Five Questions with “House of Tomorrow” Director Peter Livolsi

This year TFI's annual Network Market during the Tribeca Film Festival, over 700 one-on-one meetings occured between TFI-selected filmmakers and industry. Here is a weekly introduction to some of those filmmakers and grantees that were in attendance, and a preview of their upcoming films.
 

As you can see from his breakthrough hit short Leonard in Slow Motion, starring Martin Starr, Peter Livolsi is an expert at balancing the ingenious with the absurd, so it's no surprise that his newest eclectic-sounding feature, The House of Tomorrow, was intelligent enough to be selected as a grantee for the 2015 TFI Sloan Filmmaker Fund. The film follows a home-schooled sixteen-year-old raised on the futurist teachings of Buckminster Fuller, who gets a chance at life outside his bubble when he meets a punk rock kid with a heart transplant who wants to start a band. The House of Tomorrow is currently in development. Livolsi shared his experiences at TFI Network with us, as well as some unlikely influences.

 

1.) How did you first get connected with TFI?

I’d read about the TFI/Sloan Filmmaker Fund and my producer Tarik Karam and I decided to apply. We didn’t know anyone there but that soon changed after being invited to the program. My mind is still reeling from how many great people we met.

2.) Did you get anything unexpected out of your experiences with TFI Network and the pitch sessions?

We went into the week at Tribeca thinking this would be about selling the project, and it was to an extent, but talking about it so much also gave us some new ideas. I started re-writing on the plane home and am really excited about the next incarnation of our script.

3.) What fuels you to tell the story of House of Tomorrow? What drove you to the material?

When Tarik first brought me Peter Bognanni’s book, I was immediately drawn to the story of two teenage outsiders who come together to form this strange friendship. But how their story connects with Buckminster Fuller’s vision and how his DIY beliefs share a lot with the ethos of punk music, is what has inspired something richer and more expansive that I’ve really enjoyed sinking my teeth into.

4.) What are some of your filmic influences, either on this project or in general? Who are some filmmakers that inspire you?

I love too many films and filmmakers to mention them all here. Peter Yates’s Breaking Away is a touchstone film for me even though it’s very different than The House of Tomorrow. It feels authentic in a way that I aspire to. But I’ve found that photography is a more useful tool than movies to help share my intentions with my team. Guys like William Eggleston, Robert Frank, Alex Webb, and Joel Meyerowitz all bring a cinematic spirit to their images. Most of all though, as I’ve been researching and writing our film, I’ve become more and more inspired by Buckminster Fuller. He had something like 28 patents and never waited for anyone to give him permission to turn his ideas into reality. He just went out and did his thing and trusted that people would get on board. Which is exactly what making a movie feels like.

5.) What's a film that you saw in the last year that you found really exciting or unique?

How about two? One is Ida. Beautiful performances and pace. Each frame could be hung in a museum. The second is Force Majeure. It covered such a wide range of tone and emotion but still felt incredibly controlled and cohesive.