Gus Van Sant’s Cannes Film Festival Competition entry The Sea Of Trees unspooled here over the weekend. Van Sant is no stranger to Cannes, having previously won the Palme d’Or with Elephant in 2003. Before the Sea Of Trees screening, he and I sat down on the Majestic Beach to talk about how the existential drama came together. His visit to Cannes the previous year to present it at project stage, with Matthew McConaughey in tow, helped sales company Bloom virtually sell out the film in a trend that has seen big name talent increasingly travel to markets to curry favor with their prospective partners.

The early morning chat above also touched on something new for Van Sant: Working with an actor who was fresh off of an Oscar win (for Dallas Buyers Club) and had just gone through something of a transformation himself, rather than Van Sant contributing to a shift in perception for an established star — think 1995’s To Die For which presented Nicole Kidman in a new light, and which had a Special Screening in Cannes. Check out the video above.