Dropping The Lez Bomb
We chat to Jenna Laurenzo, director of Lez Bomb.
“Like a soda bottle that was being shook”
Lez Bomb is film positively overflowing with heart, wit and charm. Nothing sums it up better than the term “heartfelt,” which Laurenzo mentioned was written all over her pre-production notes.
To start, I’d love to talk about your origins in the film industry. You started out on Youtube. Was it always your aspiration to write for screen/direct/act? How do you think your start in online content creation has helped you grow as a writer/director/actor? Additionally, how is creating a web series different from the production of a full-length feature?
My web series Parker & Maggie, and then Water with Lemon, were my first deep dives into producing something I'd written and taking it from the page to the screen. One of the fantastic things about the internet is you can put something up on YouTube, and then you have to deal with feedback that's both good and bad. It allowed me the opportunity to face the fear of putting work out into the world for public scrutiny. Having work out there for the public means you're wide open for opinions that span the spectrum, and you learn to take it in stride and build those callouses. Additionally, that immediate feedback can show you what audiences respond to, allowing you to lean into what's working, learn from what's not, and better fine tune your voice. When my short film Girl Night Stand went viral online, it became a powerful tool to demonstrate audience to investors, which opened the door to financing for Lez Bomb. I'm a huge advocate of online content creation as it has helped me grow over the years, and ultimately created the opportunity for Lez Bomb to come to fruition.
Now onto Lez Bomb. The film just feels so incredibly sincere, from the seemingly crazy scenarios that actually are so true to life, the moments of heightened emotion and the more subdued quiet performances. The film is incredibly well balanced and thoughtful, as well as full of incredible comedic writing. I could see the influences of National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation and Meet the Parents, while the entire story still feels fresh and new. Were you drawing much on your real-life experiences for the story? How was your real life coming out in comparison?
Thank you for such kind words! Lez Bomb is definitely inspired by much of my real life. First and foremost, we shot the film in my childhood home. That is still where my parents live. And the motel is my mother's. She's run that motel for the past 27 years. While I did not come out on Thanksgiving, I made that particular holiday the backdrop of the film because it felt relatable. Coming home to the family with any news that doesn't quite match their expectations for your future, or doesn't necessarily match the expectations you personally had for yourself as a child creates pressure. I kept thinking about the film feeling like a soda bottle that was being shook. There's something about coming home, and your past meeting your present with implications for the future - it creates anxiety. Coming home and coming out with any news, sexuality aside, felt relatable, and I wanted to create a scenario in which those who might not gravitate towards such a story, would still find a hook in and be able to come along for the ride. Personally, when I finally came out it did feel explosive, because I had waited so long and build up all this mental pressure. In Lez Bomb, I wanted to take all those feelings, and cram them into a 48 hour Thanksgiving holiday comedy.
Today more than ever we are seeing growth in the number of LGBTQ+ characters on our screens. How important do you think it is to have a film representing an honest and chaotic coming out in the way that Lez Bomb does?
LGBTQ+ stories are often dramatic. Personally, I'm a fan of comedy. I wanted Lez Bomb to have a whimsical quality we don't often see in LGBTQ+ stories. By telling this story with a broader lens, I hoped to reach a larger audience and help push the story out of what's still considered "niche," and into mainstream. Additionally, when it comes to the depiction of two women in a relationship, many of these stories tend to be gratuitous. I wanted to create a film where families could comfortably sit around a couch on Thanksgiving and watch a film together, and feel comfortable. That way, it can spark conversation organically, if necessary, but no one has to sit through a 5 minute sex scene with their grandparents.
So often we have seen LGBTQ+ characters in film and TV being used as plot devices and at times cannon fodder. This was especially prevalent a few years ago with the Bury Your Gays backlash. How important do you think Lez Bomb’s happy ending is to people who may see a lot of their own reality reflected in the characters you created? Also, how valuable would this type of film have been for you when you were growing up?
I've often said I made Lez Bomb because it was the movie I wanted to see but couldn't find. I wanted a happy ending, and the happy ending in Lez Bomb was one of the most important elements to me. It's important to see happy endings for LGBTQ+ characters. Very often coming out is difficult whether for internal reasons, external pressures, or the combination. Seeing happy endings gives courage to step into our authentic selves, and provide faith there is in fact, light at the end of that tunnel. Very often LGBTQ+ stories do not have happy endings. Sure, these stories are also important to tell. However, it's time to bring some levity to the narrative, along with happy endings. Otherwise, as storytellers, we miss the opportunity to provide LGBTQ+ audiences with stories that reflect their own happy endings. If we don't show happy endings, we're subtly suggesting those stories aren't worth telling and celebrating. Happy endings are very important and worth just as much telling and celebrating.
What do you hope for the film and its reception amongst wider audiences?
I hope by exploring the theme of self-acceptance and dysfunctional family dynamics, the film's relatable to wider audiences. I wanted to tap into the universality of these themes, to help those that might not gravitate to such a story have a better sense of understanding. There's great power in laughter, and I hope by bringing people together to laugh, while also delivering a message through medicine, the film helps create more compassion and empathy.
How would you describe the core of Lez Bomb with one sentence?
Often the self-acceptance we're fighting for is our own.