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An Interview With Lease Bertram | Friends of Louis Ferreira

23 Dec 2017 / 0 Comments / in Blog
Full interview: Ferreira Fest 96

Lease Bertram is the director of Louis’ latest short film The Great Lakusta with our friend Eugene Lipinski in the title role.LF – So, friends of Lease, I got to know Lease through my friend Eugene Lipinski, who Lease had asked to be the star of his film. And when Eugene asked me to consider playing a role in it I, of course, jumped at the chance for a couple of reasons. One, to always work with friends, and him being that friend. And I also feel it should be our obligation as part of our evolution to give back to others in the sense of just being, remembering what, where you came from and what inspired you.
So, I always find when I work with young filmmakers who are just kind of starting out, that passion and that commitment always reminds me of the thing that got me into it. And that’s always a great reminder. But also, more than that, it’s a way to support people who are being creative in a very difficult business, and who have that dream. So, when I met him I was beyond impressed, to be honest, with his professionalism, I loved his script, I loved the way he operated as a director.
He actually played music, it was kind of a side of the film, so while you were doing the scenes, he had the music that he heard in his mind, I had that happen before with a different director. And it was fun to play.
I have a little cameo in this particular short, but it was one of, to be completely honest, one of my favorite days of 2017. So, there’s always a gift in doing these little things. You end up going, oh, wow, what a magical day that was for me. 
So, I’m just grateful, and I wish him the best of luck with his short and moving forward with his career.

FF – Hi Lease! Thank you so much for spending a little time with us here at Ferreira Fest today.LB – Thank you so much for having me and interviewing me. I’m really excited.

FF – Okay, so, you directed the short film The Great Lakusta. Could you tell us about the development of the movie and what prompted you to make it?

 LB – The Great Lakusta… Originally I began writing about a kind of a character that I’ve seen throughout the many worksites I’ve worked on throughout the years. There’s some of myself in it as well. Lakusta is an abstract individual struggling to survive in a linear world. He inhabits his own space and it’s a beautiful space but it’s not always the easiest for him to survive in a world that’s not the same. So his coping mechanisms are not necessarily the best.

I began writing this film, and in the first draft the character was just sort of silent in a movie that wasn’t silent.

Co-Producer Chris Rogers, DP/Cameraman Teo Jara Taboada, and Writer/Director/Producer Lease Bertram watching as Eugene Lipinski acts.

Cardero Bottega. The little coffee shop where it all began. I used to run it and met lead actor Eugene Lipinski here as well as co-producer/co-star Mark Humphrey. It’s now owned by John Manestar who plays the Panhandler in our film and let us dress it up as ‘Lucky’s Liquor’ for the film.

But it didn’t grab everybody, my main actor Eugene Lipinski, he loved the first draft but we decided to keep developing it and keep writing it and I’m a big fan of the old style of movies, as well as I like some of the Italian neo-realism of taking struggling working class characters and using people that are not necessarily professional actors, involving them in the film and it just seemed like a fun project to do and it evolved into that. It also began [at] a little café that I actually used to run, and that’s how I met Eugene Lipinski and I just knew when I started writing this that he was right for the lead.
FF – What’s your background, Lease? How did you get involved in all this?LB – I was an athlete from the time I was seven years old until the time I was twenty two and there just came a point when I wanted to… creative writing was always an aspect, something that I seem to have an aptitude for but my main thing was being a competitive wrestler. So that kind of got put on the back burner for a lot of years.

FF – Oh, okay.

LB – When I turned a certain age I realized I would have to stick around for another eight years in wrestling in order to do the Olympic thing, I think, and so I had to make a decision, what I wanted to go after. So I’ve been writing away for a long time and just honing my skills as a writer, and then through the little café where I met Eugene Lipinski I also met my wife, my partner, and she happens to be an actress, and she was doing little videos for a fundraiser for a project that she was involved in, so I became the camera man and I really liked being behind the camera.

Eugene Lipinski with Andrea Menard

Mark Humphrey (co-producer and co-star) and Eugene Lipinski

FF – Right, okay.LB – And amazingly, when we were shooting this little video for her, we were shooting at Stanley Park and we needed somebody as an extra just doing something and who happened to be coming along but Louis Ferreira. And he just happened to show up and he was very gracious and he was very humble and he did say, “I’m an actor and I’m in a little show called Motive.” And after he left my partner said, “You know what? I think that guy’s the lead.”

So, yeah, that’s my background. I’m just really getting into it. We shot a little one before and this is the second film now.FF – Right, wonderful.
FF – So, without spoiling anything specific about the story, you’ve already mentioned a little bit, but why is this a story that needs to be told? What is supposed to be your audience’s take away?

LB – I would hope that the audience would take away that when things are going bad, if you can just stick to the right path and just hold out for one day, sometimes you’ll get a little bit of luck that comes your way, and you never know what’s going to come your way, so just hang on.

FF – You mentioned how you ended up casting Eugene and Louis in the film. You had known Eugene before, and Louis just sort of happened to walk in?

LB – I knew Eugene from when I ran the café. When I got involved in the café, the previous owner hung all these pictures of the stars that lived in the neighborhood and visited the deli and Eugene was one of the stars that hung up above the wall. And Eugene would come in and they would say, man, that guy’s a great actor. He’s been in everything. So yeah, that’s how I knew Eugene. And, Louis, this project that I did with Andrea where we met Louis, that was four years ago, but then as I got to know Eugene, Eugene started talking about this Louis and what a good friend he was and how close they were.

Eugene Lipinski with co-star Renae Morriseau

And there was just something about Louis that I knew he would be perfect for this character and he really was.FF – Right. What’s it like to work with a pair of veteran actors that also happen to be BFFs in real life?

LB – You know what? It’s fantastic. I think out of the movie, the most excitement, the biggest adrenalin rush was, for me as a director, when Louis and Eugene were together. There were a lot of elements that just came together, like, number one, it was the end of the movie, everybody was tired. We were really on the edge about getting that location, we basically stole the location, being a low budget production. It was this incredible view. We didn’t know if we were going to get it. But everything worked out. The weather was beautiful, the site, the view of the city was amazing.

Louis Ferreira and Eugene Lipinski

And when you have veterans like Louis and Eugene, and particularly Eugene was tired, it had been a long shoot, we were pushing him hard. But bringing Louis in, Louis just came in like this ball of energy. It’s exciting to be around. And it energizes everybody around you, when you have a veteran coming in like that and they’re just fearless, to go and to give and not be afraid to take it over the edge. Just go for it. And that’s really what Louis did. And because of their friendship they had so much fun doing it together.
It’s just contagious when you have two people doing what they should be doing, together. And having fun doing it. And being free to do it.FF – Yes.

LB – And that was what made that so special.
FF – Wonderful. When do you think the movie will start being available publicly? Are you going to hit the festival circuit with it?

LB – It’s a short film, so you know as far as, obviously, theatrical, major theater, it’s not really a viable market option.

FF – Right, right.

LB – So it’ll hit the festival circuit. We’re still putting the finishing touches on the edits. My goal is going to be early Spring, I think we’ll have a product ready to start entering festivals.

FF – Okay, wonderful. So, how can we help support this movie and your work as a filmmaker?

 LB – We will have a website up and running. We’re putting finishing touches on those, just making sure that they’re right. And we’ll certainly let Ferreira Fest know when they’re available.

FF – Wonderful.

LB – In order to keep up with everything, and any help that people that [are] fans of Louis, any help that they can [give], spread the word as far as website names and upcoming showings, anything [like] that, that’s what would really help.

Portrait of Lakusta, created by Tanya V
FF – Wonderful. So you’re planning to do some social media like Twitter or Instagram or any of that kind of stuff where we can follow you, and the movie?LB – Absolutely, you know, there will be Facebook and all the mainstream social media we’ll have up and running close to its launch.

FF – Gotcha. Well, we’ll certainly help you spread the word! Thank you so much for your time, Lease. This was wonderful, and a really great insight into the work process and what a movie could mean to somebody. Thank you so much.

LB – Thank you so much for having me.

FF – All right, you have a great rest of your day.

LB – You as well.