Interview with Filmmaker Sonia Gemmiti (OUTSIDE MY WINDOW)

OUTSIDE MY WINDOW played to rave reviews at the August 2021 DANCE Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

It comes from my own personal experience with agoraphobia. It is an expression of the struggle I often go through with leaving my home. I wanted to depict the mental tug-and-pull, the stages of negotiation, the coping mechanisms—all that’s entailed.

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

I submitted the film’s script to the Equity Showcase Cayle Chernin Awards back in March of 2019. I was awarded the media production prize that May—this came with a cash prize and in-kind services, but the best part was a mentorship through CSARN, which paired me up with Guy Maddin. I shot the film in two parts, the first in November of 2019 and the second in February of 2020. Post-production was completed the day before we all went into lock down in mid-March 2020.

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

Trauma, healing

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

The biggest obstacle was putting such a huge piece of myself into the film. It’s a vulnerable feeling to ask people to watch it. This is a side of me I have instinctually kept hidden from not just the public, but from people who know me well. And to top it off, after making the piece, you have to promote it!

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

I found the feedback so valuable and overwhelming. Because of the timing of when I finished the film, I missed out on the audience experience. Due to Covid, we couldn’t even have a crew screening. The thoughtful feedback I received certainly added fuel to my creative spirit.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Honestly, becoming a director never, ever felt like a possibility. I knew I wanted to work in film—and I did, as a set designer—but I was almost embarrassed to say out loud that I wanted to direct. It’s taken some growing on my part to develop that confidence, a sense of self, and decide that the stories I wanted to tell felt urgent and in need of telling. With directing, I found a freedom of expression that I haven’t had in any other artform.

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

An American in Paris

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

I like that it’s organized, centralized and easy to follow your submissions.

9. What is your favorite meal?

My grandmother’s pasta.

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

I was recently awarded a grant for the Canada Council for the Arts to develop a short film about my Italian grandparents. It will be a hybrid documentary/fantasy using live-action actors and animation.

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