First of all, we would like you to introduce yourself so that we can introduce you to our audience. Who are you? How long have you been making films?
Hello, a pleasure getting to talk with the Into the Wild Film Festival crew! My name is Alexandra, I am filmmaker, film director, film editor, and cinematographer based in the U.S. and originally from Eastern Europe. I have recently graduated with a BFA in Film and Media Arts from Southern Methodist University in Dallas, Texas, and I have been making movies or analyzing them ever since I can remember. I’ve always had a great interest in the behind the scenes of how movies are made, and this industry has deeply fascinated me since I started thinking of what I want to be “when I grow up”.
And now we talk about your project. What the audience will find?
The audience will find an intimate world of two lovers who are struggling to build their future together. While most films portray the magic of falling in love and the passion of conquering the heart of someone dear, my movie revolves around the difficulty of staying in love. The audience will find an insight into what it takes to maintain the romantic flame burning during long years and will gain exposure to unconventional approaches lovers can take when dealing with life’s unforeseen circumstances. My movie places the audience in the front seat of discovering how to combat the external obstacles life brings into a love story.
Were you inspired by any other movie to make the film?
I was very inspired by the trilogy Before Sunrise, Before Sunset and Before Midnight, where lovers grow old together and experience their Love differently at different ages. I was also inspired by the pure dialogue and realism in Love in the Afternoon, which had a great impact on my creative vision.
And now we would like to know about your cinematographic preferences:
I am really passionate about Rodrigo Prieto’s style that can switch from his emphasis on handheld techniques and rich colorful palette when shooting non-U.S. productions, to the invisible behind-the-scenes DP Hollywood has with a stabilized camera movement when performing the cinematography of American films. He switches very smoothly between the soft focus of his Mexican style to the Steadicam of the American industry, yet he always succeeds in highlighting the details of the characters, their expressions, reactions, thoughts, and intentions through cinematography. I would say I am like him in a way that my multi- cultural background makes me adjust among my different camera styles and among the different productions I lead as a DP, depending on their genre, tone, and emotional goal the director has for the films.
What does cinema mean to you?
It means freedom and relief. It’s an artform that gives me the space to express my darkest thoughts and my most sincere emotions in ways that can only inspire and encourage fellow filmmakers or the audience, in general, to get closer to their most authentic self. Cinema is, for me, the most expressive and complex form of art that engages the creators so deeply to the extent that all personal and professional aspects of their lives are thoroughly included in the filmmaking process. To the audience, I would say cinematography can be art hidden under the form of casual entertainment or casual entertainment under the form of art; it needs some analysis to figure out what it is.
How do you manage to convey emotions through filmmaking?
I create complex characters. Before moving past the screenwriting stage, I build a real life for my characters, with wants, needs, I know how they would react if they were next to me. I know my characters. They convey the emotions on paper. However, on screen, I make sure to dedicate enough time collaborating and discussing with the lead creatives about how the shooting and postproduction processes will take place. I create a comfortable, safe environment behind the scenes, so everyone can feel encouraged to express their deepest, most humane side through art. After all, filmmaking requires a large amount of people who feel safe to create real art.
How have you created a competitive filmmaking style?
I am confident I did. It was through a lot of work as filmmaking is the art where work and effort are more important than talent. I documented and researched so much about the details of how to make every filmmaking aspect as successful as possible and I learned to take feedback and criticism in a very constructive way, which helps strategize the plan for success. I do not focus on other filmmakers’ success; I focus on my project’s. I learn from everyone, but I put all the resources into my projects while still clapping for the other ones doing well in the competition.
What makes you an International filmmaker?
I pay closer attention to the details of this industry. I know the difference between people lies in the details and traveling enables you to appreciate and notice easier these aspects. Living in multiple places on different continents has allowed me to appreciate what is important for different cultures, and how they sentiments are expressed.
What is the biggest challenge of directing for you?
Creating a relationship among actors. It’s easier to work one-on-one with actors individually, but directing goes to a different level when it comes to creating a flirtish atmosphere or a romance based on genuine reactions of one actor to another. It was a first-time for me creating this romantic tone in the body language and nonverbal interaction, yet definitely one that I look forward to experiencing again soon.
What have you managed to gain success through the art of filmmaking?
I managed to know myself better and understand what makes me happy and what are my values. I think that’s the biggest success I gained through filmmaking. I want to create a future for myself where I would not change much about it, and filmmaking helped me get closer to it every day.
What was the first movie you remember seeing?
That’s a hard one. I remember watching The Tourist when I was about 8 or so and writing down everything that could have been improved. I know I filled up a couple long pages, but I don’t remember with what
Which movie is the best for you?
I’m not sure if I have one that is the best. Probably Usual Suspects or Broken Embraces. I so love Almodovar and his specific, Spanish style.
What do you think a movie must have as an essential ingredient?
Emotion and theme. It has to be sensitive, but also strategic. A perfect way of engaging both the soul and mind.
Your favorite actor or actress?
I really like Gillian Anderson and Al Pacino. But there are so many I rush to watch perform.
What qualities do you see in that actor/actress to have such consideration. What do you like most about them?
I like their ability to detach from their own, personal world outside of fiction. I love the transition they have when understanding their character, and I really appreciate how they take the time to reflect on the past of their characters to really get the motivation behind their actions. A great actor knows a lot of time is involved in getting as close as possible to the characters and wants to dedicate their efforts to getting there.
A good movie has to...
Convey strong emotions and make you think. If you want to go to sleep after you watch a good movie, it won’t let you. A good movie poses hard questions and answers them in an open- minded way through complex characters who each have specific needs and desires. The more specific, the more universal, as I learned in my screenwriting classes. And it has a lot of thought put behind each creative decision: the angle, movement, direction, and speed of the camera,
the lighting, the sound design, editing style... everything has to be correlated with the main theme of the movie in order for it all to make sense and be considered “good”.
What genre of cinema do you prefer?
I love romances that dwell with high sensitivity and intense emotional states, but I also love suspense crime stories, as the characters who keep fighting for their dreams in both inspire me to keep pursuing my own.
I also love mysteries and dramas, especially involving the CIA and FBI. I feel they represent a great metaphor for how people have to divide their lives, sometimes more abruptly, between their personal desires and professional needs. I love espionage thrillers that are able to be inclusive with all genres and portray diversity uniquely.
How do you define yourself professionally?
I am insanely dedicated and passionate about the projects I pursue. The more ownership and creative freedom I have in a professional setting, the more engaged my heart and soul get into the making of what I am working on. Besides my passionate nature, I am also very strategic, analytical and precise with the work I deliver; I pay close attention to detail and create a list of priorities before making the main and small decisions.
What movie have you seen most often?
I have watched Leon, The Professional many times as different genres are mixed in this film, and also it revolves around a very complex, unconventional love story that has hard dialogue and an even harder ending. I also watched ANNA by the same director, Luc Besson, who gives such strong meaning behind every creative decision he takes. Another one of my favorite films I keep re-watching is Forrest Gump, a movie which sensitively portrays a unique reaction to intense sentiments.
What topics are the most inspiring for you?
I love the topics of hard conversations, in all circumstances. I love authentic characters who are highly driven by a specific goal that can change their lives. I also find inspiring the topics of secrets, hidden passions, the CIA, multiculturalism, and dramatic life changes. I also love humanity on screen. This topic can come up under multiple forms, yet it always inspires the audience to be more tolerant and curious about different types of people.