Film & TV

Jonathan Lisecki Interviews Film Provocateur Sebastian Sommer

Film & TV

Jonathan Lisecki Interviews Film Provocateur Sebastian Sommer


Many things have been said about Millennial filmmaker and provocateur Sebastian Sommer. Club kid originator and murderer Michael Alig has claimed to be afraid of him; Actress Hari Nef has referred to him as a reclusive cinematic genius; Alex Pareene, Online Editor of Gawker, once called Sommer a fraud. Nylon Magazine calls him a filmmaker for the Tumblr generation.

Whether you love or hate the divisive young filmmaker, his creative output has been incredibly prolific. His latest short film, Live Forever,  premiered as an exclusive download on BitTorrent. The film stars rapper Cakes Da Killa and actress Eden Brolin in the lead roles.

Sommer sat down to speak with fellow artist and filmmaker Jonathan Lisecki, who’s best-known for directing the feature film, Gayby, which included Adam Driver (Girls, Star Wars) in one of his first acting roles. The two spoke candidly about film, politics and the need to be creative:

Jonathan Lisecki: What were your inspirations for Live Forever?

Sebastian Sommer: I really wanted to make a surreal thriller that felt colorful and industrial at the same time—like a neon-colored painting hanging on the wall of an abandoned alleyway. Cakes Da Killa and I had been communicating with each other for a while and meeting up. I was a fan of his music and he was very aware of my films. At first we were going to make a music video. Then we decided to make a movie. I wanted to mix Cakes Da Killa with the art world of Peter Reginato and throw in some post ironic neo-classical dark wave reality TV vibes.

JL: How was it working with Cakes Da Killa?

SS: I love Cakes. He’s an incredible performer and musician. Cakes has this raw talent and insanely aggressive flow that makes him stand out from all the rest. He’s a gay rapper who doesn’t only appeal to people within the queer community. If you see that freestyle he did on Hot 97, you cannot deny he’s major. He’s also an incredibly genuine human being. I loved working with Cakes on this project and would most definitely work with him again. Cakes keeps it real. I love that he just collaborated with Peaches. And that Diplo just tweeted about his album. I honestly think more rappers and musicians need to throw Cakes Da Killa some love—like Kanye. If Kanye wants to prove that he’s really as progressive as he says he is, he should feature Cakes Da Killa on his next song.

JL: You released your film through BitTorrent. What led to that choice?

SS: It just made so much sense. It opened us up to their audience and we got a lot of downloads thanks to that. BitTorrent allowed us to do cool things like package together a couple of Cakes songs with the download of the film. One of those songs being off of ‘Hedonism’ his upcoming album that comes out on October 21. I think that downloading and streaming is the way to go. I would like to make content for one of the holy trinity. Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon. They seriously need to hit me up. I’m also very thankful of Missy Laney at BitTorrent for helping me release the film. I couldn’t have done this without her.

JL: What made you land on the title? Is the Oasis song, “Live Forever,” behind it?

SS: It has nothing to do with Oasis. It has everything to do with philosophy. At the time I wrote the film I was obsessed with the idea of immortality through creative expression. If you make a piece of art that is powerful enough, it will continue to live on long after you pass away. I was very interested in this and the way it reflected in my own filmmaking.


JL: Does this story end with the short? Or are there plans for a feature?

SS: There are currently no plans to expand this story or to make a sequel. I see this film as being the conclusion to my ‘Fame Trilogy’ that started with Eight Circuit Model, continued with Family Tree, and ended with Live Forever. The main character in this film, ‘Lil’ Wifi,’ meets up with his best friend, played by the wonderful Eden Brolin, and then gets kidnapped by obsessive fans. Throughout the film, ‘Lil’ Wifi’ gets voicemails from his management, worrying about him and his lack of response. It purposefully ends with a cliffhanger, leaving you wanting more. But you are not going to get more. I have got you hooked and now I vanish. I am moving forward. I am contemplating whether I should just quit filmmaking and go become a hermit in Russia instead.

JL: Are you actually a Republican?

SS: That’s a good question. I really think this needs to be clarified because a lot of my friends are starting to freak out about things I have joked about in the press. I am not a Republican. Seriously. If you knew me you would be able to tell. I am not a Republican. Do you see that Ray Tintori? This has-been of a filmmaker from the mid 2000s called me a sociopath because I made jokes about my political beliefs and was a little too inspired by Andy Kaufman. Lighten up. Just look at my films and the talent that I work with. I’m clearly not a Republican. But I’m not really a Democrat either. I’m more of a…cupcake. Yeah thats who I am, I’m a cupcake with rainbow sprinkles who doesn’t like to play by the rules.

JL: What else do you have coming up?

SS: I am currently editing a short film that I directed for one of my favorite clothing brands called Devon Halfnight Leflufy. The short film is crazy, the clothing is next level, and this project is going to melt your mind. Literally. It stars Alexandra Marzella, who I previously worked with on Family Tree. I’m a big fan of hers and am happy to have worked with her again. You should check her out on the new Joe Swanberg series on Netflix, called ‘Easy,’ if you haven’t already. She is spectacular alongside Emily Ratajkowski.

Photography: Tristan Reginato