We are thrilled to welcome Director, Producer and Writer Niav Padelis to The Green Room! Thank you so much for taking the time to join us!
Thank you so much for inviting me!
Now we have known each other for a number of years, but time has never allowed us to chat and take an insight into your career. So I understand that it was almost 10 years ago that you took your first steps in the world of Short Film making, tell us about the motivations behind this?
My partner Joe and I saw a local news item about Hastings Film Challenge and decided to take part. Joe has a background in photography and I have a background in creative writing so we thought it would be a great way to use our skills on a joint project. The organisers chose the title, genre and prop (an axe) and we had five days to write, cast, shoot and edit the film. The film premiered at an Independent Cinema in Hastings and was well received. We really enjoyed the challenge and have continued to make films ever since.
In your first few films you used family and friends as a way of casting- then for ‘An Angel at Christmas’ in 2014 you used professional actors, how was the casting process for you, did you know what you were looking for or was it all still new for you?
I knew what type of actors I was looking for, but the process of holding auditions was new to me. In one scene of ‘An Angel at Christmas’, each family member has to open inappropriate gifts and I wanted their true reactions to these ridiculous presents in one take. So at the audition I created some improvisational scenes to gauge their spontaneity. I didn’t have a template of how auditions should be; I created my own method which seemed to work for me and the actors.
Sophia Lazzati was your first feature film, how much harder was it to shoot a feature film compared to shorts?
In a feature film everything is scaled up, there are more locations, more actors, costumes and props, so time management is a greater concern. I found that very thorough preparation is the key to a smooth shoot. I knew what any cast or crew member should be doing at a given moment. I had a timetable and stuck to it as much as possible, but if the unexpected happened, I could accommodate changes because there was a framework. Anyone who has made a few shorts has the skills to create a feature film.
Where do you seek inspiration from with your ideas? I know you love to write poetry similar to myself, do you have to be in a certain mindset or does it come more naturally?
I live by the sea, so sitting on a quiet beach watching the fishing boats, seagulls and the waves helps to create the right mindset for poetry. For all other types of writing any environment will do. I always carry a notebook, people say such funny things. Sometimes on long train journeys I find myself creating stories and film ideas from snippets of conversation. I love being in cafés people watching, the way people eat a cake or pick fluff off their clothes can inspire habits for my characters. The greatest motivation for me however, is travelling; the bombardment of new stimulus seems to really please my brain.
What has been the best bit of advice you’ve been given?
My poetry tutor told me that constraints force you to become more creative.
Now to flip that question- if someone asked you for advice on starting out in the independent film circuit what would you say to them?
Don’t wait until you have the best camera and an ideal budget! Start with an engaging story and get feedback on it from people you trust. Scale your story up or down depending on resources. Realise that things will go wrong but there are solutions. Know that with determination and passion you can get your film made.
So your latest film ‘Tokyo Tales’ was shot on location in Japan….how did this idea come about and were there any big issues in the logistics of filming?
I have always been fascinated with Japan and characters that have a rich inner life and gradually the character of Dauni began evolving. A woman who doesn’t fit in with her peers in London takes a job in Tokyo and starts to reflect on her behaviour. The unique environment gives her a new perspective. When abroad, I find my thought process becomes more flexible and reflective so I gave Dauni an exaggerated version of this trait.
We found it surprisingly easy to film in Tokyo, we asked permission at each location and they gave us consent with the proviso that we didn’t cause an obstruction. I think it helped that the crew was so small and that we greeted and thanked everyone in Japanese. What also surprised me were the locals were so fantastic, if they did get in shot they never looked at the camera so we could still use that footage.
What’s next for you; is there a new film in development?
I am working on a comedy/mystery feature film set by the sea and a comedy TV series set in Lisbon.
Niav thank you for supporting our festivals and for joining us in The Green Room, it has been lovely getting to know you more.
Interviewer: Dan Hickford
Guest: Niav Padelis