Marguerite – 5 Questions for Film Director Marianne Farley

Still from Marguerite (2017)

Nominated for Best Live Action Short Film at the 2019 Academy Awards


Watch Marguerite via iTunes

1.  Where did this story come from and why is it important to tell today?

The story was inspired by my grandmother’s generation. Talking with her about what she experienced, what being a young woman of her generation was like, made me realize how fortunate I was to have been born in a different reality. The story itself is not my grandmother’s story, nor is it mine. But the idea that a woman who was born in the 1920s could never have had the life she deeply longed for because it was forbidden, saddened me to the core. The injustice of it all inspired me to bring to the screen this story of hope and compassion.

I think that this story is important to tell today for many reasons but the initial urge I felt was greatly due to my fear that LGBTQ rights are in jeopardy at this time. Although things have come a long way for the LGBTQ community there is still a lot of work to be done. In some parts of the world the progress is meek, nonexistent or even regressing. Although we talk more openly about homosexuality and gender identity, the laws are slow to change and there is always the potential of regressive laws hampering our evolution to a truly free and fair society. That is why we absolutely need to keep standing up for basic human rights for all!

2.  What is a filmmaker's main responsibility in today's world climate?

I can’t speak for other filmmakers but I can say that for me it is primordial that the films I make start conversations, maybe even debates and open up minds and hearts. I want my work to move people. I want my work to make them reflect on their own lives because I believe that art should provoke internal or external transformation.

3.  How do you approach directing a piece such as this?

As with any piece I try to approach it in a very intuitive way. I try to not overthink things while I’m shooting. Obviously to have that freedom, there is a lot of preparation that I need to get done before the shoot: cinematography, art direction, casting, location scouting and more. But what is most important to me is trying to stay in the moment with my actors and crew when I’m on set. Because that is where the magic happens. There is no sense in having a rigid vision and losing precious time and energy trying to force something into being. You have to stay attuned to all that is around you so as not to miss precious opportunities. I believe that is the only way to delve deeper into the material.

4.  What is your relationship with your actors, and how does that lead to the best possible end product?

I know firsthand how challenging it is to be in front of the camera and I think that makes me very sensitive to my actors’ vulnerabilities. I try to keep my emotional antennas up so that I know exactly what they need at every given moment. Sometimes it’s just a kind and gentle word of encouragement, and sometimes actors need to be guided or taken out of their comfort zone. Essentially it’s about trust and finding a common language. And I believe that it’s the director’s job to adapt to each actor because each actor is unique. And it’s precisely that uniqueness that you want to bring to the screen.

5.  What is something you're still struggling to become adequate with in regards to filmmaking, storytelling, etc?

The most challenging thing for me is without a doubt writing. It is such a delicate art, especially when it comes to screenwriting. Before I have a draft I am satisfied with, I have to go through many stages. I find it easy to get lost along the way and the way back to my story can be pretty painful. Because I prefer films that don’t use too much exposition, sneaking in information is very tricky and probably the hardest part for me. But it’s also incredibly satisfying when you feel like you’ve created something that is personal, unique. I am still learning to trust the process and let the words come to me. Still a work in progress!