January 20, 2010

Pistols Kill Ponies: LENA DUNHAM

Sharp, tongue-in-cheek comic filmmaker Lena Dunham singlehandedly founded the independent film production company, Pistols Kill Ponies:  "We like to make ourselves sound like a collective, but in truth we only consist of Lena Dunham and whoever is kind enough to work with her." At just 23, Lena already has an impressive collection of films, including webseries Delusional Downtown Divas for Index Magazine and Tight Shots for Nerve Video. She has been featured in New York Magazine, Interview Magazine, and Scarlett Cinema, among others, and has been named one of Filmmaker Magazine's 25 New Faces of Independent Film (2009). Lena hails from an artistic family, and as a proud older sibling, she insists that she got her talent from her younger sister.

Whether as a director, producer, writer, or actress, Lena's charm, pizazz, and quirky sense of humor shines in all her artistic endeavors.

Where do your skills and creativity come from? 
Thank you for thinking I have either! Is it possible I inherited them from my younger sister? She's the smartest person I know. Every time she writes anything, I feel jealous and resentful I didn't think of it first. I also have artist parents [photographer Laurie Summons and painter Carroll Dunham] who have supported creative pursuits from an early age. This was only enhanced by my time spent at Saint Ann's School--those familiar know it's a madhouse of precocious kids writing epic plays and debating furiously. I'm pretty sure I didn't learn any of it in college. 

Why "Pistols Kills Ponies"? 
I came up with that my freshman year of college when I was trying to brainstorm names for a sketch comedy group that never happened. I thought it sounded sort of punk rock (in an Avril Lavigne-ish way, I now realize). It sort of haunts me--I've been trying to phase it out, but it's unfortunately quite catchy... 

Do you consider yourself funny? 
Depends on the day. I have to admit that I do make myself chuckle, but I also make myself cringe so it really balances itself out. 

Describe your day-to-day activities. 
Again, depends on the day. When I'm shooting, I wake up at 6am in a cold sweat, see if there is any chocolate nearby, then start answering emails and returning calls until it's time to begin. When I'm editing, I sit near the computer all day debating miniscule details with my collaborators. My favorite times are when I'm writing--I can keep standard hours, remember to shower and eat vegetables, have time to go to dinner or a movie. I also do lots of miscellaneous activities. For example, I worked at a children's clothing store for much of 2009. 

Who or what inspires you? 
Mostly women: my mother and sister, Elaine May, Gilda Radner, Lynne Ramsay, Sophie Calle, Anne Sexton and Sylvia Plath (really all the suicidal poetesses), and Cathy (of the comic strip Cathy). 

Your current state of mind: 

What was the first film you made? 
It was called DEALING. A short film starring my then 14-year-old sister as an art dealer. I had no idea what I was doing, but it came out alright. 

What work are you most proud of? 
I just shot my second feature film, TINY FURNITURE. Who knows how others will respond, but it's certainly the most fully-formed, conscious work I've done.

Where you hope to be in 5 years: 
I want to keep making movies! Writing them, directing them, acting in them on occasion. If I'm still getting to do that, I'll be happy. It would also be really cool if I had moved out of my parents' house by then. 

Describe your idea of fun. 
Dinner and a movie. That's really ideal. Let's eat a lot of raw vegan food then go watch a romantic comedy...(it seems I forgot that this isn't a match.com profile. And if it was, this answer would probably be an epic fail). 

Reflections about your days (literally) as a dog groomer? 
That was so delusional! In high school I loved animals and needed money to buy my rabbit all the arugula and whatnot that she ate, so I devised a moneymaking scheme wherein I marketed myself as an "I come to you" dog groomer. I didn't really understand that I was lying to people, because I thought that all I needed was a dog clipper (which I bought on petco.com) and enthusiasm. NOT TRUE. No one ever hired me twice. I gave my English teacher's Spaniel a horrible bob haircut. A Yorkie pooped itself while I was chasing it with the buzzer. My greatest success was when I shaved all the errant fuzz off my family's sphynx cat. 

Literary character you identify with or most admire: 

Favorite film of all time? 
Impossible. But if this were measured by sheer volume of times watched, the answer would surely be Clueless. 

Color that describes your personality: 
Pink (it's not even a question).

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