Persian Film Festival Premiere: Interview with Sydney based filmmaker Saeed Sourati
Making a film in Australia isn't easy, but have you ever thought about making a short film in Iran? Screen NSW speaks to Australian-Iranian filmmaker as the gears up for the premiere of his shortfilm How can be both.
Your film How can be both, explores issues of claiming false refugee status in Australia, considering the content was it risky to shoot in Iran?
Not really, it was not that risk. There are several reasons why. Firstly, Iranian society as a whole despite limitations for filmmaking, has changed a lot recently, and it has become much easier, despite appearance, to make films. Secondly, this was a short film, which was done with a small crew and it didn’t get much media attention. It also took a short while to shoot this film and this lessened the risk of us being noticed. Thirdly, and this is the main point, in making short films, the risk is not in the process but in the projection and screening of them, specially when the film is broadcast in one of the channels or media that the government has a problem with or if the filmmaker has connections with those channels. This is where the risks come in for it being banned or the filmmaker being fined. That’s why I didn’t face any of these problems.
Can you tell us where the idea for your short film came from?
The idea for this film came because many years ago I had a friend whose boyfriend wanted to come illegally to Australia. I was in touch with them through this process. But unfortunately his decision ended tragically. The boat on which he was capsized and he died. This was a big tragedy for everyone involved. The first idea for this on film was conceived in my head there, and I began to write a feature script with three episodes about migration. This film that you see as a short film today is the first episode of what was to be that feature film.
How did you cast for the film?
As professional filmmaker with ten years experience in Iran, I had a lot of contacts in Iran and a lot of my friends are actors. I auditioned a few couples and eventually ended up with the couple featured who are both theatre performers who were very close to the people and characters I had in my mind.
You are based in Sydney so how did you go about planning and shooting in Iran?
I am still in touch with a lot of my friends who are still filmmakers like producers, cinematographers and so on, and in my recent trips, I asked for their help in the process of making this film. Before I went, all I wanted to do was to make part of this film, but I had no idea how it was going to be done but I was sure that my friends and colleagues would help me there in the process of its making.
How did you budget for the film?
Actually this was a very low budget film and I had a very limited personal budget and used my connections with my friends in the process because the main crew of this film, like sound editors and mix, cinematographer and producer and manager, assistants were all my friends who are working professionally in Iranian cinema but they accepted to volunteer as part of my team. Of course making a film in Iran is much cheaper in Iran than Australia as well and that helped.
What has the reaction to your film been so far and what will you do with it next?
The only feedback I have had has been from my friends who have seen it and the only feedback I have had has been a long and heavy pause. Exactly the kind of thought provoking reaction I wanted to create.
What is next for you ?
My main and most important goal is to find a producer in Australia to help me make the feature length film of this idea, the main part of which will be made in Australia about Iranian migrants and refugees. But in the near future, I am preparing an idea for Tropfest.
Saeed's film will be screening FREE with a program of other short films for the festival September 10, 2015 7:00pm
Venue: Parramatta Riverside Theatres
You can book free on this link: http://persianfilmfestival.com/event/free-session-of-shorts/