Interview with director Chrys Barmpas

  • Was there a particular event or time that you recognized that filmmaking is your way of telling stories?

I don’t think there was one magical moment that I realized filmmaking was my calling. As with everything in life that’s worth doing, it was an accumulation of experiences that led me there. Watching films was always a passion for me. As a kid I used to recreate scenes from them by making various paintings. But after I graduated from high school, I begun watching films in a more focused manner and that’s when I started gravitating towards filmmaking.

  • Do you think it is essential to go to a film institute in order to become a successful filmmaker?

It’s certainly not. There is an overwhelming number of successful filmmakers that never went to film school: Christopher Nolan, Quentin Tarantino, David Fincher, James Cameron, the list goes on and on. From my own experience, as a film school graduate, the most important thing that a film school will give you is to find people that share your passion for film. Then you can go on and trade ideas with them, collaborate in each other’s projects and ultimately create a small community that will certainly help you develop as an artist.

  • Is it harder to get started or to keep going? What was the particular thing that you had to conquer to do either?

Well the first step is always the hardest. To take the plunge into the great unknown that is the creation of an independent short film. Or any film actually. In “Meatballs” I was lucky enough to have a very strong script in hand (written by Yannis Diakakis), for which I had a very particular vision. So, that was a major push to go on and actually make the movie. But as anyone who’s made a movie (short or feature) knows, there are literally a thousand things that can and will go wrong during the whole process. In that sense, it is a constant struggle to keep going but when you have such a strong connection with the material, I don’t think that giving up is ever an option. You may have to push through a couple of panic attacks but in the end the film will get made.

  • What was the most important lesson you had to learn that has had a positive effect on your film? How did that lesson happen?

I was incredibly blessed to have three wonderful actors in this film. They were all way more experienced than me, so I had to rise to the occasion. That was a huge pull for me. You may read all there is to read about directing actors but you can’t really get a grip of it, if you don’t actually do it. And to tell you the truth, I think it’s underestimated. Many filmmakers are so focused on the technical stuff that are terrified of working with actors. In my experience in this film, working with the actors was incredibly stimulating and also an absolutely constant learning process. So, I guess the lesson I learnt was to engage with your actors. Be present for them both in rehearsals and on set. They’re the most important thing on that screen.

  • What were the production realities from casting through editing that you had to accommodate? How did you navigate those compromises or surprises and still end up with a cohesive film?

As I stated above, this was an independent student short film. So, as you understand, there wasn’t much in terms of budget. This means that the problems and difficulties rise exponentially. But as long as you have a strong team backing you up, you will be alright. This is where the small community from film school comes in handy. For example, two weeks before shooting we haven’t locked one of the two main locations. Margarita Kokkiza, the editor of the film and fellow filmschooler, heard about this and made the necessary connection with her brother, who was kind enough to let us shoot in his own house. Crisis averted.

  • What was the hardest artistic choice you made in the making of a film, at any stage in production?

I believe every little decision shapes the final result. Not only from the director but from anyone involved really. I can’t pin point one particular artistic choice that was hard per se. I was lucky enough to have the actors I wanted, the locations that I envisioned and a wonderful crew that worked way too hard. Everything else is not hard, it’s filmmaking.

  • You are a collaborator. How have you discovered members of your team and how do you keep the relationship with them strong?

As this was a student short, most of the team consisted of my fellow students. They were wonderful enough to spare their time and hard effort on this film and I am incredibly grateful to them. This relationship is of course fuelled by the love for film. So, during shooting, when everyone is bound to get cranky after working long hours, it always helps to keep the goal visible. Be it a really great shot, a really great performance or a spontaneous idea for a hard to execute but ultimately rewarding camera movement. It’s little things like that, that help keep up the morale of everyone on set.

  • What do audiences want? And is it the filmmaker’s role to worry about that?

People want to be engaged. That’s key. So, I think a filmmaker should always have in mind the audience. If you’re not making the next bazillion dollar blockbuster, you don’t have to worry about statistics and what they tell you the audience wants to see. But what you have to do is be aware that your work is made to be seen by people. Whatever that means to you. You can make an avant-garde experimental piece or an action-adventure comedy. The audience is there. And if you create with them in mind, it always makes a difference for the better.

  • What role have film festivals played in your life so far? Why are they necessary? How do you get the most out of them?

With “Meatballs”, which is my second short film, I have had a more extensive experience with film festivals. They are a great place to showcase your film and especially on the big screen, in a landscape that this is getting harder and harder to do so. Also, it is always magical to be around people that share your passion for all things regarding film. In their ideal form, festivals are a magnificent opportunity to watch movies of different formats, genres and cultures, exchange ideas with fellow filmmakers and expand your artistic and networking horizons.

  • Do you believe that a filmmaker should be original and fresh or he/she should stick to classic but safe cinema style?

Always try to be true to yourself. I don’t believe in originality. I find the term “original” as limiting as the “safe cinema style” you referred to. Don’t try to be fresh for the shake of being fresh and don’t try to adhere to the rules that they tell you, you should follow. Break the rules if you actually have something interesting to say by doing that. Stick to them if they serve your particular story and style. Do as your filmmaking instincts say. Do not copy trends. Serve as faithfully as you possible can your artistic instincts and the rewards will come.


BEST STUDENT SHORT FILM @ SHORT TO THE POINT – NOVEMBER 2018 AWARDS

Meatballs
Director: Chrys Barmpas
Country: Greece
Duration: 14:30
Synopsis: Panagiotis, a young introverted architect, is in the perfect relationship. Lena, his partner, embodies everything he desires, just like he discusses with a particularly attentive man in an office. But all the characteristics that once seemed heavenly to Panagiotis, now have become a living hell.

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