Love Stalker: A Take on the Romantic Comedy Befitting St. Louis

The standard romantic comedy is for “regular” cities, LA, Chicago, New York, we’re St. Louis, a place where no matter how bad your day went, if you didn’t get shot in the face you’re doing OK. We need something different!. Thankfully two guys, Matt Glasson and Bowls MacLean, have been filming the answer in South City, with the fruits of their labor, _Love Stalker_, coming in to focus with a new trailer (embedded below) good enough to elicit multiple viewings.

We had to know more, so we shot off our usual 10-pack of questions over to the guys, and they were nice enough to throw some answers back our way.

1. First off the trailer for “Love Stalker” looks great. Tell us a little about the movie.

Bowls MacLean: Thank you very much. It’s ‘about’ an hour and a half.

Matt Glasson: Love Stalker is a feature film – we’re calling it an “unromantic comedy” – set in modern day St. Louis. I play a 30-something player named Pete who basically lives to try and bed as many women as possible.

MacLean: It’s a documentary.

Glasson: Yes, a documentary on the exciting life of Bowls’ MacLean… One day, he meets Stephanie (played by gorgeous Alton local Rachel Chapman), a relationship blogger and the two of us get romantic and intimate. Once she discovers the extent of the depths of his ‘game,’ she dumps him and he tries desperately hard – a little too hard – to try and win her back.

2. How would you explain an “unromantic comedy” and how did you guys come to this idea?

Glasson: Well to start with a little backstory – in June of 2009 Bowls and I participated in the 48 Hour Film Project in St. Louis and ended up making a short “musical” called “Love Stalker.” We were both really happy with how it came out and so we started discussing ideas for a feature length version. Ultimately, we went in a very different direction than the short but we retained the same title and a similar sensibility to the original piece in that we follow a character’s misguided efforts to woo someone and, in the process, begin to emulate stalker-like behaviors. The short is on youtube.

MacLean: Well, in general the lead male characters in romantic comedies often take on “stalker” like behavior. For instance The Graduate is a big one. Benjamin (Dustin Hoffman) is full blown stalker by the third act. It’s not even subtle. Also, and I just remembered this recently, I read an Onion article years ago (prob 2001) where the headline read : Man arrested for romantic comedy like behavior. [Editor’s Note: Link to Onion article.] I thought that was hilarious. It’s been bouncing around in my subconscious ever since . I also sometimes say it’s a romantic comedy for people who hate romantic comedies.

Glasson: We thought that instead of trying to re-invent the wheel with our script, we would embrace an existing genre: cliche’s and all, and try to do a fresh spin on it. The romantic comedy genre (or “rom com”) has become so popular and ubiquitous that everyone knows, or implicitly understands, what they’re in for when they go to see one of these films. So by calling our movie an “unromantic comedy” we draw attention to the fact that we’re doing something slightly different with something very familiar. Even in the trailer, we have a character basically deconstruct how a romantic comedy film works, so that when we take it off the rails a bit it should be somewhat surprising for the viewer.

MacLean: Now that you’ve explained this, no one will be surprised.

3. Why did you choose St. Louis for the filming location?

MacLean: Hmmm, did we have any choices? Well, l live here, so the choice was pretty easy for me. It’s certainly an economical one. Also, I really want to make more features based here in River City.It has it’s own character. I think there is some sort of financial motivation to make movies shot here more ambiguous. Theres even a 90’s Basic Instinct-eque thriller that had St. Louis double for Chicago. Clayton was Evanston, Delmar was Belmont and so on. Not everything that happens in America takes place in L.A., New York, and sometimes Chicago. I think audiences are less discerning than the distributors may give them credit for. I don’t remember there being an eiffel tower in _Pierrot le Fou_. There’s not a lot of local films here in STL (at least for me) that really represent St. Louis. This is an R rated town (as most are). It needs it’s own R rated comedy. I think a lot of the younger crowd in St. Louis will relate and enjoy Love Stalker.

Glasson: It was really a combination of practicality and functionality for the story itself. As someone who lives in New York, feature film projects are almost always happening around you at any given time and so everyone wants to cash in on that if there’s any kind of budget involved. We felt that St. Louis offered some distinction to the trend of young people living in a big city in a movie… I mean, movies of this ilk are almost always set in New York or LA with only a few exceptions. Instead of trying to cheat St. Louis for another generic city, we fully embraced it: warts and all. It turned into something of a prophetic choice, as the main character’s own psyche somewhat reflects the spirit of what St. Louis has become: a forgotten hub of American culture.

4. Congratulations for being maybe the first movie shot in St. Louis that didn’t just include shots of Busch Stadium and the Arch! You really scoped out some local (read: less “touristy”) spots for your backdrops. Was that a goal you set going in or did it just happen that way?

Glasson: As with any major metropolis, there is always more to see than whatever “money” shots tell you that, “Yes, this is City X.” I’m a huge fan of finding those buildings that sort of exist from another era and I love a lot of the architecture in the city. There is inherently a great deal of beauty in what most people take for granted in their daily grind. We wanted to definitely capture some of the odd flavor of the city without compromising the story itself. Bowls approached a number of bar owners both in South City and beyond that we felt represented the right aesthetic and feel for the backdrop of the film. It was really shocking to me just how warm and accommodating everyone was in terms of getting this film made. In so many other major cities where TV and film production is regular business, bar and restaurant owners immediately ask the question of “What’s in it for me?” when they are approached by a film production, indie or studio. In St. Louis, we found the complete opposite in terms of the support and enthusiasm that everyone had for the film. I think part of that is the novelty factor because there isn’t as much film production out there, but it’s also very midwestern: people are very welcoming.

MacLean: Like I said before, a lot of the St. Louis movies seem to try to pass this city off as ‘generic’ Americana. We did consciously try to keep it South City orientated. The locations are generally all in the same area. That’s also convenient for the driving around, run and gun method we did it in. We actually wrote in the ‘Pin-Up Bowl’ as one of the bars in the early drafts. However, logistically it seemed problematic. First off they’re open everyday of the week. Secondly, those windows all along the front! We mostly shot durring the days so we’d have to block out those suckers with our (fake) Duvateen. We mostly targeted bars that were closed at least one day week, and windows that could easily be covered. I also LOVE all those places we used. They’re not very underground to me. I’m pretty regular at them.

5. How long did this take to shoot, and what’s your indie movie setup?

Glasson: We shot this over four-and-a-half weeks in September and October of this year. We were on six days of the week with one day off (and of course, that day had Bowls and I running around like crazy prepping for next week’s shoot). As far as our gear went, we were embracing DSLR technology in shooting the film (for those who don’t know what a DSLR is, it is basically a pro digital camera like you see professional photographers using). I actually owned the camera we used to shoot most of the film – the Canon 5D Mark II. This camera has really been a somewhat revolutionary step in independent filmmaking in that it gives you quite an excellent HD video image at a fraction of the cost of most higher end HD cameras. In addition, being able to interchange lenses to accomplish different looks and feels is HUGE to me as a filmmaker, so when Canon announced this camera back in ’08, I knew this was THE camera I had been waiting for to finally make something serious with it on a low budget. That said, we hired an excellent crew together and our DP, Bart Elfrink and our second DP, Joshua Lassing, were both familiar with using these cameras so we all knew how to get the most bang for our buck. We had a very small crew and an extremely small budget, but everyone was dedicated to making the best film possible given our limited means and I think that shows in the end product.

6. Out of the two of you, one (Bowls) is from St. Louis, one (Matt) isn’t. Thoughts on Imo’s Pizza?

Glasson: I wasn’t too impressed but how badly can you fuck it up? It’s still pizza!

MacLean: I’ll be honest I don’t think we had any Imos on set. Nothing against it, but we didn’t really have pizza a whole lot. Both Matt and I lived in Chicago for many years so I certainly don’t mind a little Blackthorn or Lemmon’s pizza every now and again. Incidentally we did order a Chicago styled Lemmon’s pizza on one of the days. Based mainly on the location being so close to LSHQ (Love Stalker Headquarters). Josh, our second DP was very happy.

Glasson: Bowls is lying about there not being a lot of pizza on the set. Whenever the question came up of, “what are we going to feed everyone today?” Imo’s ends up being a convenient choice more often than not. Oh, you know who else came through was Mr. X and his football field pizza extravaganza… that can feed a cast, crew AND extras. Thrifty producers take note…

7. We loved the auction video you guys had on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=1475531012633). Did you ever sell that iPhone 4 box? Sounded like a hell of a deal!

Glasson: No one bit on the iPhone 4 box. It’s still on the auction block if anyone is interested in getting in on that bargain…

MacLean: No one’s bid on that, nor my beloved ‘Bowls MacLean’ action figure (to my relief). I don’t want to part with that (just yet).

8. When I was watching one of your YouTube videos, one of the related vides on the right was of this chick with giant boobs teaching the internet how to say “kitten” and “puppy” in Japanese: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4s1tRLj1fOY Sub-questions: Is this type of thing actually related to Love Stalker? And if no, why not?

Glasson: Damn, I think I may have to start stalking her… Bowls – why was she not included in the audition process? At the very least, we should see if she’s available for the “make-out montage.”

MacLean: Yeah, I saw that when you sent it to us. I’d never seen nor heard of MissHannaMinx before now. __Adorable. She’s cuter than a newborn “koneko”. I was VERY tempted to hit the subscribe button, but I just hate doing that in general. I’m not a big Youtube subscriber. Maybe it has something do with a small part I had in a movie called _The Minx_ in 2006, but somehow I doubt it.

[Editor’s Note: Seriously. Go watch that video for your daily dose of bizarre.]

9. This is your first feature-length movie together, but what other projects have you guys worked on?

MacLean: We met the first day of our Film Tech II class. We had a short that made the “best of” that year called ‘The Human Race’, which was a little surreal piece involving Matt and I in the middle of a forest racing each other on foot. It went into crazy whip pans, and we even cut wipes into the film itself. It ended with us shooting each other, blood packets, etc. The instructor called it “a textbook short subject”. He wasn’t too crazy about me or Matt but he still submitted the film in that years showcase. We’ve done a number of shorts together both in and out of school. One worth checking out is Matt’s ‘The Family Tie‘.

Glasson: As the years have gone by, we’ve both done our own projects independently but have stayed in contact. I definitely recommend people check out “The Family Tie” which Bowls helped me produce. I think it’s pretty awesome, but it’s also extremely violent, which makes it even more awesome if you ask me. I’ve done a lot of music videos and other shorts which are on my YouTube channel. Recently, I did another 48 Hour Film Project this year in NYC called The Last Westie with one of the co-producers (David Ohliger) on Love Stalker. His score won some awards (vimeo.com/12864534).

10. When can people get a chance to see the movie?

Glasson: We have worked very hard for this movie to have a quick turnaround. Currently, there is a rough cut that we’ve begun submitting to some festivals but we expect that we’ll have a final cut in place by Valentine’s Day, 2011. Seems kind of fitting, doesn’t it? That said, there is still the arduous journey ahead of us to seek distribution and get some kind of release. I am hoping that by mid to late in the year we will have worked out a solution and can start screening the film for the public.

MacLean: Yeah we’re hoping to get it into SXSW. I’m guessing maybe we’ll try to get it into the SLFF , or the St. Louis Showcase next year.

Thanks again to both Matt Glasson and Bowls MacLean for the time and good luck to Love Stalker, which so far looks to be a solid entrant in to any festival. We can’t wait to check it out next year and then go on the Love Stalker locations bar crawl in South City!

_Update: Some people are saying the Vimeo player is lagging, so we switched out the embedded version. If you prefer Vimeo, you can still watch that here: vimeo.com/17179114_