening. On the morning she’s supposed to leave Honolulu, Allie wakes up in a filthy apartment in New York City. Will has disappeared, her ring has disappeared and it seems that she may have never had the relationship to begin with. In this story that transcends time and alternate realities, we have a look at a woman who must find it within herself to accept the cards she was dealt and learn to rebuild her life.

We talked to writer/director of ‘LIPSTICK LIESEric Norcross about the film unique look, as well as its place at the upcoming Philip K. Dick International Film Festival.

What camera did you shoot the film on?  Was this a conscious aesthetic decision or one made out of financial necessity?
The majority of the footage was shot on the Canon XH-A1 in 1080 60i resolution, using a mix of HDV and DV tapes (regardless, the footage always came out at the same quality). Pick ups were done on a Canon T3i at 30p resolution and trans-coded to Apple Pro Res HQ 1080 60i (which is the codec I edited in).

When I started the project, the XH-A1 was the camera I was primarily using for my client work, creating low budget commercials and PSA’s. By the time principle photography wrapped, the heads were dying on it so I sold it to a wedding video company in New Jersey (yes, I informed them that there were drop frames here and there and they bought it anyway). When it became clear I was going to need some additional footage to complete the film, I purchased the Canon T3i at a fraction of the cost of the XH-A1 and it did the job beautifully.

What is behind the name Lipstick Lies?  Why this name for this film?
I wanted a title that was important to the character, but not necessarily to us, while at the same time keeping clear of words that might reveal the nature of the story or its genre. This is a title that, in my view, Allie chose, not me.  The way I perceive movies is that the audience isn’t involved with the story in anyway – except as observers – so there is no logical reason as to why the title of the film should cater to the audience.  Would the audience have a hand in naming Allie’s diary or collection of memoirs?  Absolutely not.  The benefit of this approach in titling is that because of its lack of reveal, Lipstick Lies has mystery to it. In the end, the title’s relationship to the character and story is a minor detail, but all that matters is that it relates to the character in a way that matters to her and her alone.

Tell us a little about the experience making the film.  Did you travel on location to get the criss crossing narrative of the film?
The film was shot in two sections – almost as if they were two productions. The love story – which takes place in one universe and the nightmarish reality that is the second universe. The story opens up in the universe where the love story actually happened. These elements were the first batch of scenes to be shot and were done so over the course of three days (spread across two weeks in the fall of 2011). It took about four additional days to shoot the nightmare/reality scenes that didn’t involve the love story elements. These four days were spread out across three weeks. Three additional days in early 2012 were added for pick ups and small scenes involving day players.

We had picture lock in the spring of 2012, the score was completed around May and through the summer of 2012 we commenced with sound design. Most of the dialog was re-recorded in a studio and we previewed it for friends and industry contacts at the Tribeca Grand Screening Room.  After acquiring the necessary feedback, further edits were made and we premiered the final cut at NewFilmmakers New York on October 3rd, as one of the opening shorts of FallFest 2012.

Why did you feel that the Philip K. Dick Science-Fiction Film Festival would be a good place to showcase ‘Lipstick Lies’?  What is it about science fiction that draws you to the genre? 
I wanted Lipstick Lies at a Sci-Fi themed film festival because at it’s heart I consider it a science-fiction film. In the story, Allie (Samantha Rivers Cole), seemingly shifts from one universe to the other. In my view, this makes it a multi-verse story, using string theory as its main scientific component.

Although there are no special effects, crazy flashes of light, spaceships, theoretical technology or the like, the story is, at it’s core, an exploration of a theoretical multi-verse, so it is a string theory movie. The only difference between this and your typical sci-fi movie is I chose not to concentrate on the scientific or technological aspect of it – but merely portray how the “shift” affects our main character and to try and put the audience through the same confusion that Allie is feeling as she adjusts to a new reality.

How do you find the NYC Independent Filmmaking community and how does it help/hinder the output of creative expression among its members?
The Indie Film Community in NYC is a life force I’ve been trying to demystify for years.  It has always been difficult to figure out, because there are so many talented people out there, but most of whom are only in it for their own projects or the projects of their closest friends. Few have an interest in collaboration.  I’ve always had a tough time finding crew, which is why I have never had a Director of Photographer or an Editor other than myself. I think my work suffers for it because I don’t have the patience required for certain shots or moments.  Only recently have I begun using Sound Designers. All of my Music Composers don’t reside in NYC.  The music for Lipstick Lies was actually composed by a Los Angeles resident named Omer Ben-Zvi. Other composers I’ve used in the past have either lived in New Jersey, New England or California. The Indie-Film Community is a life force that I’ve been working to strengthen with my work at NewFilmmakers and my Film Anthropology blog. However, that’s a different topic.

Purchase Tix for ‘LIPSTICK LIES’ playing on DECEMBER 9th @ The 1st Philip K. Dick International Film Festival – HERE

Written & Directed: Eric Norcross
Produced: Eric Norcross & Jan Major
Original Score: Omer Ben-Zvi
Sound Design: John Branch IV
Starring: Samantha Rivers Cole, Matthew Krob, Katie Jergens, Bill Woods, Gerard Adimando, Donna Ross


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