Shubhi Sahmi
Screening Session: BLOCK 3  
3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival Online
22-28 Feb 2021 | Tickets £5 / £10 Full 7-Day Pass: bit.ly/PRFF-Tickets
  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook
  • Email

Shot on an iPhone in isolation, a filmmaker paints an intimate portrait of her relationship with anxiety.

Hi Shubhi thank you for talking to TNC, how are you holding up during these very strange times?

I’m doing well! Or as well as anyone can be during these times. 

Has this time offered you any creative inspiration?

Yes, I made my short film, Burn, which was selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival in isolation this past summer. I didn’t have many resources so I decided to shoot and record audio for the film on my iPhone. Leaning into my limitations allowed me to create something I normally never would have.

Congratulations on having your film selected for the 3rd Papaya Rocks Film Festival, what does it mean to you to be part of such an amazing lineup of short films?

Thank you! It’s pretty exciting to be selected for Papaya Rocks. It will be the international premiere for Burn and my first time having a film screen at a festival outside of Canada.

Can you tell me a little bit about Burn, how did this film come about?

This short film really came out of the heightened anxiety I experienced in isolation this past year. I wanted to make a film where I could contemplate my relationship with anxiety and offer a nuanced look at its impact on my life. For me, anxiety is mundane and complex; it’s alive in everyday experiences and exists alongside happiness, frustration, confusion, and a melody of other emotions.

What were the biggest challenges you faced bringing your film to life?

The biggest challenge was shooting without a crew and actors. This was my first foray into the documentary genre and a lot of the time I was just making things up as I went. I loved the freedom of shooting on my own but it was definitely challenging to direct, shoot, and be the actor/subject of certain scenes by myself.

Looking back, is there anything you would have done differently on this film?

In some ways, I think I was quite safe with this film. The project was something that I knew I could accomplish with the restraints I was working with. In the future, I want to push myself to be more ambitious and try to achieve things that I think may not be possible or difficult to pull off. 

Where did your passion for filmmaking come from?

I never grew up loving films or knowing that I would be a filmmaker one day. I was always a big reader and thought that if I did anything creative, I would become an author. In university, I ended up majoring in Media Studies and took a television class. It was through this class that I became intrigued and excited by the idea of collaborative visual storytelling. I decided after graduating university that I wanted to work in film and television but I didn’t know where to begin. It took me a whole year to figure out that I was interested in writing and directing. After making my first film and working on the sets of other emerging filmmakers, I knew I was hooked. Nothing feels more important or fulfilling to me.

What has been some of the best advice you’ve been given?

Don’t wait until you feel ‘ready’ to start. The open secret is that no one ever feels ready or really gets over imposter syndrome. The only way to learn is by doing.  

"I urge you to trust your instinct and see where it takes you."

Should filmmakers continue to push the boundaries of the films and stories they want to tell?

Definitely, that’s how we get bold impactful stories. I think anyone trying something new or risky is courageous and worth watching.

Do you have any tips or advice you would offer a fellow filmmaker?

It feels odd to offer advice as someone just getting started but I would tell other filmmakers to trust their gut. You may have ideas or choices that you can’t seem to explain but just know are right. I urge you to trust your instinct and see where it takes you.

And finally, what do you hope people will take away Burn?

I hope my film allows others to gain a better understanding of what anxiety is. I made this film because I never felt that television shows or films accurately portrayed my experiences with anxiety. I hope Burn can enrich others perspectives and offer another take on what anxiety can be like.

© 2021 The New Current