Interview with Filmmaker Elena Gorgevska (SHARDS)

SHARDS was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the September 2020 Female Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

In 2015, my best friend and roommate woke me up in the middle of the night with a vague phone call, her tone of voice unlike how I had ever heard her. I got into a cab, drove to her, picked her up and she confessed to me she had just been assaulted on her date. It’s important to note my friend has only cried in front of me twice. Once, when I almost died, and another, that night. Her pain was palpable. I had suffered a traumatic assault myself, prior to hers, and I saw myself reflected in her. A few days later this idea of a film focusing on the survivor, as opposed to the event, where PTSD from sexual trauma is shown through symbolism and a painful discomfort, started forming in my mind. I had this image of myself stuck in this dark room, where hands were dragging me in different directions, and from there the film SHARDS was created. Well, the first draft.

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

It took exactly five years. The thing about SHARDS is that it’s a volunteers only project, filmed mainly during everyone’s final year in university. We had to work around a lot of different schedules, and production ended up lasting a year simply because no one was free. Around the end is when I began to suspect the film was cursed. The files kept corrupting while waiting for the editor to finish, so that it can be colored, and I spent a fortune on recovering them over and over. Then our editor dropped out due to a busier schedule, so we had to find another. Eventually I ended up editing myself. That took another year. Then it was time for sound design, and Julia volunteered her spare time to help me make my vision a reality. Again, due to her busy schedule, it took quite some time. Finally, when it was completed, I felt so dejected it took another six months before I felt compelled to fundraise for festival submission. Here we are now!

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

Palpable, yet hopeful. That’s three, I hope you don’t mind.

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

Time. Time and funds. We had a budget of maybe $25 dollars. I had to pull a lot of strings with a lot of people for equipment, location, and production design. While my producer was helpful in that she made sure the film was completed, eventually she had other projects to focus on in her career. The most difficult part beyond that was the fact that everything was down to me. I had to hunt, I had to edit, I had to do favors for others, and I had to promote and submit. It was a huge undertaking, and I honestly think it’ll be a while between my next film and this one.

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

I spent the entire 7 minutes watching absolutely shaken. Literally, I was shaking. It was impossible to fathom the possibility that my film could have affected so many different strangers in the way that I intended. I had hopes that people would say the things said in the feedback video, but they felt like pipe dreams. Honestly, this whole film succeeding as much as it has feels like a dream. I am honored to have had people watch and share their thoughts. By the end of it, I was crying! It’s such a personal film.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

I personally suffer from C-PTSD due to various different instances. Likewise, I’ve always had a passion for turning my trauma into art. While I love film making and all its tasks, for me my main medium is writing. It was simply cathartic to write and share the script with my friends. It wasn’t until my producer, Steph, read it and insisted we make it that I felt invigorated to see it through.

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

The Princess Bride, weirdly. I’m a sucker for feel-good romantic comedies and fantasies.

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

I think the platform makes the experience so much more streamlined and easier, it was way less complicated than I imagined festival submission to be. I don’t think I would’ve found this festival without it.

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

Cough Syrup by Young the Giant.

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

Right now, it’s figuring out what’s next!

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