Interview with Athena Kaloulis Efstra

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I must have been around 15 years old when I wanted to express myself in more than just words. I was watching one night a movie and realized this is exactly how I can explain something and really have someone understand it.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

I will answer honestly. You don’t have to go to college to become a filmmaker. It is however a good idea and that is what I chose to do to get some education but that’s just the basics and of course a degree. No school will teach you to grab that camera with imagination.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

I think it is harder to get started. I always wanted to make a movie, a good movie, a smart one, have a beautiful picture and hear the clapping in the end but I always saw different works and said I have no idea how to that- I quit. Years later I went to college in Greece for filmmaking and I was forced to make a short film. I wrote my own script. And that’s when I realized- I don’t quit.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

My most important lesson was be prepared with more questions on a documentary film interview. I had prepared 15 necessary questions. My interviewer told me keep the time running. Add more extra questions. The result was amazing and I had ENOUGH material to edit.

  • How do you find or generate ideas for documentaries or is it a different process for every project?

I don’t search for my documentaries/movies. I have them find me. For me it doesn’t work to sit down and think what would be a great movie. I will notice something I consider great and I want to tell others, so I tell it in full story, a film.

  • Can you describe your approach to writing treatments?

When writing my treatments I use short but purposely moving words to describe the story I have.

  • Do you ever use the camera yourself?

I haven’t used the camera myself yet for my films. I’m still doing experimental projects on my own camera.  I am always behind the camera asking 90% of what I want to see, the rest I leave it to my DP’s.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

The audience want a ,,cool film’’. They want to leave the theatre and say ‘’I recommend you watch it’’. They want to hold hands with their partner after a romance and hug their friends and family after a good action or drama. If the director doesn’t control all that who will? It’s the film’s movement on how something will be expressed. It’s the film’s camera style that will tell a story a certain way. That way is the way to a good or bad filmmaker which is that way to a good movie or not.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

Film Festivals have been my judge. They keep me working on my film. They are necessary so that work gets shown around the world without having someone press the skip button. One of the best parts about it is that new talents can be discovered. I get the most out of it when I get that email with a certificate attached.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

I know that no matter what you choose you have to make an impression. If you can do that, you can make any style of movie great.