Brooklyn Based Filmmaker

Three Questions with Lisa Hammer

Three questions is all about sharing more about the fun people that I have had the pleasure of working with. These brief interviews appear in my monthly newsletter (which you can subscribe to here) and I am republishing them to the blog. The following interview with filmmaker and musician Lisa Hammer was originally published in the January 2016 edition of the newsletter.

I’ve been producing Lisa’s web series Maybe Sunshine and she also starred as the lead virgin hunting witch in Beneath the Black Moon. You may recognize her voice from playing the role of Triana Orpheus on Adult Swim’s the Venture Bros.

What do you do?

I make movies, I make music, I make acting and my voice is on the Cartoon Network. Sometimes I shoot or edit other people’s movies. I always try my best to create top shelf work that makes people laugh or cry or say “what the crap?” People called me a cult filmmaker in the 80’s, then a feminist filmmaker in the 90’s, now it’s Independent Filmmaker. I’d love to be called the lady version of John Waters. How about Mrs. Madam Filmmaker? For example, take this new musical comedy feature film I just finished with my partner Lisa Ferber called The Sisters Plotz. It’s got a technicolor “Old Hollywood” slapstick look and feel. It’s a very elegant and wacky take on guerrilla filmmaking, created by ladies who wear vintage cocktail dresses and drink champagne.

My music was labeled as “Goth” for decades, even though we never set out to be that. I was in the bands Requiem in White, Mors Syphilitica and The N.C.S. We played with Type-O negative, Christian Death, Biohazard, Sex Gang Children and so on. Now I’m in Radiana, which has more of a New Wave, Mod, Shoegaze sound. I started it as a studio band in 2008 with my best friend Steven Deal, but then he passed away a few years later from cancer so I decided to stop playing music.

Around 2014 my darling husband Levi Wilson urged me to start up again. This time was different: I felt too old and sad to just start a new band from scratch. Levi had the brilliant idea to instead create an original series about a fictional Lisa and her struggles to start a new band at the age of 48. Thus, Maybe Sunshine was born. We somehow found this amazing team of producers: Sean Mannion, Carolyn Maher and Myles Tyler-Vassell. With an all-star cast and crew, we are finishing up on post production for season one and will launch in the spring.

Why do you do it?

I know no other way to stay alive. If life doesn’t include making art and being creative, I can’t really function. It keeps me awake almost the entire night. Keeps me daydreaming so I forget where I’m going. No way out!

What do you want to share?

All that I do in this life is meant to be shared. My films, music, words, voice, my creativity. It’s for the world, so I have to keep going. If it helps 5 people or 500 or 5000, then it has all been worth it. I get very moving emails and messages from fans who have used my music to get through hard times and who’ve been moved by or enjoyed my films. A few of them I’ve had to talk down off a ledge. Mostly they’re just melancholy dreamy types like me with dark senses of humor. A few critics have even called my films “important” and “psychedelic”. They screen at festivals all the time. A highlight for me was a near-riot at my screening of Pus$bucket. There were chairs and beer bottles thrown across the room, and then an drunken impromptu reenactment of the film on stage while it played. I was just grinning like a Cheshire Cat. The prison mail has also been a highlight. Get a P.O. box, people! Stalkers can’t find you.

Here’s a thought: everyone’s a filmmaker these days- make yours great. Make it something that deserves to be seen. Don’t get any sleep. Let your creativity flow out 24 hours a day. Keep a notepad with you at all times. And make your music. Do it as a hobby unless you have 24 hours a day to promote it and go on tour and do nothing else. Otherwise, get it into films, give it away. It’s most likely going to be pirated anyway. If you put it all on your own web site, sell ads to make money. Help other filmmakers out by giving it to them for free.

Also- if you have elderly neighbors, check in on them. they are lonely and awesome and probably would love to tell you tales that will knock your socks off. Write it all down.

Lastly, hug your loved ones and friends all the time. Brush and floss, and stop sitting all day. Get up and walk around, get a standing desk. Start lifting weights, it’s super fun. Then you can eat more chocolate.