We had the opportunity to talk with writer/director/producer Jude Klassen on her indie musical, Love in the Sixth. She shares lots of great insight on making an independent feature musical with what you have available to you. Read for more details and where to watch Love in the Sixth!
Love in the Sixth is my first feature – a kind of accidental musical that was inspired by watching a cool film made for a grand (Mourning Has Broken) by my now producing partners, The Butler Brothers. At the time I was making political satire music videos with LITS DP, Rob McGee and we decided that we could definitely afford to make a feature for that amount of coin. We ended up spending more, but we did keep costs to a bare minimum with an incredible volunteer army.
I dusted off a script I was working on and started to assemble a team. At my pal Asher Ettinger’s music jam party, in April 2014, I met TC Folkpunk aka Tim Cameron who ended up being my co-star and co-composer on Love in the Sixth. Together with Asher we rather spontaneously started writing songs for the characters to perform.
It’s an “enviromantic” musical about living in the sixth extinction. LITS has been called “Blondie meets Cassavetes” and I think that’s pretty accurate. It’s not your typical musical, it’s a gritty, funny, naturalistic drama intercut with documentary footage – the main character, Dani interviews strangers on the street about love, relationships, and politics. OK, maybe a nod to the documentary style footage in When Harry Met Sally.
Some of the songs are full color productions like Fucking Love! and Mancation, others are weighty, black and white, dark night of the soul numbers like Murder Us to Sleep. An audience favorite is Bitch in My Pants that was recorded live – an authentic glimpse into the song-writing process where mating and making music meet. Dani is fighting the “Bitch in her Pants” who keeps ruining her life with bad man choices.
We shot all over Toronto: west side, east side, my house, the actor’s houses, nobody was spared. The beauty of truly independent filmmaking is that you really can be spontaneous and that can lead to some pretty magical shit. LITS is a cool window into the Toronto artistic community with not-so-ordinary people coping with life in what feels like the end of days.
I started working on LITS in April of 2014 at the end of an intense breakup and threw every good, bad, beautiful, toxic emotion into the film. We had our World Premiere at the 2015 Whistler International Film Festival, and our US premiere at the 2016 Chicago International Movies and Music Festival (CIMMFEST). LITS screened in Toronto at the Fox Theatre in June of 2017 and November 2017 at a launch for being on the NFB / First Weekend Club’s Canada Screens website.
Starring whoever showed up! That was our running joke. Thankfully, I know a lot of naturally hilarious people. Actors, musicians, painters, story tellers. The story revolves around single mom, tutor, and entertainment writer/host Dani (me) who films interviews: Martini Think Tanks in her living room. Her bestie, Mavis (Wendy Sinclair) is in a thruple with two brothers (Brett Butler, Jason Butler) and is falling for one of the bros. Dani’s daughter, Kat (Mikhael Klassen Kay) is the 11 year-old climate activist who fights the power and questions her mom’s choice of a boyfriend. Dani’s friend Qalie (Shay Steinberg) is in a dysfunctional relationship with Tamara (Lisa Santonato), and has some beautiful moments of romantic breakdown that includes putting on lipstick while driving.
Since in real life I was an entertainment writer/host I was able to wrangle a few interesting cameos from the likes of Survivorman (Les Stroud) who helped me recreate our Movie Entertainment interview as fiction with the intrusion of the jealous boyfriend, Sid (TC Folkpunk), who scares him off before Dani can finish the interview. There’s a sweet cameo from actor/comedian Dennis Trainer who plays a Survivorman super fan who pops out of the shrubbery to ask a few questions. Globe and Mail TV critic, John Doyle plays himself on Dani’s live streamed Martini Think Tank show with model/actor/voice of The Corporation, Mikela Jay playing a cynical Canadian TV star set on pissing off her controlling publicist who shuts Dani’s livestream down. We also have a cameo from environmental bad boy/musician John Lefebrve who does a duet with Bitchumen Bitch (me in a black wig) called Dirty Lies which we shot on both the Scarborough Bluffs (with epic paper-mache oil-covered duck costumes by Laura Lind) and Salt Spring Island in BC. John’s footage was captured by my second cameraperson, Jeremy Gilbert, who was on the island visiting his sister. “Hey Jer, while you’re there…“
You can catch Love in the Sixth on Amazon Prime Video in the US, Canada, and the UK. Final tidbit: I’m currently in post on my second feature as writer/director, Stupid For You, also a musical with the Dani and Kat characters in another time/dimension and the focus is on the teenage LBGTQ love triangle. Produced by the aforementioned Butler Brothers (Substance Productions Inc), with the same musical production team: Tim Cameron, Asher Ettinger and me. Still has that living at the end of the world atmosphere and wicked tunes but with a John Hughes nouveau vibe.
You can watch Love in the Sixth now on Amazon:
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