An interview with Severn Lang ("Inner Peace")
When did you first know you wanted to make films? Do you remember the exact moment, and what sparked your interest?
I definitely wasn’t a young child or a teenager wanting to make a movies. I just wanted to survive those years. 2016 July 26th, The anniversary of my brothers death, I was lost on what is next in my life. There’s a little backstory that you need to know. At the age of 25 I promise myself I turn 40 and I am not an owner of a salon I will move to a different career. In 2016, I was 37 years old. Three years from then I would be 40 and there was no chance I would be an owner of the salon. So I decided to get ready to change my career. What path it was unclear until I was sat down with Gary Anderson who recently retired from “WB studio” Director of photography. This man has seen the film industry change over 40 years. I took everything to heart when he speaks about the industry and about my self when it came to my career change. “We need people like you on set, you are driven. But Sev, you don’t have Direction on what to do.......(later in convo) College/school/classes can help to find your path.....at your age, you don’t have time to be a P.A. and find out what may work for you. I can tell you are a leader and driven. Prey on it.”
I doubt that conversation but it meant the world for me. Growing up with a schizophrenic father who didn’t talk much nor help Guide me in life. (I do have to say my dad was/is a good role model by example in ways I could not understand until his passing in 2008) Gary, stand in that roll of guidance as a father figure in a odd way. Gary doesn’t know that I see him that way. Haha...in fact the group of his closets friends became an odd roll models...
After I talked with Gary, I had a long moment by myself. This is the moment where I decided to watch a French film called “The city of lost children”. The funny thing is I have trouble watching foreign films, because of the subtitles. I would have to watch a foreign film 2 or 3 times to read the subtitles. Because of severity of my dyxlcia (dyslexia) I couldn’t match the words to the pepole (is the right way to spell it phonetically.... people = pe-ople is the wrong way...... haha welcome to a dyslexics mind.) moving on....
The city of lost children and talking with Gary Anderson was the moment and the biggest inner spark to give 110% to become a filmmaker. I wanted/want to make an English version of the film or make a tv series based on the French film “The City of lost children”. But I didn’t know at what capacity or direction of role I would be in the film industry to full fill this new dream and goal.
Your childhood wasn't simple. Could you share how these difficult moments during your childhood shaped you as a person and as an artist?
Oh boy... that’s a “fun” one to answer...
Children learn from their surroundings. Well, it’s a faceted that pepole who are LD (Learning disabled) proses definitely. It could be do to chemicals in the brain or neurons miss firing or its Psychological or the surroundings. Ok.... moving on...
As a child I had problems expressing my thoughts, feelings and ideas. More over reading, writing and comprehension. That’s still a problem at times. My parents did the best as they can, I know this now. But when I was a child being raised by a schizophrenic father and a workaholic mother made it very difficult to get the right help to grow the right skills to deal with me dxylca. In short... they should of put me in a school ware I could get the best education for my disability...
Random information I technically am registered in Iowa under the “ Deaf and blind of Iowa Organization” for rights of the law for getting help in school...
So... having problems expressing or just communicating... is recipe for isolation for the fear of not being understood or not able use the right words. It was until music and art entered in my life ware life of understanding and clarity happen. Expression door was opened with the help with the key of the French horn and all areas of art classes. That’s when I can express without words... what an eye opener. I had to be clear I do not draw... I express feelings and thoughts of an idea in art. Drawing has to much laws, rules and structure. My mind doesn’t agree with that limiting thought patterns. Then soon after that say about late high school and college, I started writing poems. Poetry and a broad-spectrum breaks all the rules and regulations of standard writing education and ideas.
Check in point. Can you fallow me and my thinking patterns of writing? I jump around in thought and writing. There are story points I can put together to help the reader to say focused. This done on purpose, it’s to show you what my mind at the age of 41 has grown in to. When I was a kid it was all over the place.
My mother heard me do a zoom interview a couple weeks ago and she was overwhelmed with happiness of my communication skills and my able to express my feelings and thoughts on my short films I have created. Taking a moment to what I just said.
Maybe you can tell That’s my father was present but wasn’t supportive as a true father figure one was say. Motivating in helping their children to become better and bigger than them selves. With a mother who is a workaholic always gone and who had three children at home. One was an adult who she married and had two children. Let me be clear my dad was not a childlike person. Dealing with someone who has schizophrenia has needs one would say babysitting. Not ideal for A dyslexic child to be comfortable with his or her problems of learning and communicating when there’s no one to learn from or support from or push. I believe a parent should grow their child in all areas and to push them to become something better than themselves. So on the way directing is a good fit for myself because I can see Actors as a mold of clay to get something better out of them.
I feel my parents couldn’t Or wouldnt sacrifice to get me a better education in a different state or a different city. In short they had problems of them selfs and at times I’m an afterthought so the BOY SCOUTS OF AMERICA became my parent to learn from. I learned more in the Boy Scouts than I did in school.
Back to the point.
My childhood experiences have shaped me as a guy at one point who is quite in big crowds, fear of reading out loud, fear of connecting to others, not able to explain one’s thoughts, comprehension is a pain some times. Even as a hairstylist in the first 10 years I was a quite guy.... because of my experiences in my limitations of word forming in comprehension of words. I’ve learned to be just be blunt and simple. That itself makes complications because I come across as not sensitive. But I am. So I keep to my self until I need to speak up. Everyone knows not to ask me a question if you don’t want to hear the truth. You will get one hard truth or a very blunt answer. Over time I learn how to add in ideas how to over come the problems in hand.
So I touched on it a little bit. As an artist I learn to express what I cannot say in words to others. As a filmmaker this helps me a lot where I’m able to direct others to express what I cannot or I feel I lack to express.
The film scripts are my canvas and the actors are my paint.
As a teenager, you worked as a model in New York and Italy, both in fashion shows and in commercials. Would you consider these appearances as your first performance roles? What did you take from this international experience?
I had to be honest I have not considered it as a performance role. Now think about it yeah I would have to say I agree that this would be one of the beginnings of performance role. But the first major performance on a stage would be singing a solo as a freshman with my college choir from Waldorf college In forest city Iowa. Freshman never get a solo who are not trained. That was me, untrained singer singing in front of a thousand pepole. All done acappella style. Meaning no band/piano to help me. Just the belief of the Director I can do the solo and silence....
Being in Milan Italy was an eye-opener and a great learning experience of handling people of different languages. It was at that time a wonderful time for myself a passion to follow through and experience other things other than Iowa. That’s not hard to beat because it’s Iowa there’s not much there just corn and soy beans. The traveling to overseas has always been a fun experience for myself in Italy was just a wonderful experience and I I am close to the same passion and drive.
It was what I wanted to do and I ignored everything that I grew up with. Being raised in the church sometimes can limit someone’s understanding of the world. As a pastors kid that was my path. Until my brother passed away and my parents were convinced to not hold me back. So every opportunity I had to travel they supported. And also got me out of the house and away from them so they can cope with losing a child.
In 2002, you moved back to your hometown in Utah after being in a car accident that caused you to have amnesia. What was the recovery process like, and did it change your perspective on life?
I’m from Iowa not from Utah. I can understand the similarities there’s not a whole lot going on in both. In my mind they have the same vowels sounding in them so I can understand....iowA and utAH.... I know it’s a far stretch but that’s how my mind thinks and process.
Yeah that car accident that caused a temporary amnesia. Or I like to say a trauma to trauma amnesia. Meaning there’s a time in my life where it’s kind of foggy and it started with my brother passing to the time of accident Trauma to trauma amnesia. That’s not a technical term is just something else came up with. It could be a way just for my body to handle the stress and took the opportunity of a car accident to handle the stress that I experienced.
At the start of recovery from the accident it took a while to to recognize my moms voice on the phone. My dad never called me so it was easier to recognize his voice because I saw him speaking to me. With my best friend picked me up from the hospital he was definitely concerned because I was very much shook and up and not myself. So when I move back to Urbandale Iowa I drove around Urbandale and mine for days on end hoping to get triggered and for memories. Looking at photos and listening to friends talk trying to figure out if can remember. I say it took about a couple years to get where I say like 75% maybe 60% run in there and some memories is still kind of foggy but I no longer hold onto those limiting thoughts. Now I am a new person and I forever will move forward and not hold the past.
For the past does not exist for now is now and then will never happen again.
Perspective on life? No. My habits were still there that didn’t change just the memories or foggy. But the actions the emotions still came up but this time I didn’t know what they were connected to. It was until 2013 June 10th my perspective change and life. I got Sober.
What made you decide to attend The Professional Cosmetology Institute? Why did you pick hairstyling?
That’s an interesting story. When I was a model in New York City and Milan Italy I would babysit the younger female models (age 15-18) when they go to photo shoots and run way gigs. I would get really board. To keep busy I would help out the photographer or hairstylist. Put simple I took over a hairstylist hair sculpture/updo. I studied art and music my first time around college. So I looked at hair as art and just like clay or wire art, hair is just another means of art and I work good with my hands. So I took over. I was asked to stay as a hairstylist but I had no interest to do so. Later after I had the maga car crash. I was lost. Then I did the “come to Jesus/God moment” and preyed out when I was driving around trying to remember my home town. Right after I outloud preyed I looked to my left..... and there it was a hair school. I signed up right there after I yelled at GOD.... HAHA.... I asked and I received the answer....
I found out in 3 months of that school it was not going to help with my dyslexia learning hadits. That’s when I found PCI (The Professional Cosmetology Institute, Ames Iowa) the way teach classes and how they build upon skills one step at a time and not all at ones like that other school.
You moved to LA to study at the LA Film School's Film Production and Film Editing program. What was it like to study there, and what impression did you get from LA, in general?
I moved to LA November 2009, a year after my dads passing. I moved to LA for a career move as a Salon Manager for José Eber in his Beverly Hills salon. So you see I lived LA for 7 yrs before I started LAFS.
LAFS is a perfect fit for someone who is learning disabled or even dyslexic. All the classes are film-based even history, math and English classes are based on film so you’re always learning something about the film Industry. Most classes are hands-on learning. What impressed me the most about this school is it’s one class at a time one month at a time. Meaning one class is taught in one month span. In a normal college situation he would take four classes at a time. For someone who is learning disabled severely dyslexic this is a problem I would get information mixed up and I would ultimately fail most classes.
When I moved to LA in November 2009, I wasn’t overwhelmed as some would’ve, to a point. The traffic is overwhelming at first. But ones I sold my car and got a motorcycle, game on.
There is a drive/passion/a feeling of art driven creativity that is very clear in LA! it’s very hard to say no to. It over comes you if you are a creative person, even just a little crative you are driven to make something or paint or sing or dance... the list goes on. But with that... there a lot of flacks and fakes in LA.
Biggest shock is how a lot of pepole are self seeking, not true to there word and all ways late “oh traffic was bad”..... no you left late and blame others for your laziness... you know there is traffic so plan right and leav sooner. Coming from Iowa, how I was raised and being an Eagle Scout that bothers me the most. So I would schedule meetings 30 a head before the real time.
To be on time is to be early. On time is late.
Inner Peace - Trailer
Let's chat about Inner Peace. It's such a personal and intimate project. You are truly exposing yourself in the most vulnerable way. What made you want to tell this super personal story?
Inner Peace, yea I wasn’t planing on being in it. In fact I truly didn’t want to be in it... I’m not an actor. There is a little fear of delivering lines exactly what’s on the paper... There was something missing. I need more and more emotional roller coaster. When I was filming it was when the USA closed down. So it was hard to get trained actors. I was dealing with new actors who are not trained and who didn’t trust them selfs to give in to the emotions we were working on. So... I had to put my self in front of the camera. I’ll do what I can for a project, even act if needs be. I had to beef it up.
The short introduces five characters who speak to their inner selves via a split-screen. What is the reason behind this unique artistic edit?
It came down to, how can I film something worth doing in COVID-19 lock down? More problems came up for my original idea of a crew of 15 and 5 actors. I was in my AA meeting (don’t care if you or tell others, I’m proud and others who are struggling need to know they can too be sober.) and pepole where sharing about the inner voice and how hard it was to deal with it. As I call it “monkey mind” runs rampant. I had like 10 ways to show your inner voice. I sat with every one for 30 minutes playing the edit and how to shot it. Then at 5 minutes to answer questions pros and cons.
How do you tell someone a secret? Or something you don’t want others to hear? We get close to the ear, very close. I wanted the veiwer to feel and be touch by there own inner voice after by me muting it for just 9 minutes.
What was your casting process like?
Oh boy... yea so.. Covid-19 lock down happen. I did the normal online casting websites. But in COVID everyone backed out. I got desperate. Craigslist...... yep... and I found one off of Instagram.
I didn’t have Auditions...some what. It was more who is willing to film in Covid-19 lock down. The 4 you see are the ones who was willing, well not all true there was a 5 he didn’t respect the COVID problem and in short after an hour I let him go...aka fired him. That was a hard proses to do as a filmmaker, as well as a person. Ones the actors parked, I explained exactly what was going to happen ones they out of the car. The studio is/was my living room, set was very simple but with sound blankets and dampening mats.
Ones they are setting I would talk about the project. They had the choice to pick to act in character or be them selfs. Ones they agreed to how to more a head I would interview them about there life and experiences as the character or there own life. Then ones filming, I would use there life experiences to bring up the feeling of emotions I was wanting. In short it was a emotional time with every actor and actress. I was looking for improv skills, maybe half had a small skills in improv naturally. As a Director I find it thrilling to work with beginner actors. For I am able to use my full skills as a Director. At the same time I didn’t want to be apart of the cast but one must do what they need to do get things done and to get the best results for the film.
The film opens with negative, self-doubting voices that all of us have- they tell us to give up. But then, the film continues with positive voices, that tell us to lift ourselves up and move forward. What is the message you wanted to convey with this film?
The opening is a poem I wrote for this film. Its lettting the veiwer know what’s about to happen. What I want to convey is that everyone has bad inner thoughts. Its how we over come our own self battles with in our own minds. You are not alone. Someone in this world has gone through the same problems or even hard times and over come them. You too will do the same as long we keep our monkey mind controlled and checked. Our EGO (edge God out) runs our monkey mind. Stop feeding your ego and you see your monkey mind will calm down.
What's next for "Inner Peace", and what's next for you as an artist?
What’s next for INNER PEACE? This thisses Film was made as a pitch for a bigger project I came up with. I just don’t know how to get to the right pepole.... bigger project is this... I would interview celebrities in their right career field...meaning top of the top Scientists, theologians, actors, congressmen and women, writers, athletes... etc.
I would use the same style of interview as I did for Inner Peace. Then I would either have an art show or even art museums of just tv monitors of the people that I interviewed. Then I would do the same thing as the art gallery but in subway stations or areas where there’s a lot of people walking around and have the TVs have audio, also subtitles and even sign language as well on each monitor to get to the masses. It would say, hey these are the people that we look up to they have the same inner thoughts as you do. They are not so special they’re very common just like us. But it’s how they overcome their inner battles their inner dialogue their inner thoughts.
That would be a dream come true if I can make that happen.
Is there anyone you wish to thank?
I want to thank Bill W. and doctor Bob. I never met them but there passion and love they put in to helping others to stay sober...I have new life because of how they helped others who in turned helped me to find a sober life and a God of my own understanding. I’ll pass alone what I have learned freely.
I want to thank my uncle Dug Lang and ant Peggy. With out there help I wouldn’t believe or be able to start and finish Los Angeles Film School and start this new career and passion. I have a debt to them that I will never be repaid.
I want to thank Josh Howser And Julie Van Trieste and Messenger Of Recovery for there support and willingness when I was in film school. I have a debt to them that I will never be repaid.
I want the thank Tim Storey, my mentor and pastor for 7 years. His words of passion speaks volumes with truth and love. I will for ever great full for his mentoring. 7 years ago His guidance has changed my live to a higher level of living.
To my mom. No words can touch to express my feeling of gratitude on what she has done to help me on this new path I am on.
There is a person who we all for get to thank... self (the subconscious mind). I want to thank the inner deepest self. For I couldn’t do this with you speaking up and letting me know you are unhappy with the path I was on. To push me to grow and to understand you, my own deepest self... My true form.
Where can our readers follow your work?
They can find me on