EDITORS NOTE: For the 2008 Toronto International Film Festival, indieWIRE will be publishing interviews with filmmakers in the Discovery section of the festival, which TIFF describes as a showcase for new and emerging filmmakers from contemporary international cinema.
Sima Urale's "Apron Springs" is having its International Premiere in the Discovery section of the Toronto International Film Festival. The New Zealand production is described by TIFF as "a parallel story of two families and two cultures set in suburban Otahuhu in South Auckland, New Zealand." Urale spoke to indieWIRE about the film and her hopes for its screening in Toronto.
What initially attracted you to filmmaking and did that interest evolve while making your film?
My background is in theatre and acting, so my initial attraction to filmmaking was to appeal to a broader audience, audiences that don't usually attend theatre but watch a lot of TV or go to the movies.
I wanted to tell stories and issues that mattered to me, rather than merely acting in someone else's plays. Going into film was a very natural progression for me and not too different from the way we produce plays. For me, filmmaking is a tool to express my views and ideas in the same way an artist paints on canvas, or a writer who puts pen to paper.
Please discuss how the idea for your film came about...
"Apron Springs" is written by Shuchi Khotari and Dianne Taylor, and they had worked on it for several years before approaching me to direct. I really loved the issues and the characters they were dealing with, and it was a script that I felt needed to be made. Then we had to think of a fabulous producer, and Rachel Gardner came along and made my day.
Please elaborate on your approach to making the film, including your influences as well as your overall goals for the project.
I usually write and direct my own stories, so to direct someone else's script meant that I needed to be sensitive to the collaborative process of coming to a decision with the writers and producer in mind.
As for my approach, I tend to look into the script to dictate the style and approach to story, what elements are present in the script that could be enhanced to support the themes. For example, the writers had written about three women who all cook, and so food is an obvious element that needed to be played up as it comments strongly on the theme of nurturing and over feeding, and the food also helps to fuse the two parallel stories.
The three women, also had very contrasting character traits and backgrounds, so I wanted to make those differences more evident by applying the Elements of Water, Air, and Fire to each individual character. The Elements permeated throughout all departments, from Lighting to Wardrobe, and Art Department.
What were some of the biggest challenges you faced?
One of the biggest challenges would have to be working within a tight budget and schedule, something that the producer and I often discussed as this meant comprises on what to lose and what to keep. This meant that many shots were dropped, and basically try to stick to what was needed to make the edit. This also meant ultra extra pre-planning to ensure that not a single minute was wasted - I forgot to eat most days in fear of losing a minute.
The other big challenge was in script, trying to visually interweave and gel the two parallel stories together, and basically try and work script issues through with the writers.
What is your next project?
My next project is a feature film that I am writing with the help of a fabulous Script Editor. It's a dark and magical urban tale that explores a dysfunctional family's history.
What are your goals for the Toronto International Film Festival?
My goal is to meet up with some Obijaway and locals because it's always the best way to get to know a place and the filmmakers from there. Be myself and relax, I can be fabulous hanging off the end of a bar, not a bad dancer too, but luckily for everyone I don't drink because I could be worse.