Full of art, music and everyday magic, Swim Little Fish Swim is a dreamlike journey from childhood to adulthood depicting three intertwined characters at turning points in their lives. Swim Little Fish Swim focuses on the domestic life of Leeward (Defa) and Mary (Bloom), a young married couple at a crossroads. Mary is a hardworking nurse determined to turn the couple’s lives around while Leeward is a struggling musician who fancies himself a misunderstood artist and New Age visionary. Enter Lilas (Bessis), a 19-year-old French artist trying to make it in New York and escape the shadow of her famous painter mother.
When the bubbly young woman moves into the couple’s tiny Chinatown apartment, their already fragile balance is upset even further. Written, Produced and Directed by: Lola Bessis & Ruben Amar.
SWIM LITTLE FISH SWIM is now on iTunes, Vimeo, Google Play, Amazon Instant Video and VUDU.
Writers, Producers and Directers Lola Bessis & Ruben Amar Top 5 Things You Need To Know About SWIM LITTLE FISH SWIM
1. The Story Was Born While Hanging Out in the Streets of New York
Since our “immigration” to New York we’ve never stopped filming our surroundings and scenes from our everyday life. The result is a diary made of short scenes we call “snippets.” Inspired by scenes from our “snippets” as well as what we observed in the city, we began to write a story.
One night in a bar in Brooklyn, we saw a zany musician performing; he was playing with a lot of crazy instruments and for some reason he inspired us. We were immediately intrigued by him because he seemed to be living in another world. His girlfriend was attending the show and little by little we started imagining what their life might be like. After only three weeks, this fantasy mixed with our own experience gave birth to a 60-page dialogue-free screenplay of what would become our first feature film.
Lola Bessis / SWIM LITTLE FISH SWIM
2. A Very Specific Acting Method
Striving to avoid giving into sensationalism, we aimed at realistically depicting snapshots from the unembellished lives of our characters "drawn from life." This thirst for realism led us to place the actors at the heart of the creative process. We thus set up filmed workshops based on role-play and improvisation games. Every night for almost two months we would go through the footage shot with the actors on that same day, applying the necessary transformations and additions to the script. This method turned out to be extremely productive and conclusive and created a strong, lively dialogue.
3. Unexpected Meeting with the Perfect Musicians
During a casting call for musician extras to be used in a scene involving an evening with friends, a group walked in whose name stopped us in our tracks: The Toys and Tiny Instruments. Our character makes instruments that play by themselves using his daughter’s toys, so it had to be a sign! When they started to sing and strum on a ukulele, it was obvious; they couldn’t just play Leeward’s musician friends – they had to write the music! They managed to create...
the character’s musical universe
in perfect harmony with his marginal, madcap personality.
Incidentally, Colin Summer, the group’s singer, has become Leeward’s official “voice.”
4. Hurricane Irene
Hurricane Irene completely disrupted the shooting and jeopardized the film. It happened when we were already 3/4 of the way through. The apartment in which we were living that also hosted the main set of the film was in the mandatory evacuation zone and all of New York was locked down. We were forced to stop the shooting right away. We had to leave the apartment and all the shooting equipment behind us - which was insured for all events but natural disaster.
Fortunately the hurricane happened to be less violent than expected. When we returned, the equipment was still in good shape but it forced us to cut down the shooting time. We gave up on a few scenes since we had lost two shooting days and our team and actors had other commitments right after.
Dustin Guy Defa / SWIM LITTLE FISH SWIM
5. The Little Yellow Fish
During Hurricane Irene we had to leave our apartment in a hurry and for three days we left behind the yellow fish that is the source of the movie's title. Fortunately when we came back the fish was still alive. A few days later the shooting was over and it was time for us to come back to Paris. But what about the yellow fish?! We put a listing on Craigslist and a Brooklyn couple came over at the last moment to adopt the fish.
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