Mess is Mine short by Amalie Gassmann, starring Cartia Mallan as Mason
Multi-hyphenate creative Amalie Gassmann is a budding cinematic visionary. Having just released her latest short Mess is Mine, which she wrote and directed, Amalie sat down virtually with her collaborator and protagonist Cartia Mallan to discuss their friendship, the creative process of filmmaking, and finding inspiration in heart break.
Give us a little intro to each of you (what you do, where from etc)?
AG: I am a writer and director, born in San Francisco, raised in Paris and I’m currently based in LA. I just graduated from college for film production in 2019. I’ve been working on other hobbies like photography, creative direction and I’m also a model.
CM: My name’s Cartia Mallan, I’m from Brisbane, Australia but I’m currently living on the Gold Coast. I guess you could say I’m a content creator. I’ve studied acting since I was young, I do public speaking… I do a bit of everything. I guess that’s me.
How did you two meet?
CM: We met in New York City, four or five years ago. Amalie hit me up via Instagram, and we’ve been international friends ever since.
Amalie, what or where was the idea for this short born from? Tell us a bit about your writing/creative process.
Honestly, the idea came from Cartia. We’d always wanted to work together. The basic premise was to do a romance, a relationship story, but then Cartia and her ex broke up, so it grew more into something different.
With my process, I just have these sort of visions… It can be a specific scene, or a feeling I want to convey in a shot, and it grows from there, and I love people watching. The opening scene of Mess is Mine was my starting vision, and then I grew the story from there. I just lock myself inside and listen to music and write and go a little crazy. It’s probably not the conventional way to do it.
Amalie and Cartia, was this a collaborative process?
CM: I would say in ways, and in ways not. In terms of the vibe and the feeling, it way very collaborative, but the script, shots and creative direction was definitely Amalie.
AG: I definitely think that Cartia has a specific retro aesthetic, and I tried to keep elements of her. Her character taking of her shoes in the beginning scene is because I know she likes being barefoot.
CM: Someone commented that on the YouTube! Like, ‘“That’s so Cartia, how she took off her shoes.”’
AG: Yeah, I saw that, I was so happy. As well as her aesthetic, the way she dressed… and keeping her Australian accent. We kept talking through the process and sending drafts.
How long did the process take, from creation to completion?
AG: So, pre-production took three months. We did a two-day shoot which was in Palm Springs, which was amazing. And post was about three months. It’s a lot of moving parts and organisation, the shoot is super-fast, and then waiting to see it is long.
What was the process of shooting the short like? How did you find locations to match your imagination and vision?
AG: It was one of my favorite shoots I’ve done so far.
CM: It was organised, and everyone was positive and upbeat. We worked together well as a crew.
AG: I love location scouting, so I did a lot of research and went to Palm Springs with Sam, who’s my DP, like motels and gas stations… abandoned places for the retro aesthetic. It was a lot of hit and miss, but it worked out.
I hear you try to only shoot on 16mm, why is that?
AG: I like how spontaneous it is. The beauty of film is that you can’t do endless takes, and you don’t get to do a playback, you just have a monitor. I’m usually a nervous wreck but I love the surprise.
Cartia, do you identify with you character Mason? Is there an aspect of her you don’t relate with?
CM: Yes, one hundred percent. When I first read Amalie’s script I was like, “This is literally what I’m going through with my own breakup.”
AG: Is there an aspect you don’t relate with? I think she’s less direct than you.
CM: She is a bit more reserved and less vocal.
Cartia, what where your challenges as an actress during the filming and what surprised you the most?
CM: My challenge was definitely that I was having a shit time in my personal life, so my energy levels were so low, I was pretty drained. And I was trying to connect with another guy in a way that I wanted to seem authentic, but I had just been through a breakup. But working with Mack was so easy, we really vibed with each other.
Your favorite part of Mess is Mine and why?
CM: THE DANCING SCENE!!! I love the colours and we just shot it on the side of the road in like five minutes and it turned out so beautiful. I feel that using the red and blue lights is what made it so special. That purple is the iconic colour of the film.
AG: Yeah, I think it was also the most rewarding scene because everything else was pretty easy, but we got kicked off the initial location and missed the sunset. I love the music.
I personally felt that the nuances of the body langue and script captured the characters inner turmoil, like how they were bonded on a sort of broken dream and nostalgia for what they once shared. But that they feared that letting go would break their bond? I’ve definitely felt like that in relationships before.
CM: It’s funny because some people didn’t get it. There’s meant to be a tension, the characters are meant to feel uncomfortable. Right person, wrong time.
AG: Mess is Mine is about that awkward in-between of knowing the end is there but not wanting it to end, and a lot of people relate to that. The nostalgia is definitely there. That’s why the locations and time of the story aren’t linear - I was thinking about different guys who had come into my life and how I still feel some sort of love for them. It’s bittersweet.
There’s a lot of mystery around the characters. Do you guys think they end up together?
CM: No… not anytime soon. Maybe in like five years.
AG: Are you talking about your relationship? Haha. No, they don’t. There’s a secret I won’t tell, but if you look really hard, they don’t end up together.
Amalie and Cartia, now that the short is out what are your final thoughts?
CM: I’m happy it’s out and that people have been able to see it. I personally wish that I was more present when we were shooting. =
AG: I think you did a great job. I’m a massive perfectionist, so are a few things I wish were different, like the dialogue. I’m not a big romantic, so that was challenge.
What were the inspirations behind Mess is Mine?
AG: I wanted to give homage to Americana, works like Motel Chronicles by Sam Shepard, Badlands, and Paris, Texas.
For anyone aspiring to get into filmmaking/acting what would be your advice to them?
CM: Commitment. Trial and error, taking constructive criticism, being open to learning.
AG: It’s not easy, and I think people don’t really know how much you need to learn about filmmaking in order to direct. Watch a lot of movies and write a lot of scripts and get out there and film. And collaborate, you can’t do it alone.
What is one film that each of you want to tell our readers to watch?
CM: It’s so corny but I love all of Baz Luhrmann’s films. They are so enchanting. I love Romeo + Juliet.
AG: One I rewatched recently is Terms of Endearment. It always makes me cry.
What is next for you both?
CM: Doing auditions in Australia. Working on shorts here and get more of an understanding of what happens on set.
AG: What about your music?
CM: Well, yeah, working on acting and learning how to be a singer!
AG: We are both creatives, doing a bit of everything. I’m directing a new music video, I have one in post-production –
CM: And when I finally make music, you’ll do my music videos!
AG: Of course! I’m also writing a third short that I’m excited about. And getting more into my photography, it’s in demand.
Listen to the MSM x Amalie Gassmann playlist here.
Questions By Bee Beardsworth