Published Jan 05, 2015When she's not fronting Vancouver-based punk outfit White Lung, Mish Way is conquering the written word for publications like Vice, the Talkhouse and the Guardian. As if her resumé wasn't impressive enough, she can now add film star to her list of accomplishments.
Way recently announced on Twitter that work has been completed on her first film, Paint It Black (based on Janet Fitch's book of the same name). Set against the L.A. rock scene, it stars Alia Shawkat as a young, broke punk named Josie whose well-off, raised-with-money boyfriend Michael kills himself. His death ignites a complicated relationship between Josie and her boyfriend's mother (played by Janet McTeer), which drives the film. It marks the directorial debut of Amber Tamblyn, who reached out to Way about getting involved in the project.
"Amber Tamblyn got a hold of Domino Records a while ago and said that she'd written a part in this movie kind of based on me and wanted to talk to me," Way tells Exclaim!
After a few months of hearing nothing from the label, Way was contacted by the source.
"Amber called me directly and asked me if I wanted to read the script and if I wanted to have a drink and talk," says Way. "She asked me if I wanted to play the part and I was like 'Yeah, of course! Why not?'"
Way plays Lola Lola, an up-and-coming frontwoman in Josie's L.A. circle. Way breaks out her acting chops in a couple of scenes, but the film also shows her off in her comfort zone of performing on stage. She and her band deliver a performance of Deep Fantasy cut "Drown the Monster" in one scene, though they're not billed as White Lung.
"We decided we weren't actually gonna be White Lung in the movie, we were gonna be a fictional band," she says. "But it's a White Lung song and all that stuff."
The decision was made because guitarist Kenneth William was in Europe and unable to join in the filming, with the band getting NASA Space Universe axe man John Cardwell to fill in.
Her band aren't the only personal connections to make an appearance in the film, though. "During the scene when we're playing, there's supposed to be a disgruntled fan who I get in a fight with and I actually convinced Amber to let my fiancé do that role," she reveals. "He got to do it and I got to beat him up, which was awesome."
Beyond the obvious draw of a movie about punk music in L.A. and the opportunity to wail on her betrothed, the film appealed to Way because of its portrayal of Los Angeles.
"The great thing about this story is — and this is something that Amber pointed out to me early on — all movies are made in L.A., but they're never about the great juxtapositions of neighbourhoods and class and the physical differences of how you can see that in the landscape," she says.
Way cites Josie's cramped apartment versus the colossal, cold Hollywood Hills mansion that Michael's mother lives in as the best example in the film. "She [Tamblyn] really wanted to show those differences, which no one ever bothers to show."
While details have yet to surface on the Paint It Black's release, Way is optimistic about its reception and her overall experience working.
"I think it's gonna be a great film and it was awesome to be a part of it," she says. "I look forward to doing more work like that."