Interview with Filmmaker Christopher Barga (CLEANING UP)

CLEANING UP was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the CHICAGO Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

The cleverness of the story stuck out to me and I was excited by its potential to be a gritty, noir, crime thriller, a genre that I’ve always been a fan of. When my partner, Aidan Walters and I dove more into the script together and I was able to get a better grasp on his intention for the story, I jumped at the chance to take a new approach to the genre and sort of add a civilized element to characters who are often portrayed as heartless criminal, only driven by their greed. I was inspired to tell this kind of story in a new light.

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

About 10 months

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

Humanized noir

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

Our modest budget didn’t allow us much room to hire a large crew, which we could’ve used. We pulled as many favors as we could from friends and colleagues, but it ultimately led to everyone wearing multiple hats and completing tasks outside the scope of their job title. However, this was an obstacle that we all overcame together and I, personally was inspired by the teamwork and overall willingness by everyone to do what was needed so that we could all achieve this finished product. Turns out, it’s the biggest obstacles that teach us the most.

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

I was very moved by everyone’s positive feedback and I felt affirmed as filmmaker. It truly is such a victory just to find people who are willing to watch your work, but it’s an absolute honor to find people who are willing to take a little extra time to analyze your film and let you know their feelings on it. I was hoping for some constructive criticism but I’ll happily take the ego boost. Haha.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

When I was about 9 years old, I remember telling my teacher that I wanted to be a film director. I’ve pursued other ventures since then but that desire to make films never left me and when I got into my early 20s, I found myself in a fortunate position to learn and develop my craft, which paved the way for my incredible team and I to come together and feeling the confidence to make it happen.

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

Good Will Hunting. One of my all-time favorites!

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

FilmFreeway is a valuable resource for any filmmaker! As a festival first-timer, I am so pleased with how easy they made it to find festivals all over the world and to submit by allowing me to keep all my press kit materials in one place. FilmFreeway has expanded the business side of filmmaking to a broader community and I love that inclusivity.

9. What is your favorite meal?

I’m a huge fan of Mediterranean food! I could live the rest of life on Chicken Shawarma over rice with some falafel and hummus on the side.

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

Yes! I’m always writing and dreaming up my next big project, while directing smaller-scale productions in the meantime; Music videos, branded content, that sort of thing. But another short film is absolutely among my next directorial efforts.

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