Interview with Filmmaker Premila Puri (ITSY)

ITSY was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2019 Female Film Festival in Toronto.

Matthew Toffolo: What motivated you to make this film?

Premila Puri: When my husband narrated his experience with a spider in his car, I was really moved by his simple act of kindness towards a tiny spider. It made me realise that If we can be kind and compassionate to animals, with whom we have little in common, then why is it so hard to be kind to each other and make this a world a better place. This was the inspiration behind getting my charity to commission ITSY which my production company produced pro-bono.

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

March 2016, when I first heard the story, to final delivery in June 2018! For a short film that’s a long time I realise but a story like this can go in many directions as it touches on several sub-themes. However we persevered with the original vision and the message we wanted to convey was the bond between the protagonist and the spider that has a ripple effect not he characters in the story.

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

Kindness Matters

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

I thought getting this film through financing and a tight production schedule was a challenge and a half but nothing quite prepared me for thereafter! Our fantastic VFX supervisors working with the Indian VFX company produced some amazing results but the challenges of time difference amongst other things added to a delayed schedule. We obtained constructive feedback from our test audience, and the biggest obstacle we faced was the decision to proceed with what we had or run with a one day re-shoot. Proceeding with the latter option meant delaying our festival strategy and the charity fund-raiser. In the end, we opted for the re-shoot and retrospectively, that was the best decision! ITSY’s successful run at the festival circuit is an affirmation of trusting your gut, even if it means swimming against the tide. I’m immensely thankful to our cast & crew for making this short film happen and esp to Natasha Westlake, our awesome editor, for being an all round awesome person, who journeyed with us, for what was meant to be a two week stint, and ended 12 months later with the delivery of the film.

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

Nervous at first however as people started sharing their personal interpretation of the film, we were excited and then blown away with their priceless feedback! It was fantastic to see a packed audience who each explained what they felt really stood out for them. Congrats on this fantastic scheme run by the festival to share post screening feedback with the filmmakers – very innovative. A heartfelt thanks TOFFF!

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Whilst ITSY has been inspired by a true incident, I was completely drawn to the fantastic and heart-warming script written by writer, Sameer Puri, who took the one dimensional brief of a man and a spider and reimagined the story with many layers and nuances in introducing the characters of Mustafa, Fatima and Milan. So in Sameer’s version, we have a story about a lonely and anxious woman who gets befriended by a spider who helps her to see herself and the world differently and ultimately to find a friend in a stranger, her next door neighbour, who she is initially suspicious of.

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?

You’ve Got Mail! The simplicity of that era pre-technology makes me cherish this film so much!

8. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway, what are you feelings of the submission platform from a filmmaker’s perspective?

Really practical to upload all film content (film, trailer, press kit etc) whilst accessing information about festivals and being able to submit, all on one platform. Fantastic one stop shop!

9. What song have you listened to the most times in your life?

Fallen – Lauren wood

10. What is next for you? A new film?

I’m drawn to true stories that speak about the human and/or social conditions we find ourselves in and how we channel our inner strength and resilience to rise above obstacles and challenges. I’m currently developing two TV series, a three part drama and an episodic drama series, both period pieces and based on true stories. We’re hoping to go to market with the pilot later this year, so watch this space 🙂


By matthewtoffolo

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

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