Marco Kalantari

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Dust Films

Q & A

If the world you created in your film became a reality, is that a world you would want to live in? Is there a Sci-Fi world you’d buy a one-way ticket to?

The Shaman is sent in a world in which a 70-year long war is raging, and in which spirituality has been turned into a weapon. So that’s a definite No. However, I believe good Sci-fi is always a visualization of the future consequences of our preset lives and current decisions and choices. In that respect, I believe The Shaman is not a world I would want to live in but future generations might indeed have to. Regarding the ticket – no, I travel every day into the future and to fantastic places in my script writing work. That’s good enough and I love to return from there.

Name a Sci-Fi character you relate to on a spiritual level? Who is your Sci-Fi spirit animal/spirit alien?

Both Rey and Luke Skywalker, I love their journey. I may not see myself so much in alien creatures but I can definitely relate to the Replicants in Blade Runner.

Friend or Foe: humanoid robots with advanced artificial intelligence? What if robots start making their own Sci-Fi films? Will you support them in their endeavors?

This is scary stuff. Definitely foe and we are heading in the wrong direction. And no, movies should be made by people.

You’ve gotta go through some bad ideas to get to the good ones. Tell us one of your bad ideas. How do you get past the bad ones to find your spark?

As a creative, I believe there’s no such thing as bad (creative) ideas. Not being afraid of failure helps me to get stuff done, and stories to the page. So I never actually thought – “Hey that was a really bad idea.” - just because it didn’t lead to a complete story. It might still at a later point. I usually regret most if I betray my own standards or sensibilities, in order to fit industry expectations. That’s bad.

Do you consider yourself part of a sci-fi community? Or when your brain is in the future and your body’s in the present, is that isolating?

I don’t. Probably because I don’t see myself as a Sci-fi director. I just like to tell stories and create worlds. But I have to say that I do get a ton of inspiration from my concept artist friends. If I can inspire others with my work as well then that makes me happy. Isolation is essential for most creatives’ work. It definitely is for me.

Do you consider yourself more of an analog or digital person? What kind of balance do strike between the two? Is there a disconnect between the technology you make films about and the technology that you make films with?

I would love to be an analog person but in order to produce the stuff I want to create, I need to go very digital at times. I try not to think about it too much, just focus on the vision. And always have the human, the emotion at the center of my work. In The Shaman, the scene I love most is the one where Joshua and the Soul sit at the table in the Netherworld and play an intense psychological cat-and-mouse game. It’s a simple scene in a kitchen across a table. I don’t get turned on by filmmaking technology at all, and it doesn’t inspire my stories.

When you’re creating the props and sets that make a new world, where do you look for inspiration? How do you create objects that are relatable but unfamiliar?

Write detailed background stories, of the characters and the world the story is set in. The history, the political situation, the rules of society. That becomes the bible for the entire team and their creative work. Everything in our present-day world consists of layers that stretch across time. Look at European churches. They have Romanian, Gothic as well as Baroque and modern elements all combined in one. They were places of defense, worship, mystery, political oppression and resistance. History gives the answer to the design. And this history I strive to create first before I think about the look of a film and the world the story is set in.

Lightning round: Star Wars or Star Trek? Philip K. Dick or William S. Burroughs? Practical or CGI? Dystopia or Utopia? Post Apocalypse or Pre Apocalypse?

Star Wars Philip K. Dick
 Practical + CGI combined
 Dystopia Apocalypse Now