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Writer- Director of Dreams for Life, Anna Kannava

Film director Anna Kannava talks about the making of Dreams for Life…

READERSVOICE.COM: How did you meet up with the people on your crew, like the cinematographer, and where did the actors come from? Were they all met through casting? Were any of the crew already friends?

ANNA KANNAVA: Firouz Malekzadeh the cinematographer and I worked together on my previous film The Butler.

Firouz was the cinematographer of, amongst numerous Iranian films, The Runner, a film whose visual poetry stayed with me forever.

He started his film career with filmmakers such as his friends Bahman Farmanara and Abbas Kiarostami and has been awarded for his cinematography in major film festivals around the world.

In Australia, he was working on student films for nothing.

Several people had worked with the producer Aanya Whitehead before and many were young filmmakers wanting to have the working experience on the set.

Diana Mann, the casting agent, suggested Maria Mercedes, the actor playing Ellen, who was absolutely perfect for the role with her amazing presence and timing and who helped us choose Dai Paterson, in a way, because of the fantastic chemistry between Dai and herself that was evident to us.

RV: I heard the film was sent to Asia for printing, and I’ve heard the colors aren’t always exactly right when films come back.

AK: We sent the film to the Philippines to have it blown up to 35mm and make prints of it.

Colours don’t come out exactly right in Australia either and because the costs to do with the materials are so high the lab won’t make you another print unless there is a major problem.

Our first print was very blue but the audience loved it so Aanya and I figured the blue helped with the mood of the sadness.

The last print was corrected.

It was a brand new print when you saw it. I have yet to see it.
Maria Mercedes who has been so closely connected with the film has become a bit of an expert by now, and tells me it’s looking good.

RV: Where have you travelled in promoting the film?

AK: Only interstate. We have no budget for distribution so we have to fund the travel ourselves.

RV: Can you give any advice about pitfalls you’ve experienced in making this film, to new film-makers?

AK: Luckily not many pitfalls with this one.

We couldn’t afford them, so my advice to new film-makers is prepare beforehand as you have no time during the shoot.

It takes years to raise the money; use the time to know your film well.

Always have the best script and people working with you, and never compromise if you can help it.

RV: One of the film selectors for Cannes liked Dreams for Life. How did he come across it?

AK: There was a representative from Cannes in Australia looking at all the films.

Dreams was short-listed. He liked it very much and told us so. It was one of the handful he took with him from Australia.

We didn’t make it to Cannes in the end, but I was thrilled he liked it a nd said it had a universal story and he could identify with it.

RV: What was the process like working with your editor? Is this where most of the time in making the film was spent?

AK: Yes, during editing there is no real reason to hurry.

It was difficult to find an editor who was willing to work a day here and there.

The norm is to edit non-stop for the number of weeks budgeted and then the film is finished.

But editing is rewriting the film from scratch, from the material one ends up with.

We don’t hurry the script; why hurry the editing?

I have no money for many weeks of the editing, but at this stage, I have time, so I use it to think.

Post production along with writing are my favourite stages because they are more relaxed.

By the way, the editor was Jill Holt and she did a great job.

RV: What are your plans?

AK: I have written a novel called Stefanos of Limassol, set in Cyprus, I’d like to publish.

Also I’d like to write screenplays for other filmmakers and make even less expensive films with more freedom to take risks, and push the boundaries of filmmaking even further.

Film is a complex wonderful medium and a bit like the latest computers- we seem to only be concerned with only a very small percentage of what this amazing art is capable of.

Check out www.musicartsdance.com for more information about Dreams for Life.