Interview with Filmmaker Ayla Amano (4X4)

4X4 was the winner of BEST DIRECTION at the April 2021 FEMALE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

After many years of working for clients, I was itching to make something more personal and to explore my voice as a director. The idea for ‘4×4’ is loosely inspired by my own childhood, growing up on a farm with my sister. I am drawn to exploring female characters beyond the narrow scope of what we usually see on screen, to see their strength as well as their tenderness, their bonds, and their connection to the land. These are all things I relate to and was excited to explore.

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

I wrote the first draft in early March of 2020, and the film was complete by late August. It was an unusually swift turnaround. Everything just came together so beautifully and we saw a window of opportunity to film between Covid lockdowns, so we took it.

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

Atmospheric and understated.

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

There were several challenges along the way, although none felt insurmountable. The first was that I had never produced anything in Ireland before, so that meant that every relationship was new. I had never worked with any of the cast or crew before, so there were no familiar relationships to lean on. That said, it also created a uniquely fresh and inspiring environment. The second challenge was to cast girls who, beyond being able to carry the roles, were also capable of driving quad bikes competently and safely. Finding our incredible cast, as well as the locations and other resources on our very tight budget can only be put down to a formidable kind of kismet and momentum that seemed to be carrying us forward the entire way.

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

I was absolutely touched and warmed to hear the audience’s reactions. What a unique and valuable insight to hear how the film is received, especially by people who have no connection to the film, or filmmakers. I was smiling from start to finish.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

6. When did you first realize that you wanted to make films?

I’d say it was at around age 16 when I took my first film studies class. I was already involved with photography, creative writing and performing arts, and film production seemed to offer an opportunity to combine all of these artistic outlets with sound, music, visuals etc. to tell stories. I fell in love entirely.

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

Probably The Rider (2018) written and directed by Chloe Zhao. That film, and Chloe as a director, have been such inspiring influences for me in recent years.

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

FilmFreeway makes it incredibly easy for filmmakers to submit to festivals and to keep track of submissions. I rate it!

9. What is your favorite meal?

I’m not sure I could choose just one, but a good, hot bowl of noodles would have to be high on the list!

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

Currently, I’m looking forward to exploring the intersection of filmmaking and motherhood which is sure to define a new and exciting chapter in my life.

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