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article imageFilmmaker Lili Matta talks '86 Melrose Avenue' hostage thriller Special

By Markos Papadatos     Apr 4, 2021 in Entertainment
Writer and director Lili Matta chatted with Digital Journal's Markos Papadatos about her hostage thriller "86 Melrose Avenue."
86 Melrose Avenue will be available on April 20 on such Video On Demand (VOD) platforms as iTunes, Prime Video, Google Play, and YouTube.
Regarding her inspiration to write and direct 86 Melrose Avenue, she said, "It was several ideas that came together— I have always been interested in relationships and interaction.At the same time, I wanted to explore disconnection. In today’s fast-paced and high-tech world, I feel as if we have become somewhat desensitized and disconnected. I notice that we don’t talk to one another anymore; we talk at one another; we don’t listen to one another."
"I wanted to tell a story about people from different walks of life and different cultures, whose lives intersect during a fateful night. I wanted to highlight a variety of current issues that are prevalent today, such as gun violence, PTSD, mental illness," she added.
On working with Dade Elza and Gregory Zarian and the rest of the cast, she said, "It was wonderful working with Dade and Gregory. They are both very versatile actors and wonderful human beings! I had met Dade three years ago at my friend's film premiere, where Dade was playing one of the main roles. I loved his performance and I approached him after the premiere and we spoke."
"We met again a couple of times and I gave him the script for 86 Melrose Avenue. I told him I would love for him to play the main lead Travis once I get the financing for my film. We stayed in touch. And three years later I got the financing and I called Dade to come to the audition as Travis," she said.
"Gregory had a role in my first feature Life gets in the way," she said. "He was such a charming and magnificent actor. I knew we would have more films together because he was so talented and fun to work with. We became friends and stayed in contact. Three years ago, I gave him the script for 86 Melrose Avenue and I told him I see him as Avi, the main lead. I told him we will make this film together once I raise the financing for it. And we did."
The film has already received several accolades and awards in the film festival circuit. "It's a wonderful feeling to see that your film is getting recognition and is being praised. It is very gratifying for us filmmakers and storytellers. Because it shows us that people are relating to our stories and that the message is getting across those audiences," she said.
On being a filmmaker in the digital age, with streaming and technology being so prevalent, she said, "The digital world is definitely taking over. Technology keeps advancing. But storytelling remains the same. The basis of everything is to have a powerful story that you can share with the world around you."
For young and aspiring writers and directors, she said, "Keep writing and keep directing. Don't let rejection deter you. Rejection is part of the process and the pathway to success."
Regarding her daily motivations as a filmmaker, she responded, "The need to explore myself and the world around me. We are all such interesting and complex human beings. And it is so compelling to discover more about ourselves as we grow and why we do what we do and why we behave a certain way. How we constantly evolve in this ever-changing world."
On her definition of success, Matta said, "To me, success is about being able to create something that will have a positive impact on us and the world around us. Whether through the medium of filmmaking, art, sciences, education, nonprofit... Anything that has a powerful resonance."
Matta concluded about 86 Melrose Avenue, "It's a very compelling and relatable story. It is about us as individuals, as a community, and citizens of the same world. It is about the antipathy of the other, the vagaries of the human condition, and the insidiousness of mental illness (PTSD). It comes out on April 20th. Don't forget to watch it."
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