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Interview with Lynn Shelton
by Karen Pecota

Our meeting point was at the New Frontier Lodge on Main Street, where I was one of the many who stood in line for an interview with Seattle filmmaker Lynn Shelton (Sundance 2009 narrative feature Humpday). Happy to reiterate to me, one more time, her enthusiasm and passion for her latest film and collaboration with MTV, $5 Cover: Seattle, the interview took off with gusto. Shelton’s bubbly personality and passion for her project was the radiance needed as we sat comfortably on the spacious cushion cubes in the dark-lit venue of The New Frontier on Main.

Karen Pecota (KP): Since I am a Seattle-ite and read that your project was a reflection on the music scene in Seattle, I wanted to be one of the first in line for an interview. Purely curious about your latest work and the story behind the film is why I am here.

Lynn Shelton (LS): Well, do you know the background story? Let me explain…last year while I was here at Sundance showing my film Humpday, I received a great deal of kudos for the film. It was overwhelming! It was wonderful! I was approached by David Gale from MTV and asked if I would be interested in making a film that would be a series of episodes for the web spotlighting the city of Seattle and its music scene. At the time, I was surrounded by so much hype with Humpday I was still in that “moment” and couldn’t focus on something new and big but I was curious. I asked him to contact me at a later date and without hesitation, he did! David explained his vision and made it clear that I was his number-one choice to film the project.

KP: How did that make you feel?
LS: Honored, nervous and excited!

KP: Because…
LS: Because first of all, it would be a different type of filmmaking for me working with a lot of people. My last few films involved a limited cast of two to four actors, a small film crew, etc. David’s project would encompass a hundred or more people and all kinds of potential disorder. It was a challenge I had to ponder before committing. I was honored to be chosen and to be handed on a silver platter an opportunity to have complete creative control on a big, big scale film with nice financing. Truly amazing! However, I was nervous because I wasn’t sure if I was the right fit not having the experience with such grandeur. I was excited for the challenge extended to me and the confidence David instilled in my abilities. I enjoyed thinking about the project being like a gift I could give to the city of Seattle from my point of view, as a local. It would be an authentic vision born out of a personal love for music that would bring attention to the city that I feel deserves to be noticed.

KP: What was the key to discovering the music scene and how did you narrow the playing field?
LS: The catch was that the bands featured would yet-to-be-discovered bands. And, it was very difficult to narrow it down to those I would feature, because there are so many bands to hear where you can experience their music for a five-dollar cover charge. And their music is good…There is so much talent and variety in this city.

KP: How long was the filming?
LS: One weekend filming but altogether making the film, five weeks, with a five-day week, 25 days.

KP: How did you get started narrowing the project down to what you wanted to finally film?
LS: I began as if I was making a documentary film. I myself asked these questions: What does the music scene look like in Seattle? Who do I (my friends) like to listen to? Where are the venues the bands perform? What bands have not been discovered?

KP: Has the project changed your perspective of Seattle?
LS: Yes and No! I love Seattle and always have. My goal was to present the city in a multi-faceted way through the lens of camera observing the city’s music scene that was undiscovered. I discovered a whole new world I knew very little about and have so much respect for. In addition, I am proud of the side projects that developed from my 12-episode web series (the initial project) that give the city of Seattle an interesting and attractive face.
One really needs to check out the link to the side projects that will be listed off of the web series website.

KP: What was your most memorable moment while following the bands?
LS: Oh! They are just real folk that have on-and-off stage presence. It is hard to narrow it down, but I loved to catch them at their day job, i.e, baking cookies, pushing carts at Costco, one guy worked at Scarecrow (a specialty video store) or simply hanging out with them. I had so much fun. I will never forget the awesome memories gathered while working on this project. I am honored to be chosen to create such a piece of work.