An Interview with Brooke Lemke – By Duane L. Martin

I’ve known Brooke Lemke for quite a number of years now, and she’s long been a friend to the magazine. She’s appeared as a Sleepover Girl and we’ve reviewed the films she’s been involved with. She’s had a lot of big developments as of late, both personally and professionally, and this month I got the chance to talk to her about some of them, as well as what she has planned for the future.

* * *

DLM: It’s been a quite a while since we last had you in for an interview. Let’s have you start by Telling everyone a little about yourself and your background.

BL: I got started in film/television through acting in 2004. I fell in love with being behind the camera in 2007 and haven’t looked back since. I directed four short films, a promo video, and two interviews over the past five years which led to directing the web series, Safe Word, in 2011. I am currently pursuing my career goals of DGA Assistant Director by working in union television as a Production Assistant to clock my 600 days while writing a script that I hope to be my feature-length film directorial debut to help me become a DGA Director.

DLM: Give us some background on Silent-But-Deadly Productions. How it started, past projects, etc….

BL: SBD started in 2007 in Minneapolis with our first feature, Why am I in a Box? Rachel and I teamed up when we realized we could have more control over the projects we were involved with by becoming producers and directors. We also wanted to provide more opportunities for women in film/tv. After Why am I in a Box? we shot three short films (A Broken Family, Young Eyes and A Young Heart), a promo video for an indie band (Half Demon Doll), an improv short (1-866-Texters) and then our recent project, Safe Word.

DLM: So tell us about Safe Word now. Where did the idea come from and who sort of took the lead with writing the story?

BL: Safe Word was inspired by Rachel’s modeling experiences and taken to the extreme. Rachel was the one to come up with the concept and wrote it.

DLM: After I finished seeing all the episodes, I was thinking about it, and I had this sort of a flash feeling that the series had a bit of a modern, noir-ish feel to it in a way. Was there any intention to give it a bit of that feel, or is that just something I personally was picking up on?

BL: I think that is a wonderful compliment. My intention wasn’t to make it noir-ish, but I have noticed a consistency in how I visually bring stories to life. I am big on letting the situations the characters are in influence the tone more than anything (comedy, drama, thriller). And I’m not big into overwritten dialogue. In fact, I leave a lot sitting on the cutting room floor. I also tend to let scenes play out in a shot verses a lot of fast pace cutting. I love films or shows that trust the audiences’ ability to connect and to be pulled in to the story. Nowadays, there’s so much quick cutting to speed the pace along to hold an audiences’ attention, but if the story is strong, characters are intriguing, and the dialogue "gets to the point", there’s no need to edit it in a way for it to move fast unless it’s needed in a scene to effect the audiences’ emotion, but not their attention span. I want the audience to get lost in the story and characters and I want the shots to resemble real time.

DLM: Tell us about the cast. Was there a casting process for any of the roles, or does the cast consist mainly of people that you and Rachel either knew or have worked with before?

BL: The cast does consist of people Rachel and I have worked with who we had been wanting to bring together on a project. This project was perfect because there were 12 roles available. A great ensemble!

DLM: It seems like you guys were working on the series for quite some time. How long did it take to produce from start to finish?

BL: Rachel had started writing a feature length script in 2010, but she got stuck at 42 pages and shelved it. In 2011, our friend, Ryan Kiser, approached us about making a SAG New Media project. We decided the unfinished feature would fit an episodic format better, so Rachel reformatted the 42 pages she had written to fit an 8 episode web series. We started production in September 2011 and wrapped in November 2011 (It only took 6 days to shoot, but we had to work around everyone’s work schedules). Post-production was the longest process, mainly because of the editors’ busy schedules. When people help you out as a favor, you have to be accommodating to their schedule. It finished post in July and we spent August deciding on the best site. Once we decided on blip.tv we launched it in September 2012.

DLM: What kinds of issues or delays (if any) did you guys face during the production that you had to work through?

BL: The biggest delays are schedules. When you do no/low budget projects and you have a cast of 12 actors, you have to work with everyone’s schedule so they can continue to pay their bills and eat.

DLM: Where can people see the series, and when and how often are you guys releasing the new episodes?

BL: We have Safe Word up on blip.tv. The first three episodes are up and we’ll be releasing a new episode every Wednesday. There are eight episodes total with a ninth "special" episode that will have outtakes, and deleted scenes.

DLM: This was Silent-But-Deadly’s final production, and looking back now at the work you did with Rachel, is there any one particular moment, either in or out of any of the productions you guys did together that really stands out as a favorite moment for you? Also, was there any single moment that made you want to just tear your hair out?

BL: There were so many favorite moments over the years. Why am I in a Box? will always be one of my favorite experiences because it was our first as producers and it went so well! It was what launched Rachel and I to the level we’re at now. As for tearing my hair out, I won’t lie, Safe Word had it’s fair share of stress. Mainly with schedules and locations, but we pushed through it and we’re here now. It’s just a reminder that no matter how difficult some projects can be, seeing it through to the final product is worth every single headache you will endure as a filmmaker, whether it’s in prepro, production, or post.

DLM: So you’ve moved to California now. I guess that’s kinda worked out pretty well for you hasn’t it? How did you get things going there as far as getting a job in the industry, making contacts, etc…, and what are you currently working on?

BL: It has! Best decision I have made regarding pursuing my dreams! I knew a few people from MN who had moved out here before I did. Through one connection in particular, I landed a line producer job on a low budget project which lead to writing a few budgets for a few people. Then one connection led to another and before I knew it, I produced/directed a SAG project (Safe Word) and then began clocking my PA days in union television. Currently, I’m still clocking my days to get into the DGA and I’m writing my feature length romcom.

DLM: What’s your ultimate goal. I mean, at what point would you say to yourself, "Yes, I finally made it!"?

BL: I’m always trying to reach a new level. My first "I made it" moment was moving to L.A. to work in the industry. My goal was to never take job that wasn’t industry or horse related and I’ve been doing that successfully for 2 1/2 years. The next "I made it" moment was when I broke into union television. But I truly think my "Yes, I finally made it" moment will be when I get accepted into the DGA as an AD or Director (whichever one comes first).

DLM: What’s your favorite thing about working in the industry, and what’s the one thing you dislike or find distasteful about it?

BL: I love how much I feel like I belong for who I am and how much I am loved & respected for what I bring to the table. Everyday I feel like anything is possible and everyday I get to be a part of a creative process. There can be a lot of drama and BS, but then again, there was a lot of that when I worked in hospitals. It’s up to you to ignore it or buy into it. I personally make myself aware of it, but don’t let it get to me. I’m here to do what I love to do. I’m respected for it and I won’t let it stop me from reaching my goals no matter how old it gets somedays.

DLM: You’re working on your own romantic comedy right now, are you not? What’s the status of that, and what can you tell us about it?

BL: Yes! I am! And I’m having a blast with it! I finished writing it in June and it has undergone six rewrites since then. I’m currently working on a new draft and I can’t wait to workshop it some more! I have a producer who loves it and is waiting patiently for me to finish it up so he can get the ball rolling on his end. I will say it is inspired by a few events in my life that occurred after a terrible breakup. Now I look back and just laugh so, of course, I have to share it with others!

DLM: Do you have any idea when you’ll be able to get it into production?

BL: We are hoping to roll into production in the summer of 2013.

DLM: So, switching gears, a little bird told me you kinda sorta, you know, like maybe have just a little bit of thing for horses and riding. That same little bird told me you’ve been teaching some young girls to ride as well. Tell us about that.

BL: More like it’s a huge love of mine! I’ve been riding for 18 years. For the past 1 1/2 years I have been teaching on my weekends and summers at a non-profit in Los Angeles that works with inner city girls living in high risk neighborhoods. We teach them life skills through horse care and riding, from responsibility to respect and confidence all the way to tolerance. They make me so proud! Whenever I question the future of our country, all I have to do is look at this program and the girls involved in it to know we’re going to be okay.

DLM: You got offered something in Europe as well didn’t you, with regard to equestrian work? What was the offer and are you considering it at all?

BL: I was being considered for a job in Denmark to work for an Olympian this past summer. I passed on the opportunity to finish up what I started here. For example, I needed to go through the process of closing Silent-But-Deadly Productions, as well as finish up Safe Word. The timing wasn’t right. I do hope to live my dream of living in Europe and working for an Olympian in the future. Just not right now.

DLM: One last thing. Not a question, but a comment. In a world full of negativity, back stabbing and hate, you somehow manage to be one of the most incessantly happy and positive rays of sunshine I’ve ever known. I don’t know how you manage it, but I think you brighten not only the days, but the lives of everyone who knows you, and that makes you very special. So thank you for that. Anyone who gets to know you should consider themselves lucky. Sorry if that sounds sappy, but as long as we’ve been doing the magazine, you’ve always been really sweet and awesome to us, and you’ve always been one of my favorite people. Don’t ever let the world, or the industry change you.

BL: I appreciate those words so much. I’m a big believer that no matter how negative or ugly the world can be, it’s no reason for me to be negative or ugly. There is a lot of beauty in the world and a lot to be thankful for and there’s absolutely no reason anyone deserves to be disrespected, regardless of status, race, sexuality, etc. I’d rather die having been mistreated and disrespected but kept my head high and loved everyone in return, than to die an ugly evil close-minded person.

DLM: Now that I said my mushy bit, is there anything else you’d like to add before we wrap this up?

BL: I would just love to say thanks for the continual support of you, your team and all your followers! It’s sad that the era of Silent-But-Deadly Productions is coming to an end, but it’s exciting that so many new things are coming mine and Rachel’s way on individual career levels! If anyone does want to buy the few remaining DVDs of SBD’s first projects now is their last chance! We will not be making anymore DVDs of Why am I in a Box? They can go here to purchase (price has been dropped).