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so i made a movie: LIP STICK, part two

Wanna read part one of the making of Lip Stick? Then do it and quitcher whining!

SHANNON LARK: If I was shooting with anyone else but Stacie, filming this movie would have been a bit uncomfortable. Not only is this woman obsessed with her vagina, but she's like...really, really depressed.

STACIE PONDER: As someone who's been depressed AND who owns a vagina, I was clearly made to be a part of this film! But really, the stuff Shannon did in this movie was, at times...interesting, so it's understandable that she wanted to be completely comfortable during the shoot. If she wasn't able to go completely balls out with it (metaphorical balls, I mean), then there's no way Lip Stick would have or could have been successful.

SHANNON LARK: There isn't a lot of dialogue in the film, except for a voice over, so the emotions had to be shown in the body. Stacie would have to direct me on moving my shoulders or doing small things, afterward we would crack up laughing and say something to the effect of "wow, that's really fucked up." I slowly began to realize what sort of position I had put Stacie in, and I silently hoped that it wasn't an uncomfortable one.

STACIE PONDER: Yeah, it was...hmm. Trying to figure out different ways for Shannon to cram crap up her cram hole while not actually showing anything at all was...interesting. And really, really hilarious. Oddly enough, none of it ever felt odd. I think we were each concerned with how the other person was handling all the...fake cramming. The outtakes must be quite a larf.

SHANNON LARK: This time around, we actually had like...time. This was a 3 page script, and we shot for 12 hours straight. After a while I thought the neighbors were going to think we were shooting a porno, but they were all European, so they probably understood.:)

STACIE PONDER: I can only imagine what they were thinking. I remember once I stayed at a motel somewhere and a couple in the room next door had the most comically ridiculously loud sex almost immediately after they arrived. The novelty for me wore off after about 30 seconds, so I do feel for our tourist neighbors who had to listen to fake sexytime noises AND yelling and screaming horror movie noises well into the night. At least they were all too polite to complain.

SHANNON LARK: Not having a crew to utilize, we did everything ourselves: the cleaning, and organizing, making coffee, and peeling avocados. The blood scene took some preparation. We had to purchase sheets and put down plastic, hook up a blood pump and somehow secure a giant latex application quickly. Stacie proved once again that she was a bad ass, and helped me immensely with making sure we did an efficient job, very very quickly.

There was an immense amount of blood we used, which created a cesspool on the bed. After we shot the fx, Stacie went outside to see a meteor shower crossing over us (and Death Valley). I cleaned up and got ready for the next shot. I was determined. Although I do wish I had broken away to see they sky.

STACIE PONDER: When we finally took a break and went outside of the room for some fresh air and chips and salsa, I was immediately blown away by our surroundings. I'd been to Death Valley before, but never at night, and MY GOD it was beautiful. Pitch pitch pitch black- so dark you can't see your hand in front of your face- and the biggest sky full of stars I've ever seen. There was a meteor shower and a heat lightning storm towards the horizon, and you can see the fucking Milky Way out there. The Milky Way! You can see it! The Milky Way! In your eyeballs! I tried to get Shannon out there with some "Dude, just take a break for a few minutes and COME SEE THE FUCKING UNIVERSE" but to no avail. Her brain was buried in the script too much to look up for a bit. There's probably a lesson in there somewhere. Or maybe not, since we had a movie to shoot and it was really late. I don't know.

SHANNON LARK: It was about 11:30 when we were done with the fx, and we had to get the last few important aspects of the film. By the time it was 3am, we were both exhausted. The film is depressing and weird and moody, and it certainly affected me, especially since I had already been on the road for almost a month. I had experienced a maze of weird and uncomfortable situations since I left home, so shooting Lip Stick was just the icing on the cake.

This shoot kind of took more out of me than any other we've done for some reason. Maybe my blood sugar got too low, or the heat of the day caught up to me, or...who knows. Whatever the cause, I know things got a little weird because I was exhausted- Shannon must have been doubly quadruply so. We had some different ideas on how to approach some things in the script, I think, so it took a while longer to figure out which paths to take and how to get there, which sucks when you're that tired. We'd gotten the FX out of the way, which was great, but saved the most difficult stuff for last.

SHANNON LARK: We decided immediately to have a drink and celebrate, since we never have with any other shoot before. We got fucking trashed and passed out at 5am. All the while I'm trying to get Stacie to eat these nasty complimentary donuts I found in the lobby. I just couldn't understand why she wouldn't eat them if she didn't have a gluten intolerance like I do. How odd!

The next morning, Stacie found a black vinegaroon in her hair, which had actually made an appearance in the film! I tried not to laugh, but it was really funny!! SHE WAS SO FREAKED OUT! It reminded me of this time a few months ago where I found one of those suckers in my pants, after I put them on. It was near my crotch, and it was terrifying. I've never taken off my pants so quickly.

After an omelet, we headed towards Death Valley, which you'll be able to read all about in the Ludlow series...
STACIE PONDER: Shannon disappeared right after we cleaned up without telling me what was going on, so I figured she needed to go decompress from the damn movie. Then she came back with some orange juice (to go with our gin: nice-n-classy, we are) and it was just perfect. We got energized enough to get drunk- finally managing to toast ourselves for once after all the work. The next morning, I felt like there was something in my hair, but chalked it up to...I don't know, scabies or something. Then it felt weird again, so I really started fucking with my hair and a GD vinegaroon came plopping out onto the floor and I FLIPPED. Who knows how long it was up there? Did it build a nest and have babies? Did it invite friends over? What the fuck else was going to come crawling out of my hair later on? It was SO NOT COOL. It was just like that urban legend about the girl who gets a cactus and there are spiders in the cactus but she doesn't know it, and they crawl up her vagina and lay eggs. It was JUST like that, except there was no cactus and nothing crawled up my vagina and laid eggs (to the best of my knowledge) and it wasn't a spider. But otherwise? Totally the same.

so i made a movie: LIP STICK, part one

No, Shannon Lark and I aren't done making stuff yet. Yes, I'm still working on Ludlow. Being a one-woman band can be taxing, but it's neat to wear cymbals between one's knees.

Sorry, I need more coffee.

SHANNON LARK: With all the ballyhoo over Ludlow, Voyeur, and the 100 million other things that Stacie Ponder and I collectively have going on (ahh, the life of an artist), I suddenly realized while eating chocolate chip ice cream last night that we haven't even begun the wonderful journey of reporting on our first co-directorial feat: Lip Stick....

This wonderful little film came about when Stacie was developing the script for Ludlow. Never having worked together before, we felt (at least I did) that throwing out ideas into the open will help the creative errr...juices get flowing.

That's right- that's how SHE felt. Here she was, this girl I barely knew- some actor for crying out loud- flapping her gums and throwing around all these "ideas".

Okay, fine...so I invited her ideas and I threw mine her way before I'd written anything. It was a strange way for me to put together a script, this "collaboration", but I loved having someone to really bounce ideas off of, even if mine often made no sense. And look! We got a whole 'nother script out of it.

SHANNON LARK: I had this idea that maybe the main character should be a chronic masturbator. I emailed Stacie in a flurry, all flushed in the face with excitement. From there I launched into an entire story about a woman who can't stop masturbating, with a serious case of vagina dentata on the brain.

I know, I know. This sounds like a porn. Actually, it sounds like a great porn, but the script actually is really, really fucked up- ie: my kinda horror movie.

Stacie humored me for a while, but I soon realized that this is a story I should take and run with, and might not be suitable for Ludlow.

STACIE PONDER: I am not one to question the whimsies of Shannon Lark (if chronic masturbation can truly be called a "whimsy")- it just...yeah, it wasn't the right...err, track to explore with the way Ludlow was coming together. If your main character is a CHRONIC masturbator, then that really needs to be addressed in the script, in my opinion. It's not quite like making your character chew gum all the time, which may only prompt a "Oh, I guess she really enjoys gum!" from the audience; if the lead is masturbating almost all the time, you should probably mention why she's constantly gettin' her diddle on,you know?

That said, I could see that Shannon was enthusiastic about this character tic, so I suggested she take it and run with it (boy, did she)...but that if she really wanted her character to masturbate in Ludlow, I'd work it in somehow.

Yes, this is the way we operate.

So I wrote it up as a script, investigating how the story of vagina dentata is just about as old as jesus. It's been told throughout every culture, in some form or another, to keep boys away from strange women who might trap them with their feminine devices. It's classic. It's timeless. It's VAGINA DENTATA!!

STACIE PONDER: It's fun for the whole family!

Sorry, that's...really wrong.

SHANNON LARK: After a failed shoot in Oklahoma City due to finances, in early July I still had no idea how the hell I was going to get this film shot. I considered using the film crew around where I live, but then I realized how much masturbating I was going to be doing, and I decided against it. The neighborhood kid down the street doesn't need to be on a set like that, you know?

STACIE PONDER: Or does he?

SHANNON LARK: Ludlow came and went, and Stacie and I were forever changed and bound in sinners blood (and tuna juice).

Okay, stop. Just to clear the air, she really means tuna juice. Like, juice from a tuna. A tuna fish. Juice. She spilled tuna juice all over one of the beds in our little room at the Ludlow Motel, and it stank up the place. Then later I spilled peperoncini juice all over the crotch of my pants, and that stank up the place even more. Sometimes having a cast of, at most, three and a crew of one is a good thing.

SHANNON LARK: We shot Voyeur in San Francisco, and throughout all the ridiculous amount of technical difficulties and rampantly loose car brakes, we came out OKAY. It dawned on me right before I went on a trip to LA that Stacie and I could do this movie together. We practically made a feature in 2 days, so what could possibly stop us from making Lip Stick with absolutely no money? I milled it over with Stacie and we agreed to co-direct the film.

STACIE PONDER: It's never stopped me before, that's for sure. I've never had a budget over a whopping low-4 figures, and before Ludlow, I kept things within the $50 range. SHOCKING, I know.

I've never "co-directed" anything before, but Shannon and I had already established a very collaborative working style, so I figured it would be more of the same- I'd just end up with a fancy credit. But of course I was flattered she wanted to make this movie with me, so I was all, "Yes, please."

Then I did an interview with the Last Blog on the Left, where I acted like a complete nutcase. I was so excited that I was shaking and sweating by the end of the interview. I reached for more coffee and hauled ass on getting the props together. I wanted to bring as much as I could to the table.

After being on the road for about 3 weeks I flew to Burbank and Stacie picked me up at the airport. We were so excited for what was in store: shooting the remainder of Ludlow, Lip Stick, and then off to Death Valley to roast our hair off. I won't go into detail about Ludlow, or Death Valley, because I'm sure we will cover in that in the "So I Made a Movie: Ludlow" series, but know this: IT WAS AWESOME.

STACIE PONDER: Yeah, hmm. I should update people on the happenings Ludlow at some point, I suppose. Until then, yes, I wholeheartedly agree: we ended up having an incredible week of making movies and roasting in the sun and freezing under the moon. I LOVE DEATH VALLEY.

SHANNON LARK: Stacie had recommended we shoot at the Amargosa Opera House, which has a motel connected to it, right outside of Death Valley. Marta Becket owns the Opera House and paints all over the walls: the headboards, bathrooms, ceiling borders, everything! I researched the website and decided on the perfect room. When we arrived to the motel it was f-ing hot, but nothing like what we were going to experience in Death Valley. Stacie had mentioned it was out in the middle of nowhere, but I didn't think there would actually be NOTHING out there. Luckily, the motel had a restaurant attached with a really, really nice waitress who gave us grapes they grew out there. How the hell they were able to grow grapes out there is beyond me. It must have been in a special greenhouse...or something.

STACIE PONDER: Some time ago a friend tipped me off about the Amargosa, how it was this amazing, kind of magical place out by Death Valley, and I'd originally intended to go there to shoot Ludlow. Once that script was finished, though, it was patently obvious that it wouldn't suit my needs- it's a weird place, but not creepy enough...certainly not fleabag-y enough. Though it's in the middle of nowhere (like Shannon said, there's NOTHING around), the building itself doesn't feel isolated, if that makes sense. On top of all that, it's a good 4+ hours away from Los Angeles, and I certainly couldn't ask the other actors to drive out there to shoot for a couple of hours. The Amargosa never left my mind, though, so when Shannon and I started talking about Lip Stick, I threw it out there. I'm just glad she found it as intriguing as I did.

SHANNON LARK: After eating and unpacking the car into the incredibly small room we were shooting in, we immediately set up and got down to business. Our neighbors were definitely in for a treat.:)