‘Damsel’ Directors David Zellner and Nathan Zellner on Their Unique and Eccentric Western

     July 6, 2018

If you’re a fan of original movies that tell a unique and eccentric story, you’ll want to check out David Zellner and Nathan Zellner’s Damsel – which is now playing in limited release. The film takes place in the American West around the year 1870. Robert Pattinson plays Samuel Alabaster, an affluent pioneer, who ventures across the American Frontier to marry the love of his life, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska), bringing a miniature horse named Butterscotch along for the journey. As the film unfolds, the once-simple journey grows treacherous, blurring the lines between hero, villain and damsel. Damsel also stars David Zellner, Robert Forster, Nathan Zellner, and Joe Billingiere. Trust me, I’ve seen a lot of movies and Damsel is nothing like any western I’ve seen and it constantly plays with your expectations.


Image via Magnolia Pictures

Recently, I sat down with David Zellner and Nathan Zellner to talk about the making of Damsel. During the interview, they talked about the way they work together, how they each have their own strengths, if it’s gotten any easier to get financing, why they wanted to work with Robert Pattinson, their love of the Western genre, their first cut of Damsel, how they like work on set, and so much more.

Check out what David Zellner and Nathan Zellner had to say in the player above and below is exactly what we talked about followed by the official synopsis. Finally, if you missed my interview with Robert Pattinson and Mia Wasikowska, you can watch that here.

David Zellner and Nathan Zellner:

  • They talk about their writing process and how they design the twists and turns.
  • Has it gotten any easier for them to land financing?
  • How this is the first time they co-directed a project but they don’t have a set way that each person does just one thing.
  • What’s the biggest fight they’ve had and way?
  • How long are their first cuts? How long was the first cut of Damsel?
  • Why did they want to work with Robert Pattinson and what was it like collaborating with him?
  • How long had they been thinking about making a Western and when did they first fall in love with the genre?
  • Film or digital and why?
  • How do they like to work on set and how has it changed throughout their career?
  • When they were getting ready to film which sequence were they nervous to shoot?

Image via Sundance

Here’s the official synopsis for Damsel:

It’s the age of The Wild West, circa 1870. An affluent pioneer, Samuel Alabaster (Robert Pattinson) ventures deep into the American wilderness to reunite with and marry the love of his life, Penelope (Mia Wasikowska). For his journey he brings Butterscotch, a miniature horse intended as a wedding present for his bride, and enlists drunkard Parson Henry (David Zellner) to conduct the ceremony. As they traverse the lawless frontier their once simple journey grows treacherous, and the lines between hero, villain, and damsel are blurred. A loving reinvention of the western genre from the Zellner brothers (Kumiko, the Treasure Hunter), DAMSEL showcases their trademark unpredictability, off-kilter sense of humor, and unique brand of humanism.

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