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A Conversation with Mick Lexington, the Director of 'Lipstick Traces'

Writer / Director. Mick Lexington

Please tell us about yourself. How did you get involved in filmmaking, did you attend film school or study film at university?

I didn't have the opportunity to attend a prestigious university or film school, so I studied Filmmaking in a small technical college in the Midwest. But I was a very impatient student, and I had other interests, so I left. First, I moved to Paris where I tried my hand at painting, then moved to London where I played guitar and sang in a rock band. I eventually left and went back to America, where I worked small jobs while hitch-hiking from New York to San Francisco. There I studied literature and creative writing for a few years before moving back to New York, where I took up filmmaking again.

What keeps you motivated despite the fact that filmmaking is a laborious job?

We humans have this innate desire to procreate, which in essence, is the creative process. I think it's my paternal instinct that comes out with each of my projects. It's also an addiction. If I didn't have a project to work on, I'd crate a reason to work on a film project.

Do you think the role of a producer is vital?

The "role" of the producer? Yes, a dedicated producer, it's a nice to have. You have to remember I work in an independent lower-budget arena. I'd love the luxury of a dedicated producer. Often the tradeoff is relinquishing creative control. I work on this level because I have complete creative control of my work. I had a TV series in development with a very famous producer attached to it. He liked the concept of the series but wanted to water down the content to make it more commercial. In the end, I walked away from 500K of development funds rather than see my work compromised. Yes, a producer is important. Creative control is vital.

How do you think the industry is changing?

It's becoming more accessible, today anyone can make a film with their phone. This is both good and bad. With a low barrier to entrance, you find a lot of content, and with that, a lot of bad content. Before I made any commercial films, I worked in many creative disciples, in practically creative writing, and I had some great writing teachers who stressed the craft of storytelling. Unfortunately, that 'low barrier to entrance' in filmmaking I speak of allows many filmmakers to release a lot of mediocre content.

Who are your favorite filmmakers?

Andrei Tarkovsky, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, and Michael Andolini are some of my favorites, but stylistically, the master is Yasujirō Ozu.

Arielle Hope as Jade Morrison in Lipstick Traces

How are children influenced by movies?

I would assume the same as adults, perhaps more impressionable. As I don't have any children, it's something I don't know very much about. I wouldn't want anyone under a certain age watching the films I'm making. Not that there's anything I'm hiding, but I think the subject matter requires a certain amount of emotional maturity. I don't want to create with a stipulation, so I'd instead reserve my work for consenting adults.

The script is the most important to make a film. Do you think all filmmakers focus on that?

Story, which precedes script, is more important. When I write, I have a handful of lines or expressions that I want the actor to hit verbatim, and that is because those lines are written to communicate a very specific idea. Other than that, I want my actors to internalize the story and deliver it in a way in which they feel conveys the emotions of their charter in the situation.

What inspires you to work?

Humanity, human stories, that which stirs within us to make us love, and hate, unconditionally, the tragedy of love, the selfish desire which drives one to destroy all that one cherishes. Redemption and betrayal, the lust of conquest. The contradictions of existing.

Arielle Hope and Aline Decat in Lipstick Traces

Who've been your influences within the industry?

I'm an artist, I don't belong to an industry.

If you had an unlimited budget at your disposal, what would your dream production project be?

It would be the same project, but we would do more takes.

What are you most proud of in your professional experience?

Lipstick Traces has received a lot of accolades in a short time which I'm very pleased about. But pride? I hope I practice an appropriate humility in this or any other film project. When one creates a film or any work of art for that matter, one has invited society to participate in that creation. I'm proud and humbled that I have this responsibility.

Do you think directing a film is the toughest job while making a movie?

It's tied to your resources, which is in turn, is tied to the definition of the responsibilities of the director. I would love the opportunity to arrive on set and begin filming with every aspect in place. On the level where I make films, as the director, I have a lot of jobs besides directing that are my responsibility. Directing isn't the easiest, but it's the most rewarding. The toughest job is scheduling, and unfortunately, that more often than not lands on my desk.

Raymond Turturro and Keeley Shantz in Lipstick Traces

What advice would you like to give to aspiring filmmakers?

Put your camera down and go out and live some life first, get into a few fights, have a few drunken nights, have your heart broken, get arrested a time or two, go live in a foreign country a few years, get yourself so lost you have to make a new home for yourself. Do this first, then write about it before picking up a camera.

What are the films you admire – that you have found to be profound? What films have moved you in an entertaining way?

Entertaining? I don't use cinema to entertain me. That's what whiskey and cocaine is for. I use cinema to take me places where the whiskey and cocaine can't. To the propound as you say, such as Fassbinder's Veronika Voss and The Marriage of Maria Braun. I also find any of Terrence Malick's work a necessary indulgence, but Andrei Tarkovsky, particularly Nostalghia. Nostalghia stands in a league of its own.

What projects are you working on next?

Lipstick Traces was the replacement project during Covid for a web series adaptation of my novel, Mr. Jack, which will be resumed no later than Autumn of 2022, I expect.


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