New director experiencing the real Hollywood


Posted Fri, Mar 19, 2010


Lee Toland Krieger on the set of Vicious Kind. Photo courtesy of Krieger.


Lee Toland Krieger has just turned 27 and already feels old.

But where could 27 seem so old? Hollywood.

“I actually wish I was younger,” said the critically acclaimed indie writer/director.  “L.A. is a town that is youth obsessed.  Now, all the new fresh faces are younger than me. Everybody is kind of like a heat seeking missile looking for the ‘next big thing.”

Though Krieger is feeling his age, he has been able to find success.

His first feature film out of school, The Vicious Kind, has won critical acclaim including an Independent Spirit Award nomination for his screenplay.

“The nominations were such a surprise, it still doesn’t feel entirely real.” said the director.

However he does find difficulty in enjoying the success.

“It’s wonderful but it’s hard to stay in the mindset that the film is worth seeing,” said Krieger.  “I’m always thinking about what is still wrong with it.”

Krieger has been interested in how movies work since he was a child.

“When I was 8 years old I was really into magic,” the director said.  “I started thinking about how magic is really special effects and special effects go into film making.  I started making crappy home movies of hover-boards being strung up by string but since the quality was so bad on the film you couldn’t see the strings so it looked real.”

Lee Toland Krieger setting up a shot on the set of the film Vicious Kind. Photo courtesy of Krieger.


Krieger’s parents weren’t aware of his son’s talents with film at that point, they thought he was going to play professional golf.

“My parents were into golf for a really long time,” he said.  “They started me when I was around 7 or 8 years old and I played competitively through high school.”

Krieger felt that what he enjoyed in film, he wasn’t able to explore for the possibility of disappointing his parents.

“You know, you grow up and you generally do whatever your parents have applied to you,” the writer said.  “Looking back, they really were good about the whole thing considering they thought I was going to school on a scholarship and instead they had to send me to USC.”

While in school, Krieger created a film on a small budget with unknown actors, and it gave him his first taste of filmmaking.

“One thing that I realized was that I needed to be more relentless with what I was trying to do,” the director said.  “I was a people pleaser.  Afterwards, I decided that I owe it to myself and everyone who has come out here to be relentless in getting something great.”

In writing this film, Krieger pulled from one of the things he knows best–the father/son relationship.

“My relationship with my father doesn’t approach the severity of the relationship between Donald and Caleb,” he said.  “But for most guys, the father/son relationship is a tough one.  You are always wanting you father’s approval.”

Turning into your parents is a fear for anyone, it was definitely a concept that everyone would understand.

“When you get to the age of 20-21, you swear you won’t become your parents and you are discovering that you are becoming them,” Krieger said.  “Caleb’s character is filled with such self-loathing because he realizes that he has become his father and what he hates in his father is really what he hates in himself.”

Though Krieger has some dream collaborators on screen such as Zooey Deschanel and Ryan Gosling, he has more of a focus behind the scenes.

“I consider myself an amateur photographer so there are a lot of cinematographers I would like to work with,” said the director.  “I’m fairly hands on with the photographer in my film.”

And of course, sometimes directors can be big fans of their fellow filmmakers.

“I’m actually really obsessed with Paul Thomas Anderson,” said the director.  “He walks on water.  I think I have an unhealthy obsession with him.  You would think you could only watch the director commentary of Boogie Nights so many times before you get ‘trekkie’ on it.  I sometimes tell people save the money on film school and just watch that commentary.”

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2 Responses to “New director experiencing the real Hollywood”

  1. Samantha Ofole-Prince Says:

    Really like the intro on this piece and the angle of the article, which is short and straight to the point with relatable quotes woven in.

    Would have liked to know the story/plot of Vicious Kind since its what has launched him out of obscurity but great piece either way!


  2. Cherise Scrivner Says:

    I really enjoyed reading your piece.Kept me intreagued, and wanted to read about the rest of the story. Good job!


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