Konstantina Kotzamani in constant metamorphosis

Konstantina Kotzamani in constant metamorphosis

Monday, March 14th 2016

With a program of four short films and her master class for the New Arrivals Campus, Konstantina Kotzaman is well represented at Go Short this year. We asked her about her style of filmmaking.

Your films have a very wide range of styles and moods. There seems to be little that links, say, Zodiac, Pigs and Washingtonia. How do you choose the style of your films? 

I somehow feel that there is a deeper connection between some films of mine. I also have to confess that I feel confident only when I find the main locations for my newborn ideas. After that, I can think of the rest... The space has a really strong impact on me and somehow imposes the style on me. I like filming a space in a way that there is no return- when you return to this place you feel it is not the same anymore. 

Thematically, your films have a wide range too. Are there types of stories you are drawn towards and if so, could you tell us why?

I feel that there are no topics or stories that I like to follow… It could be everything, I guess.  What excites me is the process of transforming a story to fit my cinematic world, transfigure character's places and time. In my last films I have drawn from faces, dark weird locations, poems, dreams and accidental sentimental links between all of them.  There is a Greek work that I like much, it's called Metamorphosis (a Greek collection of ancient myths, written by Ovid, red.).  Often when a character suffers or is in a dead-end in Greek mythology, Gods transform him into something else in order to be saved. I perceive  filmmaking and making up stories as a constant process of metamorphosis. There is something metaphysical in it. Maybe that's why my stories have a touch of a metaphysical world.   

On the films website you said you started filming Washingtonia without a script and more or less improvised that film while making it. You stated that you found this process particularly stimulating and befitting of your personality. Do you see this as the path you will take in the future and can you tell us what you like about this way of working?

Actually Washingtonia revealed a new way of directing. The locations, the faces of my characters somehow suggested to me the way and I followed it. Everything was going on rapidly, so I had to use my instincts really fast; create and link the different stories, and film at the same time. Maybe it sounds crazy but Washingtonia was made in less than 40 days -  the whole film.  The strong visual aspect carried the narration. I explored a new way of cinema that finally I felt more comfortable with. In a sense I trusted life, and I gave control to the accident. Before, I was writing a feature film for almost 2 years. After making Washingtonia I decided to quit because I felt it wasn't me anymore, though the subject still  sounds great. Maybe it is for someone else.  

Is there anything that draws you to the short film format? Would you also be interested in making feature length films?

Yes actually I am writing a feature at the moment. I am just at the beginning. But I quite enjoying making shorts, I mean sometimes an idea comes and I feel quite impatient: I want to do it now. I know very well that if this would be developed for a feature it would take at least 4 years of my life and this sounds quite frightening. But anyway I do not consider the short as only a path to the feature film. They are just different sizes of the same art. I can easily imagine myself going from one to the other.

Your last two shorts, Washingtonia and Yellow Fieber, have more than a few similarities. Could you tell us how they are related? 

Yellow Fieber was born through Washingtonia or co-existed in my head even before. Yellow Fieber was a kind of experiment for me. I edited among the material that I got from Washingtonia. I started editing myself and played with the material, because I felt that there was so much hidden sleeping power in it. There are many parts that I didn't use and many ideas I left behind while filming Washingtonia. There was this duet of Characters Madame Ellie and Mamadu Dialo, that I wanted to dig deeper into and extract more from. 

You are going to talk to future film makers on our Campus about setting up a film production. What problems have you faced when trying to get your projects financed?

I think that the most difficult is the pitching part, especially for more visually oriented filmmakers.  Somehow you feel you have to prove yourself every time and appear with weapons that you don’t even care to use. People are looking for the climax or the third act in your scripts though you are talking in a different language. It is like trying to talk with another person at the opposite riverside in a windy afternoon... Not much space is given to filmmakers and brave artists. Cinema is conceived more as a market than as an art that speaks to people. You have to reinvent your project only for convincing... There is a lot of danger of losing yourself. 

Is there any advice you ever got on filmmaking that you would like to share with the filmmakers of tomorrow?

During the shooting of Washingtonia, a close friend told me, “don't be afraid”... When he told me that I realized that I was in a misty panic before.  

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