Interview with Filmmaker Ema Poposka (THE LIVING SEA)

THE LIVING SEA was the winner of BEST CINEMATOGRAPHY at the December 2021 Toronto Documentary Film Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

We are the only planet with oceans, and they are indispensable for our survival. However, many people are unaware of the importance of ocean creatures and how to protect them. This is because they don’t really see them every day. Sea creatures are just lunch or dinner or an ingredient in cosmetics. As a young scuba diver, I believe that if people could see the beauty of the ocean and the corals, they would change their minds about sea protection. This inspired me to produce a documentary film about Hong Kong corals.

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

It took me a whole year to make The Living Sea, from the idea through the filming to the editing. I was lucky to have the support of my film crew, made of 12 to 15-year-old students, who were always ready to respond to last minute tasks. It was also helpful to get the support from Kids4Kids, a nonprofit that helps young changemakers reach their goals.

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

making waves

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

It took me some time to learn to film underwater and to learn how to use a drone for aerial shots, but I loved doing both.

We were also working on the film during the pandemic, so movement and work in groups was limited.

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

I’m really grateful that people enjoyed the film and that it impacted them, and that they learned more about Hong Kong corals.

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

When I was 10, I first became interested in making short videos about marine life. I believe that storytelling is a way to develop empathy for the environment and give a voice to those who can’t speak for themselves.

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

I love watching environmental documentaries. I was greatly inspired by My Octopus Teacher, Chasing Coral and Honeyland.

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

The most important thing for documentary films is getting more people to see them and learn about the issue. And if the film manages to influence people to change their behavior and attitude towards the ocean and marine creatures I have achieved my goal.

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

It’s been great. So far my film has been accepted in the official selection of 20 international film festivals and has received six awards.

10. What is your favorite meal?

It’s hard to pick a favorite meal, but I like boba tea shared with my friends and lots of laughter.

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

I’m making a short animation about my first scuba diving experience and seeing how magnificent life in the sea is. I am currently learning more about animation, and about doing voiceovers for films. I am also doing research about kelp, which is like underwater trees and gives oxygen to the ocean. Maybe this develops into my next film.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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