Insights from talented Filmmakers

Tannaz Hazemi

Before and after the Bomb. What lies behind a successful fundraising campaign.

 

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In 2015 TANNAZ HAZEMI went on to win a major award from the European Independent Film Festival: Best Director with her Short film Before the Bomb. “A short film that will make you laugh and cry”, read the tagline on the Kickstarter page dedicated to the successful indie project. So it is: Before the Bomb is a delicate tale able to surprise the audience in many ways. One step back, we need to meet the author before knowing more about her project.

 

INTERVIEWER

Tannaz, tell us about you and the path you followed in Cinema.

 

TANNAZ

I come from a writing background, a little journalism but mainly fiction. After struggling to get my fiction published I ventured into screenwriting and realized it’s where I needed to be. Six years ago at a 12-week filmmaking class at NYU I wrote and directed my first short and I’ve been addicted since.

 

INTERVIEWER

Sounds good. Love writers who turn out to direct films.

(laughing)

What did you want to explore with Before the Bomb? Which is the reason behind the film?

 

TANNAZ

The story was inspired by my best friend when I was in High School, who had been taken away from her Mother when she was 10. Before the Bomb is a story about an optimistic and resourceful ten-year old girl named Elsa, who takes matters into her own hands when Child Services plans a visit that could separate her from her younger brother. It’s a bittersweet story with heart and a little humor.

 

 

INTERVIEWER

And we do feel both, humor and heart. Since you are a writer, we’d like to know more about the story structure you chose.

 

TANNAZ

The screenplay has a classic 3-act structure. I opened with an uplifting scene that showed the love between Elsa and her brother, despite the horrible conditions they live in, to create empathy for them and give an immediate impression of the narrative. Followed by the call from Child Services that they’re coming in two days, which then launches Elsa into her quest to quickly fix her life. The third act is the confrontation with the CPS Officers and the ensuing choice that Elsa has to make.

 

INTERVIEWER

Remarkable climax and gentle resolution. The main character (10 years old Sterling Jerins offered a surprising performance, Ed.) is accurate, sensitive and rich of contradictions that deepen her dimension. Great work. Would you give us a brief mention about the technology you used?

 

TANNAZ

I had an incredibile DP who shot on an Alexa with Cooke lenses. I couldn’t be happier with the aesthetic.

 

INTERVIEWER

Yes! Great results from a budget that came from crowdfunding. Could you tell us the production developments? It’s an interesting case.

 

TANNAZ

I wrote the script in June of 2013. That summer was spent on prepping and running our Kickstarter campaign, where we raised a little over $50,000. I spent a long time on casting and attaching the right DP, which was in place by the end of 2013. However, my producer couldn’t actually produce at all. So as our shoot date set for early 2014 approached, we didn’t have locations or organization in place to shoot. I had to find a new producer and organize the cast and crew for a new shoot in May of 2014. Our 4-day shoot wasn’t enough and we brought everyone back together two more times, for a total of 9 days of shooting, which put us terribly over budget. Post production, including the cover song I produced with SoKo for 6 months, The Great Pretender (on iTunes here), took us to a completed movie in February of 2015.

 

INTERVIEWER

20 months from script to finish, with a lot of twists. But you made it, and you made it great. Tell us more about your relationship with Cinema: who are the artists or works that inspired you the most? And in which scenes did you recognize yourself?

 

TANNAZ

I love this question! I don’t know if I’ve recognized myself but I remember moments that made me want to become a filmmaker. The interlude landscape shots in ‘Breaking The Waves’. The cocaine rant of Julianne Moore in ‘Boogie Nights’. Most of ‘Kill Bill’, ‘A Separation, and the US version of the TV series ‘The Fall’. The list is too long. My favorite films have been made by Lars von Trier, Tarantino, PT Anderson and David O Russell. I don’t think any of them influenced the making of Before the Bomb, but I am sure there are subconscious influences at work.

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INTERVIEWER

Tell us about Film Festivals and ECU in particular. We believe you do love Festivals, as an indie Filmmaker.

 

TANNAZ

If an Indie Filmmaker doesn’t participate in a Film Festival then what are they doing?

(Interviewer smiling)

I am very proud to have won ‘Best Director’ and ‘Best Short Script’ at ECU. It remains my only Best Director prize and it’s the award I tell people about the most. ECU was our World Premiere and started off a year of very exciting developments.

 

INTERVIEWER

What now? What after the developments and the success of this Indie project? Since your strategy worked so well, we believe there can be another similar project.

 

TANNAZ

I’ve recently been selected to the AFI Conservatory Directing Workshop for Women – one of 8 filmmakers this year – and with their mentorship and support I’ll be shooting my new short in Los Angeles in July. What we need is a Fundraiser. So we launched an Indiegogo campaign to support the project Hail Mary Country, a short film focused on the perception of genders. (It’s possible to support the campaign at this link, Ed.)

 

INTERVIEWER

Well done! Thanks Tannaz, go for it, make it good again and keep on representing Indie culture.

 

Official Before the Bomb website

Facebook.com/BeforeTheBomb

Twitter: @BeforeTheBomb

 

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