Sebastian Sommer has spent the past decade creating short films exploring the digital age and its relationship with queer identity. During that time, the filmmaker always maintained a consistent approach to collaboration by working with New York City-based talent such as Cakes Da Killa, Hari Nef, Spencer Breslin and Azealia Banks.
Apostrophe, Sommer's final short that's been two years in the making, follows a VR designer who retreats into his memories while grappling with fragmented relationships in his life. It's a semi-autobiographical story about wanting to feel safe, striving for acceptance and the ways we engage with our need to feel love. Richie Shazam and Eleanor Lambert star in the lead roles, featuring music by Brooklyn techno band Mother Cell.
Below, Sommer talks with Lambert for PAPER about the making of the film, his inspiration and everything in between.
Eleanor Lambert: This short film feels very personal in a way.
Sebastian Sommer: It's definitely the most autobiographical film I have made. I drew from parts of my life. I act in Apostrophe as a version of myself and the characters are based on interactions that I have had. But it's mostly personal in the sense of emotion. I spent a lot of time in the short film genre exploring the personalities of others, but for the first time I turned the camera on myself.
Eleanor: What is the meaning of the title, Apostrophe?
Sebastian: I like the way Apostrophe sounds. It also has to do with the fluidity of how the story unfolds.
Eleanor: What previous experiences did you draw from in making this film?
Sebastian: Growing up in a hostile environment and feeling like an outcast. Seeking to overcome trauma. Wishing you could be vulnerable or find safety within a space. The protagonist of this film searches for love while being made to feel he doesn't deserve it.
Eleanor: This film is also meta in how you reference yourself.
Sebastian: I like it when things are over-the-top in film. I like to think to myself, "What would John Waters do?"
Eleanor: I remember acting in our scene and we were laughing in between takes even though the scene called for the exact opposite.
Sebastian: That was a great day of shooting! I loved the way you would get into character. I think bringing a light-hearted approach to crafting a very serious scene can be helpful. You need that balance. Many people that have seen Apostrophe during the editing process have mentioned your performance.
Eleanor: What was your inspiration behind this film?
Sebastian: I would say that I am always inspired by Gregg Araki. The Todd Haynes film, Poison. I was also inspired by the Federico Fellini movie, 8 ½, because it's a self-reflective artistic turmoil piece and you gotta love it.
Photo courtesy of Sebastian Sommer