Interview with director Ziv Sheffer


Ziv Sheffer was born in Israel in 1994. He grew up in the center of the country and after his military service began studying film and television at Tel Aviv University.As part of his studies, Ziv directed, wrote, produced, shot and edited many short films and is currently working on his final film for the degree.

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

During high school I went through a difficult period that brought me to the world of cinema. I started watching movies as an escape and slowly it became my main area of interest. During the military period I realized it was beyond a hobby, but something I wanted to do all my life.

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

I think it’s something very individual. There are a lot of filmmakers who have succeeded without studying in film schools and there are a lot of filmmakers who have studied film and succeeded as well. I do think that studying at an academic institution produces a better starting point because during your studies you can make connections, get to know people and learn how this world works.

  • 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 going harder than starting. The beginning is very exciting and brings with it a lot of expectations, but as time goes on and you understand where you are going, it becomes more challenging because you realize that in order to be successful you will have to work as hard as you can and for a long time. Once you get through the first and second crisis, you will be able to move forward better. It is important to fail in the early stages so that you can see if this profession is really for you and so that you can overcome the next challenges that will be more difficult.

  • 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 is that making a film is teamwork, and as with any teamwork, each person affects the whole group so it is very important to be very careful about the people you choose to work with and choose only those you can trust.I learned this lesson from the first student film I made, one negative experience I went through taught me to be more careful and meticulous in choosing the people I work with.

  • 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?

Producing a movie is a complicated challenging thing due to the fact that a lot of people are working on it. Everyone has their own opinion and the way they think things should work out, which definitely creates a certain challenge. The way to deal with it and get the best out of it is to have a sincere dialogue with each and every one of the team members, put the film at the top of your priorities and act professionally. Eventually everyone has their role and when everyone does their job faithfully things work out. The most important thing is to stay calm, not to overreact and remember that in the end everyone has a common goal.

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

Following the film genre my vision was that it would be more graphic. I felt it was right for the protagonist and for the things I wanted to say during the making of the film. Due to budgetary and production constraints I had to compromise on a few things and direct the film in a more minimal way. I must say that although it was challenging, it made me think outside the box, learn to do things differently and helped me become a better director.

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

The way to behave properly with the crew and maintain a strong bond with them is to be honest with them throughout, letting them feel significant for the film and thus making the film their own. I believe that a film is a work of a group and not of one person, the hierarchy is not interesting and the good of the film should be in the first place.

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

The audience wants to see exciting and sweeping stories, refreshing and powerful characters, they want to see something they will not be able to see anywhere else. I don’t think filmmakers need to worry about that because trying to forcefully adjust to what you think the audience likes will only hurt you. The right thing to do in my opinion is to make movies that you would like to see for yourself as a viewer, write about things and stories that excite you and characters that interest you. Of course things from your personal life and from what you know can only help.

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

I only started my festival journey in this specific film and I think it’s super important. It is the main platform where short films and student films can reach people from all over the world. I think it is important to continue the tradition of festivals and keep it broad and varied so that every film, no matter what theme and genre, can have the opportunity to reach as many people as possible.

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

I do not think any creator ‘should’ do anything but just what he or she wants. Cinema as a type of art is personal and should not be restricted. In our world there is room for films of all fields and types, and the only thing we need to do is encourage personal action of any kind.