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David Lynch Helps New Filmmaker Monica Demes Overcome Writer’s Block and Embrace Feminism

on the set Monica Demes

Filmmaker Monica Demes premieres her first feature length film, LILITH’S AWAKENING at the Dances with Wolves Los Angeles Film Festival Saturday. Demes credits iconic director David Lynch (BLUE VELVET, “Twin Peaks”) with opening her eyes to the fact that her story wasn’t working during the scripting process because her protagonist was a man. Once the Brazilian native pondered Lynch’s advice, her writer’s block disappeared and she felt a  liberation of ideas.

LILITH’S AWAKENING combines themes of sex and horror in what she describes as an avant garde, artistic thriller. Shot in black and white, LILITH’S AWAKENING is a psychological horror art film that tells the story of Lucy, a sexually repressed woman trapped in a loveless marriage and a dead-end job at her father’s service station in a small Iowa town. One night, a mechanic who works for her father forces himself on Lucy, awakening in her an uncontrollable dark force.

Combining sex and fear isn’t new to films, explains Demes.

“All the vampires stories combine sex with fear. The vampire represents lust. And you’ll see all the vampire’s victims are women living in a very ordered and repressed society.”

She continues that filmic tradition in LILITH’S AWAKENING by setting the film in the Mid-West which represents conservative Puritan values. She also chose to shoot it in black and white to tell the story of this repressed woman whose desires are awakened in a violent way.

“For me, black and white is a declaration of intentions. What the director is trying to say is that this is not real life. This is not the world. You are entering a dream. A fantasy. This is the language being used to communicate from now on.”

Her intentions with the film weren’t always clear. Demes tells CineMovie she put down her first script to write another one once she peaked in her ideas. She did the same with the second script when she fell victim to writer’s block and moved forward with a third script for a different movie but she soon realized she was writing essentially the same story but with different characters. She had hit a road block until she met David Lynch.

Official Site: http://www.lilithsawakening.com/

For Demes, Lynch is the “greatest director ever” and a “great maestro.” If you watch the trailer (below), you’ll see the obvious influence Lynch has on her work. Demes’ loves Lynch’s lighting technique in that he pits  lightness and darkness against each other.

“David has this quality in that he plays with the subconscious. You finish watching the movie, but the story continues in your head. Also, he plays with lighting. That’s pretty much what I do in my films. That’s where my inspiration comes from.”

Lilith's Awakening Poster Movie posterDemes, who studied film in Madrid, Spain, says she had the great fortune of meeting her idol, and THE ELEPHANT MAN director gave her the best advice of her life after she explained her writer’s block.

“First he said, ‘Monica don’t despair. Be calm. That’s how it works. The imagination exists. It’s normal to go through various stories until you come up with the right one.’ He then asked me, ‘Why are you getting stuck? You’re lying!’ And I’m thinking to myself - I’m lying? I don’t understand. Where is the lie?”  

Further thought of Lynch’s words led to the solution. The lie she was writing is that her protagonist was the wrong gender. Her lead should be a woman, not a man.  

“As soon as I changed it, BOOM! My writer’s block was gone and the story came to me. The whole point of view had to be from the woman’s perspective.”

She adds it all made sense as to why the protagonist of LILITH’S AWAKENING had to be a woman. She is “tired” of watching women raped on screen and simply portrayed as victims. She started thinking what if something happened to the rapist, essentially a revenge story. That was the starting point for LILITH’S AWAKENING, and frankly her approach to any future projects.

“For me, intellectually all my protagonists are going to be women. Because I think it’s time women start sharing their point of views and be more involved in the world of cinema.”

Demes knew she wanted to be a storyteller since the age of three when she started telling stories. That was about the same time she was exposed to horror films and vampires by her grandmother who sat with her in the dark watching the scary movies, much to her mother’s dismay. That was the start of her fascination with vampires which has a direct influence on LILLITH’S AWAKENING.  

If you’re in the Los Angeles area, experience LILITH’S AWAKENING at the Dances with Film Festival (Chinese Theater) on Saturday, June 11 where the film will have it’s premiere.

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