Friday 30 July 2021

Home - Academic - Seven Lessons I Learned Making My Short Film: Vahid Hosseini Nami

24Frames: Whole to Part is a 2017 short by Vahid Hosseini Nami, screened in many international festivals and winner of the 19th Lucania Film Festival award for Best Short Film. “The Dictator will never die, will be reproduced” reads the tagline. In this Installment of Seven Lessons, we read Hosseini Nami’s experiences making this film.



Seven Lessons I Learned Making Whole to Part

By Vahid Hosseini Nami



1. The Outskirts


For a while now, the ideas for scripts I have in mind have essentially been inspired by environments and locations, and these locations are industrial districts and abandoned areas around big cities, i.e. the outskirts. I feel like these areas are brimming with a suppressed energy which makes for great ideas and stories when you explore them. A reverse path by which locations are scouted before the script is written.

Whole to Part is the product of creative contemplation in such areas and its fragile story has been formed by a compilation of the different moods of different locations. This film has been shot in 17 locations and before the shoot, the camera placements and shots were wholly determined as a result of my deep and emotional connection with these places and long periods of strolling around these areas.




2. Madness


Sometimes, one must give way to madness. Whole to Part is the most insane work among my short films and such a film will probably happen only once in one’s career. An internal incentive that calls to you at a particular period for certain reasons, and luckily, I had the courage to go along with this madness. An abstract film without a story and highly personal that, at a time when our short film industry moves towards a particular form and shared language, is on another track.

We had aimed from the start to make a film that is narrated through objects and sounds.

This isn’t a general rule and doesn’t always work, but one has to expose themselves to this madness at least once.



3. Objects and Sounds


In Whole to Part, the basis of the narrative is on objects and sounds. There was a certain insistence on refraining from showing humans, even though the events of the film happened through interaction with humans. This strategy was maintained throughout most of the film and somewhat shape and define the film. Considering the still, plodding shots of objects, we tried to achieve a cinematic language and abstract narrative. Through the addition of sound, this atmosphere would become more effectual.



4. Production Design and Art Direction


Having an art director in a production is a blessing and we should consider ourselves lucky to have them on our side. Whole to Part had a skilled and creative art director from the fine art world who was involved from the scriptwriting period to the last stages of post-production, overlooking the sculpting, set design, and color correction. The homogeneity in the moods and palettes in Whole to Part is one of the positive impacts of the presence of such a person among the crew.




5. Reduction


In making Whole to Part we were after reduction rather than addition. In the shot composition and visual structure of the film, we reduced the light and perspective to the minimum. We discarded the usual dramatic elements and plot adhesives in the narrative, dismissed the eye-catching visual effects and warm palettes, and even limited the presence of humans. And in the end, we avoided presenting the final picture in sharp, high-resolution quality. All of this was against the current of short films being made around us, but we were able to go for reduction over addition.




6. Lived Experiences


Undoubtedly, fragments of what we have lived through the effect each film [we make]. These effects are more perceptible in Whole to Part and I have learned that sometimes one must let these experiences be expressed more than ever. Locations I had come across throughout many years, a society in which violence increases day by day, the multiplication and reincarnation of the spirit of totalitarianism in the environment, perhaps Whole to Part is to an extent a radical reaction to these lived phenomena in our proximity.



7. Keeping the Distance with the Subject


We see time and time again a filmmaker that picks a brilliant subject for their work, but they become so infatuated and immersed with their subject that the result becomes sentimental, virtue-signaling, and at times preposterous and deformed. In making Whole to Part I put the utmost effort in all the components, especially the shot planning to keep my distance with the subject matter so that the product isn’t burgeoning and virtue-signaling, and through disposing of most of the alluring elements that actually did have dramatic effects, I tried to control the dynamism of the work so that we aren’t faced with a maximalist and terrorizing film.




Translated By Kiana Nikolai



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