Creative Spaces: Lindsay Pulsipher & Calvin Reeder
Lindsay Pulsipher and Calvin Lee Reeder are unique. They work both independently and cooperatively in the movie business, acting and directing in a number of different projects. Lindsay has been featured on True Blood, The Hatfields & McCoys, and just finished working on a film called Flutter, and together, the two of them have worked on six films, including the Sundance movie The Oregonian. We sat down with them for a few minutes to find out more about how their style of collaboration.
Their apartment was tucked away an off street in Echo Park, centrally located for accessibility but just enough off the beaten track to be a bit more cozy than most of L.A. Lindsay met us at the doorway and escorted us up a long flight of stairs and into her pad. It was very cool and comfortable inside, a nice retreat from the burning August heat. She offered us a glass of water and we began to talk about mutual friends. She’d grown up in the same town as me, Salt Lake City, and even though we’d never met, we had a number of mutual friends.
“So you know Nate Stevens (Punch Drunk Love, Good Humor Men)?” Lindsay asked me.
“I’ve known Nate forever. Check it, we have matching blue dot tattoos in our arms. I was looking at your IDMB the other day, you guys did Cover Me together, right?”
“Yeah! We also did this terrible movie called Jumping for Joy.”
“Ohh,” I said cringingly, “I saw Jumping for Joy.”
“It was what it was.” Lindsay replied with a giggle
Calvin jumped into the conversation. “Maybe we should put that movie on, set the mood a little bit.” We all laughed at that prospect.
The two randomly met in an acting improv class in Seattle, and have worked on a number of different projects together since, most recently a full-length adaptation of one of their previous shorts, The Rambler. We asked Calvin what it was like to turn a short into a full-length feature.
“It was weird,” he told us. “I didn’t think it was going to be weird. We shot the short in 2006, and then six years later, we made this feature film. It’s weird because the short film, as ragged as it is, becomes this perfect document. It becomes this thing you have to live up to, and you never know if you’re doing it. That combined with these days where you’re reshooting a scene that you shot six years ago—that’s really a weird thing.”
Since Lindsay is repeating a role she’s already played, we asked her about her character. Had she evolved in the six years, or was she channeling the same person for the role?
“I definitely evolved on the page,” she explained. “I felt she was definitely more of a character. But it was really strange for me because Dermot Mulroney plays the rambler in the feature, and he basically wore the exact same clothes that Calvin wore in the short.”
“Actually he’s wearing the same clothes I’m wearing now,” Calvin said, making Lindsay laugh out loud.
“It’s true,” he added, and we couldn’t tell if he was joking.
Making characters out of someone you know intimately caught my attention as being somewhat difficult. Did Calvin write parts that played to Lindsay’s strengths, or does he write the characters individually and simply trust Lindsay’s acting ability?
“I think part of that’s true,” Calvin explained, “Though I don’t really look for the Lindsay that I know to show up in the movie. It actually makes it more difficult when I detect it. That’s not to say I don’t write things specifically to her strengths, which I believe is extreme vulnerability. She’s very, very strong at. In the film The Oregonian, I couldn’t think of anybody else on Earth that could play the part. She’s probably the only actor who could still talk to me after all the shit I put her through.”
Lindsay agreed and laughed again. It’s interesting to watch two people who’ve managed to build a strong relationship both on and off the screen. I’m not going to say that it made me feel lonely, or even jealous—if anything, it made me feel happy that these two people found each other.
“In every film we’ve ever done, I feel like I endure a lot,” said Lindsay, both to us and to Calvin. “At this point, it’s par for the course. I’d be really disappointed if I didn’t get to go through hell.”
“That’s not true,” said Calvin.
“No, I’d actually be really happy,” she laughed. “He’s very specific about what he wants, and a lot of that involves some crazy violence with the characters. So I have to endure it.”
“Maybe that’s partly the reason why I don’t like to write Lindsay in there,” he said. “If I detect her in there and something really bad happens, it’s like, ‘Shit…’”
Love is weird. It must be completely crazy to watch video of you putting your girlfriend through the worst circumstances possible, all in the name of art, especially when you care for your girlfriend as much as Calvin clearly did. Was it hard for her too? When he was writing his scripts at home, did she help develop the characters?
“My main contribution is my acting. I know him really well at this point and his scripts are very visual, so I can always picture everything in my mind. I don’t tell him we should do this or that. Everything comes from him and we kind of work on it together. I feel like Calvin’s ideas are so specific that I don’t need to try and change stuff. I don’t need to add anything on top of it. There’s an air of comfortability that we obviously have, and I know him so well that I feel very connected to his ideas and what he’s trying to accomplish. There’s not a huge sense of nervousness. I know it’s going to be fun and ridiculous.”
Lindsay has quietly built a reputation in the acting world, giving her more freedom to pick and choose roles. We asked her if there was any type of characters she was attracted to playing
"I really like roles that are interesting and kind of not the norm. I like things that push me. I could play the girl next door in a romantic comedy or something like that, but that just doesn’t interest me. If it’s bland, it’s really hard for me to attach myself to it. I like stuff that’s weird, bizarre, and challenging. I definitely want to be diverse and well-rounded as I can as an actress. As of late, I’ve been playing a lot of dark, emotional characters, and that comes easy to me, but I think the next thing I do should be light."
Working on True Blood and miniseries like Hatfields & McCoys must be completely different than working on independent movies. Did she find one to be better than the other?
"I definitely don’t have a preference because I think that they both have their benefits. I think that there’s a lot of great TV being made right now. In the last five or so years, some really amazing TV shows have come out, and I feel like no longer do actors have to choose between film and television. Now there’s a lot of crossover, especially with cable shows. When I was doing True Blood, you’re only working six months out of the year, so the schedule is really lenient the other six months. So I guess it’s more about the content and whether it’s a good project."
Since we hadn’t seen their new movie The Rambler (it hasn’t come out yet), we asked him what it was about.
“I guess it’s a story about a guy who gets out of prison and goes on a psycho journey. He runs into an existential and metaphysical conflict. I wouldn’t say it’s defined by violence or anything—I think it’s funny.” Calvin was serious.
For whatever reason, we started talking about The Clash, and it turned out Calvin and I had similar tastes in music. We talked about Burger Records and random bands from Oakland, and then he asked me about the bands I’d been in. As per usual with obscure punk bands, he’d never heard of any of them. I asked him about his bands.
“I played in a band called Intelligence for awhile,” he told me, “though I haven’t done that in years.”
I scrolled through my phone and found a song I’d downloaded a few days prior. “Dude… is this your band?” I asked him.
“Holy shit! where did you find that?” he said surprised. “That’s me playing bass! I think we recorded that in 2006. That’s so crazy you have that on your phone.”
Just goes to show, it’s a small world after all.
Photos By: Koury Angelo