Interview with Filmmaker Selena Pesantez (A SECRET BATTLE)

A SECRET BATTLE was the winner of BEST PERFORMANCES at the January 2022 FEMALE Filmmakers Festival.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

During the time of the 2020 pandemic outbreak, I had discovered and been diagnosed with OCD. At that time my compulsions had consumed me to the point of not being able to function in everyday life, but then I chose to get help. I began to get therapy and really work on lessing the voices in my head. Over this time, I did a lot of reflecting and realized the reason I was diagnosed so late was because the depiction of OCD in media and society was very different to the one I was experiencing. When I was asked to make a short film in my university’s film program, I knew I wanted to create something I knew about personally and that was OCD. I wanted to show what it was really like to experience this inner battle and to possibly show others that they are not alone.. I saw that in film media there was a real gap in the real thought process of OCD. It is a real struggle many face, it’s not just this cute quirky, organized trait many depict it as.

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

In my film program at University of Central Florida, we are given a whole school year to create a short film. I had begun the preproduction stage in August 2020. Then I shot this film at the end of January 2021 for about 3 days. Then I dove into editing and post-production right away until May 2021.

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

powerful truth

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

The biggest obstacle I faced in creating this film was the COVID-19 procations. For my university we were given set rules to make sure the crew and cast were safe. This meant that my crew needed to stay six feet apart and my actors needed to also be 15 feet apart if someone was not wearing a mask. This meant that I needed to strategize my shots. This is why my actors are never shown too close together in the same shot. Another rule was that I could only have 6 people on set at all times. This included me, my crew, and my actors. This meant crew members were doing the jobs of 3 people instead of one. It also meant I needed to do a lot of rotations on set when a new actor arrived on scene. This did create extra time in the production shoot and at times made us fall behind.

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

I was over the moon happy. This film is very personal to me and watching others say they were touched or learned something new made me feel like my job was done right. I felt a sense of accomplishment! I was also happy to hear that the way I executed the film was well done as this is a sensitive topic that I wanted to portray correctly. I want to thank everyone again who participated in the feedback!

Watch the Audience Feedback Video:

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

I realized I wanted to make films in my freshman year of high school. I went to an arts high school for photography, but was told I needed to take part in one film class. In the class we were told to make a film in the style of a famous filmmaker. My group chose Hitchcock. Making the film was very fun and exciting, but what really got me was the reactions from my peers. Watching them at the edge of their seats and gasping in shock gave me a feeling I can’t describe. I loved watching everyone’s minds deciphering the scenes as they tried to figure out who the killer is and what will happen next. Then the moment that big revel happened, everyone was shocked with disbelief. After class people then came up to my team and complemented us on the film. This was the first time I realized I wanted to keep creating life through storytelling. From then on, I wanted to learn more about the filmmaking process and create more films of my own.

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

The Greatest Showman. I am not a big fan of theater musicals, but when a film is shot in a musical style I absolutely love it. Cinematography accompanied by music makes films seem even more magical and moving to me.

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

Honestly, doing what this festival is already doing. Having these audience feedbacks creates conversation and gets people engaged. This makes these films seem more important and worthwhile. It also makes you feel like the films are not just something to sit through, but something one must experience and carry with them.

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

I love this platform. It is very easy to use and allows you to get all your information off the bat. I also loved that I was always notified when something was updated.

10. What is your favorite meal?

My favorite meal is pasta! Really any pasta, but baked ziti might just be my number 1.

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

Currently, I am working on a new short film. It will actually be my first ever music video! It is narrative based and will be dealing with the idea of stepping out of your comfort zone. I am very excited as it will also be my first time working with fake snow on set.

Here is the film’s synopsis:

The world is a scary place, but is being alone any better? A young man, named Sam, finds himself trying to hold onto the safe bubble of his innocence, as he stays inside and plays board games and collects baseball cards. Afraid of growing up and putting himself out there in the harsh cold world, he chooses to stay close to the safe childlike enjoyments he knows. But is being alone any better when you have no one to share the joys with? Sam battles with this and begins to see how a lonely environment can be just as cold.

My crew and I will begin shooting in mid February!


By matthewtoffolo

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

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