Hollywood’s Power Couple Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir Discuss Hollywood

Two of the most exciting directors to emerge on the Hollywood scene in the past decade, husband and wife filmmaker duo Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir founded Dream Team Directors in 2007. With a limitless burst of positivity, energy, great ideas, and incredible vision, these two young, beautiful people conquered Hollywood, achieving in their first year in town what most directors would be happy to achieve in a lifetime.

Their ‘feel good’ creative vision was to combine imagination, humor, beauty and a desire to positively impact the world through their artistry, of which their stunning work is testimony. Their company motto, “Let our dream team manifest your dream,” symbolizes the expansion and positive attention they provably win for their celebrity and high-profile brand clients and collaborators including none other than; MTV, Coldplay, Atlantic Records, Chrome Hearts, City Harvest, Whole Planet, and many more.

They have had the opportunity to collaborate, direct and produce with great talents including Oscar nominee Mark Ruffalo, Golden Globe nominee Anthony Mackie, and the legendary Billy Idol, among others. Their talent has not gone unrewarded. They have recently won two Telly Awards as well as 15 other awards in national and international film festivals around the planet. I had the great pleasure to interview the Hollywood Power Couple here exclusively for News Blaze, as follows. Enjoy.

Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir.
Daniel Lir and Bayou Bennett; Photo Credit: John Kelly, 2009. Used with permission, all rights reserved.

Hollywood Sentinel: For those that don’t know about you, please explain to us, who are you, and what do you do?

Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir: We are a husband and wife team of Writers and Directors. Like those who inspired us such as Ridley Scott “Blade Runner,” “Gladiator,” David Fincher “The Game,” “Fight Club” and Alex Proyas “The Crow,” we both write and direct films but also create innovative commercials, documentaries and music videos for brands and music celebrities.

Hollywood Sentinel: Blade Runner! That’s one of my favorite films. Very cool. Your influences show me one of the reasons why your work is so cool. When did you decide you wanted to work in motion pictures and be a director?

Daniel Lir: I was personally very confused in terms of finding my life’s goal and tried every form of visual art and design before taking my first film class at Art Center College of Design and falling in love with the medium of film.

Bayou Bennett: When I created my thesis project during my Masters of Fine Arts, I found the combination of dance, music, imagery and filmmaking something that was the ultimate expression. I was inspired by female performance artist and filmmaker, Maya Deren. Since then I have passionately continued with this inspiration.

Hollywood Sentinel: That’s so amazing. I discovered the same, finding that film was the best medium to combine all of the arts that I loved. And I love Maya Deren’s work as well. Who are some more of your favorite filmmakers and actors and why?

Bayou Bennett: For me the early work of Tim Burton is some of my favorite filmmaking. Such wonderful use of imagination and filmmaking craft in “Peewee’s Big Adventure,” “Edward Scissorhands” and “Beetlejuice.” I cannot ever get bored with these films and admire the filmmaking in these great works. Also, Johnny Depp, who is a great collaborator of Director Tim Burton is an actor I really admire. His many diverse memorable characters and how he creates their many details and intricacies is pure genius.

Hollywood Sentinel: I totally agree. I love all of those so much.

Daniel Lir: I have two sides to my film personality. I am heavily inspired by filmmaking history such as neo-realist cinema, specifically the films of Federico Fellini and also Luis Buñuel’s “Los Olvidados” which combined narrative filmmaking with the art movement of surrealism. In fact “Los Olvidados” is the single film which touched me deeper than any other film I have ever seen and motivates me to this day. Then I have my more commercial side and appreciation of cinema. Some of the films I truly admire are “Peewee’s Big Adventure,” “Austin Powers,” “The Game,” and “Gladiator.” These films are so well written, developed, cast, acted and produced that they inspire me to develop a film to the point where it is flawless in it’s own unique voice and world.

Hollywood Sentinel: That is so cool. I love Fellini and Bunuel as well. You have a great sense of film history, which I think is so important as a director. What do you consider as the importance of film in society? To those that ask why – why does it matter?

Daniel Lir: Bayou and I both believe artists are extremely important in our society. And especially in film. Film allows you to reach the largest parts of Earth’s population with important messages. You can open people’s eyes, uplift, create laughter in the audience, set fashion and style trends, empower and inspire. With the current degraded and troubled state of the world, film is more important than ever.

Hollywood Sentinel: That’s great. Exactly. What kind of reaction did you get from friends and family when you decided to pursue a career in Hollywood?

Daniel Lir: My Professor in my first Film Class at Art Center literally criticized me to his greatest ability in front of the whole class on every film I wrote and directed. He felt my film’s lack of violence, drama, conflict and traditional Hollywood structure was unbearable and too “European.” On the last day of class, however, he said that if anyone was going to succeed in the class it would be me. After that, I received similar comments from every direction. “It’s impossible,” “how are you going to make money” and even my mentor who became a very successful filmmaker who directed a film with Hugh Jackman and Ewan McGregor said, “are you sure you want to do this? It’s so stressful.”

At every stage I just kept going because there was nothing else I wanted to do in life. Filmmaking is my dream. Only my Mom initially stuck with me and helped me get through all the hard times and encouraged me to achieve what I have accomplished. Recently I got lucky because my wife/co-director Bayou is an even more hard-core filmmaker than me. Together we are unstoppable and I learn from her how to live and achieve your dream every day.

Hollywood Sentinel: Wow. That’s a great story!

Bayou Bennett: Well in contrast to Daniel I always just went for what I wanted to do and made a big success of it. I sold all my art and my car and took a train from small town Arkansas to NYC, knowing hardly anyone in the big city. I rose to the top as a professional dancer in New York and then became one of the youngest Professors and the first woman to teach in the media studies department at the prestigious Parsons New School.

Sexism in Hollywood

I must admit that many times during my Filmmaker career I have experienced prejudice from certain men who cannot imagine or respect a female being a Director. I just continued to shine like my fellow great directors – such as Sofia Coppola – and recently being a female filmmaker has become more celebrated in Hollywood which is incredible.

One of my goals is to mentor others and further blaze the trail for female filmmakers.

Hollywood Sentinel: Wow, that first part is annoying, but great how you have overcome that. And Sofia Coppola, I love her work. I had the great pleasure to meet her, years ago.

What do you consider is the purpose of life, and how are you following that purpose?

Daniel Lir: I consider the purpose of life as far as I’m concerned is to create beauty, truth, humor and inspiration through what we do as filmmakers. Every script we touch, every project we create has to answer to these basic purposes. We have even had opportunities to work for big brands and get paid a lot of money for certain projects but because they didn’t reach or went against these important standards we turned them down and stuck to our integrity.

Bayou Bennett: To me the purpose of life is simply to help others. With my filmmaking I aim to open people’s eyes, show them new realities and get them thinking in new ways.

Hollywood Sentinel: That’s great, on both accounts. How do you want to be remembered when you are gone from this Earth?

Daniel Lir: I want to be remembered as having made a difference with our films. Having created world-wide positive change. Using humor, amazing characters, incredible cinematography and the most compelling stories to discourage war, open people’s eyes to poverty, illiteracy, global warming, prejudice and inspire people to live better, try harder and reach their dreams.

Bayou Bennett: I want to be remembered as a female director that paved the way for other female artists. I also want to be known as a filmmaker who inspired other filmmakers to create positive and meaningful content. And to realize they are important and can uplift society.

Hollywood Sentinel: I love it. That’s great. I think you are both doing that now!

Check out the trailer for the great viral hit ‘Text Me’ Written and Directed by Bayou Bennett and Daniel Lir here below:

Visit the official website of The Dream Team at www.dreamteamdirectors.com

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