‘Laggies’ Director Lynn Shelton on Creating a Sense of ‘Relaxed Focus’ on Set

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Known for her improvisational mumblecore films like Humpday and Touchy Feely, Lynn Shelton is going a little more mainstream—and a lot more scripted—with her latest film Laggies. Laggies is the first feature film she’s directed that she didn’t also write; it was made from a completed screenplay by Andrea Seigel.

“We did want it to feel, for lack of a better term, more like a ‘real’ movie that you would see at a multiplex,” Shelton tells Fast Company’s Co.Create. “That people would sit and watch and feel like, ‘Oh, yeah, I’m watching 10 Things I Hate About You, or whatever.’”

Despite the slight change in genre, and the bigger name cast that include Keira Knightley, Chloe Grace Moretz and Sam Rockwell, Shelton was determined to create a warm, accepting environment on-set as she’s done for all of her previous ventures. “Good actors make it look really easy, but what they do is the hardest thing," says Shelton. "We’re all working really hard, but they have the hardest job on set. They have to access their emotional vulnerability, and there's a huge group of strangers surrounding them and staring at them with weird equipment. It's a very artificial environment. So I create a very carefully curated crew because I want the atmosphere to be extremely emotionally safe.”

“I want there to be this sense of, this is a creative playground, nobody is gonna be in danger of being humiliated,” she adds. “There's no toxicity. No yelling. When the actors are working, everyone is very respectful and very focused. There's a sense of ease on set. We're all focused and we're all working hard, but there's a lot of laughter, and a sense of relaxed focus. So I really try to engender that kind of a chill vibe."

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