“What I truly love is visually communicating ideas and emotions,” Marsh explained, noting auteur Gus Van Sant’s influence over his character-based storytelling style. “It’s important that we feel something when we watch movies.”
Critics around the world hold Marsh’s films in high regard. “One Step Forward,” his short film shot in reverse about a whimsical young man who proposes to his girlfriend on a sunny afternoon in the park, won Best Film at the 2011 Boston 48 Hour Film Project. Last month, the short was selected to be screened at the 65th annual Cannes International Film Festival in France in May.
“We tried to fit as much joy into the film as possible,” Marsh said. “It’s accessible and very lovable.”
He and co-director Ben Crowell, a friend and film student at the California Institute of the Arts, may not expect to win the Palme d’Or du court métrage, the highest prize given to a short film at the festival. But they do expect to have an opportunity to network with industry leaders.
“We’ll try to put some DVDs and posters in the hands of the right people, but mostly it’s the experience of being there that’s important,” Marsh said. “Obviously I’d like to shoot big and meet Gus Van Sant.”
Marsh received a $500 gift from an anonymous alumnus to finance his trip to Cannes. He also received $1,000 Office of the Provost undergraduate research award to finance the filming of his recently completed apocalyptic drama “When.”
He used the grant to rent the RED, the world’s leading high-resolution digital video camera on which the Oscar-winning movie “The Social Network” was shot.
“Shooting with the RED camera made the film because cinematography is one of its most important parts,” Marsh explained. “There is dialogue, but the visual element is a huge component.”
He encouraged aspiring filmmakers to hone their craft by reading screenplays and short stories, calling Miranda July’s award-winning collection “No One Belongs Here More Than You” a “sublime” work of art.
“Reading other writers’ work is invaluable,” Marsh said. “As a director,” he added, “you have to be an observer of the human condition.”
Marsh will enroll this fall in the University of Southern California’s Master of Fine Arts program in film and TV production. His long-term goal, he said, is to direct feature films.
“Obviously everyone wants to win an Oscar, but I just really want to work in film for the rest of my life.”