Interview with director Amingo Thora

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

Not really, I always liked to read, write, and draw. First I wrote literary novels, won some awards in secondary grade and high school, and that’s when I started to wonder if I could write screenplays. To be fair, the first time I guessed the ending of a Colombo episode, my late grandmother told me I should become a screenwriter. I think I was about twelve !

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

It definitely is not. But you will still have to read, watch movies and documentaries about their making, to experiment … There are some rules you need to know in order to direct a watchable movie. Continuity or technical constraints related rules. You also need to quickly learn how to work as part of a team, because cinema clearly is a team sport. You rarely can make one by yourself.

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

It’s harder to get started. A movie is like a train, once ready, just hang on. The most difficult part is either money or to gather a good team. And my only advice to keep going, love what you do and your crew.

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

Preparation is the most important step of a production. When I shot my first films without doing any, or enough, I can tell you that  quickly understood that  I wouldn’t last long that way. Pure et simple.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

Chroma keying is not easy with the iphone format, I had some difficulties in post production. We also had to shoot several times the scene with the exact same gestures in order to realize our mirror effect. So, the actors had a precise timing for their parts ( dialogues and moves), that were choreographed, and the rest was a matter of post-production skills.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

The hardest choices I made in the making of a film often involve visual effects or long unbroken shots. Sometimes, both! But maybe the real hardest ones implies cutting out scenes. Especially when you love them …

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

I discovered them throughout many tournages, shootings. And I used to be a director assistant, so I was in direct contact with them, the technicians. That’s how I got to know them. And from this era, I’m still in the habit of clowning on the set to put everyone at ease …

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

I don’t really know what audiences want. You can guess what they like, and the role of the director certainly is to apprehend that in order to strengthen his or her statement. But it still depends on the type of movie you do. Do you work for TV, cinema, advertising, video clips … As I see it, there are two major possible configurations :
Either you are at the service of an artistic vision, a screenwriter’s, a singer’s, yours …
Or you design a product for a customer and its market, and then, you really need to know what they want. But even in the first case, you will still have to apprenhend what your producter, your distributor, and your partners, really want.

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

My movies can be watched worldwide because of festivals. And they get me some attention too, in particular from producers and broadcasters. Festivals allow us to interact with audiences and peers. The best way to get the most out of them is to go, to be physically present to make contacts and participate in markets.

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

The only way to be original is to be authentic, sincere. You should stick to whatever make you love the game. Now, I would advise any young filmmaker to learn the scales first. Try to understand the classic rules of cinema, what makes a movie and movie. And then, just do your thing, unapologetically.