Profile: Lynn Shelton

Profile: Lynn Shelton

Lynn Shelton

1966, Seattle

Having worked as an actor, photographer and editor, Shelton made her feature debut in 2005 with the surreal black comedy We Go Way Back. For her follow-up film My Effortless Brilliance, which she made two years later, she completely revised her production methods – she shot on high definition video rather than 35mm, she used a crew of just five people, and she encouraged her actors to develop their characters in rehearsals and during the shoot.

What’s she up to now?
This week her third film Humpday is released in the UK. It’s already been enthusiastically received at the Sundance, Cannes and Edinburgh festivals in 2009. Starring Mark Duplass (last seen in The Puffy Chair) and Joshua Leonard (you may remember him from a little film called The Blair Witch Project), it’s a comic examination of heterosexual friendship, in which two straight friends drunkenly agree to have sex with one another for an amateur porn film.

On the inspiration for Humpday
‘I wanted to take characters that you know really well and put them in a situation outside their comfort zone. What could be more uncomfortable for two straight guys than the situation I put them in? Originally I saw Mark Duplass in the role of the free spirit Andrew, but Mark told me he was feeling domesticated in real life, so I got him to play Ben, who’s the married, suburban guy.’

On observing people
‘A lot of people have asked me about what it’s like for a women to make a film about men. I tend to think of Mike Leigh’s comment about him making films about people. Men and women equally fascinate me. That a personality trait that I have, and I don’t think it’s because I’m a woman.’

On comedy
‘I didn’t intend Humpday to be a pure comedy. Like all my films I saw it as being half dark and half light, half heavy and half comic. We played everything dead straight. I hope that people laugh during the film because there’s a truth to how the characters are behaving.’

Interesting fact
One of Shelton’s early experimental documentaries was about miscarriage.

Humpday, GFT, Glasgow and Cameo, Edinburgh from Fri 18 Dec.

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