But the characters in Tiny Furniture and Delusional Downtown Divas (which again, stars Dunham as an clueless outsider, this time trying to break in to the New York art scene) aren’t Lena. Where her characters are Michael Scotts with their lack of self-awareness and motivation, Lena knows what’s up. “The female voice is really needed in pop culture in general right now, but in film particularly.” The phenomenon of the Liz Lemons, Kristen Schaals and Kathryn Bigelows may be fairly new, but Lena sees putting herself on camera and laying herself bare as “a natural instinct.” “I’m a little bit of a hammy person…hopefully not in my personal life, but in my creative life. I could say it’s not self-indulgent, that it’s a public service announcement because I’m not a tiny skinny person putting herself in a movie, but the truth is I like to act, and I like the idea of making a movie that’s an honest, not corporately mitigated movie about girls’ feelings.”
And Lena’s not alone, picking up followers wherever she goes. Like the pied piper, she took her first short to Slamdance at 2007, where she met a group of friends who would eventually help her make and finance the hysterically funny Tight Shots. And when that series ended (she shot it during summer break from Oberlin), she moved on to Creative Nonfiction, a senior year film that ended up at SXSW last year. Simultaneously, she was co-writing and hustling around Divas, at which point her indie cred rating had given her more than enough fans to help fund Furniture.
“I won’t say it’s entirely autobiographical,” Lena says, “but it’s a really personal story about my first year out of college, which was this insane period of crisis, so while it was happening one of the ways I comforted myself was this movie idea. And when it looked like it was actually come together (to finance another script), I knew that was the story I needed to tell.” Or at least, one of them. Is it selfish to hope for more crises in someone’s life, if it leads to a quite literal revolution in female film making? Well okay, now I’m sounding a little jealous.
Check out more of Lena’s projects at her website LenaDunham.com