Captive in Columbus: Poser’s Filmmakers on Idol Worship and Local Legends

Lennon Gates (Sylvie Mix) studies indie icon Bobbi Kitten (playing a fictional version of herself) in Poser.
Lennon Gates (Sylvie Mix) studies indie icon Bobbi Kitten (playing a fictional version of herself) in Poser.

Poser filmmakers Noah Dixon and Ori Segev talk Columbus, Ohio and post-ironic Gen Z culture as they undertake our Life in Film questionnaire.

We were totally ‘Letterboxd Hipsters’. We knew it was cool before everyone else around us did.” —⁠Noah Dixon

We’re a smash hit at the Loose Films office. Residing in Columbus, Ohio, the indie studio is home to Letterboxd members and filmmakers Noah Dixon and Ori Segev who, after a litany of music videos, documentaries and short films, have directed Loose Films’ feature debut, Poser

Inspired by the Columbus indie music scene, Poser follows the timid Lennon Gates (Sylvie Mix) as she creates a podcast in order to access her favorite musicians in the community. She befriends local legend Bobbi Kitten (lead singer of Damn the Witch Siren, here playing a fictional version of herself) and takes them both down the sinister road of idol worship overload.

The film found fans at its 2021 Tribeca Film Festival premiere. “A wonderfully satiric poke in the eye at the ‘great artists steal’ adage,” wrote Letterboxd member Bill Bria, while Daniel was impressed by the confident debut, “a modern-day, gender-swapped, music-oriented Talented Mr. Ripley”. The Loose Films team were back at Tribeca this year with Poserfest, a lineup of artists featured on the film’s soundtrack, but true to their hometown spirit, Poser opened exclusively in Columbus two weeks before its wider June release courtesy of Oscilloscope.

We subjected Dixon and Segev to our Life in Film questionnaire, in the process discovering their favorite appearance by a musician in a film, some tear-jerking soundtracks, and how they use Letterboxd.

You’re on the record with Lennon Gates.
You’re on the record with Lennon Gates.

Firstly, please tell us about joining Letterboxd. And, do you cautiously navigate Poser’s page or do you dive right in?
Noah Dixon: I joined Letterboxd with my producer Brett Reiter in 2014. We were totally ‘Letterboxd Hipsters’. We knew it was cool before everyone else around us did. I remember we tried to get Ori and our other friends to make an account and nobody did at first. Now our whole crew is on there. We have a lot of fun reading the Poser reviews, but sometimes a review will cut deep and I have to take a little break. 

Ori Segev: I was late to the Letterboxd party, which Noah told me about years ago. I’m a huge fan of the watchlist. If someone is talking about a film I pull out my phone and add it. Loose is a huge fan of the app, we all freaked out when you posted about Poser.

What film made you want to become a filmmaker?
ND: I think seeing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring in a theater as an eleven-year-old was pretty impactful. I’ll never forget how big it felt. It’s pretty damn cinematic. I remember leaving the theater and thinking “I want to do that”. 

OS: Lucky Number Slevin. I love rewatching movies with friends who haven’t seen them, especially knowing they will love it. This was the first film I can remember doing that with. My latest has been Brigsby Bear. Thanks Noah.

James (Kyle Mooney) binges another episode of Brigsby Bear (2017).
James (Kyle Mooney) binges another episode of Brigsby Bear (2017).

What films have you introduced each other to? Any shocks, special discoveries, certain disagreements?
ND: I take pride in introducing Ori to Brigsby Bear, which is now one of his favorite films. He gets mad that I haven’t seen Goodfellas yet. In general, we love a lot of the same films. However, I like musicals a lot more than he does.  

OS: Noah is forcing me to watch all the Godzilla movies in order. In all seriousness though, we share a lot of films with each other. Noah just recommended the French film Mandibles to me, which I really enjoyed. It was right up my alley.

What films do you feel best capture Columbus, Ohio?
OS: Our friend Colin West made an amazing film with Sylvie Mix called Double Walker. There’s a really good mix of Columbus locations in that film. Surprisingly a lot of places that weren’t in Poser.

ND: Double Walker and They/Them/Us are two films shot in Columbus by friends of ours. Both films came out earlier this year and are spectacular. They’re very different from each other, but each capture Columbus in a unique and beautiful way. 

The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) was a key influence for Noah Dixon on Poser’s screenplay.
The Talented Mr. Ripley (1999) was a key influence for Noah Dixon on Poser’s screenplay.

What are some of the film influences on Poser, both thematically and for the look and feel? Were there any albums you had on repeat during production?
ND: I watched The Talented Mr. Ripley a number of times while I was working on the script for Poser. There’s something super captivating about the relationship between Tom Ripley and Dickie Greenleaf. The dialogue between them is so good—I was definitely influenced by those characters. We also listened to local music on repeat during pre-production, shooting and editing. Bands like Damn the Witch Siren, WYD and Son of Dribble directly inspired and influenced Poser

Director Ori Segev.
Director Ori Segev.

OS: One of my favorite films is The Neon Demon, shot by Natasha Braier. It’s so vibrant and beautiful. I’m always referencing images from that film. I have a whole catalog of stills from various films that I’m constantly adding to. Besides all of the amazing music that we put in the film, I really got into this album Cellar Door by Graveyard Club. I was listening to that on repeat while color grading the movie. It’s just one of those albums that is a masterpiece front to back.

What film has the best soundtrack in cinema history?
ND: There are too many that come to mind. Edgar Wright absolutely kills it with all of his films. I have so much respect for the care and attention to detail that he put towards the Baby Driver soundtrack. Sufjan Steven’s music in Call Me by Your Name is absolutely perfect and elevates that film so much. I’ve always been a huge fan of The Graduate soundtrack. Also special shout-out to The Parent Trap—that soundtrack has some bangers on it. 

OS: I don’t know if I would say the best soundtrack in history, but I always think about Brian Eno’s album Another World used in Me and Earl and the Dying Girl. ‘The Big Ship’—I get chills every time I hear that song.

Björk as Selma Jezkova in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (2000).
Björk as Selma Jezkova in Lars von Trier’s Dancer in the Dark (2000).

What’s your favorite performance or appearance by a musician in a film?
ND: Björk in Dancer in the Dark. I get emotional just thinking about her performance in that film. 

OS: Smash Mouth in Rat Race, a historic moment.

What modern films do you feel absolutely nail what it’s like to be young in the contemporary, social media-drenched age?
OS: Shiva Baby really blew me away. I feel like that movie could have only been made in the last few years. I really liked the juxtaposition of old Jewish customs and the modern day social anxiety that glues that film together. I loved it.

ND: Softness of Bodies. This film nails post-ironic, hipster culture. I think a lot of films attempt to portray characters in their twenties, but they often fall flat. In my opinion, Softness of Bodies captures the humor and vibe of contemporary youth better than any film that I’ve seen recently. 

What film drives your anxiety up to a ten, but you also can’t get enough of it?
OS: Uncut Gems. I just love how they built up the tension between Adam Sandler and the guy he owes money to, only to find them both at the same Seder and it’s his brother-in-law. Genius.

ND: Green Room. One of the most stressful viewing experiences of my life.

Gather round for another comfort viewing of Pride & Prejudice (2005).
Gather round for another comfort viewing of Pride & Prejudice (2005).

What films do you love to put on late at night, long past midnight, for those insomniac vibes? Maybe neon raves, cool-down movies, sleep aids, or films that are just the right late night company...
OS: I love stop motion. I’d throw on Coraline for a late-night film.

ND: Joe Wright’s Pride & Prejudice is my comfort film. The music, production design, characters, pacing—I love it all. It’s legit one of my favorite films to escape into. 

Writer and director Noah Dixon.
Writer and director Noah Dixon.

What are your fave films in Oscilloscope‘s library?
OS: O-scope just has great taste, what can I say? I just saw The Velvet Queen in theaters and was about ready to pack up my photography equipment and head into the woods. The film had some incredible shots and was a true lesson in patience.

ND: I watched Exit Through the Gift Shop and Dear Zachary while I was in high school. Both documentaries have stuck with me ever since. It blew my mind that a film could be so DIY and still accomplish something so powerful and moving. I also recently watched Summer 1993. I think it’s one of the best coming-of-age films ever made. It’s still surreal to me that Poser is now a part of the “O-scope library”.

Poser’ is in LA and NY theaters now, via Oscilloscope.

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