Lindsay Lohan Embraces Lesser Known Role: Art Muse

Lindsay Lohan stars in "First Point," premiering today.

June 11, 2012 — -- Before her Elizabeth Taylor bio-pic hits television screens, Lindsay Lohan has another film to tout: "First Point," a 5-minute long piece premiering today at Art Basel.

Part surf film, part David Lynch-ian exercise in suspense, "First Point" finds the 25-year-old star in positions familiar -- sunbathing on a beach, shielding her eyes from paparazzi -- and not -- acting without inhibition for the first time in recent memory.

"This tackles a different part of who she is and what she is and how she projects herself," "First Point" director Richard Phillips told "It's not fashion photography, it's not mainstream film."

Phillips and Lohan met in May 2011 when they filmed their first short, in which Lohan confronts a pool, a beach, and a portrait of herself with trepidation. At the time, the actress' schedule was a mess of court dates stemming from a shoplifting case and a probation violation. Nevertheless, Phillips said, her car pulled into the Malibu, Calif., mansion where they were shooting "exactly on time, and we were able to get right to work." When they wrapped, Lohan, Phillips, and his crew promised to reunite for a sequel, of sorts. They shot "First Point" in Malibu last August.

They started on a private beach. After a day of filming, "on Lindsay's suggestion, we filmed in public, at Surfrider Beach," Phillips said. Paparazzi swarmed. They appear as Rodin-like figures in one scene, clumped together, cameras aloft, watching Lohan watching them. "When you see those images of the paparazzi, it's difficult to believe whether or not they're actors," Phillips said. "That was her way of showing us what that dimension is like."

Though "First Point" borrows from '60s surf films and features a wetsuit-clad Lohan carrying a board, the actress doesn't actually ride any waves. Professional surfer Kassia Meador stands in as Lohan's body double, tip-toeing down the board with the grace of a ballerina while the sea roils beneath her.

While Phillips said "First Point" has no narrative, one could purport, as an idyllic day turns nightmarish and Lohan lunges through the dark like she's being chased, that she's running from everything she's become famous for: arrests, courtroom appearances, unflattering paparazzi shots. "First Point" appears to be an attempt to get further away from all of that -- let's paint a new portrait of Lindsay to distract from all the unpleasant ones. But, Phillips said, she's different from problem-prone muses of the past.

"For those artists like Andy Warhol who were representing Marilyn Monroe, it was a passive relationship," he said. "Marilyn had no connection or role in it, no stake in it. The difference here is that Lindsay was a part of the production of this imagery. She's conscious of it. She gets the nuances of creating media."

Phillips counted Lohan's ability to portray icons like Monroe, who she posed as for New York Magazine in 2008, among her greatest strengths. She's currently filming "Liz & Dick," which is set to air on Lifetime later this year. To those who doubt whether Lohan can do Taylor justice, Phillips offered this:

"If you really think about it, it's amazing that those absolute, colossal icons of our culture could be possessed by a single person, in her young years, with her entire career in front of her. She's literally the only person that can do that."

The artist's work with the actress isn't over. In September, New York's Gagosian gallery will host the U.S. premiere of "First Point" in an exhibit that will also feature Phillips' oil paintings of Lohan. Might there be more collaborations down the road? "I'd love to," Phillips said, "but her schedule is starting to fill up."