Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times – 5 Questions for Film Director Marcus Markou

Image from Two Strangers Who Meet Five Times

Winner of Best International Short Film at the 2018 San Jose International Short Film Festival

1. Above all else what do you hope audiences take away from this film?

 I always loved short stories as a child. And some stayed with me as an adult – specifically “The Happy Prince” by Oscar Wilde and “The Snow Goose” by Paul Gallico. And in my twenties, I remember saying to my then girlfriend that if I could do anything in the world it would be to write such a story – short but with a big emotional impact. I don’t think I have ever read either of those stories without crying and realizing that outside of ourselves there is this great power of unconditional love. And so, maybe without being conscious of it, what I want to do is get audiences reacting in the same way. That is what we are shooting for, we do our best to get there and it’s a difficult thing to do – to make a short, perfectly formed story that leaves an emotional imprint on an audience about the power of kindness.  

2. What responsibilities do you have as a director when it comes to telling stories through film?

The key responsibility is hiring all the other better directors than yourself and making sure they know what the story is. Everyone is a director – the actors are directors because they are directing their own performances, the Director of Photography is a director, the sound recordist is a director, the second assistant, the hair and makeup, costume realizing etc – eventually culminating in the Editor. So my philosophy is to work with the best people you can and bring the best out of them. I’m not there to tell the DoP how to do his or her job or tell the wardrobe dept how to make costumes. I am there to guide them on what the story is. The key job of the director is to communicate what the story is and make sure everyone is telling the same story.  

3. What’s the biggest struggle you’ve overcome as a storyteller?

Writing is a craft that has to be learned. That can and should take time. My biggest struggle is impatience. 

4. What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned during the production and release of this film?

I think short films are often treated as stepping stones to “bigger” projects or as calling cards. But the short film is an art form of its own. 

5. What are your thoughts on the changing climate in the film industry?

You can easily get bogged down trying to track what is happening with changes in the industry. Our viewing habits are changing, cinema movies are changing, Netflix and Amazon are changing, cinema audiences are changing. But the filmmaker the story is the same. Tell a good story.

Related: 5 Questions  | Interviews with Up-And-Coming Directors of Acclaimed Short Films