Interview with Filmmaker Itai Jamshy (THE WATER’S LAMENT)

THE WATER’S LAMENT, 18min., Israel, Drama
Directed by Itai Jamshy
Miri picks up her distant son from the army base and surprises him with a makeshift camping trip on a faraway shore in the middle of winter. On the shore, after old tarumas resurface, they warm up to each other while the question “Where’s father?” echoes in the distance.

1. What motivated you to make this film?

Well, to be honest, I started with very low motivation. My previous film (Aloof) had just been completed, a film which I made with a lot of pride and a lot of hope for getting into festival, and I started receiving a lot of “No”s from big festivals. I was also going through a tough phase in my personal life – my dog, Misty, a sweet cairn terrier (like Toto from the Wizard of Oz), started dying. I took her to the vet at least once a week to check how can we ease her pain, but at the end we had to let her go and put her down. I was also having more personal relationship troubles which I wouldn’t like to get into. All these triggered my depression, and I felt very weak and I had no belief in myself. Then I got the assignment of writing this film in a workshop that’s part of my studies – the teacher, Josef Pitchadze, gave us an assignment of writing a film adaptation to one of the songs in Nick Cave’s “Murder Ballads” album. I was paired with a really good friend, Meital, the producer and co-writer of this film, and we chose the song (Kindness of Strangers) to adapt together. We wanted to tell the story of an aftermath of a murder, but only hint at the murder, and focus on the main character’s relationships and how it’s going to be affected by the murder. And then, little by little, with each person joining the project – Ori the cinematographer, Johnny, the editor, Tal the Art Director, and of course Smadar and Yuval, the actors, I gained more confidence and faith in the story and the people who want to help Meital and I realize it in the form of a film. My motivation came from the love of people around me and the feeling of commitment I had, that grew with each day I worked on the film.

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

It took a very short time. Because it was created in a workshop, I had only about two months to work on the script and production, and then we had three more month of editing, so the film could be screened with the rest of the workshop’s films in the Tel Aviv Student Film Festival.

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

I can’t. That’s also two words, isn’t it?

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

First of all – we shot it almost entirely on a beach. We had to battle the sand and the wind all the time. On the last day of shooting (3 out of 4 planned) we got a weather update – there’s going to be a massive storm on the last day and we can’t shoot. So we gathered everybody and explained the situation, our solution was to change the schedule so we would shoot all the night scene right after we finish with the day scenes – working 36 hours in total, we a short 4 hour break in the middle. The first one to agree and convince everybody in that forum was actually Smadar. It was a very good decision because one week later the first wave of COVID hit and we weren’t allowed to exit our houses for about a month – so reshoots weren’t an option.

Another hard part was the swimming scene, we had to battle the might of the sea, which was very wavy. The first time we tried to shoot it from the beach, for we didn’t have waterproofing equipment, but after the first cut of the film was made, we saw we had to insert more shots, and we had half a shooting day – and in this one we rented equipment that allowed us to shoot in and underwater. Smadar also had to face true fears of her – she’s really afraid of swimming in the sea, and she’s afraid of entering cold water because she’s very susceptible to pneumonia. But, she was really brave and really in character.

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

First I was afraid, this format is a bit foreign for me, it took me a bit of time to ease in. But that’s what we do this for, isn’t it? For strangers to talk about our films… So at the end I felt really humbled and I also felt great gratitude.

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

When I was a teenager, my father started showing me “real” films, classic cinema instead of Disney films, the first film I remember watching, that made me fall in love with cinema, was Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and the second one was Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

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

Other than the films I worked on as post producer (that I watched about twenty times in different iterations).
Kubrick’s “2001: A Space Odyssey”.

But I also had a really stupid year when I hosted tons of “The Room” viewing parties, and I stopped counting how many times I’ve watched that already.

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 truth is I really want to be in a festival in person. I love discussing film, asking people other questions about their films, and answering questions about mine.

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

It’s okay, but it’s the entire platform is getting very pricey.

10. What is your favorite meal?

I have lots of favorites (most of them my mom makes – mainly the chicken with baked apple she makes), but today it’s less about favorites and more about cravings – and I’d really like pasta with mushrooms and cream sauce right now.

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

Well I just quit my job as a producer and head of post in Green Productions. I’m doing so so I could work on my graduation film – it’s about a teenager that, while struggles with his mother trying to accept him being gay, also struggles realizing his sexual desires with his boss, a head chef of a restaurant.

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By matthewtoffolo

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

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