'Canyons' Director: Lohan, Deen Possess 'Screen Quality'

Dan Miller

LOS ANGELES — The creators of the forthcoming independent feature "The Canyons," which stars Lindsay Lohan and XBIZ Award-winning performer James Deen in his Hollywood debut, on Wednesday officially announced the film, explaining how the project came together.

Director Paul Schrader began principal photography on July 12 with Deen, Lohan and the rest of the cast that includes Nolan Funk, Amanda Brooks and Tenille Houston.

Deen, the 2010 XBIZ Male Performer of the Year, landed the lead role of Christian in the film that was written by acclaimed novelist and screenwriter Bret Easton Ellis ("American Psycho," "Less Than Zero").

Schrader's resume includes directing "American Gigolo and "Auto-Focus" and writing "Taxi Driver and Raging Bull." 

The director remarked, “Bret Easton Ellis' characters are beautiful people doing bad things in nice rooms. Lindsay Lohan and James Deen not only have the acting talent, they also have that screen quality that keeps you watching their every move."

"The Canyons" is described as "a contemporary L.A. noir about the dangers of sexual obsession and ambition, both personally and professionally, among a group of young people in their 20's and how one chance meeting connected to the past unravels all of their lives, resulting in deceit, paranoia, cruel mind games and ultimately violence."

It is being produced by Braxton Pope ("Shrink," "The Take"), who formerly had a deal with Lionsgate. The use of new media methodology fueled the project, the filmmakers said.

According to the announcement, "The Canyons" was financed partly by the crowd-funding platform Kickstarter, where the filmmaking team raised more $150k, while another portion of the film is being financed by Schrader, Ellis and Pope "in an effort to retain creative autonomy."

The producers also used the Internet casting service Let It Cast, opening the acting search to professional and amateur actors across the globe. Schrader himself has regularly updated his progress via the film’s official Facebook page, while other updates have been released through the Twitter accounts of Ellis and Pope. Additionally, they also cast a role on social media platform Mobli, a leading social photo and video sharing site.

Ellis said, "Dealing with the casting of 'The Canyons' was a great, liberating process — for both the production team and for actors in general. We used Let It Cast and saw some amazing actors that we will definitely keep in mind for future projects. The way the entire cast came together so quickly was a thrill and everyone who landed their roles deserved them. Using social media as a way to help build a film is really like riding the wave into the future."

Pope added, “Nothing about this film was orchestrated in a traditional way. We wanted to actively embrace all the digital and social media tools at our disposal and give the film real cinematic value – ‘The Canyons’ is the result of a forward-thinking experiment with a terrific cast.”

Director Gus Van Sant has also been cast in "The Canyons," while Brendan Canning of indie-rock collective Broken Social Scene will score the film.

Pictured: James Deen and Lindsay Lohan on the set of "The Canyons."

For an interview with Deen discussing the role, click here.