Interview with director Mike Malajalian

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

There was a particular period in my life which were my last years at high school when I started watching lots of films, that made me feel that cinema is a wonderful way to let feelings get out and touch people on a big scale.

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

Film institute gives a filmmaker the necessary tools and methodical way of learning filmmaking but to become a successful filmmaker it is not the most essential tool.

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

To keep going is pretty hard, as it’s a long and difficult process to get to the point where we are shooting a new film. I had to wait long periods of time in order to get to the shooting for my films and to really get things moving, because without a strong will and lots of patience, it is easy to give up.

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

The most important lesson I learned was to really go search and dig in real life stories from people around me and to really capture the essence and deepest feelings from them to go and create a film that can touch people.

  • 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?

One of the most difficult decisions to be made on set while shooting was to cancel one scene because we really had run out of time and there was no way to fit all the scenes together on the last day of the shoot. The hard decision was to let go of one scene and to let the film remain the same when going through the editing phase. I figured out what was the scene to be deleted without ruining the movie and took the good decision which let the film be cohesive and not change my intention of storytelling.

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

The hardest artistic choices for me have always been about the locations, as usually during the writing process, we have something specific in mind and then we have to accommodate it into a different looking location and reshape the film to fit into this or that space.

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

I met my collaborators either on movie sets I have been to, or through friends who have worked and collaborated with them earlier. Our relationship gets stronger on our long meetings and discussions for future projects when we discover that we are on the same level of thinking and we agree on details that will make the collaborations richer and fruitful.

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

Audiences need to feel emotions from a movie and get out of the theatre thinking about what they saw.

It is the filmmakers’ role to create elements and visuals that will remain with the audience for some time and make them want to discover more.

  • 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 very important to me as they connected me with amazing people who can be collaborators and advisors in the future. It is necessary also to see the reactions of different audiences as any kind of feedback is always very constructive and shapes the mind of the director and writer for future ventures.

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

Depending on what the filmmaker has to say and what suits best for his specific content. I don’t think there is a right or wrong with being classical or original/fresh. Each subject can demand a specific style and it depends on the filmmakers’ vision and which stage in his/her career he/she is and how the next project should be developed.