Interview with director Marina Symeou

SHORT BIO OF THE DIRECTOR: Marina Symeou, was born in Kiev by Ukrainian mother and Cypriot father and raised in Cyprus. She graduated from Aristoteleion University in Thessaloniki, Drama department. She is experienced as film and stage actress. She wrote the script for “Route-3”, produced by Sarajevo Film Festival and directed by Thanasis Neofotistos (2019). Berlinale and Sarajevo talents alumna. “Exploitation” is her first work as director.

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

My experience as a film actress, made me to want to tell my own stories and create my personal visual world.

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

Not essential for any reason! Academies give knowledge on classic ways of directing and writing and this very useful for the industry of filmmaking. But in many cases real talents appear beyond all “these rules”. I find that some times academic way of experience and efforts could be a “trap” for the artist. Film studies are a very good thing but always we have to keep an open and clear “eye” in our work.

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

Both I guess. There are many chances for the beginners to make the first film, but I know that many times things are more difficult for the second step.

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

During our shootings, a car accident happened. Fortunately without serious injuries. I was totally shocked and felt unable to continue the shootings. My precious artistic collaborators gave me the strength and the faith to not give up. Especially Thomas Tsiftelis, our cinematographer. The lesson one more time was how important is to be surrounded by the right team of colleagues in any creative project.

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

I had to remake the story during the editing because of the car accident and the scenes that where missing. I am very satisfied with the final cut. But it was a really harsh experience the split with my producers that followed after the incidence.  I really appreciate the collaboration with my editor, Panos Angelopoulos. We had hard work to do and he gave all his attention and valuable time to have a good result.

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

I am more than happy with my artistic collaborators. My main actress is an artist that I was always admiring and wanted to work with, Theodora Tzimou. My young protagonist, Anya Lebedenko was a discovery for me and “love at first sight”. I met her during the casting. I expect a lot of her in the future! The rehearsals with them was a truly wonderful experience. Also, Giannis Drakopoulos is an actor that we have worked together in the past. I really appreciate his talent and trust him. I met Efi Dementi at the shootings. She was very communicative and professional in her work. She gave the best for her role. My beloved Katerina Chatzopoulou, our art director and costume designer, is a good friend from my studies in Theatre department in Thessaloniki University. She introduced me Angelina Pagoni, her collaborator and with Eva Gaitanopoulou, our make up designer we had a very strong team in the art direction department. Thomas Tsiftelis, our DoP and Panos Angelopoulos, our editor, are collaborators that I would love to work again. They are all very beloved and precious for me as friends and collaborators. I feel very lucky that I had such a team.

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

As an actress I have been in some very renowned film festivals. It is a great experience. Sometimes chaotic and impersonal, but essential for the successful “journey” of the artistic work to the audience. In my first attempt as director things were harder. It is a lot of work that has to be done by a specialist, not from the director. Unfortunately I hadn’t that option after my split with the production. I made all the submissions by myself. On the other hand, it’s great to discover “smaller” festivals that surround the creators with authentic and personal interest, with “love and care”. This is exactly the feeling I perceive from Short to the Point festival and I am really happy to be part of it.

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

Authenticity and fresh ideas is the ideal for every artist.