Meet the Filmmaker: Lewis Leslie, “Mental”

Q: Why did you become a filmmaker?
LL: I became obsessed with movies at a young age. I used to annoy my parents with movie trivia, and information about specific actors and filmmakers. Little did I know, as a teenager and twenty-something in a rock band, that one day I would get the chance to make movies. I have always loved storytelling, and the escape that movies provided, so one day I decided to try my hand at screenwriting. I dove in head first, reading every screenwriting book I could get my hands on, and smashing keys on Final Draft for years and years before mustering up the courage to show anyone my work. After receiving positive feedback, I decided that I wanted to try directing, so I hired a crew and put the cast in place to make my first film, the feature-length grindhouse horror film Killer Ink, which featured a cameo by Star Wars actor Peter Mayhew. The rest is history!

Q: What are we going to see at EFPalooza? Has it screened elsewhere and what are your plans for it?
LL: “When professional insomniac Ty Brown’s music career hits a slump, he grows frustrated by his future step-daughter’s erratic behavior, and must confront her in order to bring harmony back to the household.” Mental is a psychological thriller/horror film that stars Emmy-nominated T.O.N.E-z from the FX show Justified, local actress extraordinaire Mia Klosterman & jaw-dropping newcomer Anastasia Ullmann. It’s a study into the psychosis of a child that doctors have labeled callous and unemotional, and how her instability affects her mother and her mother’s boyfriend’s daily lives. Mental has screened at the EFP, as well as the Peak Film Forum in CO Springs, where it was awarded first runner-up.

Q: What else are you working on?
LL: My company Dream Hero Productions has a few films in post-production, and we are actively developing an exorcism feature film titled Cross to Bear, and The Dying Fields, which would best be described as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre meets The Evil Dead. There is always a chance we might explore expanding Mental, as well. I did the NANOWRIMO writing challenge last November, and the book that I wrote was an expansion on the characters from this short, along with other characters from my films and unproduced screenplays. There is definitely potential for more to come from this tale.

Q: Tell us one weird thing about you and/or your movies?
LL: I primarily swim in the waters of horror films, and I tend to focus more on the psychology behind the killer, as opposed to the gore. That’s not to say I don’t bring the rivers of blood when necessary, but I’d rather have the audience try to figure out what makes these people tick, than focus solely on spectacle. I have had the pleasure of working with some of Colorado’s finest FX gurus, and I can’t wait to spend more time on set with the amazing professionals we have in this state.

Q: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
LL: Dream Hero Productions posts updates to the following social media sites: www.facebook.com/dreamheroproductions | www.twitter.com/dreamheroprod | www.instagram.com/dream.hero.productions

Q: Is there anything you’d like to say about EFPalooza or The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
LL: I cannot recommend The Bug Theatre, EFPalooza, and The Emerging Filmmakers Project enough! This place, and the wonderful people behind their filmmaker showcases, have done a phenomenal job putting Colorado filmmakers in the spotlight. I am beyond grateful to be a small part of the community they have built and supported. I wish nothing but success for the EFP, and all of the filmmakers who have had the honor of showing their work at The Bug Theatre throughout the years. We miss you, Patrick.

Mental will screen Friday, February 22nd at 9:00 p.m. at The Bug Theatre as part of the Dark, SciFi & Horror Shorts block during the 2019 EFPalooza Film Festival.