Geoff Marslett und Lily Gladstone fotografiert im Bayerischen Hof, Foto: Dirk Bader

„I love nature, I love conversations, and I love coffee“

Tausendsassa Geoff Marslett im Gespräch mit VIVA MONACO


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You won the „Prix De Public“ for your movie „Quantum Cowboys“ at the Champs Elysees Film Festival 2022. How important are awards to you?
Awards in art seem a little counter productive, by that I mean that as artists we should all be in this together, not in competition with one another. What does „better“ even mean in art? Our own relationship to expressing ourselves through art is personal and really ought to be free from judging, gatekeeping and value applied by outside forces. So personally awards are wonderful because they mean someone, or in this case a great deal of audience members, is moved or touched by the work. That means the world to me. That makes doing this worthwhile. Further – awards can help a film like ours get some attention. Unlike many of the films we were competing against, I have no agent, no distribution, no high powered producer to get eyes on the film. Realistically films like ours often are never be allowed to play for an audience outside of the film festival circuit. That to me is heartbreaking. So if an award can help convince „the powers that be“ that we deserve a chance to play for a wider audience- or even better that we deserve distribution- than the award is extremely important!
So I guess that is split answer. I am ok personally without making art competitive- in that way awards aren’t that important. But I am also realistic and know I am a very small fish in a giant pond, even in the indie film realm, and an award can make the difference in my film flourishing or never being seen- so awards can also be EXTREMELY valuable and important.

You work as a film director, writer, producer, animator and actor, plus you teach at the University of Colorado at Boulder. What can we learn from you about time management?
It is probably true for everyone, we don’t have enough time for most of what we want and need to do. And if you get stuck spending too much more time on managing your already limited time, you have even less leftover. So I have learned to choose quickly what you can do and then move forward with enjoyment and commitment. Don’t second guess or back out too often. Just do the things you can do as well as you can do them. And enjoy it because good or bad it is how you chose to spend the time! For me, I am personally left with almost no leisure time. I have almost never taken a „vacation“, so I try to enjoy my filmmaking, my travel and experiences teaching.

You are from Texas, America’s leading state in gun sales, but with a declining gun ownership rate. What’s your take on the topic?
Ok, my first really short answer would be to watch my film „Loves Her Gun“. It is a feature I made ten years ago about a woman’s relationship to guns and fear. It also stars Trieste Kelly Dunn (who also appears in Quantum Cowboys). But essentially it boils down to- I hate guns. A device designed with the sole function to hurt and kill is counter to my heart and mind. BUT I also know that they are not magically vanishing, and as tools have been used for many different purposes- and not all of those are bad. Sometimes they do protect, sometimes they do feed, but also sometimes they murder, and sometimes they threaten and abuse power. It is very complicated, but the current relationship of humans and guns is horrific. It needs changes and it needs those to be made from solid common ground. So we need to start by finding our shared humanity and and then making smart regulations.

You are known for your extravagant, cowboy inspired look. Do you dress this way to honor your texan heritage?
Mostly I like that snappy western shirts fit a skinny dude like me, and they don’t require me to operate real buttons…that and denim is a superior fabric for all occasions. We all have clothes that make us feel the most like ourselves. The wide brim of a hat and the tough ease of a jean jacket are functional AND fit my personality… but as a side effect, I do like that it speaks to where I come from.

Which directors to you admire the most and why?
hmmm. I actually admire every single director that actually manages to finish a film. Especially without the support of the major festivals or the industry, I truly believe every film is a small miracle.But filmmakers that really amaze me include Alex Cox (who I was lucky enough to have appear in Quantum Cowboys), Jim Jarmusch, Allison Anders, Hal Hartley, Skinner Myers, David Lynch, David Byrne…directors that have made decidedly personal films without needing to polish the challenging parts away- the bumps and bruises are part of what I love in a film. I most admire filmmakers who can make a film feel like I spent time with the filmmaker. 
David Lynch’s Lost Highway isn’t a place, it is a way of looking at things that is distinctly his. David Byrne’s Texas in True Stories is not Texas at all, it is a special mythological place created  through his lens that says more about him than it does about the birth of the microchip. In the exact same way Jarmusch’s Dead Man is not the American West at all – it is specific altered view of the west from someone specifically not from the west. It is Night of the Hunter to me…examining the pros and cons of community and society rather than actually exploring an actual place in the west. Hal Hartley uses dialog like other directors use fight choreography- the words ARE the action. Allison Anders made me feel Southern California in a whole new way, through music in Border Radio. Skinner Myers, who made The Sleeping Negro, uses slow cinema to say difficult and important things- but in a non-epic relatable manner. Thats the kind of essential cinema we need right now.  And Alex Cox forgoes polish for pure unbridled creativity in the best possible way. And they all do it in way only each of them could do it.

You seem like an eccentric guy in the best way possible. Any weird hobbies?
I think the quixotic devotion for 20 years to making films as an outsider is probably the weirdest hobby I have. But I also really like to hike through hot desert landscapes on hundred degree days. And drift down a river in an inner tube in suit with a beer. And try to eat every Huevos Rancheros plate in America.

How did you experience the time during the pandemic and how did you use it?
I worked on this film until 3-4 am every night for two years of the pandemic. It both made it worse and better in equal measures. As I might have said if this was a question in the movie, „sometimes the opposite of quarantine  is still a quarantine „… and by this antilogy I just mean that the pandemic meant I did not go anywhere really, but it also meant I was ALWAYS available to connect remotely with anyone anywhere, so for this film I worked with people from all over the world. A luxury that had we been doing this film in person in one place I would not have. So it was harder to work isolated, but it also meant I could equally reach out to anyone. The people that responded to this, the ones that collaborated with me. Those are the friends and makers that are now closest to my heart.

Movie Festivals: Important networking events or necessary evil?
All of the above. I think some are important events that introduce your work to the world, allow you to connect to friends and collaborators and all manner of professionals to help you along the way. Some are necessary evils that just barely make this a financially possible art form. Some are super fun! Still others are unnecessary evils that might do more harm than good. All in all, I firmly believe we need more equalizing in festivals and less gatekeeping. More bringing filmmakers together and less ranking them. Diversification of voices and artists happens when we stop setting up gatekeepers.

What does Europe mean to you?
I love Europe, I love it a sa place, I love it as a community, and most recently I was amazed by how well the film went over with European audiences. I hope it means Europe will play a greater role in the future of my career.

How do you relax?
Does drinking 10 cups of coffee a day count as relaxing? I love nature, I love conversations, and I love coffee.

How’s your love life going?
Pretty wonderful. I will admit I am happy! Streaming services have changed the film industry. What is your prediction for the future? To quote my own movie, „Planning only insults the future.“
I honestly have no predictions. I am just standing here waiting for the future to arrive.

Your Sci-Fi western „Quantum Cowboys“ was released this year. How was working together with Lily Gladstone and how do you feel about the finished movie?
This is my third feature as director. And I personally feel like it is my best work. As weird as the film is, it is also exactly what I hoped to make. So I feel good about the film. I think it challenges the audience. I think it is a completely unique film. So everything that I love about it exactly what will probably give us trouble on the marketing side. But the optimist in me hopes the right people see it and take the right chances. I believe we will all be reward IF…IF that happens. Working with Lily was a dream come true. I believe she is one of the best actors in the business right now. I completely believe that in the near future she will get recognized as such. I wrote the part specifically for her, and was amazingly lucky that she accepted the role. She brings a depth and understanding to the character and the anti-colonization urges of the movie. She also brings the tough humor of a Han Solo-esque hero to the character. On top of it she’s one of the nicest humans I know. In all seriousness, I was lucky enough to work what I would describe as „my dream cast“. As a director that is about the greatest thing you could hope for.

What projects do you have coming up in the near future?
Well… I guess it depends on how many people come see this film. I have recently acted in a couple upcoming features and written two more films I may shop around soon. But in a perfect world, I also have written treatments for the two sequels to „Quantum Cowboys“. If this film does well, I hope next I am making these sequels.

Interview: Bernard Werkmeister

Mitarbeit: Oliver Schweden



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