Geremy Jasper Brings David Beckham Into His Surreal Circus Film
There’s been a gaping hole in American surrealist cinema in the now decade long absence of a David Lynch film, but a new master of surrealism is on the horizon. One of the founders of LEGS Media, Geremy Jasper is on the verge of releasing a wild new short film, a production called Outlaws made with iconic British brand Belstaff.
Just from watching the teaser, the film looks to be one of the most visionary dreamscapes put on celluloid. Combining both black and white and color cinematography, the acting debut of David Beckham, a Mexican circus, motorcycle stunts, and a supporting cast of Katherine Waterston, Cathy Moriarty, and acting legend Harvey Keitel, it promises to be one hell of an action-packed short film.
We chatted with Geremy to discuss the breakneck experience of making the film, his cinematic inspirations, and whether or not he finds the circus as terrifying as the rest of us.
How did the project get started?
Sort of mysterious circumstances. I had written a script for a short film somewhat similar to the end product about two or three years ago. And then someone at Legs or Milk had a relationship with Belstaff or David Beckham, and I just said to someone ‘Oh I have this script and oh yeah, maybe you wanna pitch this?’ I can’t remember exactly how it happened, but I ended up having to modify it for David. I know nothing about soccer, but he looks like the guy I imagined for this story. I was sort of surprised but extremely excited that the powers that be came together to let this happen honestly. It kept feeling too good to be true, then it just kept getting better and better and I kept getting more excited.
What was it like working with that cast of legends?
It was heady stuff. Harvey is one of the most important actors in my life who’s in a majority of my favorite films: Mean Streets, Smoke, Reservoir Dogs, Bad Lieutenant, on & on… His films made me want to make movies in the first place. He’s like Moses… a national treasure… so to actually have his blessing and collaborate with him was nerve racking and awe inspiring. He taught me a hell of a lot. And Cathy is straight out of Hollywood’s Golden Age – like Lana Turner– but at the same time I felt like I grew up with her in Jersey. She’s like whiskey and menthol and could make reading Ikea instructions seem sexy and compelling on camera.
David was incredibly kind and cool. He looks so damn great on film- like a young Clint Eastwood. He seemed to really get off on the circus environment. But to me Katherine steals the movie. She could shape shift from silent movie star to femme fatale with a look. Also, one of my biggest thrills was getting to work with Chuy the Wolfman who is a Mexican circus legend. I’ve been a fan for years.
You’ve said this was the most ‘satisfying creative outlet you’ve had in some time,’ why do you think that is?
Well I wrote a script that mixed my love of Elvis and Frida Kahlo, and was trusted to go down to Mexico, build a circus, choreograph motorcycle chases, trapeze stunts, horses, a brass band, and work with my heroes all while being left alone to just follow the vision and see it through. The Mexican crew were unbelievably talented and generous. There was just a exciting, euphoric spirit surrounding the thing that is very special.
“Being on a film set is sort of like being an aerobics instructor for a group of drunk pit bulls on a speeding bus that’s got a flat tire and is on fire.”
Tell me about your shooting schedule…I understand it was pretty hectic.
It was six days of nonstop movement and madness shuffling between a sleazy Mexico City nightclub, a desolate canyon, and a tiny desert town. Someone on the crew joked we were trying to shoot Gone With the Wind over a long a weekend, which was pretty accurate.
What’s the most challenging part of being on a film set?
It’s its own circus… sort of like being an aerobics instructor for a group of drunk pit bulls on a speeding bus that’s got a flat tire and is on fire.
What inspired the circus atmosphere? Do you find it fun or scary or both?
My great grandparents, the Cipkowski’s, met as circus musicians in Poland at the turn of the century, so it’s in the blood somewhere. Since I was a kid I’ve found the circus life very romantic – a troupe of outcasts traveling from small town to town in order to entertain people in an age before TVs and cell phones really appeals to me.
What spurred the decision to film in black and white?
Everything looks more beautiful in black and white and because the story is a film within a film it just felt right. It starts in color and then goes into black and white like a reverse Wizard of Oz.
What’s one of the most powerful experiences you’ve had with cinema?
Seeing Juliet of The Spirits at Film Forum a decade ago changed my whole perspective on what you could do with film- it was like dreaming. And more recently, Mad Max was like a religious experience.
What’s one of the craziest things that happened on set?
I remember we shot an intimate scene out on the street in a small town called Villa de Tezontepec at midnight and the whole town showed up to watch. There were babies and old people right off camera. It was wild. Stray dogs were walking into the shot and there was music from a girls’ sweet 16 bleeding in from down the block. I was in heaven.