ASFF Alumni: Addressing the Short Form

Directed by Boldizsár Cr, Cry of the City narrates the challenges that young people have to face in order to follow their dreams. Facing alienation and financial hardships often can lead to bad decisions in life. The film screened as part of ASFF 2017’s Fashion strand.

ASFF: Why do you think that short film is such an important outlet for art and culture in the contemporary age?
BCR: I think it will be always a relevant form of expression. I’m not sure if it’s an age specific thing. It is a different form with different advantages. There might be a lightness attached to it just because of the lower budget reasons, which is usually good for creativity because of less pressure from different parties involved. What could be seen as age-specific is the rise of social media and how this has created these types of lengths which can be widely circulated online. The one-minute space on Instagram just created a demand for that format. Restrictions can sometimes be important factors for creators.

ASFF: How do you think the short form lends certain opportunities that other forms don’t?
BCR: Short films have the advantage of easier distribution and less commitment required from the audiences perhaps. It is also a good testing ground or marketing tool to show potential for a longer work. However in an ideal world the actual theme or topic should direct the form of expression. I could compare the idea of listening to a whole concept album versus a really hot track. They can be very fulfilling on their own. Another example could be a poem versus a novel. Film is very complex medium with lots of layers and a short film has tremendous potential.

ASFF: Briefly discuss the concept behind the film that you submitted for ASFF 2017.
BCR: 90% of the concept emerged through production restrictions. For example, I was only able to shoot one model at a time and I had to shoot nearby the agency. I only had one assistant, who helped in the colour gel lighting.

The film noir gangster dialogue and the music just emerged through post-production. It really fit the mood and gave another layer to the already interesting and desperate vibe of the film. Another angle was my knowledge of previous work with new faces and Paul Rowland. And of course by knowing a bit of the production design / styling prior the shoot which we discussed.

ASFF: How important are visuals to your work?
BCR: For me what is key is to be able to create a mood and atmosphere with the visuals that are relevant to the story supporting it as it plays out. I have a very cinematic approach, which will hopefully evolve and develop. I  – of course – usually work towards a brief, but always try to create visuals that I personally like, as well as something that can be considered different. I don’t like to do the same thing twice, so if possible, I always experiment with something new and effective, and I like to collaborate.

ASFF: Where do you get your inspiration?
BCR: My inspiration comes from all sorts of culture and life. I am a big cinema fan and love pop culture. For me, whilst stories are extremely important, aesthetics, mood and evoking emotions are just as important. I also observe a lot and see myself as a “flaneur” type who loves big walks especially in cities.

I am quite a romantic type in a sense that I am inspired by feelings: sex, death, madness, drama, beauty and broken beauty are recurring ideas. I also tend to have an obsession with larger-than-life characters and the influence of fine art.

ASFF: What is your biggest achievement to date?
BCR: My biggest achievement is definitely The Painting for Vogue Italia starring Elisa Sednaoui. When we finished with it, I thought “even if I die tomorrow life was worth living.” Of course I am very hungry for more, but that project was such a dreamy one from start to finish, on many levels.

ASFF: What would be your advice to emerging filmmakers at the very start of the career, or those considering working in short film?
BCR: Very similar to Tarantino’s: watch a lot of movies night and day and get hands on experience on the side. Learn from people who have real experience on a larger scale besides getting your very own. Also live life in the most diverse way possible. Keep it passionate. Follow your dreams and live in different countries. Don’t get sad if it takes a while, as I think to be able to say something as a director you need to know something about life. Activity is important: don’t give up.

Give yourself time to find your own voice as it is very important to have one. Try not to care about trends or fitting into trends a lot. “Don’t believe the hype.” Although it is not a problem to be excited or inspired by them. It is a journey and a process to find someone’s own ways. I am for example always had inspirations from other art forms too. It is quite interesting to talk with artists about ways of creating, such as music or paintings or dance pieces. These experiences can inspire finding new ways.

ASFF: Why do you think that submitting to film festivals is important?
BCR: Well it is a good question what stage to start. It is a good idea to research film festivals and submit to diverse ones. See the films they chose the year before for example to have an idea. With categories I always had a hard time as my work was never easily fitted to genres. However fashion film is quite an open genre at the moment, so it seems to be what music videos used to be in the 1990s. It is important to submit as it helps making new contacts and getting feedback. Keeps you going in a way. They also make a film’s life longer which is great in this very quick world.

ASFF: Why did you submit to ASFF, and what did it mean to you to be selected?
BCR: I submitted as it is connected to the magazine; it gave extra information about the quality, scale and the possible taste of the festival. It can be quite hard to figure out a festival from a website and sometimes the film industry can look quite scary. Things are getting better now, but in 2014 it was very unique to have that clarity and design for any festival what ASFF had. It meant a lot when I got selected. It can mean so much as there is so much rejection and no feedback for an up and coming filmmaker and it meant a lot to me and still does.

ASFF: How do you consider which genre to submit your film? Do you think that it matters?
BCR: It is the hardest one, as in the film industry it seems like they only care about dialogue and story based films. Everything else is either Experimental which is super broad category, or Music Video. Well my films were always cross genre films and before Fashion Film emerged it was no way to get in to a serious film industry based Festival without a Music Video category.

It feels like these old school festivals just don’t care about you if you are not making narrative films or films without a dialogue. It will become the “other” category simple as that. Well ASFF was really one of the big ones that changed this in the UK.

ASFF: What are your plans for 2018? Please include details on any projects, ideas, competitions you’re entering or other film festivals you’re attending.
BCR: I have a new film came out recently and I am promoting that. It is called The Perfect One and it has a wonderful cast including young Hannah Motler and an even younger Dante who is only 13. They are all brilliantly talented. Cry of the City is still running and it recently screened at LSFF.

On professional level, I am in the process signing to a big agency for commercial work and developing further as a director. Super thrilled for this news. On top of that, I started a dream project with a great independent Producer. A feature film based in the fashion industry. It is very early stage to say more, but I feel super lucky to be involved! Looks like 2018 will be a big year in my world.

ASFF: What do you think is the future for short film?
BCR: I think it has a legit future for sure. It has that quality of ease to it that the pressure is smaller, but also the potential to spread further online.I think it probably will keep it’s more experimental edge and a place where people can try out different things and see reactions. I do think it won’t change in the near future.

On the other hand, it is also a genre where collaborations and cross overs can thrive. For example, a photographer could try out things or a collaboration with a choreographer could be made on this form without committing to a very long process. Actors will always like it too as they can try out a different personality of theirs and show it. I see it as a very alive form.

Instagram: @boldizsarcr 
Twitter @boldizsarcr
Facebook: /BoldizsarCRpage
1. Trailer for Cry of the City, Courtesy of Boldizsár Cr and Vimeo.