Interview with Filmmaker Lori Chandler (THE SOCIETY FOR PARANORMAL HEALING)

Directed by Lori Chandler
Two best friends run a small business healing the spirits of haunted houses. But when funding falls through, every attempt to save the business results in the unexpected– and their status as Best Friends Forever is put to the test.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My motivation for this particular film was quite simple: just make the first one. I have notebooks on notebooks, moleskines on moleskines on Google Docs of ideas. I wrote my first full-length script when I was 10 (it was a musical about my cat). I just didn’t think it was possible for me to make a film. It’s expensive, it’s difficult– I had every reason not to. But my partner encouraged me and very much helped me through the fear and doubt.

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

I came up with the idea back in 2011. At the time, it was called Paranormal Action Team. It was a ghost hunter-type show mixed with Reno 911. Right from the get-go, it was meant to be a silly flock of geese flying over humor town. I decided to start writing it in March 2021 and it went through 26 major revisions and a gazillion little ones. Then we started pre-production in Fall of 2021 with the plan to shoot in January. I’m based in Brooklyn and Omicron hit, so we pushed it to March. We shot in three days at two locations. For the next month or so, I met up with our editor, my friend Justin Patricolo (also the brilliant DP/co-producer) and we sat in the editing bay and sliced and spliced. We gave ourselves a deadline in April, which miraculously we hit. TL;DR: 10 years or 13 months, depending on who you ask.

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

Joyous Romp.

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

Hmmm, the necessity of sleep? There were a few– the budget/financing, putting together a stellar team that had a “Heck yes! Let’s GO!” attitude, nailing down a co-working office that would let us film there– and three days before filming, our original Dave the Ghost, the wonderful Drennen Quinn, got COVID. Even with those complications/considerations, it turned absolutely auspicious and fortunate in myriad ways: Annie Hart’s incredible original score, the dynamite performances from every actor, Brooklyn Creative League letting us film there at the last second, and Drennen suggesting his friend Nick Mestad, who is an absolute treasure– there was a string of very, very good luck.

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

Beautiful. I was incredibly nervous before hitting play. Everyone was so kind and thoughtful in their responses. It’s such a specific flavor of film, I’m glad it resonated with them. I think the more specific something is, the more universal it is. So it was really touching to see people digging it.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?

I’ve always been drawn to the classics. As a kid, I watched TCM for hours on end– I thought Robert Osborne was the coolest guy in the world. At Blockbuster Video, I’d snub the new releases for the “Drama Classics” section. And seeing those stories unfold on the screen moved me in a way nothing else did or does. The art form is most powerful, for me, when it uses purposeful silence. That’s when everyone– the director, the writer, the actor, the DP, everyone– has to be firing at full cylinder. It’s intense, and it’s a powerful choice. So it was really when I was about 14 and saw Mike Nichol’s first film, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolfe, that I knew my life’s work. It left me haunted for days. It uses silence and shadow, hurt glances, and a balletic pacing to serve the story in the most gorgeous way. Even just that opening shot, of the full moon behind the tree. So stirring.

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

Well, my favorite films are A Hard Day’s Night, The Royal Tenenbaums, Harold and Maude, The Graduate, and Elf. So in my adult life, probably one of those. But I love watching the same films over and over again. Like all good art, it changes every time you see it. You’re not the same person you were today or will be tomorrow, so you’re always seeing this story, these images, through different eyes. I was going to say “different lens” but that seemed a bit too on the nose?

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I suppose something like a mentorship or meetings with reps could be cool; but honestly I’m stoked with how this all played out.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

My experience has been great. It’s pretty efficient, which is all I ask.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I’m more of a snacky lady– sort of a connoisseur of chips made from not-potatoes: your lentil chips, your cacti chips, your gluten-free grain-free flavor-blasted chips. But on the days I remember I’m an adult and cannot legally order off of a children’s menu, I’d say risotto.

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

Yeah, I’m about 60-odd pages into my next film. It’s my first feature. I was always a bit weary of writing features, as it’s basically scaling Mount Kilimanjaro or solving a Rubik’s cube using only your mind or writing a full on symphony. I’ve written the outline and the first two acts; I’m really proud of it. It has required a lot of research, as it’s historical fiction, so I’ve been reading books, old magazine articles, newspapers, and watching films from the era and documentaries as well. It’s a project that is a direct line from my heart, so I’ll be very glad when I can share that with the world.


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival

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