In this concluding instalment, Travis Mathews looks back on the reception of Interior. Leather Bar, and forward to his next visit to London as he travels from Sundance to the Berlin International Film Festival.
How are feeling now about the whole Sundance Festival experience nearly a week later?
It’s so hard to answer this as things are still wa-wa-wa-ing and little shiny objects are flying everywhere. I’m home, seeing friends, and readying for Berlinale next week, trying to stay sane and grounded. I’m carving out some alone time to be depressed and/or sick for a couple of weeks after this slows down in a month. I’m a realist after all.
What possible effects do you think Sundance and the Berlin Film Festival might have on your career or your artistic development?
Over the past couple of months I kept thinking of a moment from the Marina Abramovic documentary where she explains how part of the reason she agreed to do the film was to demystify the artist experience. It involves an insane amount of administrative work to make anything happen and she wanted to expose that. It’s not visually interesting, but it really is a huge part of the process, especially when you’re just figuring out what/when/how you can delegate certain parts. It takes a long time to trust people when you’ve been doing it all yourself for so long. I feel like I’ve turned a corner with that though, and there’s definitely a sense of a core team forming. That’s a perfect example – I hear myself saying, “core team” and I pause, then I’m like, Fuck it, that’s what it is! I’m going to call it what it is. I think of Keith Wilson and all of the projects we’ve done. He has his own parallel path in photography and filmmaking that I’m proud of, but I realized today that I just assume that we’re working on any next film together. I don’t question it and that feels great.
I oscillate with it all. On one hand I’m constantly self-talking, reminding myself to stay low with my feet on the ground, the skeptical mid-westerner that I am. On the other hand, my life does feel like it’s changing in ways that are hard to process. It’s disorienting, but there’s an unexpected joy in having such wildly new experiences -and new feelings! – at the age of 37. I let things come and go more quickly than I used to and I attribute that to trusting in what’s happening. Things are going to be alright. I only have so much control over what this rolls into, but there is an emerging confidence that this is my jam. My goals are pretty modest; I just want to be able to keep making movies.
Do you think you’ll get wider distribution for Interior. Leather Bar?
This is part of the intensity right now. I don’t know if most people realize that the world is broken into film territories and you sell your movie to these different territories – there’s a German territory, a U.K. one, a separate French one etc… Once they buy it they have some negotiated ownership and a whole strategy and local machine that you get involved with. This is coupled with festivals that have their own interests and politics, so there’s lots of emails, lots of new personalities and lots of meetings. There’s something hilarious about it all because it doesn’t feel like real life.
There’s a lot happening as I write this but, unfortunately, nothing I can say about distribution. The answer is yes though, definitely. Its release will be unorthodox in some cases, because of a 60-minute total running time and some XXX content, but yes!
So, what’s next for you?
I can’t wait to share In Their Room London with people. It will be on the festival circuit with Interior. Leather Bar in some capacity – not always, but often. I’m excited to see how they stand together. It’ll be interesting – they’re very different tonally but they live in the same tent. I’m also in pre-production on a new feature that we’re shooting next summer/fall. I’m trying to stay quiet about it at the moment, but it’s exciting new territory.
Any plans to show work in UK?
I can’t say anything about anything but I’d look to April!
And what are your longer-term artistic ambitions and dreams?
I want to do an In Their Room episode every few years, in between features. I could go on like that for a long time to come. I see that series changing with me, which is really cool, and what keeps it alive for me.
Hearing from gay or questioning kids and adults from all over the world, even when they’re writing to say that they hate me, is unlike anything else. It reminds me that I’m doing what I need to be doing. We had a midnight screening in Salt Lake City where a nondescript middle-aged guy came up to me after the Q&A to shake my hand. He said that his 14 year-old son asked him to come and get a picture with me because I was his hero. That blew my mind. I cried. You can’t ask for anything better than that, especially when at the end of the day I’ve really just been making movies for my 14 year-old self to feel less lonely.