Even in its title, there’s something so inherently sweet and pure about Anton King’s romantic comedy “Lust for Love” that it would seem to invite cynicism.
“We were getting some location permissions the other day,” King wrote in an e-mail, in the midst of scouting in Los Angeles in anticipation of a December shoot. “And once the building owner noticed the title he had to call us back to check whether the movie wasn’t a porno.”
Such are the times we live in, but King’s feature directorial debut promises a respite, should it reach its fundraising goal on Kickstarter by November 11th. In telling the story of a man (Fran Kranz) whose short-lived reunion and potential romance with his childhood flame goes so horribly awry that her best friend (Dichen Lachman) takes him under her wing to educate him in the ways of the opposite sex, the film is a true labor of love onscreen and off.
Reuniting much of the cast of Joss Whedon’s beloved sci-fi series “Dollhouse,” “Lust for Love” actually can trace its origins back to “Remains,” the music video that King initially shot to coincide with the release of the show’s second season on DVD. King got the gig through his friend and Aussie compatriot Lachman, who played the enigmatic Sierra on the series and subsequently introduced him to “Dollhouse” writer/actress Maurissa Tancharoen Whedon.
After reading a teleplay King had written and seeing a few of his shorts, she entrusted him with “Remains,” in which she plays a robot sent to live with a lonely Angeleno (Kranz), scored to the song she wrote for the season one finale “Epitaph One.” A thoughtful, elegantly produced short, it manages to touch on many of the show’s themes of isolation and moral responsibility within a three-minute clip that’s wordlessly evocative and displays a sharp, modern style full of clever visuals in every inch of the frame.
“I saw it as a great opportunity,” said King of “Remains.” “I gave myself the goal of making something good enough that people would want to watch it more than once.”
As it would turn out, the clip did one better since in addition to its rewatchability, everyone behind “Remains” wanted to work together once more, paving the way for King to finally make the leap to features after four years of making shorts. A former member of the Australian whitewater canoe slalom team, he’s been navigating the treacherous waters of independent filmmaking ever since he retired from the sport in 2004, though he applied the same level of training to his craft until in his words, “My directing and writing were good enough to warrant the money and effort required for a feature.”
Now that the time has arrived, it appears that an eager audience awaits — “Lust for Love” has quickly amassed over half of its Kickstarter goal in a matter of days and rest assured, their contributions will be rewarded. Not only has “Lust for Love” already forged a bond with its backers with an enticing array of goodies for different pledge levels, especially with the unusual step of offering a pre-release special edition DVD of the film for pledges of $25 or more, but surely devotees of its leads Kranz and Lachman will get a kick out of seeing the two in a completely different context, particularly Kranz, who will be worlds away from the intimidating, calculating Topher on “Dollhouse” as just a guileless guy looking for love.
“The wave of support so far has of course been very exciting, and I can’t thank the backers enough, but the main response has been relief,” said King. “We’ve been pulling this movie together for months, and the whole strategy is reliant on Kickstarter. I want to see Fran and Dichen in more features, and I trusted that their fans would too.”
There will no doubt be many new fans too once production is expected to commence in December.
“I’m very proud of the script, and absolutely love the cast,” said King. “If everything comes together, I really believe this could be a great film.”