Free by Noon, his latest directorial venture | Sunday Observer
Hollywood film director - Lakpathy Wijesekara

Free by Noon, his latest directorial venture

24 October, 2021

Free By Noon, the latest directorial venture of Los Angeles based Lankan filmmaker Lakpathy ‘L’ Wijesekara premiered last week from October 15 - 21 at the Laemmle theater in Glendale, California. Starring John Eisen, Raechel Wong, Justine Herron and Melissa Howell, the comedy film follows the exploits of a married man who tries to have some ‘extra’ fun in Las Vegas and gets himself locked up in a very unusual situation. To save his marriage, he has to get it unlocked before his wife gets home.

Once screening in Glendale wraps up, plans are in the works to screen in New York, Texas, Atlanta and Sri Lanka as well.

For director, producer, cinematographer, and screenwriter Lakpathy Wijesekara, Free By Noon was far from his first foray into filmmaking and the entertainment industry.

Lakpathy’s interest and passion for filmmaking started at a young age, when he got the opportunity to act in Independent Television Network’s (ITN) Sinhala teledramas Sellam Gedara and even one of Sri Lanka’s most iconic shows, Kopi Kade. Having been exposed to the goings on behind the scenes in television, Lakpathy was intrigued by it and was inspired to make his own videos with a consumer grade handheld camera and editing them on Windows movie maker. He found the medium of film to be the perfect way to express his ideas and imagination.

Le Royale Youtube Channel

Lakpathy attended Royal College, where he further cultivated his filmmaking talent, becoming President of the Sinhala Literary Association and the head of The Royal College Video Team.

His biggest endeavour during his time at Royal, was the Le Royale Youtube Channel, which served as the official Royal College YouTube Channel for many years, covering hundreds of school events not limited to Royal College itself.

Lakpathy pioneered it to record student events in order to preserve their efforts as more than just memories. This was especially notable as YouTube was not a popular platform back then.

The channel covered nearly every event on the school calendar, such as sports tournaments, drama competitions and choirs at Royal College, filming during the day, editing and publishing them overnight. Working on the channel provided Lakpathy valuable experience in filmmaking by teaching; guiding, managing and leading his similarly film obsessed team of friends.

The channel is still up, under the name ‘leroyaletv’, with 345 videos from over a decade ago and over a million total views. However, the over 40 live streams Lakpathy filmed are unfortunately not available.

In his time at Royal, Lakpathy directed two stage dramas, one of which, Kalathra Yathra, won him ‘Best Direction’ at the Royal College Inter House Drama Festival during his O/Ls.

He directed, wrote and produced several short films like Hello, some of which contributed to the rise of short filmmaking in Sri Lanka. Post A/Ls, Lakpathy directed his first feature film Behind The Scenes in 2010, which he made together with a team of post A/L students from Royal College. The story, which he helped co-write, highlighted their experiences as young filmmakers in the difficult Industry.

The production was entirely self produced and as a result, was extremely limited in every aspect. Even with absolutely no professional support and low budget, through coordination and perseverance, Lakpathy and his team finished and published a full feature film on their own and Behind The Scenes was even screened in the International Children’s Film Festival in Lucknow, India, in 2011.

After Royal, Lakpathy completed his higher education, studying cinematography at the University of California, Los Angeles.

Notable recognition

Since his move to America, Lakpathy, known there as ‘L’, has produced many short films that have received notable recognition in addition to a few feature films. One of his short films, Locked was screened at the Boomtown Film Festival in Winchester, UK and the Atlanta Shortsfest in Atlanta, Georgia in 2015.

His web series, Rydeshare Chronicles which was based on anecdotes of Uber/Lyft rides and shot on mobile phones was screened at the Hollywood Chinese Theater for the Indie Night Film Festival in 2016, the VanChan Film Festival in Vancouver, Canada and the Aab International Film Festival in India. His last work before Free By Noon was an experimental VR short film called Tiny Fingers.

Lakpathy’s first feature length film in America, One Star Rider (2018), was a collaborative effort between crews in both America and Sri Lanka, with the film being shot in Hollywood and post production being completed in Sri Lanka. Lakpathy also served as executive producer and co writer for American-Sri Lankan collaboration, API directed by Praveena Hasangi.

Hollywood experience

While describing his experience working in Hollywood, Lakpathy noted the lack of diversity in their films in contrast to the melting pot of cultures and races that make up America. Very few films are being made about minorities like African Americans, Asian Americans, Sri Lankan Americans or Hispanics. Lakpathy himself is a minority in the Hollywood Film Industry, as there were only 3.4 percent directors of Asian origin in 2019, according to the UCLA’s Hollywood Diversity Report.

Lakpathy’s films are more representative of the diversity in America, with seven different languages being spoken on the Free By Noon set. However, Lakpathy prefers not to insert his Sri Lankan identity into the films he makes, simply because he is Sri Lankan, instead choosing to make films that people can enjoy beyond cultural boundaries.