In celebration of the NewFilmmakers Los Angeles screenings at Sunset Gower Studios this month, we're conducting a series of Q&A Features and this week we're bringing you our featured Filmmaker Spotlight:
Name/Position: Armin Siljkovic, Writer/Director/Producer
Film: Chasing Shadows
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it.
Chasing Shaodws is a film noir short with all the classical noir elements -- black and white visuals, a strong focus on shadows and lighting, and overall mood and atmosphere.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
The cast and crew for sure. Thanks to the lead actor, the very talented and always-working Jose Rosete. He's a non-smoker and his character was a chain smoking detective. Jose went through several packs of strong cigarettes (because the denser smoke photographs better). It must have been hell for him, but we got all the shots. I had a great crew with me -- we did some 75 setups in less than two nights of shooting. They worked blisteringy fast and with great precision. In the end, everyone's input, especially the DP (Alan Dean), helped make the film better.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers Screening at Sunset Gower Studios?
I've been attending the NewFilmmkaersLA screenings at Gower for the past few years, met a lot of interesting people and seen a lot of great short films. I've always wanted to screen my shorts there, the crowd is filled with lots of diverse folks from all over the world, and they all enjoy short films.
What inspires you?
Originality. I don't believe you can succeed in this business, especially when you're first starting out, by doing something that's already been done. You go to do something new and stand out. What inspires me the most is other filmmakers who have original concepts and ideas. It's not necessarily their films that inspire me, but the fact that these guys made something original, something from their own imagination, and it ended up on the big screen. It lets me know that it's possible.
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
I admire filmmakers with great sense of visual storytelling, filmmakers who can create visuals and an atmosphere that tell us a lot about the world and the characters. Films such as Blade Runner, many older film noirs. I admire filmmakers who can tell a story visually rather than just settling with dialogue. Filmmakers like Terrence Mallick and Orson Welles.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
That hard work is still the main road to success.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
David Fincher. I admire his visual style and his attention to detail. Se7en is one of my all-time favorite films and probably the film with the most consistent visual style I've ever seen.
What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?
Moving to LA from another country, not knowing a single soul here and only having a backpack with me.
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
I don't remember who told me, but they said, "Nobody cares about your movie more than you do." It always reminds me that you really have to love and care about whatever you're doing, because if you don't, the folks helping you won't care either.
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Have a plan and prepare. I've been seeing a lot of advice in the likes of "just go out there and shoot something!" Honestly, I think that's a recipe for crappy results. Don't just go out there to shoot something; have something to shoot. Have a script that's gone through a few rewrites and actually makes sense. Do your shot list. Do your storyboards. Rehearse a bit with the actors if you can. Go to the location alone and just walk around, see if you can come up with something interesting. Try and imagine the film completed and cut together, imagine what kind of coverage and shots you'll need to achieve that. It's much better to have one decent short than 10 shorts with missing scenes, bad audio, stale performances, uninspired lighting etc.
Where can we expect to see you next?
I'm currently working on two short films, one which is scheduled to shoot later this year.
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects.
You can find me on armin.com and twitter.com/arministrator
For more information, visit: http://www.newfilmmakersla.com/