'LEMON': What to Do When You've Lost All Hope for Your Film

Director Janicza Bravo and actor Brett Gelman were 'covered in blood' while trying to get their film made—but now it's theatrically released by Magnolia Pictures.

Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman really seem to have it made as rising stars in both TV and independent film. In six years, Bravo has made six shorts, some of which were featured at major festivals, including one that was awarded a Sundance Jury prize and another virtual reality film that was showcased at Tribeca Storyscapes. Plus, she directed the feature film LEMON and the celebrated Juneteenth episode of the Emmy-winning series Atlanta.

Gelman has acted in basically every cool show on television, including current stints on David Lynch's Twin Peaks reboot and Judd Apatow's Love on Netflix. He’s also been in several movies and headed up two of his own comedy specials on Adult Swim.

So it was a bit of a surprise to learn that they suffer from the same anxieties, insecurities, frustrations, and setbacks that the rest of us do.

In fact, it was these feelings that birthed the real-life married couple’s collaboration on the film LEMON, which premiered at Sundance earlier this year and then played opening night of Rotterdam the same week. It's currently being released theatrically by Magnolia Pictures. They co-wrote the film, which Janicza directed. In it, Brett plays Isaac, a bit of an unlikable sad sack in the middle of one of life’s downward spirals.

Bravo and Gelman on the set of 'LEMON'Credit: Magnolia Pictures
Our own Jon Fusco wrote a post about absurdism where he pointed out that, in philosophy, "the absurd" refers to the conflict between the human tendency to seek inherent value and meaning in life and the inability to find any. That pretty much sums up Isaac’s dilemma in LEMON.

In this episode, I speak with the couple on the night before the film's New York premiere, and they share very candid details about the six-year struggle to get the film made, how they overcame each hurdle, and how the industry actually works.

Listen to the episode by streaming or downloading from the embedded player above, or find it on iTunes here. 

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This episode was edited by Jon Fusco.

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Good article. In this film, a very difficult problem is touched - the search for the meaning of life. Janicza Bravo and Brett Gelman were able to shoot a really high-quality film, with deep meaning. In many modern films it is very difficult to find the idea of ​​a film. But this film makes you think. My goal is to become a professional film director. Now I'm studying in a school of directors. We write a lot of essays - this helps in developing the necessary written and creative skills, for further writing scripts. To write essays faster and more professionally, I began to study additional materials. For example, a site - https://essayforme.org/. Now I'm working on a script for my little video. But such films help a person to find motivation and stimulate their search for their goal!

February 23, 2018 at 5:18AM, Edited February 23, 5:18AM