Interview with Filmmaker Madison Stewart Leonard (FLUSH LOU)

FLUSH LOU was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the October 2020 COMEDY Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

When I moved to Los Angeles two years ago, my closest childhood friend lost her father. He was a true cigarette smoking, Slivo drinking, no-filter Serbian. He had the most intoxicating personality and sense of humor. Because of him, as we mourned, the laughter never stopped. I remember thinking – people are not allowed to laugh this much when someone dies. This became my motivation, a way to explore how far I could push the boundaries between laughter and grief.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?

About a year and a half. I had no idea what I was doing but it was really beautiful to leap. Now I know there happens to be a lot of creative freedom in learning as you go and trusting that you will, in fact, salvage your film in the edit.

3. How would you describe your short film in two words!?

Flush Lou. Accidental cremation. Wacky women?

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

All of it. Being a first-time filmmaker, I had arguably too many roles on set and went in fully blind. I did learn the best lesson of all – let people do their jobs. Each crew member carried so much weight (I’m talking to you Devon Johns, Henry Cheney and An Shu). For that, I’ll always feel indebted to them. Also, a shout out to the very talented sound mixer, Dave Williams. He put up with me when my obsessiveness came out in full throttle.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I had a smile glued to my face the entire time. Such a special experience. The smile is still there.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

My beautifully taciturn Serbian mother and our oddly morbid, dissociative sense of humor. Needless to say, I became fixated on putting her into the most baffling of scenarios – an accidental cremation. This story really morphed into a personal memoir of sorts when she agreed to act alongside me with no experience and then, nailed it.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

Austin Powers. It’s a little sickening how many times I’ve seen those films.

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

It was easy, intuitive and an absolute pleasure to be a part of this festival. To have the viewers feedback meant more to me than I ever could have realized.

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

I’d like to say Hard to Handle by The Black Crowes but anything by Celine Dion. She was on one perpetual loop growing up.

10. What is next for you? A new film?

Most definitely another short film…that I don’t act in. I’m also working to get a feature script under my belt. You can expect lots of comedy-dramas with more women and complicated family dynamics!

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