Local film maker gaining renown
August 31, 2011 - While it may not be Tinsel Town, Lake Orion has its very own movie-maker and he's in the process of finishing his latest short film - Pucker.
Paul Lenzi, whose previous credits include the award winning Dog Gone, a number of commercials and work on broadcast shows like Biggest Loser and Dateline said the short films are a way for him to exercise his craft in his own way.
"Essentially the guys I hire, some one which of worked with of 10 years, have volunteered their time because it can be nice and refreshing to work in an environment with no clients and just to have fun," said Lenzi. "It's a nice way to work in film without having to appease someone else or make another persons vision happen."
Dog Gone, Lenzi's first short film as director (among other positions) tells the story of a pug who is the constant center of attention for a young girl. The girl loves the dog dearly, but tends to be a bit rough at time. Still, life isn't too bad until a stuffed animal shows up to threaten the relationship.
The film won a number of awards at various Michigan film festivals including the Made in Michigan festival in Lapeer (best of fest.), the Westbranch festival (best film), and the Ferndale film festival (best comedic short.)
In addition, the short movie won best comedic short at the Mitten Movie Project out of the Main Art theatre in Royal Oak for January. The film will now join 11 others in similar categories (one for each month) in a running for the best of the year come December.
Besides the role of director for the film, Lenzi also included his then 8-year-old daughter, Isabella, as the films main supporting actress - the dog's owner. Isabella also plays the role of the main character in Pucker.
Lenzi believes one of the reasons for the films success is its lightheartedness in the face of other independent films - a large number of which can be very intense. Speaking about his latest project, Lenzi said he was simply looking for something to do with his daughter that wasn't "too heavy."
"After Dog Gone she got kind of a big head because she got so much attention at one of the film festivals and said she didn't want to do another movie, but she changed her mind eventually, so we started on (Pucker)," said Lenzi. "I didn't want it to be too serious, so it's more of an adult film but kids can watch it and maybe enjoy it too.
"A lot of movies shown at these film festivals are really moody and adult with lots of swearing, but mine are the exact opposite. These don't win a lot of awards typically, but the audience loves them because they serve as kind of break or a palate cleanser."
Often, because Isabella will be one of the only children present at the festivals, she will be approached by people recognizing her from the film. At the Detroit Independent Film Festival, Isabella was nominated for best supporting actress - a nomination that went to only five from between 30 and 40 woman and girls. She's even been approached by agents, but Lenzi said acting is not something Isabella wants to pursue.
"She actually wants to be a chef," he explained. "She enjoys being in the movies and she studies and works really hard for these films, but she just doesn't want to be an actress."
Isabella is paid in stuffed animals.
To watch Dog Gone, search "dog gone pug" online. Meanwhile, Pucker, which tells the story of a girl's quest for a stuffed animal and the lemonade stand she starts to get it, should be out sometime in 2012.
Visit Lenzi on his website at paullenzi.net.