Physics-captivated scholar turned filmmaker Geoff Marslett (“Mars”) will head to the Annecy Film Festival to premiere animated feature “Quantum Cowboys,” the first installment of what’s set to be a trilogy. The film’s ensemble cast includes Lily Gladstone, who stars in the upcoming Martin Scorsese film “Killers of the Flower Moon,” and David Arquette.
A technical and curious sojourn
The scenes that advance the plot through saloons, prairies and solemn deserts were crafted by artists from Swerve Pictures, Minnow Mountain, Artless Media and Mystery Meat Media.
“The animators who actually do this work, those are people that spent two straight years working with me on this film. Drawing every one of these frames, they gave me their own personal art styles. We didn’t go for a homogenized look in the animation. Each of them had a thing they did and they were cast much like actors,” Marslett says.
Written by Marslett and Howe Gelb, the film fuses quantum physics and Americana with a heady journey, while toying with our understanding of reality.
“Reality isn’t just something hard-fixed that exists; reality is something different for each individual. Every animal, every person, goes through life having to interpret it themselves and they have their own memories. Each of those sets of memories creates its own reality. That is, for that individual, the true reality. None of us can really experience someone else’s true reality, but we try to communicate that with each other,” Marslett says.
Produced by Fit Via Vi (“Cryptozoo”), which is also handling sales, and Swerve Pictures, the film stays true to Marslett’s appreciation of place, centering on Arizona, with each involved animation technique. The landscape can be seen as swirled blue skies against mauve desert scenery by way of oil painting and in electric neon hues as the protagonists traverse the terrain and Frank eats from psychedelic cacti.
“I want people to feel a little bit of what it’s like to be in Arizona. The experience of two people doing something is different because of that space they’re sitting in. This movie’s very much about sitting in that space of Arizona. I think there’s more difference in sitting where I am in Ithaca, New York now, and sitting in Tucson, Arizona, than sitting in Tucson, Arizona in 1973 or 1873, that space pulls those time periods together,” Marslett explains.
Marslett says he was fortunate with his casting, and had Gladstone (“Certain Women”) in mind for the role of the lead character, Linde, from the start.
The narrative quickly introduces the protagonist, who, exhibiting a tempered wisdom, performs the role of a sensible, charismatic leader with ease.
Gladstone says: “It’s an unconventional Western, anyway, but that formula of two guys and a girl? I really liked that. I don’t think a lot of women get an opportunity, with a character, to be the brains of the operation. Just to be there and not really have gender be a thing.”
She goes on: “To have the opportunity to have that post-colonial conversation as an indigenous person within this kind of genre is so unique, you don’t see it much.”
“I think a lot of actors tend to want to have a very clean narrative, a very clean track and have everything all figured out. I knew that wasn’t possible because I knew there was a lot to come. That was a challenge for me because you’re creating a character that does have an arc, but has an arc in 12 different multiverses. Each version of that character is slightly different.”
Musicians Neko Case (Alice), John Doe (John The Gunslinger) and Gelb (Blacky) are also featured; their performances of songs written by Gelb make up a majority of the soundtrack.