Timeless Awards: Would you like to write us something about yourself?
Saman Hosseinpuor: My name is Saman Hosseinpuor, I am an independent filmmaker from Kurdistan of Iran. I am a Kurdish filmmaker, who lives in Kurdistan of Iran. I started my filmmaking career when I was sixteen years old, I did almost every kind of jobs in film industry, I made my first short film in 2013 and that was the start of making films as a writer and director.
TA: What is it like to be an independent filmmaker in Iran? I am asking from EU citizen perspective, so my knowledge of economic and political realities is just not there.
SH: Well, to be honest with you, it is a bit difficult. There is no money to make films in here; art and cinema are the very last things to think about in Iran, but filmmakers still manage to find money somewhere and make their films. For instance, with one of my films I had an Indian Producer, with another one I had a friend – an actress from Iraq – and she helped me to make ends meet with the budget. Currently, inside of Iran it is extremely hard to find money; there are some organizations for funding, but if your project is finally given a green light after a challenging game, they will give you thirty percent of your budget, and the rest should be paid by you or by another investor.
TA: Why film?
SH: Why not! For me, this is an area where you are invited to forget about your ordinary self and experience a whole new world that might seem like better than the current world, but surely is different. Film can change people to a better version of themselves.
TA: How do you work? Would you like to share your creative process with us?
SH: Well, it has been for years since I collaborate with my dear friend Ako. We made three short films, producing, and directing them together, and we are in the pre-production of our short new film in Tehran. For us, the most creative part is in the process of writing the script. After that, we are only the script implementers.
TA: What inspire you? How do you work with the first idea, what do you usually do to expand it into a work of art?
SH: Life is the source of my ideas, sometimes there is just one scene that really gets into my brain! And after that, I think about it, sometimes every day, and I try to find the story, for example my last script is about an old woman trying to find her son, and I really liked the result and the script, so I had this scene in my mind since I have seen it in real life – an old woman sitting in a bus, going to the city from a village. I started to wonder what the story of this sad old women can be, why is she going to the city, and after few months of thinking, writing, and thinking, and writing, I drafted the story and I really liked it.
TA: Impressive is use of color in your film. And the slow, hypnotic pace. Cinematography follows this atmosphere beautifully with a profound respect to details, emotions and time passing. This is clearly an apposite to what we mainly see in cinemas or tv screens.
SH: Well, color has a key role in the film, and red has its meaning in this film. We think this is very cinematic – using images to tell the story and if color has its role, a special appearance in the film, that is more cinematic and dramatic. We wanted to use the best ways of telling a story using images, in a visual way, with image, color, and shapes.
TA: What equipment did you use?
SH: For “The Other” we used ARRI ALEXA Classic camera, which is a bit obsolete, but the cinematographer, my good friend Hamed Baghaeian is a brilliant cinematographer and he managed to record shots and frames not only beautiful but matching the story perfectly. We did not have good equipment, the camera was quite old, and the lights were not working correctly, I am sure had we had a different DOP instead of Hamed, then we would have had problems with the equipment.
TA: And what software?
SH: For editing, we used Adobe Premiere, like almost everyone else. For color grading we used DaVinci Resolve.
TA: Tell us about key decisions you made and their substantial influence on how your film looks and feels on the screen.
SH: This is an extremely hard question because there are many choices in the process of making a film and all of them are equally important, like choosing the cast and the crew, actors, DOP, assistants, and the list goes on. But I think my big decision in my career was deciding to work with my dear friend Ako Zandkarimi, which totally change my perspective and my cinema. It is not easy at all to find a person to work with as the directors of a film, in our case team job are always better, I mean the result is better, and we tried it three times and the result was good, I think. We both love cinema, and we write scripts for other people. It is a wonderful experience to make film with another person and in the way to learn a lot by it. And if you can produce good ideas together and if this is how such a cooperation works, that is great.
TA: Do you have some of your works available online?
SH: Yes, I do have, but they are old works, and I am not so proud of them. I mean, I have learned a lot by the process of making them, but at all I do not like my films being shown online because you need to watch films in the cinema, movie theaters, I think. This is how you enter another world.