Lez Bomb writer-director-actress Jenna Laurenzo recently spoke with the Windy City Times ahead of the release of her new film. If you're looking for a dysfunctional family comedy set during Thanksgiving with an LGBTQ twist, Lez Bomb is quite the hysterical treat. Gravitas Ventures will open Lez Bomb in the Chicago area at AMC Loews Woodridge on Nov. 9. The film will also be available the same day on VOD platforms.
Windy City Times: When did you first get the idea to make this film?
Jenna Laurenzo: I wrote the first draft of the script eight years ago, and it took me six years to get it made.
WCT: During such a dark time for many of us in the LGBTQ communitythis will likely run after the midtermsI just want to say how much I appreciate this light-hearted comedy that focuses on sexuality with a mix of family dysfunction.
JL: Sometimes I want to laugh, and it was important for me to create something that has some levity to it and has a message in there, but was [also] something that could bring people together and laugh, because I think it's necessary sometimes.
WCT: Were there any specific films that influenced Lez Bomb?
JL: When I was growing up I really loved the dysfunctional family stories like The Family Stone and Little Miss Sunshine and Meet the Parents. There's something interesting about coming home and bringing any news.
WCT: What has the reception been during the film-festival screenings?
JL: It's been wonderful! We premiered it at Geena Davis' Bentonville Film Festival in Arkansas. A lot of people had encouraged me to do that because they thought it would be a great place that we could have very impactful Q&As. People have been really warm and receptive, and a lot of laughter. But people have found the end moving in a way that has created a lot of interesting dialogue after the film. People are continuously sending me messages on social media or writing me emails.
WCT: I remember my first Thanksgiving after coming out as transgenderit was brutal. Is your own coming out story similar to what happens in the film?
JL: Yeah, it was a challenge for me because I never wanted to disappoint my parents. I felt like by coming out to them, it was going to disappoint them. In looking back, I felt like I wasted so much time in not telling them because I had this assumption of they were going to react. It sat there and made me angry at them for not understanding something that I never gave them permission or room to understand. By the time I did come out for them, I was angry. They were so supportive. They just needed to readjust their expectations because my future wasn't what they had imagined. They were very supportive and they just wanted me to be happy. There's a line in the movie that my mom actually said to me, which meant a lot: "A parent is only as happy as their unhappiest child."
WCT: Bobby Farrelly is one of the film's producers. How did he get involved with the project?
JL: Bobby was at a festival where my short film, Girl Night Stand, played. He really liked that short film. He asked to see the feature script and he really responded to it because he has a daughter that also came out. He thought that the way in which the story was being told with something [was something] he hadn't seen before. … He's such a comedic legend so I was so grateful that he got involved. I learned so much from him. He became an incredible mentor who's a very hands-on executive producer.
WCT: Cloris Leachman and Bruce Dern are some of our cinematic treasures. How were you able to bring them on board for your feature debut?
JL: They both very much responded to the script, and they very much liked the message within the script and the themes that were being explored. On their first day on set, they both wanted to talk to me about the script and moments in the script and they were just very excited from the start. … Even looking back, I think it's miraculous that every time I watch the movieI see it now a lotthey talk on screen and I'm like, "Oh my God, I can't believe this happened!"
WCT: What's the big message that you want people to take away from viewing the film?
JL: I was really interested in the theme of self-acceptance. Sexuality aside, we often assume that the pressures of stepping into ourselves have had to do with the pressures from externalities. Sometimes, it's an internal thing. I am hoping the idea of self-acceptance is explored, not just with my character coming out, but with all the other family members. …People should have the permission to be who they are and not be fearful of that and not be their authentic selves. I think that in leaning into our true authenticity that's where we find the greatest gems that we're capable of offering the world. We have to give people permission to do that, or we're going to miss out on so many tremendous gifts.