Lucius Patenaude, 24, moved to Nashville two years ago.
Studying multimedia at Abilene Christian University (ACU) in Abilene, Texas, he spent much of his free time creating short films.
“One of the alumni at Revolution Pictures judged the film festival at our university. He said, ‘If you don’t know where you want to go after you graduate, come to Nashville,’ so I did.” he said.
Upon his arrival, Lucius started freelancing around town on films sets, TV shows, and music videos. As a production assistant, he’s worked with country music artist for music videos, Country Music Television network for one of their reality shows, and small independent projects all over.
Growing up in Thailand and coming back seven years ago, he is actively exploring a future in film in Nashville.
FILM and STORIES
“There’s not a lot to do out in rural Northern Thailand,” he said. “It was just my family living in a house on stilts over the rice paddies. We had three huge boxes full of VHS tapes, and we would often end the day watching a movie together. My family loved stories.”
Lucius said his parents loved telling the story of Jesus to their neighbors.
Growing up, he read books, played videos games, and watched movies. Eventually, he started coming up with his own stories.
“I got a video camera when I was 11 and just started shooting. It was the easiest and quickest way I could put a story together,” he said. “Shooting led to editing. Editing led to some dabbling in animation. Ultimately, I realized that all storytelling begins with writing. So I started writing screenplays.”
Lucius considered going to film school when he was deciding on schools in the U.S., but wanted to learn skills outside of just filmmaking. He had already taught himself a lot, so he decided on ACU.
“As soon as I walked onto ACU campus it just felt right. It had a spiritual atmosphere that just fit. It ended up being a great choice. I had very diverse classes in journalism, art, and theater departments,” he said.
“Despite not having a film program, they had a film festival for the students, and that was my social club,” he said. “There were very few people who participated in it, but I went after it hardcore every year.”
In the process of creating films for the festival, he learned how to write, shoot, and all the nuisance of film. In the fall of 2012, Lucius took a semester away from Texas to attend a film program in Los Angeles called the Los Angeles Film City Center.
While there, he worked in a team to create better quality short films.
“The first thing I noticed when I got there was that all these people spoke my language,” he said. “Stuck in Abilene, there were some creatives there, but it was also the Christian bubble, so it was a different vocabulary set. When I got to LA, I was out of the Christian bubble and in hyper-creative. We all understood each other, and we were all talking about the same thing.”
He said he enjoyed being in LA because it was a creative city but said he knew almost immediately he didn’t want to move there permanently.
“The city is gross aesthetically, and it was one of those step on as many people as you can kind of places,” he said.
Lucius said it was a great experience for him to experience the world outside of Texas for a little while and venture into the world of film.
GROWING UP in THAILAND and COMING BACK to the US
In the summer of 2012, Lucius did an internship with Missions Media in Southeast Asia.
“I grew up in Thailand, so that was more of me wanting to get home, but I also got an opportunity to go to Cambodia too, and I’ve wanted to do that for a long time,” he said.
The son of Christian missionaries, he and his family left the U.S. when he was only four.
“Being very white, I stood out,” he said. “Thai culture has preconceptions of what Americans are, just like how we have preconceptions of what Asians are. We were stereotyped but the people we did get to know, we became great friends with.”
Lucius said most of the time, he and his family spent time living in villages on stilts next to rice patties with flip-flops in the sun.
“I loved it,” he said. “When I go back there I realize how much I miss that environment. It’s just very earthy, overgrown, hot, humid and terrible, but I love it.”
Every four and a half years, Lucius and the family would make a trip back to the U.S. to see family and spend time stateside. Four years before Lucius went to college and moved stateside permanently, he came back in the middle of middle school.
“Then, I got to work through some of those issues in America. The roughest thing was when I came back I was like, “Hey guys, I just got back from Thailand,” and no one cared,” he said.
“We were in a small Texan town, and their world was just this,” he said cupping his hands like a bubble. “Nothing to knock them, it was just their world and nothing outside of it concerns them.”
At the time, Lucius said it was frustrating because he said he was also working through things in his spiritual life. He said once he got to college and learned to shut up about Thailand he was able to make the most out of life.
He said what helped was a diverse group of friends.
“I had a group of friends that were your typical Texan-Americans. I made friends in the International Student Association and then I had film friends and theater friends and I related with all of them differently. It’s like pulling out different translations to interact with various people. It was incredible.”
After graduating and spending the summer with his family in the U.S., Lucius said he scrambled around and found an apartment he’d never seen in a city he’d never been in before: Nashville.
“When I got to Nashville, it was completely dark. I was coming up on the highway, and no one was one the road. I saw the lit up skyline and just thought, “Wow.”
Lucius quickly made connections at Revolutions Pictures and landed an internship not long after moving in.
“Nashville is an awesome town,” he said. “I grew up in villages and what I considered a big city was Bangkok. Going to Bangkok there were movie theaters and malls to go to so it was exciting, but it was overcrowded, pullulated, and so much traffic. I appreciated the space in West Texas and I feel like Nashville is a good medium between a giant city and a small village.”
Lucius said he likes all the people he’s met so far. He said the creative community in Nashville is encouraging, and that’s a big plus for him.
“Here, there’s so much opportunity to pursue what you’re passionate about. There aren’t a lot of walls.”
Freelancing for the first year and a half he was in Nashville, Lucius said it was tough but fun helping to produce videos. He realized his passion was in writing and directing, so he’s transitioning away from freelance to find a more stable paycheck and work schedule.
Currently working with Google Fiber, Lucius collaborates with a team to survey utility poles around Nashville.
“I know Nashville really well now because we’ve been going up and down the streets with a giant rule measuring utility poles,” he said. “The best part is that I’ve been able to see so many different communities in Nashville.”
Working on a few projects of his own, he said he’s excited about what his future looks like.
Lucius said he enjoys writing high concept scripts like science fiction and fantasy and said it can be very spiritual as well.
“Most of my scripts come out of my faith experience,” he said. “I might be writing about aliens, but it’s larger metaphor for me about what I’ve been thinking about God and humanity.”
Lucius is submitting a short film he shot with his sister in Austin to festivals around the country right now. He acclaimed that this project was his best-realized short film so far and is very close to how he imagined it. He said it’s a good indication he’s getting to where he needs to be to compete with people making serious stuff.
Lucius said he watches a lot of series on HBO. Some of his favorites are Silicon Valley, Game of Thrones, and The Leftovers.
With a lot of films, Lucius said he can’t help but analyze the narrative.
“I love stories,” he said. “I’m always thinking how it all fits together and marveling at interesting choices they gave the characters. What attracts me the most are the stories itself is the characters and the deeper meaning behind it all.
He said he’s a big fan of director Danny Boyle and screenwriter Max Landis. Lucius said Landis’ social media encourages him because he’s honest and open about his daily processes as a writer, director, and actor.
Right now, he’s working on a short film that is a part of a feature. He’s also exploring ideas like animation and is looking forward to working with local cinematographers.
COMMUNITY and CONCERNS
“The ideal version of a community is a group of people that function as family and who are willing to sacrifice things for others.”
Lucius said he’s seen an example of that in Nashville working in the production field. He said people in Nashville help each other even when it’s not to their advantage and said it’s a great attitude to have.
“I spent 14 years of my life in Thailand with just my family, and we moved around a lot even there,” he said. “In Thailand, I would see friends that spoke English once at the most. I didn’t grow up hanging out with people all the time. I’m used to saying hi to someone getting to know them and then say goodbye and not really worry about seeing them until months or a year has passed.”
Lucius said he has a very wide net of what a community means to him, and enjoys those relationships when he encounters them.
When it comes to Nashville, he said he’s learning to tighten up that net and embrace the city and the people. He said he wants to be willing to ask for things and volunteer.
“It’s something that I’m learning and discovering.” he said. “I’m growing to understand what the community is like in Nashville and how to be a better part of it.”
Lucius said traffic and the rising coast of living are some of his concerns.
“It’s bearable right now, but our infrastructure needs an upgrade eventually,” he said. “It’s good for a city to grow and change and the culture will change. I just hope it doesn’t lose the collaborative spirit and the attitude of encouragement.”
Lucius said change has to happen whether it’s good or bad, he said he just hopes prices don’t skyrocket so he can still afford to be in the city.
Be on the lookout for Lucius’ work in the near future.
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