Interview with Trent Garlipp (Lobelia)

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  1. What first inspired you to become a film maker? I started making short videos in middle school with my older brother on this really crappy no-name-brand digital camera that my parents got us for Christmas one year. We screwed around a lot and made really ridiculous sketches that we uploaded to YouTube, and our friends thought they were funny so we kept doing it for a while. Then in high school me and my friends would make short films for English class projects because we didn’t want to write papers and for some reason the teachers let us do it, for almost every project. We made films for The Odyssey, The Count of Monte Cristo, To Kill a Mockingbird, and a ton more that I can’t remember. We also made short films on the side for our personal YouTube channels. So we slowly got better and better at filmmaking and started to make homemade greenscreens and steadicams and other shitty rigs, then at some point I realized that I could actually do this for a living if I kept at it. So I applied and got into film school and here we are.


  1. Why don’t you tell us a bit about this Lobelia- The Movie? What’s the general plot and idea behind the film? The story is about a woman and her husband trying to reconnect after a traumatic experience that has separated them emotionally for quite some time. The woman has become obsessed with maintaining her isolated backyard garden until one day her flowers start mysteriously dying. This causes a chain of events that leads to her starting to lose her grip on reality, experiencing terrible nightmares and becoming obsessed with curing her plants, until her and her husband are forced to confront the source of their trauma.


  1. What inspired the idea for your film? I started off with the idea that I wanted to tackle a film about depression, because a lot of screenwriting teachers told us not to, and the subject was important to me. A lot of people have told me that a protagonist who is depressed is not active and an audience gets bored with that. So I took that as a challenge and tried hard to find a way to make an active character who was also depressed. It’s important to me that more stories like this get told because depression really sucks, and we need more characters on-screen that show it in a realistic way that also gives hope to people that it can get better. It’s definitely something I struggled with a lot in the past and still do, but I think I’m much better at managing it now. I was also interested in telling a good story about a broken relationship, because I’ve seen a lot of unhealthy relationships fall apart, and I wanted to explore how that happens and how a couple might be able to fix a relationship that was once healthy and now seems doomed. I was also really into magic-realism when I wrote the script so that’s where the dreams come in. I wanted to blend a realistic situation with imaginary situations and make it hard to tell which was which sometimes, without resorting to any cheap twists or deus ex machina. The inspiration there came from movies like Pan’s Labyrinth and Birdman.


  1. What would you say is the most unique aspect of Lobelia- The Movie? I think the juxtaposition of the beauty and tranquility of the backyard garden in this isolated rural landscape with the horrible state of mind the character is in makes for an interesting world that I don’t see too often. And although I’ve been kind of advertising it as a horror movie it’s much more of a domestic drama with some surreal horror moments, and really doesn’t have the kind of ending you’d expect in a similar movie. At least I hope so. I really want it to be honest and realistic despite all the dreamlike stuff.



  1. What impression are you hoping to leave your audience with? I want it to leave the audience kind of sobered and a little bit hopeful by the end. I want people to learn something about themselves with every film I make, in some way. If just one person watches this film and has an epiphany about a relationship in their life or feels like they’re not alone anymore, that’s enough for me.


  1. What qualities do you think make a great film, and could you give us a few examples of films that you would consider great? I think it has to be personal in some way to really be great. If a director has no personal connection to a story then what’s the point? A personal connection can happen with any material, even if you’re making a film about a character who’s the complete opposite of you, as long as you show empathy and find a way to relate to the material. I mentioned before that I really like Pan’s Labyrinth. My favorite movie is The Big Lebowski. Other movies I keep coming back to are There Will Be Blood and The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford.


  1. Are there any films that you would consider guilty pleasures? Films that aren’t exactly great that you still really enjoy anyways. Oh man, I’ve watched Hot Rod probably about thirty times. I don’t even think it’s that great it just sort of became a tradition at my house to watch it every Christmas eve, and there are a few parts I think are really funny and surprisingly touching. Another one is Escape from Tomorrow, which is a terrible film but I enjoyed it a lot. It’s a horror movie shot in Disney World without permission and it’s super surreal and absolutely ridiculous. I think it’s really interesting and fun to see a movie set in Disney World that makes the space feel so much different than it does in real life.


  1. What advice would you give to someone who wants to create an independent film of their own? Get good at networking. I’m still pretty bad at it and it causes me problems all the time. It really is a collaborative process and you need to find good people to work with to make the best work you can. And you’ve got to actually listen to other people’s notes, because if you make a project in isolation, there will always be things you didn’t realize are issues until other people point them out. Take all the help you can get, because you’ll need it. And always help the people who help you. Basically just be a good person and people will like you and help you out. Feels good


  1. When is Lobelia- The Movie set for release and where will we be able to watch it? Post-production should be done by the end of the summer, then I’ll be submitting to festivals to hopefully screen at some by the end of this year or early 2018, then I’ll be posting it online on Vimeo and YouTube after it’s had its festival run. This is assuming I get into festivals. Otherwise it’s just going straight online.


  1. Where can we follow you to learn about Lobelia- The Movie and any future projects that you will be working on? You can follow the official twitter for the film @lobeliafilm and the facebook page, I don’t have a website for myself yet so for future projects I guess you can occasionally Google my name and see if I’ve made anything in a year or so.

Lobelia -The Film

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