Introducing...Fabianne Gstöttenmayr and Jessica Garrison

‘Earth Is A Paradise’ will keep you captivated and staring at the screen, if only for the journey as much as wanting to find out what happens. Considering the film literally opens with a car crash, Garrison and Gstöttenmayr manage to maintain control in what can be described as a cocktail of themes swirling in such a short space of time. You’ll be hard pressed to find a short to compare this to and that’s the whole point. Jeremy Radin and Fabianne Therese do a fine job in keeping the main characters rooted in reality, no matter how bizarre their behaviour (trust me it gets weird).

Do yourself a favour and find out about the creators of the short film described. Another Minute Moment, read the full interview below:

“We always wanted to walk the line between hero and antagonist, aggressor and victim, and tell a story where both characters shift between the roles, exerting whatever power they can…”

Q: Jessica and Fabianne, can you introduce yourselves as best as you can - where are you from, your history as an artist and filmmakers, and how you both came together prior to creating ‘Earth Is A Paradise’?

F: Hey! I’m an actor and newly budding director. I grew up ping ponging all about (Sri Lanka, Austria, UAE, the States…) because my parents are both immigrants. I have participated in theater programs throughout my life. I’ve tried my hand at pretty much everything from wood-working to ceramics to starting a magazine and attempting to learn drums (I’m so sorry to everyone involved at this time in my life) and the only thing that I seem to have any proficiency in are acting and filmmaking. I also have a DEEP love of cinema and storytelling so it checks out.

J: I drove out from the East Coast to LA on a whim, a few days after I turned eighteen. At the time, I was a painter, and very into naked women and pastoral landscapes. I found writing in my twenties, which felt appropriately late, since I’m a late bloomer with most things. I started writing erotic short stories, which then turned into regular short stories with an erotic flair, which then turned into a couple shelved novels and an introduction to staged theater. I started writing and staging plays with a theater company in Los Angeles, and shortly after, I began writing screenplays. A long twisted path which led me to filmmaking, and somewhere along it I met Fabianne. We toasted to failed relationships and, with a boozy spit handshake, swore that we’d make a film together.

Q: Are you a directing duo at this point?

F: No. We’re like any modern couple, no need to put labels on it. We are free to make what we like with whom we please, but if we feel the pull to create together again I for one am totally down.

J: Yes, we are in an open relationship.

Q: Without giving too much away, I’ll say the title of ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ is quite contradictory considering the film is mostly set in one place, could you dive into the thinking behind this?

F+J: There’s a Star Trek reference in the film that we don’t want to give away, but that sums this answer up better than we ever could.

Film still from ‘Earth Is A Paradise’

Film still from ‘Earth Is A Paradise’

Q: What were some of the other locations you explored? (If any).

F+J: It was always just a windy road and a cluttered apartment.

Q: What were some of the challenges in making sense to the audience of the shifting character tones throughout?

F+J: We always wanted to walk the line between hero and antagonist, aggressor and victim, and tell a story where both characters shift between the roles, exerting whatever power they can, playing whatever mind games they need. It’s those bizarre ways we attempt to gain the upper hand, or to get one over on someone, or feel less alone, or get a grip on the wheel of a spinning car. We did a lot of character development in the writing process, and then even more when we started rehearsals with Jeremy Radin (who plays Alan), and who immediately connected and understood these kind of blurry lines. It was tricky to find just the right string of actions to tell the story in a way we hadn’t seen before, and without spelling everything out. And without the characters having sex—that seemed too easy.  

Q: Jess (our lead character) initiates and controls a lot of the interactions with Alan throughout. What do you think are her motivations as a character? (If any).

F: I came to a pretty clear understanding of that, but I’d prefer to let the audience come up with their own thoughts on what both characters’ motivations might be.

J: Yeah, her motivations may be too close to Fabianne and I for us to try to explain.. or justify.

“We see whatever we need to subconsciously see in another’s art, so all interpretations are valid.”

Q: Did you work much backstory into both characters prior to and after the events that unfold? What can you tell us about each character that we don’t get on screen?

F+J: Let’s just say Alan has been the nice guy for the majority of his life and maybe he recently experienced getting ghosted for the first time. And Jess is going to go through a few more messy nights before she takes a break and switches to kombucha.

Q: In three words - describe each other as filmmakers…

F: Unexpected, Uncomfortable, Sexy (lol)

J: Warm, Delicate, Visceral

Q: What’s been the reaction so far for ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ - can you describe whether people have interpreted it the way you intended or any stories of people misunderstanding? As it’s quite complex and which leaves room for misinterpretation.

F+J: It’s interesting. When it’s played to a room full of people there is non stop laughter, but when people watch it alone on their computer it seems to have a heavier tone. It has come back around to have many different meanings to different people. And some have definitely surprised us, but that’s ok. We see whatever we need to subconsciously see in another’s art, so all interpretations are valid.

Q: I had a thought while watching the film; that we probably don’t always see as many platonic relationships between men and women, and if we do then eventually it turns into something. Do you have any thoughts on this and was that a point you guys wanted to make?

F: I don’t know that their relationship can be defined as platonic. I think that their dynamic in this evening is outside clear boundaries. I think they are both trying to figure out what they are to each other, what expectations can these strangers really have of one another?

J: Oh I mentioned this earlier—yes, we didn't want them to kiss or have sex—we scrapped a very early draft of that— but we did want them to be intimate, just in the weirdest possible ways, maybe displaced at times, or induced by peach vodka, but definitely not “friends”.

Q: What work can our readers expect from you both in the near future? What should we look out for? (After watching ‘Earth Is A Paradise’ of course!)

F: I am finishing my second short ‘A Little Dream of Me’ and currently working on a feature script and I’m also directing a music video for Kirin J Callinan which will be out very soon.

J: I just made another short film called ‘DIME’, adapted from one of my plays, and out soon. And I’m also mid a feature. Exciting!

Q: Name people who inspire you in life? Could be someone you know, filmmakers, artists, etc,.

F: Lucrecia Martel, Mary Gaitskill, and Maria Callas.

J: Joan Didion is a constant in my life, also Elaine May, and more recently, Chan-wook Park has been blowing my mind.

Q: Lastly, a question we love to ask - if you weren’t a filmmaker, what would you be doing and why?

F: I’d dye my hair white and start a PJ Harvey cover band, because I’d probably be making more money.

J: Hmm job-wise I don’t know, but I’d definitely be mid a downward spiral with no outlet.

Written and Edited by Regys Badi.

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