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The Dead Ringer: An Interview with Suzanne Lutas

Tell us about yourself. How did you become a writer?

I handcrafted my toys, read comics, and created a world generating extraordinary stories as a child. When I first watched Jean Cocteau’s Beauty and the Beast, I was amazed to see that stories could escape one’s mind, then take shape as visuals on a screen. The sort of epiphany that made me realize the infinite power of cinema.

What was your first job in the art field?

In early 2022, Nation Filmes, a Brazilian Production Company, hired me to write a horror script based on their idea.

What makes you want to tell stories? In other words, what are the themes/issues you want to incorporate into your work?

A writer's background sheds light on their work. Indeed, the cultural shock I experienced as a kid when I arrived in France from Vietnam is, to a certain extent, reflected in my stories. That explains why a fish-out-of-water female lead in search of belonging and Identity is recurrent in my scripts. Be they Sci-Fi, Action, or Supernatural Thrillers.

Please tell us about your vision and your method of approaching a new project?

It is an idea to start with. Something that pops up in my mind as I watch the news report. Or experience an unusual event. Then, I choose the appropriate genre that best encapsulates the story. I create my characters with distinct personality traits, know how the story ends, and define the major beats.

Still, my outlining changes as my characters grow and come to life. Curiously, they decide which path to follow and what to do. It is them who rule the way.

Who are your filmmaking and script writing influencers? What are the films and books that were influential for you?

Jean Cocteau influenced my fascination with surrealism, fantasy, and poetry brought to the Silver Screen. Stanley Kubrick's stunning photography and topics left me in awe. Ridley Scott's unique take on diverse topics is a treasure trove of knowledge and experience. Wong Kar Wai's impossible love stories create a perfect world that hides frustration and what is unsaid.

My French education and major in English literature enriched my culture and my taste for diverse authors, from Shakespeare, Thomas Hardy, and Jane Austen to Lovecraft, Edgar Alan Poe, Steinbeck, and Toni Morrison.

Today, I'm obsessed with Flicker, a 1991 novel by Theodore Roszak, which covers about 20 years of the life of film scholar Jonathan Gates, whose academic investigations draw him into an esoteric conspiracy underlying the work of fictional B-movie director Max Castle. Darren Aronofsky's name has long been associated with a possible film adaptation. I'd love to do it, of course.

We have so much to learn from all these Masters. Watching their films and reading their novels or scripts is a constant source of inspiration and a booster.

How do you think the industry is changing? How has COVID affected independent filmmaking/creation?

The pandemic changed everything — Theaters closed; Studios postponed some movies to the next year and sent others to streaming services or digital rental platforms.

The rise of streaming services put additional pressure on the ironclad theatrical window. Also, the major media companies view challenging Netflix as their greatest imperative.

In contrast, most independent filmmakers kept shooting on a shoestring. They probably rewrote and shot with renewed creativity, taking advantage of the situation,

Still, Studios, distributors, and Exhibitors will have to agree on a hybrid form of movie release to respond to the new situation.

What advice would you give to aspiring artists? What are some of the things they must follow/avoid?

They should follow their dreams without neglecting their family and friends. Practice a sport that helps them cleanse their minds and bodies. Take the time to chill out, listening to music.

More importantly, they must keep their jobs. At the same time, they should keep learning, practicing, and improving their art. Do what it takes to fulfill their dreams and be prepared, which is the key to success when the opportunity comes.

Above all, they must believe in themselves.

Do you think films/stories can bring about a change in the world?

Absolutely. They influenced me so strongly that they curved the shape of my destiny. Today, I’m happy to entertain with my stories.

In contrast, Angelina Jolie, Sean Penn, and many other celebrities act and fight for a cause. Others would instead do it anonymously, with their level of dedication.

In the end, just one person is something; five is great; ten is fantastic! Small streams make big rivers.

What do you think people like to watch these days? Has the pandemic changed people's taste?

They certainly watch light and entertaining subjects. Stories that take them away from their morose daily lives. Comedies will probably invade the screens, just as heroes and blockbusters. Nevertheless, some will stick to societal and environmental issues.

Please tell us about your upcoming projects.

I have two projects on the slate. First, Destiny’s Vessel, a Sci-Fi/Fantasy Feature.

Think “Dune” meets “Le Cirque du Soleil” in space.

Logline: When a maverick princess is forcibly shapeshifted and teleported to a distant planet, she must team up with a rogue bounty hunter to steal an antidote that can restore her original form and then race home in time to stop the death of worlds.

Link to the Lookbook.

Then, The Man with a Glove is a Supernatural Thriller set in modern times and based on Titian’s painting, ‘The Man with a Glove.’

Think “Beauty & the Beast” meets “Dorian Gray.”

Logline: When a claustrophobic art intern is held captive, she must restore a mysterious Renaissance-era painting with more inside than paint.

I hope the two projects will both find a home.


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