Dazed Digital

Paris

Samantha Larsen-Mellor

May 14, 2012

The gifted young filmmaker discusses her new short The Middle-Aged Man Crawled

  • Text by Christophe Victoor



Inspired by Nordic cinema, Cassavettes and NYC's Mumblecore movement, Samantha Larsen-Mellor is a Vancouver to Paris transplant filmmaker whose new short, The Middle-Aged Man Crawled took form after she stumbled across the cult novel, "Ask The Dust" by John Fante. Drawing on passages from the book, it's a short Super 16mm filmlasting just under a minute that tells the tale of writer's block and the muse.

Satellite Voices: What was your first experience with film?
Samantha Larsen-Mellor: I blame it on this tape recorder I found in our storage room. I was 11-years-old and I began recording everything. My first script was based on an argument my parents had in our kitchen. There was this immoveable power I had in being able to write what didn’t happen that compelled me to turn over math tests in high school and jot down notes for a next project. I moved to Paris when I was 17 to go to the international film school here and I received my BFA in filmmaking last August. My life, love and work remains Paris-based.

SV: What are your main influences in cinema?
Samantha Larsen-Mellor: Nordic cinema. I think they are the masters of isolation—stemming from their disconnected geographies, small populations, lack of sunlight in the wintertime (almost like hibernation in some sense), heaps of space to roam around in and cold climates… and my mom’s a Norse. Certain films too. I remember when "Blue Valentine" came out and I watched it 28 times in one week. There’s a scene in WongKar Wai’s "Chungking Express" that I often revert to when I’m stuck in the doldrums of creative block - the "California Dreamin’" montage. It’s a divine arrangement between seduction, intimacy, irony, longing, melancholy, good music, and bizarre dance moves at a fast food stand.

SV: What does Paris mean to you and your work?
Samantha Larsen-Mellor: It makes me want to write about down and out assholes in east LA and middle-aged freaks in the Mid West. It’s unlikely that I’ll make something that’s quintessentially Paris. For the moment I appreciate space and suburbia and cosmic landscapes. I’m constantly exploring and imagining other places and the people in those places.

SV: Can you tell us about our recent short film "The Middle-Aged Man Crawled"?
Samantha Larsen-Mellor: I was hanging out at this bookstore in Covent Garden a couple years ago and stumbled upon "Ask the Dust" by John Fante. M A G I C. So the script’s a combination of my own stuff and a couple passages from the book. Essentially, it’s about the creative struggle and the big-breasted women who help overcome it... among other things. Friends as actors, some happy accidents, a flashed film dream sequence and a salute to the sky. I began developing it in film school and found student films to often be notorious for encompassing death, suicide and other grave topics into an eight to twelve minute timeline, so I really just wanted to make something light, more digestible and more rock 'n' roll.

SV: What is your next cinematographic project to come?
Samantha Larsen-Mellor: I’ll be directing, in the coming months, a short film I wrote called "Wise Words of an Arkansas Widower", which not only means I get to be behind the camera again but that I also get to work with the super (and enormously talented) cinematographer and friend Isarr Eiriksson. It’s about a middle-aged fuck-up named Gareth Rosenberg who wants to run away to Morocco with his elusive 23-year-old sometime lover, Sloane.

SV: What is your dream project?
Samantha Larsen-Mellor: Isarr, Tilda Swinton, me, somewhere remote with a striking landscape (Iceland, the Canadian prairies), a small pleasant crew, a hard-working, fast-talking producer capable of handling my la dee da ways, shooting something I wrote on a decent budget. My fascination lately has been researching serial killers, so conceivably there could be a serial killer woven into the plot line. I always have this vision of Woody Allen showing up on one of my film sets, so maybe he could swing by. Or Dagur Kari, I’m not too picky. Apart from that one bizarre fantasy, I guess just being able to make films that say what I want to say - it’s all so vast, it's sometimes nice to keep the big dreams simple. At some point in the next couple years, I want to go to Buenos Aires to direct commercials there.

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