Interview with Filmmaker James Abrams (A TIGER IN THE SUBWAY)

A TIGER IN THE SUBWAY, 9min,. USA, Thriller/Drama
Directed by James Abrams
An agoraphobic painter reflects on an old white lie his mother told him as a child.

Get to know the filmmaker:

1. What motivated you to make this film?
Like a lot of people, I was doing a lot of writing and sitting on my hands during the 2020 COVID pandemic. Today, some of these ideas are developed screenplays while others remain unfinished, but at the time I was searching for an opportunity to create a short film. In the summer of 2020, I began dating my current partner, who is a talented painter. I wanted to find a way to collaborate and her paintings suddenly made the many vague ideas I had been circling around throughout the pandemic all come together. A Tiger in the Subway is not thematically about COVID at all, but a story about an agoraphobic painter 1000% comes directly from my COVID experiences.

2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
A Tiger in the Subway took about a little over a year to finish. I wrote the script in January of 2021, we shot it in the fall, and post production was finished in the spring of 2022.

3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
Oh jeez, how about: Nightmare and Isolation.

4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
Probably just trying to find the time to schedule production between work. 2021 was a busy freelance year for me, which was good, but it pushed the shoot around a lot.

5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was very pleased that the audience reacted to the parts of the story that were most personal to me as a director, namely perspective. Regardless of the surrealism or tangible realities my protagonist endures, the experience he has is what the film as a device was meant to empart. Hearing that this resonated was very encouraging and meant a lot.

6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
I’ve been making films since high school. Moments in my life where I ever considered a different career always felt like I was lying to myself. I grew up a child actor and only entertained a career in biology because of my love of animals. A Tiger in the Subway just goes to show how, as a filmmaker, I can bridge this gap (haha).

7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
Numerically, I’ve probably seen a film like Avengers: Infinity War the most because of viewing parties with friends, but ranking pretty close would be more personal favorites; In Bruges, Swiss Army Man, Trollhunter (2010 Norwegian film, not the kids show) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, or A Serious Man. I try to share these films with as many new friends and contemporaries as I can. They never disappoint.

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’ve really enjoyed my experience so far! I really grow and respond to human reaction when discussing art, so I’m looking forward to the WILDsound podcast opportunity. In general, getting my work out there to encourage discussion and new artistic opportunities is my top career priority.

9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
To be honest, it’s a mixed bag. While being an excellent highway to hundreds of festival experiences, the site itself can be very detached and impersonal. Festivals have the responsibility to take up that slack and when that happens it can make all the difference to a filmmaker. I’m not sure what might be done to improve this aspect of FilmFreeway, but outlining which festivals provide what opportunities might hold more festivals accountable to deliver on the experience for creators.

10. What is your favorite meal?
Honestly, a chicken sandwich with fresh ingredients and a well built ensemble of vegetables, cheese, and sauces does it for me everytime. I never think I’m passionate about food until I’m asked about food, so this question is great.

11. What is next for you? A new film?
I’m currently shopping around several writing projects; two television series, a few features, but most exciting is actually a feature screenplay adaptation of A Tiger in the Subway my team and I are moving forward with very quickly.


By matthewtoffolo

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

Leave a comment

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: