The Life and Freaky Times of Miami-Based Filmmaking Duo MayerLeyva

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Mayer/Leyva is a Miami-born and bred duo. Together, Jillian Mayer, a performance artist and Lucas Leyva, a retired playwright, have created short films, art installations, music videos, experimental theater, and web projects — all of which are anything but ordinary.

These days ‘going viral’ is considered the apex of your internet life and MayerLeyva already have some big notches on their belt: the frequently spoofed/creepy YouTube video I Am Your Grandma, the widely banned music video for Jacuzzi Boys’ “Glazin”(Go ahead and try to Google it –  It’s VERY NSFW), and The Life and Freaky Times of Uncle Luke, which follows the 2 Live Crew frontman going through some really weird shit.

Their most recent short film #PostModem has been shown at Sundance, SXSW, the New York Film Festival, and MoMA, to name a few, and is described by them as a “comedic, satirical sci-fi pop-musical… the story of two Miami girls and how they deal with the technological singularity, as told through a series of cinematic tweets.” Take that as you will. You really need to watch it to understand… or try to understand.

We caught up with the duo to talk about the Miami film scene, their biggest accomplishments so far, and the dark corners of the Internet.

Where did you guys meet and and how did you decide to collaborate?

Jillian: I applied to the Borscht Film Festival short film commission. I was misinformed and didn’t realize it was a call for short films and sent in an idea for a talk show hosted by a maniac pet enthusiast. The Borscht team thought I was a weirdo and kept me around.

Lucas: Jillian then asked me to direct an experimental musical play she had written and we have collaborated on most projects since then.

How different is the Miami film scene from a few years ago? Where do you see it in 5 more?

Lucas: I started Borscht with a group of friends as a response to the complete lack of infrastructure and community. Before us, no one was proudly making Miami narrative films. Now, there are various groups devoted to promoting and growing cinematic culture in the city, around six independent cinemas, and a generally thriving community. Everyone is echoing our original mission of “tell Miami stories” and it’s a wonderful thing.

Jillian: In the next five years, we will have a gigantic casino.

How did the idea for #PostModem come to you? What was your inspiration for this story?

Lucas: The #PostModem short film evolved from research for an art show Jillian was having at an experimental art space in Miami called Locust Projects. We made a video of the exhibit.

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What is a website or corner of the internet that you would want to (or be terrified to) be trapped in?

Jillian: In my early internet days, I could handle just about everything. But now when I view or, it’s really just too much for me. With all the cute puppies and GIFs on the internet, who wants to look at people who have committed suicide and train crash victims? Not me.

Did any of your abuelas watch I Am Your Grandma? What did they think?

Jillian: My grandma watched it and we filmed her reaction. She said, “I love the message but I do not care for the imagery.”

Lucas: My abuelas are all dead.

What’s been one of your biggest accomplishments with your art to date?

The following organizations have threatened to or have actually taken legal action against us: Warner Bros, Hardly Art Records, the NBA, CAA, Miami International Film Festival, Miami Dade College.

What impact or narrative do you guys hope to inspire with your work?

We strive to make unique imagery.

What is the next project for MayerLeyva?

A feature film that deals with similar theories as our short film #PostModem. Jillian has a bunch of art projects coming out in the near future and we are throwing our film festival later this year, check out for details.

Where’s the weirdest place you’ve found inspiration in Miami? (As a Miami native, I know there are a lot.)

We are very much inspired by a blacklight-lit coral lab run by our friends at Coral Morphologic. [Ed note: you must check this out!] But like you said, there are many special places.

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