Interview with Filmmaker Ryan Jafri (THE CALL)

THE CALL, 14min., USA, Thriller
Directed by Ryan Jafri
1965. A small man in a big world works hard to close a deal, doing everything he can to please his boss. But the clock is ticking, and someone is out to get him.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?

I’ve always been intrigued by films that have compelling stories told within the confines of few settings. So when the image of just one character in a single room came in front of my mind’s eye, I knew it was just a mere seedling of my next film. Despite The Call taking place in 1965, its representation of the effects of corporate culture, work burnout and fear of being replaced for any reason transcends eras. Therefore, I saw The Call as an opportunity to create a depiction of the anxious and paranoid times we live in.

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

I would say two and a half years approximately. The idea came to me in rudimentary form during the summer of 2019 and post concluded in early 2022. Normally it wouldn’t have taken that long, but, unfortunately, production was delayed twice due to challenges posed by the COVID -19 pandemic.

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

I believe ‘retro futurism’ fits the bill. Despite being an uncommon term, it speaks to the comparison I make of work stress in 1965 to what many experience today.

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

As I had implied earlier, I’d say the biggest obstacle was COVID-19 and all that came with it. Principal photography had been pushed back twice due to various hurdles ranging from logistical issues to skyrocketing costs relative to safety guidelines. But the third time’s the charm as they say, and in early 2021 we were able to clear those hurdles and shoot the film without a hitch.

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

I was delighted to hear what the audience thought. They had immersed themselves into the film and its many layers. Furthermore, each audience member in the video had their own distinct perception of the film and their takeaway from it. Ben, the co-writer, and I were very happy to listen to their kind words.

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

I grew up watching movies and found myself dissecting and analyzing them. Sometimes if I didn’t like a movie or a portion of one, I would go as far as to think of alternate dialogue, different shot compositions, etc. which would have improved the film, at least in my opinion. This carried over to college and during my freshman year I decided to take a summer filmmaking workshop at the New York Film Academy. I’d say right around then is when I got bit by the filmmaking bug.

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

That is most certainly Terminator 2: Judgement Day. I grew up on it. Its script, direction, cinematography, score, and so much more captivated me back then and even now.

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 think live screenings are the way to go. I understand the convenience of the online counterparts but, in my opinion, that pales in comparison to watching films in an actual theater amongst other filmmakers and the audience. The Q&A gives the filmmakers a chance to hear about each other’s work, their creative process and also creates networking opportunities.

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

I appreciate FilmFreeway quite a bit. It makes the submission process more streamlined and transparent. Each film having its own profile is a neat feature because you can find just about everything that pertains to it on there including links to supplemental materials.

10. What is your favorite meal?

Wow. This is a random question, but I love it. These days I’m a fiend for Buffalo Crispy Chicken Burritos from this nice little place that opened up recently down the street from my home.

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

Right now I have a film in development. Its story is compelling, and like The Call it has many layers to unravel and explore. Besides being immersed in that project, I’m managing Year 2 of The Call film festival run and hope to attend as many screenings as I can. A goal of mine is to connect with other filmmakers, discuss cinema and more.


By matthewtoffolo

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

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