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 Lindsay Goffman Interview 
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Lindsay and Mark Goffman, Producer and Director of "Dumbstruck: The Movie" with The Independent Critic
Dumbstruck: The Documentary was an official selection of the 2010 Heartland Film Festival Indianapolis. The film, picked up by Magnolia Pictures for a limited nationwide release, arrives in Indianapolis on May 13th, 2011 at the Landmark Keystone Art Cinema in Keystone at the Crossing on Indy's Northeastside. The film's producer, Lindsay Goffman, is an Indianapolis native  and attended Indian Creek Elementary School, Belzer Middle School and Lawrence Central High School. She graduated from Indiana University's Kelley School of Business with a degree in marketing and a minor in telecommunications. Goffman now works as a development executive for L.A.'s Fremantle Media (Producers of American Idol and The Price is Right). Previously, Goffman worked for Tannenbaum Company (Producers of Two and a Half Men), in reality television at UPN (America's Next Top Model) and at ICM. Dumbstruck: The Documentary is her first feature film collaboration with her husband, Mark Goffman, currently the Executive Producer for White Collar. The Goffman's will be in Indianapolis for the film's opening night on May 13th at 7:00 pm. They'll be sticking around for a post-showing audience Q&A!. The Independent Critic recently had the opportunity to chat with Lindsay Goffman about Dumbstruck, her career and coming back to Indy.

The Independent Critic

Tell me about "Dumbstruck...

Lindsay Goffman

Dumbstruck is a documentary my husband and I directed/produced.  Here’s a little summary:

At the annual Vent Haven Convention in Ft. Mitchell, Kentucky, ventriloquism capital of the world, director Mark Goffman discovers five extraordinary characters straight out of a Christopher Guest movie. But in this case the characters are real and their stories are deeply human and touching:

Kim, a former Miss Ohio beauty queen yearning for her big break; Dan, a thriving cruise ship performer whose wife may divorce him when he comes ashore; Dylan, an introverted 13-year-old with dreams of hitting the professional circuit; Wilma – all six feet and five inches of her – a former security guard who brings her dummies to senior homes and Wal-Marts; and Terry, who struggled for decades as a small-time performer before winning America's Got Talent on his way to a $100 million contract to headline the Mirage Casino in Las Vegas.  

Dumbstruck is the humorous and heartfelt story of these performers as they pursue their dreams of a career in puppetry. The film follows them as they take their acts across the United States, the Mexican Riviera, the Bahamas and Japan. It is filled with music, laughter, hopes and heartbreak. With its heart firmly planted on its polyester sleeve, Dumbstruck takes the American dream sideways and never loses its way.

The Independent Critic

You've worked in development on some incredibly popular television shows. How did "Dumbstruck" actually come about? Why a documentary? 

Lindsay Goffman

Yeah my husband and I have been very fortunate to work on amazing tv shows in our careers.  Dumbstruck came about because my mother who is normally very reserved, made a toast at my wedding using a single white glove as a puppet.  It was amazing how she was able to express herself and have a whole new personality come out through her puppet.

She told us about a yearly ventriloquist convention that takes place in Fort Mitchell, Ky.  At the convention, we met five professional ventriloquists, or “vents,” who make ventriloquism their full-time job.

We had to make this a documentary because we were so enchanted by the world.  There’s no way you could script the extraordinary lives these people lead. 

The Independent Critic

Can you tell me a bit about you? How did you get into television/film? Have you and Mark worked on other projects together? How did someone from Indiana (Yes, I know...a stereotype!) move from the Heartland to Hollywood?

Lindsay Goffman

I graduated from Indiana University in 2002.  I had a degree in business marketing and a minor in tv and radio.  My original plan was to go work for one of the major corporations that came to recruit at the Kelley School of Business.  But when that didn’t happen I saw an opportunity and moved to LA.  In that time, I called everyone I knew in Los Angeles and eventually through a friend of a friend ended up landing a job working in the mailroom of ICM.  Mailrooms are definitely the best place to start for someone looking to come out and make it in Hollywood.  This is the first project that Mark and I have worked on together.  Date nights were certainly interesting.

The Independent Critic

You've experienced quite a bit of festival success with "Dumbstruck," How important is the festival circuit for the indie filmmaker and, more specifically, for your film?

Lindsay Goffman

The festival circuit is definitely important.  It’s really where all the distributors and exhibitors see your film.  The independent model is shrinking dramatically, so filmmakers have to find creative and unique ideas to try and get their films in front of the public.

Photo Courtesy of "Dumbstruck: The Movie"
The Independent Critic

You've landed with Magnolia, no small feat. It's also a great opportunity to get your film into quality indie theaters...That's a pretty impressive achievement for a "first film"...How'd you do it?

Lindsay Goffman

We really have to credit Mike McClellan, the head buyer at Landmark theaters.  He saw our film at the Palm Springs Film Festival and has been our biggest champion throughout this whole process.

The Independent Critic

How did you find the people you focus on in "Dumbstruck?" What made you (and Mark, of course) say "This would be a great doc?"

Lindsay Goffman

We went to the 2007 Ventriloquist Convention not really knowing what we would find.  We knew that we needed to find people that had goals that we could follow.  For example, Kim aspired to become a cruise ship entertainer. Dylan, who's 13, wanted to land a gig as a professional.   Terry Fator wanted to headline in Las Vegas.

The Independent Critic

Your film has already played at Heartland Film Festival, an incredibly appropriate festival for it, are you one of the folks who loves coming back to where it all started for you?

Lindsay Goffman

Absolutely.  My family still lives in Indianapolis – so it’s nice to come home. We also have a 15 month old son so it’s great for him to spend time with his cousins and family that he never sees because we live so far away.  Every year we have a big birthday celebration on the 4th of July at my cousins house for my grandmas birthday- this year she’s turning 90.  Nothing can compare to the 4th of July in Indianapolis. 

The Independent Critic

The director's note states that "Dumbstruck isn't really about ventriloquism, but about 5 people who happen to be ventriloquists"...Can you expand? Why do audiences want to see this film?

Lindsay Goffman

This documentary is really about following your dreams and not giving up.  These characters are actually very relatable and going through the same everyday problems all of us face.

The Independent Critic

What's next for you? Continued film work? Is developing a project for film different from television?

Lindsay Goffman

I’m fortunate that I have a fantastic job working as a Development Executive at Fremantle Media.  We are creating a number of very exciting new scripted series, both in comedy and drama.  I'd love to develop another film project with my husband, and we are actively looking.

Dumbstruck: The Documentary is currently in a limited nationwide release and, again, it opens in Indianapolis on May 13th at the Landmark Keystone Art Cinema. The film received the Audience Award at the Friars Club Comedy Film Festival, was Best of the Festival at the Palm Springs International Film Festival, Best Doc at the Mountain Film Festival and continues to receive kudos nationwide. Do yourself a favor and check out Dumbstruck during its Indy run or at a theater near you. For more information, visit the Dumbstruck: The Documentary website. For information on its Indianapolis run and the May 13th 7pm showing, visit the Landmark Keystone Art Cinema website.

© Interview by Richard Propes
The Independent Critic

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