I love that it was shot on film. What went into that decision?
The film is actually shot on both digital and film. I wanted to use 16mm film for very specific scenes in the short film – the opening scene and the final scene after Simone and her baby are reunited on the train. To me, the 16mm acted as a new lens with which to view the film and to enter Simone’s head. We see her looking directly at us (her mirror) in the opening scene. This is shot on film to give it a dreamy and unique feeling. Same with those shots on the train at the end. The film gave me this great opportunity to elevate those scenes, to bring them out of real time and into dream and subconscious time.
How did you find Cree McCellan and Muzari?
Cree is an old friend and a fellow New Yorker. She is a fantastic actress, singer and performer in her own right and comes from a family of artists. Collaborating with her was an honor and a privilege and I hope to do it again! Her son Muzari is 3 years old now and in my personal opinion, has the potential to have a serious and amazing career in the entertainment industry!
What’s the biggest challenge in working with a baby?
Being on baby time is the biggest challenge. When you’re developing a schedule for a film, you typically have 10-12 hours of time you can massage and maneuver. When you’re working with an infant as young as Muzari was, you have to cater everything in the schedule to his daily routine. That includes nap time, lunch time, another nap time, clothes and diaper changes and an early bedtime. Essentially, the whole crew was on baby time. I will say having Cree, Muzari’s actual mother, on set with him at all times was super helpful.
Because of your direction and writing and McCellan’s performance, I feel like I know a lot about Simone even though there are few details given. How did you both go about developing the character?
That was always the intention, even before I wrote the actual script. This, in my mind, is a personal essay film. It is a portrait of a young woman and at times, we are watching her and at other times, we are her. I achieved this closeness to Simone by making Cree play a version of herself. We talked about who Simone was, why she does the things she does, and we developed a pretty profound backstory for her. When an actor feels closeness to their character, I think that authentic closeness just naturally follows.
What’s next for you?
I have another short film titled “Rumi” that just finished and will hopefully be released to the world very soon. I am working on a feature length screenplay and also planning on developing Simone into a feature length film.