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Filmmaker Spotlight: Interview with Writer/Director Tomer Almagor of 9 Full Moons

This week's NewFilmmakersLA Spotlight is on Writer and Director Tomer Almagor of the film, 9 Full Moons. Get to know Almagor's work, learn about the latest project, inspirations and catch a few tips for filmmakers just starting out. 
Tell us a little bit about your project and how long you’ve been working on it. 
9 FULL MOONS chronicles the rocky roller coaster relationship between Frankie and Lev, two individuals that are very different in their cores. Both of them struggle with demons that track back to their personal histories, which could be the reason why they end up gravitating towards one another in a seedy after-hours nightclub. Their story is brooding yet compelling, violent yet tender. It is down and dirty and intimate and real. All the materials from which a true love story is made of. 

This project is very personal and close to home. It is loosely based on my life experiences. I was actually working on a different project, a film that has been taking its time to get off the ground, meantime I made a short film and was touring the festival circuit with it. I met Bret Roberts who plays Lev in one of these festivals and from there on it all streamlined pretty quickly. I wrote the screenplay for about 3-4 weeks, and we started casting right away. We had a few Sisyphean hiccups on the way, but we kept plowing through trouble and the whole thing start to finish took us about 2 years. We’re very proud of the final film, and so far audiences were very responsive to it. We’re looking forward to share it with more people around the globe.
Is there anyone you'd like to thank for helping out with this film?
Many people.  Anyone who’d jumped on this suicide mission and got paid peanuts deserves my utmost gratitude… for the rest of eternity... and it’s a long list… But seriously, my life and business partner Gabrielle is probably the most instrumental person in getting this film made. We came up with the story together (or lived through to tell it) and she has been carrying the film on her shoulders from the beginning. Our other producers, Joy Saez and Bret Roberts who also plays the lead character Lev, love these guys. Other production team members include Logan Sparks, Roger Mayer, Christo Dimassis, Aron Michael Thompson and Will Clevinger. Our amazing cast – the brilliance of Amy Seimetz and Donal Logue and everyone else that was brave enough to crawl into the skin of their characters. Robert Murphy, our DP and co-editor. Matt Harvey on art direction. Ted Speaker, Andy Hay created the wonderful sound of the film and contributed to the soundtrack, which also includes songs by Foster Timms. All of these guys, and their respected teams. And a huge thank you to our family. They always support us tremendously in all of our film adventures.
How does it feel to have your film part of the NewFilmmakers LA Screening at the AT&T Center?
9 FULL MOONS is a personal love letter to LA, a city we love to hate, and we are very excited to screen the film in our hometown. Being part of the eclectic NewFilmmakers LA program is the cherry on top.
What inspires you?
People. I love to watch them, listen to them and reinvent their stories. Places, and various art forms, like books, paintings and music. Dreams, symbolism, and out of body experiences. 
Who are your influences and who do you admire?
For this story, it was mainly reality, and I admire Lev and Frankie for some of the bold choices they make. I do watch allot of films and for this movie we’ve been looking at many 70s movies. Last Tango in Paris, Five Easy Pieces and Taxi Driver all were part of our inspiration queue.
What lessons have you learned from the industry so far?
Perseverance is god. But god doesn’t exist. This industry is like a major ongoing hurricane that one needs to survive over and over again. But if one sticks to it, one can conquer the storm and master it, ride it. Dang, I should memorize this like a mantra when I’m on empty, depressed and beaten down sleeping for days in my bed.
If you could collaborate with anybody, who would it be?
Ray Winstone, Mads Mikkelsen, Ben Foster, Annette Benning, Julianne Moore. There are quite a few brilliant and powerful performers out there. It really is material contingent. If I could go on sets and watch masters work, I’d love to hang out with Aki Kaurismaki and Mike Leigh just to name a few.
What is the toughest experience you've ever had to overcome?
Seeing it through all the time. I’m notoriously premeditated to lose the thread, wake up and think: what the hell am I doing…here? And why am I doing it?  Trying to find meaning in everything you do is a slippery slope, and because everything through the experience of filmmaking is either tough, or complicated, or very delicate and hard to pull off or all of the above... sometimes when I direct I feel like a politician or a used car salesman, both vocations I detest. So for me, I just try to keep at least one beat constant, and that is my thread. I guess you can say, the tone of the film or perhaps the spirit of it. It also helps to keep my expectations real low, so everything is a marvelous surprise. I’m ready to throw away the plan / script at any given moment and try fresh ideas, I try to sprinkle the whole experience with humor (or at least what I think is funny) and make sure to repeat in my head: we’re going to get through this. 
What is the best piece of advice someone has given to you?
An Aussie surfer friend of mine who used to crash on my couch sporadically, always said that the most important thing is to remember that you never know what’s coming next and when it will come. One moment everything is flat, the next – chaos. He meant big waves of course. 
What advice would you give to new filmmakers starting out in the industry?
Have a very good reason why you want to do it to yourself. It is an addiction of the worst kind… Seriously though, each project is unique, and there are endless ways to make a film. Each film is unique, so there is no reason to give up. Just be creative about how you going to pull through and make it happen. All I can say is that for me on set and throughout the making of the picture everyone is equal part of the creative process. I prefer to surround myself with people that know better than me in all other aspects of filmmaking but story-telling. I respect everyone, and listen to their ideas, but my first loyalty is to the story I’m trying to tell. So I only apply input that can strengthen the story. No one knows your story better than you. 
Where can we expect to see you next?
Gabrielle and I have a number of interesting projects in various stages of production. We’re currently filming a documentary that she’s producing and I’m directing. We’ve also been working on a romantic comedy titled Wake Up Call. We’re ready for some healthy laughs after 9 FULL MOONS, and we’re inspired to go into production soon. 
Let our readers know where they can find more information about you and your projects. 
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About the Author

Formerly an editor at Demand Media, writer at Citysearch, The Examiner and proofreader at The Los Angeles Daily News, Christy Buena decided to start Disarray Magazine because she missed writing what she wanted. From hiring writers, to contacting publicists and making assignments, Christy is responsible for the editorial strategy of Disarray Magazine. Get to know the team of talented contributors.
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