GET FAMILIAR: LYLE LINDGREN
Hey Lyle, please introduce yourself to our readers.
I’m Lyle Lindgren, London based filmmaker and gold teeth encyclopaedia.
How did you start making films?
I started out as a runner on music videos for artists like Wiley making bad coffee and worked my way up. The first music video I directed was for Roc Marciano, I had $500 for the budget and ended up staying in the grimiest hotel in NYC (The Carter) to get the job done. Sean Price came through with the cameo and we rode around Chelsea market blaring out the Mic Tyson album. Sleeping in the hotel in full tracksuit and socks with the hood pulled up coz that’s apparently where bed bugs originated from.
What is your drive behind making films?
I gave up a long time ago trying to build a showreel of films that could help you get commercial work; I’d rather put my heart and soul into something that’s really my voice as a filmmaker. So, I’m driven by stories that I find interesting that I’d want to watch. Little anecdotes you hear in the streets or experiences you’ve had that you can build into plots. Like the film I made with Stephen Graham for Goldie (I Adore You); it’s based on the open prison system we have here in the U.K and the idea comes from seeing day release prisoners in my neighbourhood doing the weekly food shop with their kids.
Which film or film maker has inspired you the most?
Jacques Audiard’s The Beat My Heart Skipped made me really go after becoming a director, it’s about a nasty landlord who wants to break away from criminality to become a concert pianist. It’s a pretty raw look at choosing your art over your ego and it spoke to me at a time when I was preordained to become a second hand car salesman but instead went left into filmmaking. And then when I saw Audiard’s prison drama Un prophète a few years later it really pushed me to make films about subjects that are often quite brutal and don’t get the attention they deserve.
What messages are you trying to convey to your audience through your art?
I guess most of my work has an optimistic message of making the most with what resources you have, even if it doesn’t always go to plan; like in my film Phanor about R.I.P t-shirt culture in Miami, it’s a tragic part of daily life in the city but also the only opportunity for a young designer to learn his craft. I’m just trying to make films that haven’t been seen before, subjects and characters that don’t usually get a moment on screen.
Please explain your creative process
With production, I try to stay hands on throughout the whole process, I’m big into connecting as many dots myself as possible as it gives you the best chance of getting something made. I’d rather try to reach out to someone directly to engage them as opposed to going through agents etc, it’s a good gauge for the strength of an idea, usually if people are clicking with the concept, they’ll come back to you to collaborate on the film.
Our audience will probably know you from the music video you shot recently for Octavian and Skepta, but you do documentary work and fiction as well. Which of these disciplines is your favourite and why?
Fiction is my favourite as it forces you to create a world in which every detail needs to be considered; from costume to character every decision needs to be grounded in fact that only comes from extensive research. I really like to obsess over a project until I feel like I’ve exhausted the subject and to be honest longform projects take so long to develop that if you aren’t down to talk about them for years they probably won’t get made.
Name someone or something you would love to have as a subject for a documentary or a fiction film.
I’d love to make the definitive documentary on Hype Williams, from the start of his career creating low budget visuals for M.O.P, Wu Tang (Can it all be so simple), The Gravediggaz (Diary of a Madman) and O.D.B (Shimmy Shimmy Ya) up until the 1998 public fallout from his debut feature Belly with an enraged Magic Johnson. I think people just assume he was the big budget fisheye guy creating classics for people like Busta Rhymes and Missy Elliot, but as a creative he scorched a path a mile wide and took a look of flack in the process.
Can you tell us a little about any upcoming projects?
I’ve got two feature films I’m trying to get into production. The first one is set during the 96’ Atlanta Olympics on the eve of Michael Johnson running the 400 meter final in his controversial gold Nikes. It centres around a waitress who finds a set of diamond grills left behind in a napkin that belong to one of the Miami Boyz who were a crew that used to run the dope game in ATL. She pawns the teeth to fund a wild night out in the city, unaware of the gangster violently hunting through the night.
The second one has some big actors attached and is about a South Londoner on the run in the Florida Everglades who is hiding out in the swamp and cutting lawns to pay for his motel room. Then there’s this psychotic character that gets flown over from London to find him, think Conor McGregor meets Gary Oldman in The Firm; who ultimately ends up causing a load of trouble in the flea markets downtown in his pursuit to buy guns and find somewhere he can watch the football.
I’m also working closely with A$AP Ferg on a feature length documentary.
You shared with us the sizzle reel for your documentary on Famous Eddie the inventor of the gold grill and we’re hyped. You have everyone from A$AP Ferg, Just-ice, Lando Golds, A$AP Rocky and ShirtKing Phade in there. Can you tell us what’s to come?
Eddie is the original Surinamese rude-boy, when I met him a few years back we only planned to make a five minute film, but it’s snowballed into this unbelievable feature documentary that spans four cities over thirty years. He made teeth for everyone, from Kool G Rap, Rakim, Jay Z, Nas, Ludacris to Big Boi. So right now, I’m trying to raise some finance to finish the film off with some big name interviews and I’d like to release it at the start of next year at Sundance.
What is the most important thing that happened to you this past year?
I lost my gold fronts somewhere and haven’t had time to re-up on a new set.
What is the best advice ever given to you about your line of work?
Get what you need for the film to work and then move on. If it looks right, then next.