THE SILHOUETTE, 14min,. Malta
Directed by Oldrich Werner
Mila is just your average college student, studying abroad for the semester in a beautiful new country. But little does she know, her trip is about to take a terrifying turn. Haunted by a traumatic experience from her past, Mila struggles to cope with the psychological aftermath. But her handsome boyfriend is there to support her, even as he battles his own demons. As Mila tries to settle into her new surroundings, she can't shake the feeling that someone, or something, is watching her.
Get to know the filmmaker:
1. What motivated you to make this film?
As a graduate thesis for the Master of Arts in Film Studies at the University of Malta, we could choose between a long dissertation and a short film with a shorter dissertation, so I was motivated by the degree and most importantly by the idea of making film itself. As this was my first film that I wrote, produced and directed myself, it felt natural that my first thing should be horror, as that's been my favorite genre since childhood. I had previously worked on several short films of others in various roles, but this was my first own thing, so I wanted to prove myself I can do this. Obviously, I wouldn't be able to do so without help from my cast and crew, so big shout out to them!
2. From the idea to the finished product, how long did it take for you to make this film?
I got the very first idea for the film some 2 years ago, but of course I didn't have the whole script in my head. I wrote the first draft sometime in January of last year. I ended up with the final seventh draft sometime in late May or early June. Difficulty finding the right people accompanied the entire pre-production. A lot of people turned me down, potential actors and crew ignored my messages and stopped responding. I was even told that my project had no value, etc. The original DP refused to participate about an hour before the scheduled shooting. Fortunately, the lead actress Marysia S. Peres backed me up and once I found the right cinematographer, Marley Lagana, who did a fantastic job, things took off because he had the right contacts of people he had already worked with and through him I found the rest of the cast. The shooting itself was quite fun even though we filmed mostly at night and although there was no time left for several scenes and shots that I had originally planned because my budget was really limited as I financed everything from my own pocket. The whole film was shot in 3 days, but the post-production dragged on, because since we have a day job, my editor, James Caselli, who elevated the whole feeling of the film with his editing skills, was editing mostly on weekends. We took our time and didn't rush anything. I would either sit next to him and tell him what I want or he would cut a particular scene and send it over to me and I would take notes and send them back to him. The first version of the film was completed on New Year's Eve 2022 so that I could submit it to school. Unfortunately, the color grade didn't turn out the way we wanted, so before I started submitting the film to festivals, the film went through two more grades. We ended up using third grade. The final polishing and grade was completed at the beginning of April, so in total it took more than a year.
3. How would you describe your film in two words!?
A slasher tribute.
4. What was the biggest obstacle you faced in completing this film?
As I mentioned in the previous question, the biggest obstacle was finding the right people. Making this film was accompanied by obstacles, but I think that is a normal part of making any film. The hardest part was probably not to compromise on my original idea of making a professional-looking film and standing up for myself. Because if I hadn't done that and given up after the first setback, I wouldn't be having this interview with you right now.
5. What were your initial reactions when watching the audience talking about your film in the feedback video?
I was flattered and almost started crying. It felt like this audience perceives the film exactly the way I wanted.
6. When did you realize that you wanted to make films?
That is a good question. As a kid, I never thought I could make movies. I was an avid viewer from childhood and was raised by television. My great aunt owned a video rental store where I spent every summer and watched like 7 movies a day. At the time, I wanted to be a film critic and write reviews. The idea of making films came later when I was living in England and was doing an office job I hated. But first I wanted to test myself if I really had any aptitude for it and I found a film school in London, where I first went for a weekend course to feel the vibe of the school. I liked it there, so after a few months I went there again for a one-month practical course, where we made 5 short films of 3 minutes without sound. That was the first time in my life when I was looking forward to going to school. That gave me the basics of filmmaking.
7. What film have you seen the most in your life?
I would say that prior to making this short, it would have to be The Last Boy Scout, which I love for its sarcasm and overall feel, but as I was rewatching a lot of slashers and Italian Giallo in preparation for filming, I think the first Scream has moved to the top because for me it's at the same time a feel-good movie that I turn on in the background and I don't even have to watch it to put myself in the right mood that I experienced when I was 11 years old and I saw it for the first time.
8. What other elements of the festival experience can we and other festivals implement to satisfy you and help you further your filmmaking career?
It would be nice if the film was seen by some real producer who would be interested in financing my next project.
9. You submitted to the festival via FilmFreeway. How has your experiences been working on the festival platform site?
The indisputable advantage of this platform is that you can find most festivals on it. This is my very first experience with this platform and I can't complain. So far, our film has been selected by 4 festivals, of which we won 2 and received an Honorable Mention at one. I hope there will be a few more coming up and that our film will be seen by the right people.
10. What is your favorite meal?
Hard to choose just one. I'm not waiting for the death penalty, luckily. Apologies to all vegetarians and vegans, but the first thing that comes to mind is medium rare steak, then sushi, and then I can't forget the traditional Czech classic, Svíčková, which is roasted tenderloin with sour cream sauce and dumplings.
11. What is next for you? A new film?
That would be an ideal scenario. I got an idea for a feature length version of our short where I would explain more. Hook me up with a real producer and we will make it happen.