This year’s Locarno Film Festival may be over but here at T-Port we have their catalogue of selected shorts and winners here for professional subscribers to enjoy.
Among them is THE GUARD, a film by Iranian filmmaker Amirhossein Shojaei, winner of the Medien Patent Verwaltung AG Award. We caught up with the filmmaker about what it felt like to win, and what the future holds.
Hi Amirhossein, tell us about yourself in a few lines
I am 34 years old. I worked as a still photographer for more than 10 years. I started my career as a filmmaker with my first short movie THE GUARD in 2022. Now I am focusing on my new project which is a feature film.
What is the title of your film? What is it about?
The original title is “NEGAHBAN”. It’s about a guard who does not guard, won’t take any action and won’t put himself in danger if there’s a threat. He wanders and seeks an opportunity for himself in the darkness of the night.
Where were you when you found out about the Locarno selection and how did you feel?
I was at home when my producer called, and he informed me that the Locarno Film Festival had selected my movie! I was thrilled and thought to myself “This is exactly what I had hoped for.” After hanging up, I quickly shared the exciting news with my wife, who also acted in my short film, saying, “Locarno has chosen us!”
What are you going to do after this?
While my short movie is still being screened at various festivals, my primary focus is on my new project. I am working diligently to complete the script by the end of this year, with the aim of commencing pre production in 2024.
Becoming a filmmaker has always been my dream, and I’m dedicated to turning the stories in my mind into movies and sharing them with audiences worldwide.
What first sparked the idea to make this film?
The idea for this story occurred when I realised there was no intent to improve the situation in my country (Iran). It became clear to me that the chaos unfolding was precisely what the system desired.
What were the biggest challenges you encountered during making your film?
The biggest challenge was figuring out how to shoot the movie in complete darkness using natural light, which was initially quite risky. However, both my Director of Photography and I managed to discover some effective solutions. Now when I watch my movie on the big screen, I am highly satisfied with the final result.
Tell us three things you learned from the process of making your film
The first lesson I learned was how making a maquette can benefit a filmmaker. It can significantly reduce both the time and budget required for shooting.
The second lesson for me was the importance of rehearsing with the actors repeatedly.
Lastly, I discovered that it’s possible to break the rules but as long as you understand why you are doing it.
Tell us about the sound and visual choices in your film
We tried to use the natural ambience in the movie and don’t use any fake voices. And for the visual style we used natural light as much as possible for filming, and our choice for the aspect ratio was 4:3. This was because it greatly contributed to the concept, the overall idea, and the positioning of the film’s characters.
How has your win at Locarno made you look at your future career as a filmmaker?
Winning an award at the Locarno Film Festival was a significant turning point for me and naturally comes with a great deal of responsibility, motivating me to continue my work with even more precision and energy. The Locarno Festival annually selects a powerful lineup and showcases it. Being part of this selection is incredibly gratifying and energising, and I will make every effort to once again have the chance to participate in this prestigious festival.
What are the biggest challenges for you, in promoting and distributing your film?
We don’t have an international professional distributor for short films in Iran. Therefore, finding a distributor is a challenging task for an Iranian filmmaker.
So far, I have distributed my own film, but I know that having a professional distributor alongside the film can significantly improve its visibility. Given that I have made my first film and still have limited knowledge of film distribution, I hope that by finding a professional distributor, I can help promote my film.
What do feel young film talents lack the most today? Where are the gaps in the film industry?
I believe it’s important for young filmmakers to focus on creating innovative films and exploring new narratives in cinema, rather than solely aiming for festival recognition through festival-oriented films. Festival success should come naturally from their creative work, not the other way around.
What is your advice to filmmakers who are behind you in the process of making and distributing their films? What do you wish someone had told you?
I would urge them to dedicate themselves to nurturing their creative vision and embracing their unique personal style throughout the movie-making journey, emphasising that managing distractions and navigating festival selection can come into play once the film is successfully completed.
If you were to have infinite resources – walk us through your fantasy film project
If I had infinite resources and no current constraints, I might consider creating a film that continues Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A SPACE ODYSSEY. A film set in space.
If you are a film industry professional and would like access to the catalogue and more, find out here how to sign up.Back to T-Port Blog