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Mary Lukasiewicz, LISP Film Festival 2023 Short Movie Finalist, Transfiguration

LISP Film Festival 2023 Short Movie Finalist, 'Transfiguration' by Mary Lukasiewicz

'Transfiguration' will be screened at the LISP Film Festival on the 26th January, 2024 at Curzon Victoria, London. Tickets are limited. Click to get one!

- Can you please tell us about you and your daily life?

I am a writer, director and performer that splits their time between London and Los Angeles. Every day is different! Some days I sit around staring at a computer and pulling my hair out waiting for an idea to come and other days I am running around picking up costumes, heading to dance class, sitting on set or backstage, learning lines and songs or anything in between.


- When and how did you get into filmmaking? 

I have been writing since I could talk really. I have always had a crazy imagination and was constantly making up stories and worlds as a kid. As for films, my Godfather gave me a VHS of “Meet Me in St. Louis” when I was about 5 and I watched it until the tape broke. I would rewind “The Trolly Song” over and over, imitating Judy Garland, until I knew it by heart. After University I was lucky enough to study film editing at AFI and then work in post-production on Hollywood films for many years, kind of writing on the side. Watching how the sausage was made from the end of the line, so to speak, awoke the desire in me to write and direct. After I completed work on Dune in 2020, I decided to strike out on my own and put all my focus towards creating for myself.  


- How often do you write/create? Do you have a working routine? And what inspires you to create?

I wish I could say that I had a very diligent, fool proof routine for effortless creating, but the fact is that I put it off until I almost have a panic attack! I once heard Tony Kushner say in an interview that he outlines as much as possible so he doesn’t have to actually write and I couldn’t agree more. Once I have an idea for a project, however, I dedicate a portion of a little notebook to it, which I carry with me at all times. I am constantly stopping on the side of the road or at stop signs (while driving!) or during a meeting to jot down ideas, jokes, funny images, shots – anything really. Sometimes even in the middle of the night. At a certain point they start to synthesize into a shape. I often start with a beginning or ending image/scene and a feeling and then work and rework and agonize from there.


- How does it feel to have your work recognised?

Having my work recognized in any way is incredibly validating. The default of writing and filmmaking is often rejection or silence, and any kind of nudge to keep going, any sense that my work is connecting with someone else and I’m not just screaming into the void is absolutely invaluable.


- What's the best and most challenging thing about Filmmaking? 

When you make a film, as opposed to when you write something, a lot of it is out of your hands. There is that old adage that you make the film 3 times – when you write it, when you shoot it and when you cut it. In my 15+ years of experience I have always found that to be bang on. Each stage of the process presents new obstacles and limitations and you have to keep killing your babies. But if you do it right and you work with people you trust, it usually turns out for the better. And there is a real magic to a good collaboration. My editor, the incomparable Eve Doherty, divined sequences and shot combinations that I certainly didn’t have in my master plan and never would have thought of, and now I can’t imagine the film without them.


-  How did you develop the idea for your LISP-selected film? Is there a story behind your story? And, how long have you been working on it?

This short film actually came out of a dream. I couldn’t let go of it, it was so haunting. And then one day, I was sitting at a bar with coworkers, and I just sat (very unsocially) and wrote the whole thing down on the back of a receipt while they talked. It just came out in one piece. Then, of course, I refined and simplified it to what it is now. It took about a year for me to get to the shooting script from that concept I would say. Once I decided to take the leap and make the short it was one of those wonderful experiences where everything just came together and my friends and coworkers lined up to help me. Natasha Trigg, who choreographed it and also stars in it, came on board, we refined it more so that her effortless talent and that of her dancers could shine even more. Eve, my editor, introduced me to her friend Morgan Krishnamurti Spencer, who is a brilliant DOP. He donated old 35mm short ends he had and brought his crew. She also introduced me to the incredible producer Miriam Newman. My dear friend Theo Green volunteered to do the sound and his brilliant wife Anina Pinter designed the costumes. It was a truly magical experience I will never forget.


- Can you please give us a few tips about Filmmaking?

This is probably an odd answer, but my biggest tip is to have varied interests and seek inspiration from absolutely everywhere. The most brilliant artists have wide wide bases of knowledge, not just encyclopedic knowledge of film. In my opinion, the best art comes from all kinds of places. That is what infuses it with nuance and subtlety and makes it feel real and true, as opposed to just a surface imitation of life.


- What's the best thing and the most challenging thing about competitions and festivals? 

For me, the best and most challenging thing about competitions and festivals is the same - there is so so much talent out there! And now there are luckily so many more platforms to get your work out there. But also, there can be a lot of rejection. I always try to remember when you get those inevitable “no’s,” you don’t know if you finished 100th out of 10 or 11th out of 10. There are only so many tickets to each dance, but there are so many dances out there!


- Lastly, do you recommend the writers submit to LISP?

Absolutely! In my experience, LISP curates incredibly interesting and thoughtful pieces and artists through their competitions. And you just never know.



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