By Megan Cansino
It doesn’t take a genius to understand that in the world of movie making, it’s a dog-eat-dog world out there. The potential of becoming successful on this plane, is slim to none. The cut throat life of an artist could be one of many failures, in this case, that does not apply.
Dawning a striped black, white and pink sweater—pink hair matching–I had the pleasure to recently sit down via Zoom with acclaimed actor and script writer, Dakota Loesch, to talk about his journey from Chicago to the City of Angeles. A city where nothing is impossible–and, who exactly is Dakota Loesch?
“It’s taken me 34 years to figure that out.” Loesch said, laughingly.
His bio states that, “Dakota Loesch is a self-proclaimed ‘life-long movie lover’, not to mention an award-winning actor, screenwriter, touring musician, and published author. His work explores family tragedies, classical mythologies, pop-culture anachronisms, and tongue-in-cheek storytelling. Dakota is the screenwriter, co-star, and co-producer of the feature film ‘ANCHORAGE‘, which is currently racking up wins on the international film festival circuit. Dakota was also the recipient of the prestigious Seymour Cassel Award for Best Performance by an Actor at the 2021 Oldenburg Film Festival for his portrayal of the character “John” in ‘ANCHORAGE’.”
“When did you start realizing that you wanted to become an actor?” I asked.
He recalled that his first epiphany that he relished in acting, as well as writing. His love for these forms of artwork stemmed from his younger years performing; punk rock being the cradle to this. The creative process drew him in.
“I came up in punk rock bands. I was in punk rock for like 15 years from when I was like, 15 to 30, playing in bands and like traveling rock and roll outfits or bands that moonlit as like wedding bands, and played a bunch of covers and stuff. And that was my first experience with live performance. And then like, making music videos and stuff like that. It was like oh, what is this?” Loesch said.
“My basic training was punk rock, to be quite honest, that was like the, like live performance every night and like 30 nights in a row. And just like meeting people and having to communicate with people, as far as acting goes, it’s like I took like, one acting class when I was in freshman year college. Which was more just like meeting people and hanging out and the teacher was cool. Like, it was kind of like Dead Poets Society.
Loesch is not a Los Angeles native. He grew up in Chicago. “…Like John Hughes territory, maybe the other side of the tracks a little bit.” Loesch said. He jumped back and forth between L.A. and Chicago in his late 20s, eventually moving here full-time at his pivotal age of 30. This is where everything changed.
“As soon as I came to L.A. … and that was just like, so funny, because I come from Chicago, which is a theater town and I’m making little movies out there. I come out to L.A. which is movie town and I’m doing theater out here. It’s just like, ‘Which way did he go? Which way to go?’” Loesch said.
Before his inevitable move to Los Angeles, Loesch’s first movies were not ones of much grandeur or acclaim; something that is not uncommon for stars on the rise. He recalled–with a little lack of memory–his first short film that was shot on a 16-millimeter camera, ‘Animal City.’ “Seeing the play-back it was just like, oh, I want to do that. I want … I want to be up there. You know, like, the big screen thing.” Loesch said.
Driven by his love for literature, poetry and movies, Loesch had a line-sight in exactly what he wanted to do for the rest of his life. He wanted to be part of the magic. “I love being an actor. It feeds me in a way nothing else does. And I’m always going to do it.” Loesch said.
“I really like stories that are rooted in classical mythology, or classical storytelling … stories that have been told time and time again, you know, religious texts are a great place for it because just it’s those stories that everybody knows or most people know. And then you root your modern story in that. So, it’s like to punks, but it’s also a parable.” Loesch said.
Influenced by actors such as Vincent D’onofrio, he found that character acting was something that he strived for. “I love my work and that’s what I’m focused on. It’s it really feeds my soul. I know it sounds corny, I’m sorry to say stuff like that stuff you would put on a bathroom wall in a nice suburban home.” Loesch said.
Upon his move to L.A., Loesch found his acting home with ‘Ceaseless Fun’, an immersive theater company. Call it fate or serendipity, but this is where he met his lifelong friend, fellow thespian and business partner/future director, Scott Monahan.
“Moving out to L.A., I kind of fell into immersive theater with this company, ‘Ceaseless Fun’ and made a bunch of friends through that and work in a bunch of immersive theater things and was always like hungry for film and got cast in my first feature out here, ‘Love Shot’, and that kind of led to making this movie ANCHORAGE with my buddy Scott.”
The movie ‘Love Shot’ (2018), starring Monahan and under the direction of Steven Fine, is one that he gives credit to for his rising success. ‘Love Shot’ went as far to be streamed on Netflix, a major accomplishment.
“Where did the idea of making ANCHORAGE come from?” I asked.
“Me and Scott were on break on set and we were like, ‘Let’s do a buddy flick.’ This would be a great thing to do. Let’s keep this thing going on making movies and that was like the earliest idea of it back in what was it 17’ or 18’, 2017 … 18’, something like that. And then we just kept talking about it over the years and we develop that little kernel of an idea into ANCHORAGE.” Loesch said. “The earliest idea was like that buddy flicker bust kind of idea. And then when it came to like the story of it, it was like, can you make a Venn diagram between Bert and Ernie.” Loesch said
The friendship and comradery between Loeshe and Monahan planted a visionary and creative seed that grew. From what was an idea of a great story, transpired to the big screen. A dream that Loesch once had, had become his reality. He wrote, produced and starred in his own feature film.
Dakota Loesch and Scott Monahan, have now taken over the world with their vision. ANCHORAGE has earned them several awards internationally and continues to wow and shock crowds, recently being shown in his now hometown of Los Angeles, and it has arrived with a vengence. The movie made it’s L.A. debut at the Laemmle theater in Pasadena with two screenings that were held on Feb. 15 and Feb. 16 of 2022. The cast and crew were surrounded by the friendly faces of friends and family, hugs and kisses; and of course, mom.
“Mom is my best friend. Like you know, I always say like managers. She’s my mom manager. Managers get 10%, my managers get 110% every time and you know, she’s been my biggest fan. I started going on tour when I was 15. She was the one who would call like, get me out of school, like, he’s going to be sick for a week … okay. And we’re in it’s always been my biggest like, supporter and I wouldn’t be here without my mom” Loesch said.
When asked about what makes a great movie, Loesch replied, “What is it that makes a movie Great. Okay. So on a blueprint level, it is storytelling that elicits an emotional response from its audience, good, bad or otherwise. That is effective filmmaking. It’s a selection of a collection of images, but side by side moving images with sound in the modern age. That is going to elicit emotional response via character dialogue, events, plot, and subplot and subtext. So that’s like the basics of like, what makes a good movie as far as ingredients go, like if you wrote it in a cookbook, you know, what the ingredients are, is something totally different. And that’s when it gets really interesting is like, how do you want to make your soup? You know what I mean? It’s like, what do you want to mix into your salad like, you want mushrooms? You want like little carrot, a little cilantro action a little onion like spicy news and spicy. So that becomes the fun of it is like like a decopatch or a collage of collected ideas and and influences and aesthetics that you share with your co creators, right?
From Chicago, to Los Angeles to ‘ANCHORAGE’, award-winning actor, screenwriter, touring musician, published author and visionary, Dakota Loesch, will not be stopping anytime soon …
“How do you feel (after all this success)?” I asked.
“Try to remember the last … do you know what the last line from the 1976 version of Willy Wonka is?” Loesch said.
“When he’s in the glass elevator?” I responded.
“Yeah. And Willy … and Willy tells him …you know, he knows he’s gonna get the whole dynasty–is going to take over–and what he tells him, you know, ‘Charlie, you must remember what happened to the man who got everything he ever wanted? He lived happily ever after.’”