Andi’ Osho’s short film was voted BEST MUSIC at September 2017 CRIME/THRILLER FEEDBACK Film Festival in Toronto.
Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?
I had a really inspiring conversation with a Fox executive several years ago and he told me that I need to think about what my contribution to the industry is. I’d never thought of my career in those terms. I think most people think in terms of what they can get or what they want. Relatively few creatives think about what they can pour into the pot.
Anyway, the idea gestated in me for a really long time and then it got the point where I realised that part of my contribution is storytelling. And that led me to want to direct. It was as though the desire to direct was bursting from me. I’d made shorts during a intensive film making course and various other little bits and piece but Amber was the first time I’d put together a full-on production. It was exhilarating and terrifying and thrilling all at the same time. I remember Barry Jenkins saying that when he directs, he is his best self. I feel the same.
From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this short?
Just over a year. Pre-production was relatively swift. Once I decided it was happening, the key team came together pretty quickly. I teamed up with an editor I’d worked with before who came on as exec producer too. Then my producer and DP followed shortly after.
The hardest and longest part of the process was post production. I’m sure that’s the case with most short films because unless you have a healthy budget for that part of the process, it all has to be fitted around other people’s work. We were beg, borrow and stealing favours everywhere for grades, ADR, sound mix. Everything. From wrapping on set to a finished film was about ten months.
How would you describe your short film in two words!?
What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Not having a post production budget. That’s not as crazy as it sounds.
Basically, our exec producer was our editor so we always knew our offline was taken care of and as I worked in post production for ten years before switching lanes, I knew that I had enough contacts to scrabble together my post production.
But because it was all favours, very generously gifted from within my network, it just meant that the whole thing took longer than if we’d had a budget.
What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was intrigued that they drilled down into the thematic content of the project because that was what was most important to me. There were some intelligent, well-considered observations that made me feel like, ah, perhaps we did our job as film makers that our work prompted such a response. Myself and my lead actress did chuckle about the guy who didn’t feel it was plausible for a small girl to beat up an adult male. That was rather the point of the film, when a woman wants something, you need to be a powerhouse to stop her!
How did you come up with the idea for this short film?
There were several factors. The initial one was a fascinating documentary about One Direction Fans. It reminded me of what I was like at that age and how intense teenage desire can be.
I started to think that there was definitely a narrative film in there somewhere and that it would be really interesting to see a stalker film with a teenage girl. I also wanted to give myself the challenge of telling the story from the girl’s perspective. Usually the stalker is the antagonist and we root for the protagonist to conquer them. With Amber, I wanted to create something more ambiguous. In addition thematically I was interested in the manufactured nature of pop music, how pop stars are equally manipulated by the industry and the intensity and power of female teenage design as a formidable force.
What film have you seen the most in your life?
Aliens. I’m pretty sure I’ve watched it more than James Cameron!
You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the new(ish) submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?
Film Freeway is the only platform I want to use. I wish film festivals that use other platforms knew how the experience is as an end user. When you are entering multiple festivals, it is a Godsend to have a great website like Film Freeway that takes some of the grind out of the process. They care about the film maker, are less expensive and generally a better experience.
What song have you listened to the most times in your life?
Another Star – Stevie Wonder. Once I’d heard Songs In The Key Of Life I couldn’t stop listening to it.
I was the same with Oasis’ What’s The Story? Album. I listened to it for six months straight. You want to know why I’m making a film about obsession, I think that’s your answer right there.
What is next for you? A new film?
Two things. I want to turn Amber into a feature film project. I’m just working on exactly what that narrative will be. I’ve thrown a few ideas about but I’m not convinced I’ve found the right one just yet. If I’m going to put my heart and soul into that project, I want to know that it’s the right thing.
The other thing I’d like to do is make a much simpler short film. Amber wasn’t huge in scale but it was big enough that it required a mid sized crew, several locations and needed quite a bit of funding to realise it.
Next, I’d like to tell a simple story deeply. One location, perhaps even one actor. I want to work with the resources I already have and simplify the whole process yet still produce a great story.