We had the good fortune of connecting with Weslie Lechner and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Weslie, how do you think about risk?
As a writer, I’ve always found the most opportunity for creative growth and self-discovery came from the times I threw myself into something before looking at it too hard or planning too much. Whether it was moving to Chicago—a city where I had no family—after college to study at the famous iO Theater or moving to Los Angeles ten months later when I realized that Chicago wasn’t feeding my creative energy the way I’d hoped it would. The failures and mistakes have been just as or more informative than the successes. I’ve always found my periods of greatest artistic productivity come on the heels of some element of stability ending for me, whether that be moving to a new place, a job ending, a relationship ending, etc. Looking into the future and not quite knowing what it holds forces me out of my routine and out of patterns of thinking. In those periods, sparks of inspiration become much more readily available to me. Building risk into my life has always been integral to my creative pursuits. I work in an industry where my jobs often end after four to six months, forcing me to pivot. I also love to explore new mediums in which to hone my craft. Each new form gives me greater understanding of my voice and adds a new tool to my tool belt. I have written video and stage sketches, feature screenplays, character monolouges, TV pilots, and even a full-length musical. Most recently, I wrote, directed, and produced a six-part fictional podcast called Private Detective Randy Randy which pulled from many classic detective radio shows like Yours Truly, Johnny Dollar. The goal has always been to surprise myself. That’s where the magic lies.
Let’s talk shop? Tell us more about your career, what can you share with our community?
While I’m a writer, first and foremost, I’ve never been completely satisfied with only writing an idea. I like to have my hands on every part of a project when I can, from conception to the final edit. Directing and performing have always been an important part of creation because they have allowed me to take a seed of an idea and see it through to the end. The most proud I am of a project is when I get to actually create a final product, which is not always a luxury you’re afforded as a writer. I also think you learn a lot about writing when you have to put a piece on its feet. There’s always a lot of editing that happens once rehearsals start up. Lines you realize you don’t need or jokes that are funny on the page but aren’t landing in front of an audience. If the piece is filmed or recorded, editing can also change a lot of a project. Every step of creating a final project comes with its own set of challenges that I think push a project to adjust and get better. Pursuing a creative path is not always easy. There’s a lot of self-doubt that creeps in. To overcome that, I focus a lot on the process of creation. If I think to much of how something will be perceived, I get lost. I work really hard on defining success for myself as something I measure internally. Am I getting better? Do I like what I’ve made? Would I watch/listen/read this? The greatest gift a creative can give themself is cultivating a strong relationship with themself. You can’t predict how the world is going to react to what you make. Believe in your internal compass and create work that you’re proud to show to others.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
One of the things I really love about L.A. is how many different neighborhoods there are and how each one can provide a unique experience of the city. I love taking visitors to multiple areas of the city so I can re-experience all the city has to offer. The Venice board walk is one of my favorite places to go with people from out of town. It’s so touristy but it’s also such a vibrant area and showing it to someone often helps counteract the headache that is parking in that area. I also love showing off the Silverlake Reservoir, Echo Park Lake, and all the hiking trails the city has to offer. I’m so lucky to live in a place with so many outdoor activities and I love an excuse to show that off. L.A. also gets a bad rap for not having a ton of theater, but I actually think there are a ton of wonderful smaller theaters, such as The Lyric Hyperion, where a lot of weird and wacky shows get their start. Also, tacos and burritos. I can’t let anyone leave L.A. without taking them to my favorite taco stands.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
Oh my goodness, so many people. I strongly believe that the key to creative success comes from a strong community around you. My parents and my sister have always been my rock. From the beginning, they have been incredibly supportive of my creative pursuits, encouraging me to keep going when I’ve felt uninspired or unsure of my path forward. I am also incredibly thankful to the many writing partners I’ve had throughout my career. Much of my early work in Los Angeles was done with co-writers because I was still finding my legs and my confidence. Co-writing for me is like taking a writing class from someone who’s brain you admire and want to climb into a bit. Anyone I’ve ever written with has had a direct impact on my skill and understanding of my craft. I also have a pandemic writing group that formed out of a class I took when I was in a real creative rut. The group has consistently met every Sunday since the class ended and I believe it is the sole reason I have been writing through the last few months of pandemic lock-down fatigue. One of my closest friends and creative collaborators, Alexander D. Paul, an incredibly talented DP, has both encouraged me and inspired me to push myself to new creative heights. Finally, I have to give a shoutout to my incredibly supportive partner, Patrick Boylan. He is my number one cheerleader and, because we live together, has seen me at my most desolate. At many points throughout a project, I have found myself on the brink of giving up, convinced I can’t possibly find a way through the mess of half-ideas to a cohesive project. He is always there to laugh at a joke, talk through a script problem, or tell me to get over myself and keep going. He also remains an inspiration as he is one of the most talented and driven people I know. Writing and creative work is often a few moments of inspiration and then a lot of hard, sometimes tedious, work. Without the community of collaborators and supporters around me, I’m sure I would’ve given up long ago.