10 Reasons to Get Your Shows Reviewed by Audience Members on Better Lemons

A Guestbook is nice but only one person can have it. That's where Better Lemons comes to the rescue!

  1. With Better Lemons, your audience members can “sign your page” by giving you a review and rating your show
  2. With SWEET reviews on Better Lemons, you can qualify for the Yearly Audience and the Critics Choice Award
  3. With Better Lemons, you can gather all reviews from critics in one place, without having to search the web or track down the reviewer
  4. With Better Lemons, you can link your show to your online resume
  5. ALL SWEET events get promoted in our weekly post and in our weekly newsletter
  6. Better Lemons is where audiences go to find the SWEETEST shows in town. The highest page hits on Better Lemons are the LemonMeter page and the Calendar page
  7. Your show page can be used for your production anywhere in the world because you can add dates and change the venue and keep the reviews “to carry over”
  8. The reviews on your page could find you investors
  9. Better Lemons is where the audience has the last word. They are your best customers who will bring their friends and they will bring their friends
  10. The LemonMeter will help you strive to be your best

Now Registered This Week on the Better Lemons Calendar - September 3 through September 9, 2018

NEW! Shows and Film Festivals that have registered on the Better Lemons calendar. For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.
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Events Opening This Week

THE PEOPLE VS HELL KROSS @ Three Clubs

September 5, 2018 8:00 pm

Audience Lemonade: 100%

80s British rock band, Hell Kross, stands accused of hundreds of wrongful deaths, as their music leaves a wake of death and destruction. This heavy metal musical comedy rock opera extravaganza requires YOU to ...read more


THE UNTRANSLATABLE SECRETS OF NIKKI CORONA @ Geffen Playhouse

September 5, 2018 8:00 pm

How many of us have wished for one more chance to say the right thing? A Better Orpheus Inc. provides an alternative to regret—a service that allows the living to communicate with the dead. ...read more


AWKWARD SILENCE SPECIAL PRIVATE SCREENING @ Mexican Center For Culture and Cinematic Arts

September 6, 2018 6:00 pm

As part of our mission, the CCCM supports the new filmmakers showcase their projects. This time we invite Manny Montanez with his short film Awkward Silence, a film about love and languange barriers. Synopsis ...read more


MARTIANS - AN EVENING WITH RAY BRADBURY @ Whitefire Theatre

September 7, 2018 8:00 pm

For Humanity to survive we must all become Martians!  America's Storyteller, Ray Bradbury, is our guide to mankind's next great adventure, to our next outpost in outer space, the planet Mars. Ray Bradbury speaks directly to ...read more


INSPECTING CAROL @ Hillcrest Center For The Arts

September 7, 2018 8:00 pm

A ROLLICKING FARCE SHEER COMIC GENIUS AND SOME RAZZLE DAZZLE HOLIDAY FUN PANIC! PRODUCTIONS PRESENTS The Madcap Christmas Spoof INSPECTING CAROL LOS ANGELES (August 18, 2018)–Paul Thomas Panico Jr and PANIC! PRODUCTIONS are proud ...read more


THE GIN GAME @ Sierra Madre Playhouse

September 7, 2018 8:00 pm

Weller Martin tries desperately to retain some control over his life despite falling into ill health and becoming a reluctant resident of a nursing home. Fonsia Dorsey serves as the symbol of all gone ...read more


TIME STANDS STILL@ Lounge Theatre

September 7, 2018 8:00 pm

Sarah is a photojournalist for a magazine. James, her boyfriend, is a foreign correspondent. Both have returned home to their apartment in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, after suffering traumas during a stint on assignment in Afghanistan. ...read more


BREADCRUMBS @ The Group Rep/Lonny Chapman Theatre

September 8, 2018 2:00 pm

The Group Rep presents BREADCRUMBS written by Jennifer Haley, directed by Bert Emmett, produced by Helen O'Brien for the Group Rep. The play is about a reclusive fiction writer diagnosed with dementia who must ...read more


THE COLOR COLLECTIVE @ The Complex

September 8, 2018 8:00 pm

Audience Lemonade: 100%

https://youtu.be/uCQFvCDFDmE The Color Collective is a variety show featuring diversity in everything from music and dance to stand-up and sketch comedy, The Color Collective strives to be a show for all people, where we can ...read more


ALL NIGHT LONG @ Atwater Village Theatre

September 8, 2018 8:00 pm

The thin line between waking and dreaming, the conscious and subconscious, is exposed in playwright John O'Keefe's outrageously funny, surreal sit-com about 18 hours in the life of an all-American nuclear family. Sept. 14 ...read more


AMERICAN SAGA - GUNSHOT MEDLEY: PART 1 @ Met Theatre

September 8, 2018 8:00 pm

A lyrical and mystical new play, with live music, about the struggle against systemic racism. Set in a haunted North Carolina graveyard this intricately crafted work brings past and present together in a soulful ...read more


"BLACK!" @ Zephyr Theatre

September 9, 2018 7:00 pm

In this dynamic, funny and deeply truthful performance, actor, playwright and storyteller Michael Washington Brown shatters stereotypes, playing out the life stories of four men from around the world (the U.S., England, Jamaica and ...read more


THE CAKE @ Geffen Playhouse

September 11, 2018 8:00 pm

When Della (Debra Jo Rupp), a North Carolina Baker and devout Christian, is asked to bake a wedding cake for her best friend's daughter, she is overjoyed. But that joy is short-lived when she ...read more


Now registered this week on the Better Lemons Calendar August 20 to September 2, 2018

NEW! Shows and film festivals that have registered on the Better Lemons calendar. For more shows visit our Calendar. For shows with a LemonMeter rating, visit our LemonMeter page.
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Visit our Wakelet for more stories.


Events Opening This Week

 

OUTLAW @ Rubicon Theatre Company

May 2, 2018 7:30 pm

Former Hells Angel George Christie brings his new one-man, autobiographical show "Outlaw" to the Center Stage Theater, May 2 and 3. Through words, images and music, "Outlaw" explores how the son of poor Greek ...read more


CARDBOARD PIANO @ International City Theatre

May 2, 2018 8:00 pm

Against the backdrop of Uganda's civil war, the union of the daughter of an American missionary and a local teenage girl is disrupted by violence. Hansol Jung's haunting drama confronts the religious and cultural ...read more


34TH ANNUAL LOS ANGELES ASIAN PACIFIC FILM FESTIVAL

May 3, 2018 7:00 pm

Visual Communications (VC), the nation's premier Asian Pacific American media arts center, announced its outstanding program of films and events for the upcoming 34th edition of the Los Angeles Asian Pacific Film Festival (LAAPFF) ...read more


PROVENANCE @ Little Fish Theatre

May 3, 2018 8:00 pm

A tale of a librarian whose self-imposed isolation high atop a mountain is broken by a worldly woman on a quest to read a list of 100 books takes the stage in Little Fish ...read more


ELEVADA @ Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center

May 4, 2018 7:45 pm

What kind of tango partner are you looking for — one that will glide with you above all of life's messiness, or someone who will stay with you on the ground? It's only their ...read more


SOLO MUST DIE: A MUSICAL PARODY @ Hudson Backstage

May 4, 2018 8:00 pm

Stidley Theatricals presents the world premiere of “SOLO MUST DIE: A Musical Parody.” Book by Jordan & Ari Stidham, music and lyrics by Hughie Stone Fish and Ari Stidham, directed by Ari Stidham, produced ...read more


ALEICHEM SHOLOM! THE WIT AND WISDOM OF SHOLOM ALEICHEM @ Santa Monica Playhouse, The Other Space

May 5, 2018 7:30 pm

“Evelyn Rudie is an all-around theatrical wizard…Mr. DeCarlo's characterization is faultless.” Casting Call Follow the life of the beloved Yiddish story-teller as he spins tales of his loves and losses, his fame and failures, ...read more


BOEING BOEING@ Morgan-Wixson Theatre

May 5, 2018 8:00 pm

Winner of the 2008 Tony Award, Best Revival of a Play, "Boeing Boeing" is a 1960's farce that features self-styled bachelor Bernard living in Paris. He has Italian, German, and American ...read more


THE DEMENTIA VOTE - A FARCE@ Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group

May 6, 2018 7:00 pm

Zombie Joe's Underground Theatre Group proudly presents an all-new original play from the wonky mind of David Dickens, "THE DEMENTIA VOTE"! This hyperbolic farcical adventure takes us on a journey with a senile old ...read more


TALES OF MODERN MOTHERHOOD @ THE WHITEFIRE THEATRE

May 9, 2018 8:00 pm

‘Tales of Modern Motherhood'  A Special Performance  The Week of Mothers Day! (One Performance Only) WEDNESDAY, MAY 9TH - WHITEFIRE THEATRE - 8:00PM (The Media Are Invited To Review) ​Los Angeles, CA (April 10, 2018)– Pam Levin returns to The Whitefire ...read more


Events Opening This Week

JEREMY DENK, PIANO @ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

April 25, 2018 7:30 pm

Jeremy Denk is one of America's foremost pianists, the winner of a MacArthur "Genius" Fellowship, the Avery Fisher Prize, and Musical America's Instrumentalist of the Year award. Join us for a scintillating evening of ...read more


2018 TCM CLASSIC FILM FESTIVAL 

April 26, 2018 6:00 pm

Held over four days in the heart of Hollywood, the TCM Classic Film Festival is a place where movie lovers from around the world can gather to experience classic movies as they were meant ...read more


INDIAN WEDDING!@ Three Clubs

April 26, 2018 7:30 pm

Always wanted to attend an Indian Wedding, but haven't the right friends? Join cousins Pinky, Bubbly and Neal (Amritha Kaur, Sunanda Sachatrakul and Neal Dandade) on Sangeet night (the biggest party night of all ...read more


BLUES IN THE NIGHT @ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

April 27, 2018 8:00 pm

The soul of the blues wails out full and strong in Blues in the Night, the scorching, Tony and Olivier Award-nominated musical! The 26 hot and torchy numbers - by icons Bessie Smith, Duke ...read more


MENDING FENCES@ Little Fish Theatre

April 27, 2018 8:00 pm

A father and son reunion is at the center of Mending Fences, a human drama that is relevant to anyone who has ever been a son, daughter, or parent -- which includes us all. ...read more


URINETOWN THE MUSICAL @ Harter Hall, Charles Stewart Howard Playhouse

April 28, 2018 7:00 pm

URINETOWN Not the place. The Musical! Don't let the title put you off! URINETOWN is pretty much your typical musical. Boy meets girl, who happens to be the bad guy's daughter. They fall in ...read more


MISS LULU BETT@ Sierra Madre Playhouse

April 30, 2018 7:00 pm

As the next entry in its Off The Page series of free monthly play readings, Sierra Madre Playhouse will present the comedy Miss Lulu Bett, the first play written by a woman to win ...read more


BUCKET LIST CABARET @ Bar Fedora (at Au Lac LA)

May 1, 2018 8:00 pm

Bucket List Cabaret is a brand-new cabaret series chock full of bucket list goodness! Our Bucket Listers will perform their very own "bucket list" roles along with fun show tunes, reimagined standards, parody songs, ...read more


FREE Workshop: Working your Press Release & Social Media tricks & tips!

Better Lemons is an official sponsor for the Meet-Up "Working your Press Release & Social Media tricks & tips!".
This Meet-Up will take place on Sunday, April 29 from 3-5pm at Oeno Vino, 3111 Glendale Blvd, in Atwater Village.
Better Lemons will be available to answer questions about our website and how our review aggregation provides some free benefits in promoting your shows/events and how to register.
This Meetup is specifically for anyone who:
~ Is promoting a theatre production in the Los Angeles area.
~ Is promoting a film, documentary or short in an LA-based festival.
~ Is promoting their writing, blog, or is looking to self-promote in general on social media.
Things you should to bring for this event (if you have):
* A business card and/or bar card/post card and/or 8 x 10 poster art of your show or project.
* A lap top or tablet (for notes, accessing apps and platforms) AND a smart phone or camera. (No video cameras or video taking.)
* Be ready to take notes and meet people. Networking encouraged before and after.
* Your focus. The presentation will not be long, but it will be packed with a of information.
Things to know:
Alcohol is served at this venue and food, wine, beer are available, however, they are NOT included with the Meetup, just be mindful of everyone's electronics.
Plug-ins for laptops and devices are NOT available, so make sure they are charged before the event. Using Wi-Fi during the event is not required, however free Wi-Fi is in the area.
Audio recordings are fine but again please no video recordings or social media sharing during the presentation.
There will be networking after the Meet-up in the wine bar and, again, social media and information sharing will be encouraged.
This event is FREE
Seating is limited so please RSVP on Meet-Up or email Monique LeBleu.


Events Opening This Week

GENE KELLY: THE LEGACY @ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

April 18, 2018 7:30 pm

Legendary actor, dancer, director and choreographer Gene Kelly brought astonishing grace and athleticism to the big screen – yet we know little about him. Patricia Ward Kelly – his wife and biographer – returns ...read more


DISGRACED @ UCLA James Bridges Theatre

April 19, 2018 8:00 pm

Ayad Akhtar's controversial Pulitzer Prize and Obie Award-winning drama has become one of the most passionately discussed plays in the world. Amir Kapoor is a brilliant, successful Pakistani-American attorney who has turned his back ...read more


LAURIE ANDERSON'S 'ALL THE THINGS I LOST IN THE FLOOD' @ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

April 20, 2018 7:30 pm

Great books haunt Laurie Anderson's bold experimental performances. From Moby Dick to The Tibetan Book of the Dead, works of literature are embedded in many of her films, stories and songs. In celebration of ...read more


GOOD PEOPLE @ Chance Theater @ Bette Aitken Theater Arts Center

April 20, 2018 8:00 pm

The haves and the have-nots come face-to-face in this Broadway hit. Written by Pulitzer Prize winner David Lindsay-Abaire (Rabbit Hole), this Tony-nominated dramatic comedy finds struggling single mother Margie Walsh coming to terms with ...read more


THE IMMIGRANT @ Sierra Madre Playhouse

April 20, 2018 8:00 pm

Rural Central Texas, 1909. A young Russian-Jewish immigrant, newly arrived in America through the port of Galveston, pulls his banana cart into the hamlet of Hamilton. Fleeing the vicious pogroms of his homeland, he ...read more


2018 EARTH FOCUS ENVIRONMENTAL FILM FESTIVAL @ Laemmle's Monica Film Center

April 21, 2018 9:30 am

KCET and Link TV Present an all-day festival of films featuring screenings of celebrity-introduced acclaimed films focused on green issues with filmmaker Q&As on Saturday, April 21, 2018 at Laemmle Monica Film Center, Santa ...read more


NOISES OFF @ A Noise Within

April 21, 2018 2:00 pm

ANW's most requested production is back: Your favorite Resident Artists, along with some new faces, are ready to rein in the chaos of this joyfully out-of-control British farce about the auspiciously titled play-within-a-play Nothing ...read more


 

ERIC BUSS IN SHENANIGANS @ Curtis Theatre

April 21, 2018 3:00 pm

Hysterical antics and complex magic are brought to life! An imaginative, exciting performer with a knack for fun, Eric Buss and company deliver magic and shenanigans in a fun and modern format! ...read more


BAD JEWS @ Odyssey Theatre

April 21, 2018 8:00 pm

A savagely hilarious comedy about family, faith and legacy. A beloved grandfather has died and a treasured family heirloom with religious significance is up for grabs — but who's the most deserving? Bossy, overbearing, ...read more


COLCOA FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL @ Better Lemons Event Calendar - Openings

April 23, 2018 6:00 pm

COLCOA FRENCH FILM FESTIVAL, “9 Days of Premieres in Hollywood”, was founded in 1997 by The Franco-American Cultural Fund, a unique collaborative effort of the Directors Guild of America, the Motion Picture Association, the ...read more


SXSW 2018 Film Interview: Human Rights Filmmaker Jason Outenreath

Making its world premiere at this year's SXSW was the feature-length documentary They Live Here, Now, conceived and directed by human rights filmmaker Jason Outenreath. Shot on location at Casa Marianella, an emergency homeless shelter in East Austin, it depicts the daily lives of recently arrived immigrants as they relate their frequently harrowing stories about their journeys to the United States.

With this film, Outenreath pushed the boundaries of the documentary format by blending actual portraits of immigrants who live at Casa Marianella with scripted characters who were drawn from real life. Here, he explains the reasons for this unorthodox approach.

Your feature-length documentaries, They Live Here, Now and

Country Kids, as well as a number of your short films, have focused on immigration.

Can you tell us about why this is frequently your subject?

I was a Peace Corps volunteer in Nicaragua for a couple of years. I studied in Mexico, and I also lived there afterward. I developed close relationships with the people there. When I came back to the U.S., I sought out groups that were immigration-oriented. As a filmmaker, I felt a social responsibility to respond to what was happening and how people were being treated. Immigrants deserve to be treated with the same dignity as any other human being.

How did you locate Casa Marianella?

I was a student at the University of Texas at Austin. Someone in passing mentioned Casa Marianella to me and said, “You might be interested in this place.” I began visiting it on a fairly regular basis, not with a camera or anything, but I was just blown away by the community and the diversity of people coming there. When I was pitching my project to them, it involved talking to the entire house, just standing in front of immigrants from 20 or 30 countries.

It was something that left a really deep impression on me. As I realized the gravity of this place in Austin that deserved more attention for the services it was providing, it also needed to be celebrated for the immigrants and what they had gone through to get there.

How long did it take to secure the subjects and make the film?

It took about three and a half years. I make relationship-based films, and I'm very concerned with the connections I make. So I spent the first year, you might say, in preproduction, forging those relationships and learning about the house before I began filming at all. The editing process took about a year and a half to complete, and I edited it myself.

Filmmaker Jason Outenreath talks about his new film, “They Live Here, Now" at SXSW. Photo: Kurt Gardner.

 

Were there some people who were afraid to come on camera and tell their stories?

Yes, they were divided along two lines. There were a lot of people who didn't want to appear on camera or who were very afraid of what that would mean to their legal status or their families in their home countries. At the same time, there were also people who wanted to be heard. My job as a filmmaker was to work with the people who wanted to share their stories while also respecting their privacy.

I didn't set out to make a political film, but I have my political ideas, and they're embedded in it. I think it goes back to the respect that people deserve, regardless of where they're from or what their circumstances are.

In terms of adding the narrative story to the piece, what was the purpose?

There were two main goals I had with interweaving that story. As a documentary filmmaker, one of the questions that I ask is, “What constitutes social reality?” I'm always interested in pushing the boundaries and asking both myself and the audience, “What really is documentary?” I had artistic reasons for doing it, too, and it does enrich the story of Casa Marianella.

I had ethical reasons as well. I wanted to show aspects of the house that were essential to that experience, but I couldn't get conversations with lawyers and recent arrivals who just came to the house. Those are things you just can't film without putting someone's actual legal status at risk, so they were some of the reasons I decided to weave in the fictional narrative.

The storyline of the fictional character [Nayeli] would have been impossible to film without the reality of the house and the reality of the people she was interacting with. She was a composite character of a lot of people I'd met, working at the border and living in Mexico and Nicaragua. The actress [Regina Casillas] brought a lot to the role. I feel like I've met that character before.

She blends quite well into the film, too.

Right. Nobody was told that she was an actress. I wanted it to appear as if she was coming to Casa Marianella for the first time. She went through all the actual steps that someone would go through to be taken in. I had in mind the arc for her story, but a lot of the scenes were improvised. I just gave general direction, like, “You're going to cook rice,” and she would say, “I don't know how to do that,” and I would say, “Figure it out.”

What do you want to inspire in viewers who see the film?

I'd like people to identify with the immigrants in it who were brave enough to share their really personal stories. Hopefully, they'll take a stake in the next chapter of this story, since it's not really a culminating project so much as it is ongoing. I hope people will watch it and think, “I really need to do something about this. I need to be a part of the solution.”

It's obvious you're going to continue to tell these stories.

Right. I wouldn't say solely immigration, but I can see myself continuing in the specific vein of human rights films. I feel a very strong need to use filmmaking to tell humanizing stories about people.

Where is They Live Here, Now going next?

That's in process at the moment. I'd personally love to see it shown in schools and educational institutions. It's so important to humanize the issue, especially with younger generations, since they are the people who will be making some of the decisions in the future.

The PBS documentary series Independent Lens would be a great place, too.

Absolutely. Other festivals as well.

What other projects do you have in development?

I'm working on my first fiction feature film, which I'll be shooting this summer. I'm also working on a web series about the indigenous cultures of Oaxaca, Mexico.

 

Featured photo: 'They Live Here, Now': Refugee Teo sits thoughtfully before lights out at the Austin based refugee house, Casa Marianella. Photo: Jason Outenreath.


Opening Shows This Week

FEEDBACK MONTHLY FILM FESTIVAL @ Regal L.A. LIVE Cinemas

April 5, 2018 7:00 pm

The FEEDBACK Monthly Film Festival coming to Los Angeles.. Our LA home is Regal L.A. LIVE Cinemas, located in the heart of downtown Los Angeles (beside the Staples Center) at 1000 W Olympic Blvd. The ...read more


L.A. DANCE PROJECT @ Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing Arts

April 5, 2018 7:30 pm

The Wallis is thrilled to announce L.A. Dance Project as its first Company-in-Residence! Collaborating with the company's Artistic Director Benjamin Millepied, The Wallis welcomes L.A. Dance Project in a series of programs in both ...read more

TOWNE STREET THEATRE'S 10 TEN-MINUTE PLAY FESTIVAL @ Stella Adler Theatre

April 5, 2018 8:00 pm

For a decade, Towne Street Theatre (TST) has produced the popular Ten-Minute Play Festival. This year's succession of lively and compelling 10 ten-minute plays are based on the theme of "celebration" and tell stories ...read more


THE WILLOWS @ Bootleg Theater

April 6, 2018 7:00 pm

At The Willows funeral home, Mark is being groomed to take over the family business from his father. But an unexpected reunion with the one that got away could derail those carefully laid plans ...read more


CLASSIC ALBUMS LIVE PERFORM LED ZEPPELIN I @ La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

April 6, 2018 8:00 pm

Classic Albums Live has earned their reputation of performing rock's most influential albums live on stage note for note, cut for cut. Featuring a roster of world-class musicians from across the globe, they will ...read more


DEATHTRAP @ Lonny Chapman Theatre

April 6, 2018 8:00 pm

The Group Rep presents Ira Levin's comic thriller Deathtrap directed by Jules Aaron, produced by Larry Eisenberg. A successful-but-currently-stalled playwright whose recent offerings have been flops, conspires with his wife to “collaborate” with a ...read more


ICE @ 24th Street Theatre

April 7, 2018 7:30 pm

A bilingual, humorous journey in search of what it means to be “American.” Two baseball players from Sinaloa, Mexico arrive in the U.S. with big dreams... but no documents. Armed with their Tia's famous ...read more


CLASSIC ALBUMS LIVE PERFORM PINK FLOYD'S THE WALL @ La Mirada Theatre for the Performing Arts

April 7, 2018 8:00 pm

“The Wall” was Pink Floyd's eleventh studio album, released in 1979, and is regarded as one of the most famous concept albums of all time. Classic Albums Live, with its roster of world-class musicians ...read more


THE SEAGULL @ Atwater Village Theatre

April 7, 2018 8:00 pm

This modernized, comedic reinterpretation of Chekhov's masterpiece The Seagull is a comedy custom made for Los Angeles. One of the most beloved plays of the last hundred years, The Seagull reveals its writer's great ...read more


GERONIMO: LIFE ON THE RESERVATION @ Santa Monica Playhouse The Main Stage

April 7, 2018 8:00 pm

The critically acclaimed, seldom told story of Geronimo's life as a POW on the Fort Sill Indian Reservation. Starring veteran performer Rudy Ramos (Ironsides, The High Chaparral, Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman: The Movie, The ...read more


SXSW 2018 Film Interview: Kai Nordberg and Kaarle Aho, Producers of 'Heavy Trip'

The producers of ‘Heavy Trip' talk about the making of first Finnish comedy to premiere at SXSW.

Touted as the first Finnish comedy ever to premiere at SXSW, Heavy Trip is the story of a group of best friends who are members of a band named Impaled Rektum, possibly the most obscure heavy metal group in Finland.

They've been perfecting their style in the basement for the past 12 years, but their ultimate dream is to escape their confines of their tiny village and land a real gig. When they stumble upon an original sound, they throw caution to the wind and hit the road to play the hottest metal music festival in Norway.

This delightfully offbeat comedy provides amusing jabs at familiar metal clichés, as well as a cast of characters that you can root for.

Kai Nordberg and Kaarle Aho, the film's producers and partners in the production company, Making Movies Oy, sat down with me on Saturday, Mar. 10 at SXSW to discuss the development of the film and the challenges of making the most expensive Finnish comedy ever produced.

What was the inspiration for Heavy Trip?

Kai Nordberg: It was the inspiration of the directors (Jukka Vidgren and Juuso Laatio), who came up with the idea for the film. We grew up in the ‘70s, the golden era of heavy rock coming up in Europe. So these two guys came up with a script that had all the rock clichés, but still treated it with respect. It was something we found inspiring. And it's great music!

Are any of the characters based on fact?

KN: Yes! The directors!

Kaarle Aho: Especially the [character] with the long hair (Turo) was loosely based on one of the directors. He was from a small village and he used to play heavy metal music. The real inspiration for him was having grown up in a small place where having long hair and listening to heavy metal music was a weird thing to do. It made him an outsider.

The way the characters in the film are ostracized, too. How popular is metal in Scandinavia?

KN: I wouldn't say all of Scandinavia. It's Finland and Norway. It's not popular in Sweden or Denmark. But it's still huge, especially in the countryside, outside the biggest cities. It's hard to say why, but it's a fact that Finland has the most metal bands per capita in the world. And Norway is number two.

KA: It must be something to do with the weather — or the aggressiveness of the music!

And it's the villages where it's popular.

KA: Yes, the villages. Hipsters live in the big cities.

How does it feel to have the first Finnish comedy premiere at SXSW?

KN: It's a huge honor and a huge achievement. We've been in business for 25 years, and...

KA: It's also the first comedy for our company.

Kaarle Aho and Kai Nordberg, producers of the Finnish heavy metal comedy ‘Heavy Trip' at SXSW (Photo: Kurt Gardner)

How do you think Americans will receive the film?

KN: I think it will go down very well. Much of the comedy is unintentional. It's based on the characters. We don't laugh at the characters — we laugh with them.

And I recognized the metal tropes. They're universal.

KN: Absolutely.

How were the actors cast?

KN: Basically, the directors had some ideas of who could be whom, and their main idea was not to take the most obvious guys — the famous ones — and bring in new faces.

KA: Did they all know how to play instruments beforehand?

KN: No, not at all. In the band, there are four characters and they each represent a genre. One is sub-heavy metal, one is thrash, one is death, one is shampoo metal. I was just at our domestic premiere, speaking with the costume designer. She said it was a very careful process to find costumes for every guy, for him to present a certain type of music within the genre.

There are some interesting special effects in the film. How were those handled?

KN: They were all done in Belgium, one of the co-producing countries of film.

KA: It was the last missing piece of the puzzle. We needed a co-producer to take care of the special effects.

KN: In terms of content, what special effects do you mean?

The characters jumping into the sea, the explosions; the huge concert venue.

KN: Basically, all of Norway, the mountains and the fjords, it's all built up. Most of it was shot in Helsinki. But it all comes down to the content. How can we put together a huge concert where they could perform? At some stage, we realized it was too complicated to do it outside.

KA: We wanted to go to a real festival and do it outside...

KN: We contacted festivals in Finland and Norway, but they have their own agendas. They can't just let us put an extra gig in the middle of their festival. So we said, “Okay. Let's have the concert in a cave, a huge cave." We started looking for that kind of location to see if it was possible, but it was not. There are a lot of shipyards in Helsinki, so finally we used a big shipyard building.

The effects do the job, and they do it well. They give the film a polish.

KN: That's true.

What was the most challenging thing about making Heavy Trip?

KN: It wasn't easy, I tell ya. It was such a great project. Still, at the end of the day, I would say it was the comedy side of it. Comedy is the most difficult genre in all arts. You can move the storyline, you can build up the characters, but is it going to be funny? This is the question. Is it going to work? Is this joke going to go over with the audience at all?

KA: Our domestic premiere in Finland was this past Tuesday. It was the first time we saw the film with a real audience. Still, ten minutes before the film, we didn't know if people were going to laugh. And you know, it's very embarrassing to make a film where no one's laughing.

KN: Luckily, they did laugh. They seemed to enjoy themselves.

Heavy Trip -Trailer (official) from Making Movies Oy on Vimeo.

Featured photo: Left to right: Max Ovaska, Samuli Jaskio and Johannes Holopainen in 'Heavy Trip' (Photo: Making Movies 2017)