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Barcelona Short Film Festival 2022

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How to  Film a Sigh

A short film on the wistful and melancholy side of growth. Film on Super 8 in Queens, New York.

Hi Claire, it’s great to be able to talk with you again. How to Film a Sigh has had a pretty impressive festival run, what has it meant to you to know that the film is being so warmly received?


I feel very happy that it seems to be connecting with people. This particular piece came out of a very transformative but challenging period of my life so it’s been special to have it also represent a celebratory season.


What does it mean to be back at Barcelona Short Film Festival this year with your latest film?


I’m thrilled. It was very meaningful to be a part of the festival in 2020 and it’s lovely to have the relationship continue.


How important a role do festivals like BSFF play in providing a platform for filmmakers and short films?


They play a huge role. As someone who creates video poetry, there are not a lot of venues for my work to be shown outside of festivals. The fact that there are festivals that program experimental and poetic work is so special. It’s very empowering to have the platform and connection.


How to Film a Sigh is your third poem film, what is it about this unique storytelling format that has connected with you so much?


I initially started creating video poetry because I wanted to go through the process of finishing a film. It’s much shorter so it’s very manageable in that regard. But I’ve written poetry for a long time and I think my poetry is stronger in the film format. I can set the mood and rhythm and use visuals to add to the story and feelings I’d like to convey.


Will you continue to make short poetry films, are there any other themes you are looking forward to exploring?


I think so. It’s funny because each time I’ve finished one, I’ve felt satisfied but also a little empty – like the creativity has left me and that’s that. But then life keeps going and I get new ideas. I tend to write about growth and love. My poems have a melancholy bent because those are often the emotions I need to take the most time to process or want to explain. But I’d love to make something funny or about friendship or something more political.


What was different in your approach to How to Film a Sigh compared to how you made Noche?


Noche took me a very long time to make – roughly a decade. I wrote the poem before I had any filmmaking skills and the visuals for it came years after I recorded its narrator reciting the poem. With How to Film a Sigh, I wrote a poem and then filmed intentionally for it. I also rewrote the poem to better fit the film. It took time but far less than Noche.

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"It can be very discouraging but Ive been realising how valuable that practice was for me. So I think, just keep making whats in you to make."

Where did the inspiration for How to Film a Sigh come from?


It’s autobiographical but broadly, the idea is how sometimes not getting what we want is so much better for us. But there’s still wistfulness in that process.


Was it challenging filming on Super 8?


Not at all – I started filming with Super 8 because filming with digital cameras intimidates me. Working with film feels more straightforward and has given me a lot of confidence behind the camera.


What are the first steps you take in preparation for making a new film?


For me, it all starts with the writing. If I like the poem or the story, then I will feel motivated to finish the film.


Were did your passion for filmmaking and storytelling come from?


I’m from Northern New York and I think growing up in a rural area without a lot of access to the arts made them feel all that more precious to me. I knew very early on that stories had a special power to connect people or help people through difficult situations.


What has been the most valuable lesson you have taken from making How to Film a Sigh and what does this film say about you as a filmmaker?


Trust your instincts. The film came together so much more quickly than I expected it to, I was hesitant to let it be finished but I knew it was ready. I think this says I’m gaining confidence as a filmmaker.


Do you have any advice, tips or suggestions you would offer an emerging filmmaker?


I’ve written and created a fair amount of pieces that have never seen the light of day – either because I didn’t want them to or because they didn’t go anywhere. It can be very discouraging but I’ve been realising how valuable that practice was for me. So I think, just keep making what’s in you to make. Don’t worry about a timeline. All the hours aren’t for nothing.


And finally, what message do you want your audiences to take from How to Film a Sigh?


I hope people feel a little less alone. Sometimes it can be very isolating to realise how much personal growth we have to do as humans but none of us are alone in it. Keep going. You’re not alone.

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