MEET THE FILMMAKER: Peter Lively.
Peter Lively might be the nicest guy in town. But that won’t get you on-screen at The Emerging Filmmakers Project. Won’t even get you through the door (you need $5 for that). No, Peter is a frequent screener at the EFP because he consistently does fantastic work.
A native of Roswell, N.M., Peter isn’t acquainted with any “beings” out there but is happy to refer you to locals who will gladly sell you cheap green necklaces, hats, healing stones, and ‘crash-landing’ dirt so long as you have a valid credit card. Curious, we ran a background check on Peter and discovered that both his parents were born on July 8th, 1947. Connect the dots, people.
Peter’s music video, Unfriend Forever, screens February 21st as part of a love goes wrong night of movies at The Emerging Filmmakers Project (EFP) down at Denver’s historic Bug Theatre. EFP Host Patrick Sheridan recently caught up with his long-time friend.
P.L.: My dad is a piano teacher and a retired music professor, and my mom paints and also plays music. As such, my siblings and I were ‘expected’ to play the piano. I also took up the cello, drawing, painting, writing, and occasional amateur (read: bad) filmmaking. I’ve always been surrounded by creativity of some sort, and I suppose, it was a forgone conclusion that I’d eventually fall into an artistic profession. However, I resisted doing so. In choosing a major at the University of New Mexico, I went from Computer Science to History, and eventually to Comparative Religions, but never anything within Fine Arts. You could call it ‘rebelling’ from my parent’s influence (that’s right, I’m a ‘rebel’), but why I would run from a financially uncertain major like fine arts to an even less financially viable major like philosophy-based major, Comparative Religions, shows an utter disconnect from reality.
There’s not much one can do with a relatively expensive piece of paper that says B.A., Religious Studies. Dell (they were big and cool, back then) and Apple (current big and cool) weren’t knocking on my door, anxious to hire me, so I followed the only viable option besides continuing on to a equally worthless graduate degree, I went into ministry. So followed several years of occasional ‘helping-the-world-be-a-better-place’ moments of personal satisfaction bounded within a scarce and uncertain financial context (not unlike being a professional artist). Within ministry, I was afforded some freedom to ‘spread my wings’ so-to-speak, giftings-wise, and one area I kept getting pulled back to (dammit) was art.
First, it was a promo/skit for our ministry’s annual Fall Retreat conference that I edited using a VCR, hi-8 handy cam, and a cd player. Then, it was slideshows of mission trips. Then it was scores of ‘just-for-fun’ skits and other things. Oddly, people liked my videos, which unfortunately encouraged me to make more. I bought an Apple e-Mac (not i, e), and someone decided to give me an actual editing program, Final Cut Pro 3. Now, there was no stopping it; I HAD to create videos. I was tasked with making regional promo videos, wedding (the horror!) videos, and occasional ‘talking-head’ interview projects. Then, I was asked to make a documentary and a short, dramatic narrative film. I balked. That’s real film stuff, serious stuff, not the few-steps removed from the hobby-level stuff that I was used to. I had a mini-crisis, of sorts, because I never intended to go into the arts, like my dad, yet here I was. I realized that I genuinely loved making movies and videos, and as I move forward, I couldn’t think of anything I’d enjoy more as a vocation than filmmaking. Dammit.
P.S.: What was the inspiration behind your movie?
P.L.: Just couldn’t resist the chance to poke some (good-humored) fun at that classic, 80’s oldie. Really, it would have been a sin not to.
P.L.: It was shown at the 2010 Denver Christmas Conference in front of 1500 college students, none of which had heard the original song. They still enjoyed it.
P.S.: How do you feel about Valentine’s Day?
P.L.: Grateful. For a wretched, melancholic soul like me, it’s annual opportunity to take stock of all that’s wretched and melancholy.
P.S.: What else are you working on?
P.L.: I’m finishing up post on my newest short film Dishwasher with Michele Abplanalp and Skylar De Vos. I’m also in process of setting up my own production company. Everyone has to have one, right?
P.S.: Tell us one weird or unusual thing about you or your movies.
P.L.: I don’t know why, (please, counselor, tell me!) but a lot of my films are carried and lead by strong, female protagonists. I don’t know if it’s due to my wife (Alana) being the primary writer of my films, or if I’m just drawn to that sort of story. Seems to be a pattern, though. Poor men. Don’t worry. I’ll make movies about us someday… maybe.
P.S.: Where can people go to find out more about you and your work?
P.L.: My website: peterlively.com
P.S.: Is there anything you’d like to say about The Emerging Filmmakers Project?
P.L.: I am very grateful to you and The Emerging Filmmakers Project. They’ve given me a chance to show my work outside of the confines of the ministry-universe. Friendly, art-passionate, inclusionary, it’s like discovering the new neighbors next door have a kid your age who likes all the things you like and from day one, is your best friend. In an art form that’s intractably collaborative, to find an open, serious community of filmmakers is gold. Everyone interested in film in Colorado should take advantage of it.
P.S.: Thanks! See you on the 21st!