Interview with Filmmaker David Legel (LIE NEXT TO ME)

LIE NEXT TO ME, 12min., USA, Drama/Romance
Directed by David Legel
A polyamorous couple finds their marriage called into question after their loyalty to each other is tested by diverging expectations.

Inspired by a true story, “Lie Next to Me” is a melancholic relationship drama that deals with the hardships of confronting a failing marriage with someone you still love.

Get to know the director:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

“Lie Next to Me” is based on a true story. A story that is often untold and unseen. My hope was to take the reality of what I witnessed and share a balanced view on a tumultuous and difficult time, in an unquie and untraditional marriage. Being so close to the story myself, I pitched the idea to my creative collaborator Andy Aguila, who helped write and direct the story with the goal of maintaining a high level of sensitivity and empathy.

One of our biggest underlining goals was to avoid directly promoting, emphasizing, or focusing on our central character & actor being a trans woman. Instead, we chose to have the story subtly reference such detail, but never dwell on it unnecessarily. For all intents and purposes, our character is a woman, married to another woman. In our eyes, this was the story about a struggling married couple, nothing more, nothing less. Whether a traditional, non-traditional, hetero, or non-hetero marriage, the story was to be treated no differently.

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

The story of “Lie Next to Me’s” development was not easy by any stretch of the imagination. With select scenes having great technical difficulties and story beats not meeting expectations, Andy and I planned on doing a few reshoots in hopes of bringing up the film up to our standards. Unfortunately for us, these reshoots were planned at the beginning of 2020, and due to world events, we were never able to see it through.

After this, the film saw an abundance of revisions in post-production, to no satisfaction. Eventually, it was shelved due to personal & financial limitations. It seemed by the start of 2021, our short would never see the day of light.

It wasn’t until early 2022, that a spontaneous lightbulb emerged, inviting me to revisit the project. It was here that I dedicated myself to solving our fundamental issue with the film and in turn, exploring new creative solutions. With enough motivation, a little luck, and a whole lot of time invested, a new cut of the film reignited our passion for the project.

It was from here we were able to connect with the lead singer/songwriter of “The Shivers’ and acquire the rights to a song we had been referencing since the first written draft of the film.

With this, the film now met our standards, making it our longest ongoing project for us, at around 3 years.

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

People change.

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

We faced a lot of obstacles during the course of this project, but the “biggest” one is by far the most interesting and surprising… OURSELVES. With such high standards and expectations, we were blinded from exploring out-of-the-box solutions. It was this stubbornness that restricted the film’s completion. With time, our expectations loosened, allowing us a far more open-minded perspective, and shifting the way we approach the project.

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

Grateful, relieved, and humbled. The project is far greater than the sum of its parts (that being us, the filmmakers), and the story is one that deserved to be told. We are simply happy that the fundamental goals we set out to accomplish have been achieved, and audiences are responsive to the subtlety of our film.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

After completing a massive passion project that explored themes of abuse and sexual assault, we immediately wanted to make another short film with the remaining leftover budget.

With the first film being a cold, silent, and confrontational story, we sought to explore a polar opposite tone– something more sensitive & relatable that would challenge us as filmmakers. This is what led us down the path of making “Lie Next to Me”.

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

I really can’t recall, I’ve never been good at answering questions like this. I’m sure there is an answer, but I can’t say it would be that interesting.

So, instead, I’ll share with you my most watched show, LOST.

And when I say “most watched”– I mean something I’ve sat through from beginning to end around 4, maybe 5 times. Of all media, LOST undoubtedly holds some of the most influence over me as a storyteller.

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 don’t really have any outstanding recommendations to offer. I think this is an incredibly unique festival that I’m grateful to have been a part of. Starting your career in the industry is a grueling process, and I can’t say for sure what more the festival could offer.

If the festival were to attract Angel Investors, however, it could facilitate strong mentorships forming and potential financing of LGBTQ+ focused projects.

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

Filmfreeway has a growing problem of dishonest festivals gaining traction on its platform. A simple search of “Best Reviewed” festivals will reveal a business of monthly “pay to win” award ceremonies that diminish the quality, reputation, and value of getting selected or winning. These festivals not only overshadow smaller, more honest venues– but jeopardize the trust filmmakers have when considering any future festivals on the platform.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Spaghetti with marinara and sauteed vegetables.

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

Andy and I have since shifted our focus to TV, with two completed, award-winning, pilot scripts featuring prominent LGBTQ+ characters.

Though we are in the early stages of pitching the scripts ourselves, we are in search of like-minded representation to help increase our chances of success.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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