Friday 30 July 2021

Home - Academic - Seven Lessons I Learned from My Short Film: Soheil Amirsharifi


24 Frames: In the second installment of Seven Lessons, we read what Iranian filmmaker Soheil Amirsharifi learned while making Fault Line (Gosal), the 2019 winner of Best Short Film of BFI London Film Festival.



Seven Lessons I Learned from Fault Line

By Soheil Amirsharifi






Making Fault Line, I was constantly trying to correct myself to work better. Gradually, someone emerged within me who spoke to me and kept watch so I wouldn’t go astray. A kind of advisor. We made Fault Line what it is together — if it is anything. I’ll be writing that same advice for anyone who may find them worthwhile.



1. Let everyone think you’ve gone mad.


When you’ve been working on a short script for months and those close to you eagerly ask every day “Did you finish it?” shrug your shoulders and answer “It’s not coming together.”

Let everyone lose hope, let everyone think this dude had that one previous work in him and he’s wrung dry! Let everyone think you’re lying and you’re not working at all. Let everyone wonder how 8 pages of script take so much loitering. Let them!



2. Where do you stand?


The story doesn’t matter. What matters is where you stand and how you’re looking at it. The most banal stories are worth telling if you look at them the right way, if you find your place while viewing the story, if you have fundamentally trained your mind to know its place and reject any other than its own.

Find your place— where no one else will stand!



3. The hardest part?


I think the hardest part of filmmaking is when the writer thinks they’ve got the script right. When you reckon you’ve taken the best steps but you aren’t truly convinced of it yet. Now is the time to get help from reliable people. This is the most complicated moment. First, you’ve got to pick the right people. Someone who has sufficient knowledge and substantial taste. One with no malevolence, and whose benevolence doesn’t stop them from telling the truth. Once you find all of these in a person, we get to the heart of the matter: The listener has to be discerning! Meaning you have to understand when they’re right when they’re off the mark.



4. Which crew member to choose first?


The answer is easy: The editor. Talk to them before anyone else. About the form of the movie. About the scheme of the shooting script. About picking the cast and crew. No one knows actors better than an editor. They have seen the actors’ bad takes. They have struggled to rectify this cinematographer or that production designer or this sound mixers’ mistakes. The editor is the industry’s secret keeper.





5. This isn’t the best shot.


Walk around the location with your cinematographer and production designer many times. Test things. Take pictures. Practice and film the mise-en-scènes. And each time you get to a shot that everyone likes, know that it isn’t the best one. It can definitely get better than this. Don’t be afraid to change it. Don’t assume that your crew will think you lack expertise. Anyone who has a clue about cinema will understand that it’s a work of discoveries. You need to explore to find.



6. The monitor is a public tool.


Incompetent directors won’t let anyone look at the monitor and see the recorded takes out of fear.

They fear it will be revealed how terrible of a shot they’ve composed, how worthless of a take they’ve captured, how badly their actor has been lead. Put the monitor in a clear view. Everyone has the right to see the take— especially your actors. Give them a chance. Let them get over their fear of seeing themselves so they can correct themselves and improve their craft. Remember that you’re making this film for it to be seen. If all the crew sees the last take and you don’t lose control of the set, you’ve just become a director.




7. Value

Making the film universally intelligible is a meaningless stance. No film will ever be universally intelligible. Don’t dumb yourself and your work down in an effort to find more audience. That’s not filmmaking. That’s not your job. You’re not responsible for what others don’t read and don’t see. Work to the extent of your own intelligence— however much it might be. Its value will be realized.




Translated by: Kiana Nikolai

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