BAYOU BENNETT AND DANIEL LIR
“We go back and forth building it up like a house that usually turns into a castle.”
Filmmakers get their inspiration from all sorts of places, including each other. Together Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir make up the company ‘Dream Team Directors’ and have definitely proven themselves worthy of that title. This husband and wife writer/director duo has racked up countless festival awards for their films, music videos and documentaries. Not to mention, they’ve worked with some of the biggest in the biz, including Coldplay, P. Diddy, Smashbox, MTV, Paris Hilton, Adidas, Atlantic Records, Oscar De La Renta and many more.
Currently, they’re participating in the HollyShorts Film Festival in Hollywood, helping to educate other indie filmmakers, creating a brand new screening series, premiering their newest film, I WANT YOU BAD. In the midst of the festival, Bayou and Daniel took time out for an interview:
How did you get into filmmaking – and when did you team up?
DANIEL: We teamed up in 2007, when we met at a vegetarian cafe on the Lower East Side, in NYC. Bayou was coming out of her yoga class and I was eating a veggie dog. There was only 1 seat left and I was lucky enough to have Bayou sit next to me. We were both working on documentaries at the time. We hit it off instantly. We had tons of things to talk about with film and art.
Do you divide the work naturally or what’s your approach to each new project?
BAYOU: Usually one of us gets the idea and the other contributes to it. We go back and forth building it up like a house that usually turns into a castle.
Once again, you’re moderating the HollyShorts Conference panel “Film Funding From the Pros” – tell us about that?
DANIEL: We are very interested in how films get funded and marketed and feel filmmakers must know this to really be successful in this industry. This has been the most popular panel at HollyShorts for four years in a row and has featured top financiers and producers. This year we are featuring among others the CEO of Slated which is very exciting. What I love about our approach to this subject is that we don’t focus too much on how challenging it is to fund a film but instead what are the successful actions that have resulted in a film getting funded.
What made you want to share your knowledge with other rising filmmakers?
BAYOU: Daniel and I seem to have a natural desire to help other filmmakers and to educate. We feel it’s very tough living in a world and industry with a lot of negativity and barriers to living ones dreams. We want to be positive role models, give people opportunities and expose them to correct information on how to get things done in this industry. Knowledge is power. It also feels very rewarding to see another filmmaker gain skills and communicate a powerful and aesthetic story. I think filmmaking is the most important art form because it reaches and influences the greatest number of people if done right.
Can you share with us one piece of advice you wish you would have known years earlier?
DANIEL: A very smart man and writer of great science fiction TV once gave us advice regarding who you should work and partner with in this industry. Ask yourself these questions when taking on an important teammate:
#1 Do I like this person?
#2 Do I trust this person?
#3 Does this person do what they say they are going to do?
#4 Has this person successfully done what I’m asking them to do now?
Using this advice creates huge success and can help one avoid pain and heart break in this industry and in life.
You’re also hosting the new HollyShorts screening series “Films That Inspire the World” – what’s that all about?
BAYOU: We believe film is the greatest combination of all arts and is truly the most powerful medium on Earth. There are too many films with senseless violence, negativity, and graphic elements. We don’t mind that as long as the end result of the film is uplifting or raises awareness. We love and admire the “Hurt Locker” for example and movies like “Babel” which are difficult but very important movies.
As filmmakers we really want to celebrate the inspirational and meaningful ability of film to change the world, open people’s eyes and make the world a better place. That is why we created this screening series. We love the HollyShorts Film Festival which has been so helpful to us as filmmakers, and after years of knowing the festival directors, Theo Dumont, Daniel Sol and Nicole Castro to create this special series.
What kind of impact do you hope it will have on this festival and beyond?
BAYOU: Quite honestly, we get very sad when we go to film festivals and too often, following two hours of watching short films we leave feeling so depressed. Too many films have no hope, no message and only focus on human pain, drama and suffering. We want audiences to leave the screening feeling empowered, enlightened and inspired. Recent films in Hollywood like “Ant Man” and “Jurassic World” also had meaningful themes and we would be thrilled if more filmmakers realized their responsibility as creators. What we put out there in the world shapes our culture and society.
As part of the screening, you’re premiering your newest film I WANT YOU BAD – what’s it about?
DANIEL: “I Want You Bad” is definitely one of our most favorite projects ever because we really got to focus on visual storytelling and create with an extremely talented team. The short film is based on our feature length screenplay, “Bazooka Universe.”
The film has the theme of time travel and is quite romantic. It is about a couple who dissolve into particles of energy through a portal and spend the majority of the film running towards each other longingly through the 60’s, 70’s, 80’s, 90’s and finally the far future. We really got to use our fashion sense on this film and our imagination. It is simply stunning.
What’s next for the film and you?
BAYOU: Our goal is to take this short and use it to help get our feature film “Bazooka Universe” made. Also to promote this film far and wide. It is inspired by the music of rising Los Angeles-based band “Sad Robot.”
Overall, what’s been the biggest surprise for you both as filmmakers?
DANIEL: Being married and collaborating as filmmakers. It’s been surprising and a truly magical experience to share our passions together. There is nothing like winning in film as a couple, finishing a shoot at 4am and just being together as the sun is coming up, knowing that we are living the dream we had imagined and desired.
BAYOU: Awe, wow! That is the sweetest thing ever, Daniel! And, I have to agree with him. I think it’s when we get to show people that you can have a great relationship and work together. I also didn’t realize how excited I would be when I saw our films play on the big screen. When the audience laughs where we wanted them too – it makes me feel super happy! Also, when our films inspire others or when we inspire other filmmakers. For me, especially female filmmakers.