Interview with Director Sewra G. Kidane (PROCLAMATION PUNCTUATION)

Short Film played to rave reviews at the Under 5 Minute Film Festival in June 2017.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

A few things motivated me to make “Proclamation Punctuation”. I’ve been editing commercials for well over 10years cutting mostly beauty and fashion spots. Recently I made the decision to only cut and work with beauty and fashion. But I wanted to cut more avant-garde stories. And the closest thing I saw that resembled that format were perfume commercials! Which then led me to the whole fashion film market. I saw what was out there and I started to think about what I could create that would be different and original and also fashionable.

But what mainly motivated me to make this film was I wasn’t editing the type of gigs I wanted to cut and I also didn’t see Black beauty being celebrated in film at any of the fashion film events I was going to. Rather than waiting for an opportunity to come, or even, trying to convince people to give me an opportunity, I created that opportunity for myself.

From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?

From the moment the idea was conceived to the day it was finished …. that whole process took 3 years. I originally started pre-production in 2014 and it just wasn’t happening!! I got discouraged and stepped away from the whole idea for about a year. I didn’t know how I was going to shoot it or how I was going to pay for it. All of those doubts!! During that off year, I was saving money for my film, and then at the end of 2015, I got a sign! It’s a long story but it was a literal and physical sign! It simply said “Exclamation Point”. I decided to move on it and move forward even though I didn’t know how! I had $1500 cash, a great reputation, a stellar show reel for my editing and solid longstanding creative relationships. I cashed in all those favors and came across some more money and kept the train moving!

We shot it in 2016. Michael Cooke was the cinematographer. He’s also a highly awarded Director in his own right. My entire crew was the creme de la creme! Several of them skilled experienced directors playing other roles for the shoot, still keeping that director’s high standard. It was a 1 day, 10hr shoot indoors on a cyc set. We built 3 sets and moved through them to save time during filming. The only things we had to reset were lights and the camera. It took about 11months to finish in post. I would have finished sooner, but because I also cut it, I was very close to it, and didn’t want to rush through the edit. I took my time to really cut it well.

How would you describe your short film in two words!?


What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?

Funding!! lol! I made it work with what I had, but coming up with the money was a bit of a hurdle to get over and past. Prayers work!! And also, simply asking for help. People want to help you, but they need you to ask sometimes. I’m shy and extremely modest. So initiating a conversation about myself and telling people about what I do on top of asking for help was huge. I had to get out of my comfort zone. And out of my own way.

What were your initial reactions when watching the Toronto audience talking about your film in the feedback video?

I enjoyed them! It gave me a good smile because people got it! When I was cutting the film, I was really curious to know if people would get it? If they would get the concept and what she was saying. I was concerned that it would be too wordy and lines would get lost or overlooked and go over people’s heads.

How did you come up with the idea for this short film?

I was trying to think of what fashion film concept I hadn’t seen before. I was doing something, and I realized how much I was using exclamation points. I was using a lot!! lol! But whenever I would take them out, it changed the whole tone of what I was trying to say, and it became a slight inner conflict… editing my use of exclamation points. And then BONG! Idea! Lines and concepts came to me and I wrote them down really quickly and then later fleshed out a pitch and presented the idea to my friend Yvonne Durant. We’ve worked together in the advertising world. She’s not only a copywriter but a great creative writer. She already has a natural fashionable flair, and I love her wordplay, especially on her etiquette blog; I just knew she would get the idea the most! And boy did she!!! Ms. Yvonne wrote the perfect, exact thing to say about why we love exclamations points and how needed they are in this world!

What film have you seen the most in your life?

I’ve seen “Mahogany” and “Purple Rain” the most!

What song have you listened to the most in your life

There’s an album I’ve listened to the most…. Raekwon’s “Only Built 4 Cuban Linx”. I love that album! I can listen to it straight thru and I have listened to it on repeat for 4 or 5 hrs straight! It’s so visual! I have an entire movie playing in my head while that album plays.

What is next for you? A new film?

Right now, I’m in pre-production for my next fashion film. I’m casting 3 models this time and It’s going to be about 10-12min long. It’s a short enigmatic suspense fashion film loosely based on the 2nd Law of the Universe… The Principle of Correspondence!!


Directed by Sewra G. KidaneAn enthralling fashion film centered on a fabulously fascinating woman reciting a short soliloquy paying homage to her love for using exclamation points in her missives.

CLICK HERE – and see full info and more pics of the film!


By matthewtoffolo

Filmmaker and sports fan. CEO of the WILDsound Film and Writing Festival


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