Interview with Filmmaker Damian Bonito Zapien (NOAH’S SONG)

NOAH’S SONG played to rave reviews at the November 2021 LGBTQ+ Short Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

My main motivation for this film was my questioning of my own gender. I had just recently decided to change my name to Damian. I was in a relationship at the time that was not very supportive, and I wanted to be able to have a safe conversation about it with my partner. I ached for support, validation and love. It was extremely hard to accept myself as Damian, and I began to imagine what an honest conversation about transitioning would be like.

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

It took me about two weeks. I actually had another film planned, but covid forced me to cancel its production. I still had to submit a thesis, so I asked my friend Noah to write a song with me, and a couple all nighters later, we had Noah’s Song.

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

Rough but sincere.

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

It was difficult to try and imagine what an honest conversation about a partner transitioning would be like. I didn’t want it to be easy right away. Because at the end of the day – it is still a change in the relationship and in the person you love. Transitioning is more than just a decision – it is a difficult journey that at times involves surgery, hormones, therapy, and prejudice. Asking a partner to stand by your side through it is scary, but when they do, it is everything.

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

It was heartwarming. Seeing my work being recognized and valued, and knowing that I was able to make it be understood is a wonderful feeling.

Watch the Audience FEEDBACK Video:

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

Part of me always knew, but it wasn’t until senior year of high school that I realized how obsessed I actually was with films. I used to rent 10 movies from the library a week, binge watch them, write reviews about them, and rate them on my notebook. The more I learned the more I fell in love with films.

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

The Scream franchise by Wes Craven. I adore horror movies, to me, they make the most sense of all other genres. Horror is therapy, a way to deal with our own demons – and to add humor and smarts to it like Wes Craven did in Scream? Well that’s the cherry on top.

8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?

I always dreamt of being selected from a film festival. It would have been wonderful to have a private meetup between the filmmakers themselves to discuss the films, share feedback and network.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?

FilmFreeway makes it easy to stay organized and submit films, I truly appreciate the way it is set up for easy submissions.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Chicken with mole sauce, made by my mom of course.

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

I am working towards applying to grad school. I want to become more proficient with cinematography as well as working on fundraising for future film projects. I am looking to learn, collaborate and become a better filmmaker.

By matthewtoffolo

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

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