[June 3 2015]
Sebastian Sommer is a bisexual robot and filmmaker and his latest short film “Family Tree” stars downtown NYC muse India Salvor Menuez. Sebastian and India were interviewed by Gabrielle Demeestere, a filmmaker who’s feature “Yosemite” starring James Franco will be released soon.
Gabrielle Demeestere – How would you describe “Family Tree”?
India Salvor Menuez – Family Tree is a rumination on the relationship between suicide and idol culture
Sebastian Sommer – It’s a short film about suicide, fame, girls, clouds, consequence, guilt. I made this film as a time capsule. It had to be made. It’s for the future.
Gabrielle Demeestere – I love what Carlen Altman says in the voice-over: “If we all just accepted death and talked about it openly, not as many people would care if they were famous or not.” How do you feel about this?
Sebastian Sommer – I think fame does tie into a subconscious need for attention and a bigger purpose.
India Salvor Menuez – I agree something as natural as death should be less negatively implicated and tabooed. It makes sense, if mortal bodies look to fame for immortality then an idol culture functions, but i think there are other facets as well.
Gabrielle Demeestere – Are you going to burn out or fade away?
India Salvor Menuez – I’m slow burning.
Sebastian Sommer – I’m going to live forever.
Gabrielle Demeestere – “Family Tree” has a silly yet dark sense of humor, I’m thinking of Hari Nef in slow mo. How would you describe the film’s sense of humor?
India Salvor Menuez – It reminds me of someone smiling when they are in fact sad.
Sebastian Sommer – I feel like what India says is extremely true. I am the happiest the saddest guy in the world can be. Also for that particular scene, I went to see a retrospective of ‘Pink Flamingoes’ with Hari at Lincoln Center and her loud cackling would echo through the entire theatre, it was fantastic, I wanted the viewer to feel how I felt sitting next to her in that moment.
Gabrielle Demeestere – Talk about your relationship to your cast and how the cast members related to one another. Was there a lot of improvising and playing off people’s real personas?
Sebastian Sommer – The cast was a dream and all of the casting was intentional. Shooting it at Ally Marzella’s place was also great. I was influenced and inspired by a lot making this film, I was watching a lot of films by Robert Bresson at the time, I actually made India watch ‘The Devil Probably’ before we shot. I was also super interested in Donald Cammell who ended up killing himself over a movie.
India Salvor Menuez – Most of us were friends in real life so there was a level of comfort established, but I think it could have been a better film if we had more room for dialogue as a cast. It was a slight surprise to find in it’s final version that what we shot had become the subtext for voice over.
Gabrielle Demeestere – Do you have any upcoming projects?
India Salvor Menuez – I launched with my co-writers, Adinah Dancyger & Victoria Cronin, a Kickstarter campaign to shoot “Girl Props” this summer. This will be the second film I co-write, the first is in post production; “Technology”, made with director Maiko Endo, shot in India & Iceland over the last 2 years. I am looking forward to seeing “White Girl” premiere soon too, a film shot last Fall with the amazing Director/Writer Elizabeth Wood. I think “My First Kiss” is in final edits as well. Claire Christerson, Alexandra Marzella & I also just got accepted into our first artist residency, “Buoy”, as a performance trio, so that will be amazing in July. Then in September & October I will be in Iceland with “Baby Skin” dance collective documenting and collaborating on their residency as well! Other things in Limbo, all exciting!
Sebastian Sommer: I’m working on my final short film called ‘Live Forever’ and it’s going to be the best short film I’ve ever made and also my last. I’m then going to make my debut feature and I want to have Kendall Jenner as the lead. Kendall hit me up.
Text Gabrielle Demeestere and photo Ivy Blackshire