Two Queens filmmakers are using their home borough as the setting for their work, including their film “Text Me,” which will make its east coast premiere on August 14.
Astoria residents Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett are a husband and wife duo that has now written and directed three films together. The two met in a Manhattan café, where they struck up a conversation about their separate documentary work. Lir said that it was “sort of like love at first sight.”
Lir said that being a “really strong team” is what has led to their success. He said they are there to help motivate each other. He also said that what makes their work unique is Bennett is able to represent the female side of their characters while he is able to represent the male side of the characters.
“It really makes a complimentary world,” Lir said. “I think it really brings it together.”
Their most recent collaboration, “Text Me,” began in 2009. While sitting in the airport, they began to notice how much Facebook and text messaging are used for communication while face-to-face communication is not as strong any more.
Lir said they thought it would be funny to do a film about two younger people on a date who keep texting. He said they wanted to make a movie about young people and how they are almost out of control with using technology to communicate.
“It’s like you’re in a digital work. It’s a little bit scary,” Lir said, adding that they wanted to comment on it in a humorous way.
“Text Me,” which stars Matt Bennett from the Nickelodeon series “Victorious,” was filmed in an Italian restaurant in Astoria.
This is not the first time that Lir and Bennett have filmed in Queens. They have also filmed in Jackson Heights and along Roosevelt Avenue.
“As a filmmaker, Queens is pretty mind blowing because you can go to all these different countries almost,” Lir said.
Lir said that he has found the residents of Queens very open when it comes to filming in the borough. He said they want to help and get involved, and that one of the reasons he loves it is because of the people.
“They’re open-minded and they’re real,” he said.
Lir and Bennett started getting “Text Me” into different film festivals in September of 2009. It won a best comedy award at the Indie Short Film Competition and Third Screen Film Festival. It was also a finalist at Indie Producer.
“It feels great to win awards and have people really want to screen the film,” Lir said.
Among other upcoming film festivals “Text Me” will be shown at, it will make its east coast debut on Saturday, August 14 when it is shown at the NYC International Film Festival. As the first time doing a “real showing in New York,” Lir said that it feels good to screen “Text Me” to the New York City public.
Lir and Bennett are now working on a feature film called “Skateboarding with Saddam,” which will be filmed in Israel. Lir explained that it is about courage and the meaning of friendship with the Gulf War as a backdrop.