Welcome back, Lee! How have things been since we last spoke?

Hi!! Things have been exciting! Working on a fresh slate of films, writing a podcast, inventing faster than light travel… the usual.

What can you tell us about your role in “Speak Your Mind” that won Best Feature at the 2019 Toronto Independent Film Festival?

Speak Your Mind is a really special ensemble piece; part social commentary, part satire.  My character, Iris, is the lead character’s therapist. So much of her story is an exploration of the boundaries and contradictions present in professional intimacy and the ways in which this very regimented form of connection can break down.  It was fantastic to get to work with Steve and Cyrus, they have such facility with comedy but aren’t afraid to explore the darker side of the things that make us laugh.  

You were in another short called “Freelancer” that debuted at Buffer Fest at the LightBox. Buffer Fest is a YouTube film festival. How does that work and what was it like to have this film debut on that type of platform?

Really quite cool…and strange!  It was pretty unique to attend a short film festival where the directors are basically rock stars because they’ve developed this direct, longstanding relationship with their audience.  I feel like it would be a wonderful development if film culture shifted a little more in this direction. As an actor, I often find myself the most visible aspect of a team effort so its a cool inversion.  

Lee Lawson

As for the film; it’s a dark, simmering dystopian story in the vein of Black Mirror or the Twilight Zone.  So much of the world Zach built feels familiar, which makes the twists and turns hit even harder.  I don’t want to give anything away because the short is headed towards series development, but I can say that it explores the dark side of a gig economy where everyone is just another customer, another job and the way that erodes our humanity. 

You have a horror short debuting at Toronto After Dark called, “A Noise That Carries”. How difficult is it to do a horror short? It seems to me it would be tough to have the rising tension that you often see in horror films?

OH NO! Horror really shines in short format!  There’s nothing extraneous, its just build and then BAM! CLIMAX! A Noise that carries pulls the elastic taught for 8 minutes and then lets it go in its satisfying final moments.  Again, I can’t say too much, but one of the things that really drew me to the project is that its the only horror script I’ve ever read that has a morning after, a moment for the character’s to process what’s happened to them.      

One of the next films coming up for you is, “Think About A Dolphin For Once”. I need an explanation on this title and what this film is all about. 😛

But isn’t it nice to leave a little mystery in the world? Dolphin is… A heist film? Featuring psychedelic philosophy? Set in Rosedale?  It’s damn funny that’s for sure. Miles Barstead’s script is hard to pin down but there is so much heart and wit and genuine flights of fancy.  Yeah, I said it; flights of fancy. FANCY FLIGHTS. And a cult. Excited to get started on this one.

You shot another film called, “Of Wise and Earnest Men” which is a period piece shot on 35mm at Hart House. What was it like having such an iconic setting and shooting on that type of film? It seems like the creators spared no small detail.

Getting to go to work in a building that looks like a castle and telling a story about an event that actually happened there, on those grounds, in the actual debates room… It’s pretty magical.  I think the setting infuses the film with a deeper sense of reality… It certainly made my job easier. And working on film truly elevates the process… Every take really counts, every take means something.  I know I sound like a hipster film snob… But I wish everything could be shot on 35mm.

What can you tell us about your own producing and directing projects that are in-process or coming up?

I’m currently working on an intimate character piece about babysitting called Sit.  Young women are so often seen as these innocuous creatures, of interest only in terms of their beauty or burgeoning sexuality.   I want to delve into their complicated interior world, to document the way they behave when no one is watching.  

What’s your life like off-set these days?

There’s life off-set?  😛 Right now I’m actually working on an environmental podcast for the Kortright center that deals with the emotional experience of teens in a post-climate-change world.  It’s been a sobering but really meaningful project.

Let the readers know where to find you online.

Instagram is best! @leelawson__


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