Need To Know: Christopher Landon

1.18.2011

By Ari Karpel

The 35-year-old filmmaker attributes his career path to growing up in a Hollywood family of nine siblings from his father's three marriages. 'Even the most pristine, perfect, white picket fence-y looking families have something going on underneath,' he says. 'There were so many people around me, always so much going on, and, frankly, a lot of drama.'

Landon was the quiet observer, a role that helps him concoct crazy narratives with virtually no judgments. That seems to appeal to actors: Landon's $2 million indie drew the likes of Dylan McDermott, Zoe Saldana, Nick Stahl, Oscar nominee Adriana Barraza, and Shannen Doherty, a friend of the family from her days on Little House.

In two segments of Burning Palms, Doherty plays a Beverly Hills psychologist. Landon recalls: 'She came in and said, 'I think this woman should be unbearably pretentious. I want to do a British accent, but a really bad accent, like Madonna's.''

Who was he to stand in her way? He just sat back and enjoyed it. 'Whenever I write something, I always kind of imagine myself in my own little private screening room,' he says. 'I'm always in there with my friends and certain members of my family.'

By 'certain members' he means those who 'get it,' like his father, who died in 1991, before Landon came out. 'He was very liberal, he had gay friends, and my stepmom told me he had conversations with her in which he said, 'I think he's gay. I hope he figures it out. I'm sure he will.' He knew! He was just waiting for me to play catch-up.'

Says Landon, smiling, 'My dad definitely would have been one of the people in the screening room up in my head, laughing.'

Burning Palms is now playing in New York City and Los Angeles.

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