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Lonely Wolf International
Film Festival 2022 
Interview

An isolated hotel, a dark and stormy night, three strangers and one lingering question: What exactly happened in Room 36?

 

Hello Kiana, it’s great to get to talk with you, how have you been keeping after everything that’s been happening?

 

Thank you, likewise. I’m quite alright, even though it can be rather scary when the daily news start resembling a dystopian film.

 

Have you been able to remain positive and creative at least?

 

Yes, I think so. I always try to, especially in the face of things that are out of my control.

 

You have had a great festival run with The Strange Incident in Room 36, picking up multiple nominations and awards, did you imagine you would get such a warm response for this film?

 

Never in a million years! This is my very first project as a director and as a writer, and it truly came about on a whim. The fact that people are enjoying and praising it to such an extent is incredibly heartwarming, beautiful and encouraging to me. I’m very grateful.

 

Congratulations on your nomination at Lonely Wolf and your win in the Best Streaming Series or Pilot Episode category with The Strange Incident in Room 36, what has it meant to you to get this type of recognition?

 

Thank you so much! It’s been absolutely wonderful. Lonely Wolf is such a passionate festival with a true love for filmmakers that really shines through. There is so much amazing work out there, so to not only be selected but actually win is a huge honour.

 

What do you hope to take away from your experience at Lonely Wolf?

 

I’m happy that our project is being introduced to more people and hope they’ll find enjoyment in our little story and the way we’ve decided to tell it. I also really love watching everyone else’s films and connecting with other filmmakers. I’ve already discovered some short films that completely blew me away.

 

How important are festivals like Lonely Wolf in championing and supporting the short indie filmmakers?

 

Extremely important. In this industry you can often be made to feel like you are not part of the club. Festivals like Lonely Wolf can put you on the map and make people realize that your voice is in fact valid and worthy of being heard.

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Can you tell me how The Strange Incident in Room 36 came about, what was it about murder mysteries that interested you so much?

 

I’ve always had a great affection for murder mysteries and the atmosphere they are able to create. There is something so incredibly cozy about following an investigation from the comfort and safety of your own home, and the ones I love the most combine a multitude of genres. They are both thrilling and funny, adventurous and romantic. There isn’t much of that out there today, so I started to craft the kind of story that I would like to see myself. The idea was initially created as a rough outline for a feature film. I imagined a ‘locked room mystery’ set in a European Grand Hotel filled with a colourful cast of suspicious characters and two amateur investigators who are the only ones who actually believe that a murder took place. I told my close film friends about my idea and next thing I know I’m creating mood boards and scouting locations. And then we ended up shooting a condensed opening to my story at the gorgeous Myer’s Hotel in Berlin, which we were only able to do because it was rather empty due to the pandemic. The timing was exactly right for it.

How close did you like to keep to your screenplay, did you allow yourself and your cast much flexibility?

 

The words in the script weren’t altered at all. They were written in a very distinct and slightly heightened tone to help convey the exact feeling I was after. We did have a slight flexibility with the shots however and sometimes even had to work around certain problems. Luckily I had my amazing director of photography Tim Strecker, who was able to make everything come to life in the most beautiful way.

 

Being writer, director and lead actress must have been challenging, how did you balance these roles on this project and would you do it again?

 

Yes, it was very overwhelming at times. I felt such a huge level of responsibility and had to be aware of everything at once, especially because I was also acting as producer. We had also set very ambitious goals for ourselves and were filming many shots per day, which meant we were constantly running out of time. I never wanted my actors to feel pressure, so I tried to give them all the time they needed and instead cut down on the number of takes during my own performance. Thankfully, I had my incredibly talented editor Andy Kaczé on set, who would keep an eye on the monitor and tell me if I needed to adjust anything. As for your second question: yes, I would do it again. I’ve learned so much during this first project and think I can have things run much more smoothly in the future. I would get a producer though.

 

What was the message you wanted to convey with this film, do yo think you have achieved it?

 

I’m not sure if every film needs to necessarily convey a message. My usual desire as an audience member is to be transported to a different world and experience an interesting and engaging story that is told with love. And I do think we’ve succeeded with that.

 

What was the hardest scene for you to film?

 

Initially we wanted to employ the classical Hollywood technique of a moving master as much as possible throughout the film, which means moving the camera around the room in long takes, instead of cutting different shots together extensively. But since we mostly worked in tight spaces and under time constraints, this proved to be almost impossible. The final scene however is shot in one continuous take. We had planned to cover that scene from multiple angles, but when I saw it on the monitor and noticed how beautifully the movement of the camera and that of us actors came together I asked my crew: “What do you think about doing it all in one take?” Everyone got really excited at the thought of it and we ended up perfecting that one scene for the rest of the day. It’s my favourite part in the film.

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"Most people don’t have any idea what they’re doing, yet they do it anyway."

Have you always had a passion for filmmaking and how has your background as an actress helped you write and direct The Strange Incident in Room 36?

 

I’ve certainly always had an immense passion for film, which is why I became an actress. I wanted to be fully immersed in those worlds. My intense love for film is what made The Strange Incident in Room 36 possible. It allows me to appreciate things most other people wouldn’t notice, and draw from them for my own work.

 

Are there any themes you’re looking to explore with future films?

 

A common theme in the films that I enjoy the most is a discovery of something bigger than yourself, whether that be good or bad. So maybe that’s what I’ll explore in the future.

 

Do you have any tips or advice to offer fellow writer/director or actor?

 

Only that they shouldn’t listen to me. Most people don’t have any idea what they’re doing, yet they do it anyway. Why not you?

 

And finally, what would you like audiences to take away from The Strange Incident in Room 36?

 

I would like them to be intrigued and entertained. And hungry for more.