NEIL PARMAR is a writer, director, producer and editor who has worked on many short films and is currently working as the editor on the feature film Junction Six. We spoke to him about ‘Reflexions’, the latest short from Red Mosquito films. It’s a piece of experimental cinema written by Nick John Whittle which gives a snapshot of six people’s lives through what appears at first glance to be disjointed narrative. However, the structure is not as complex as it seems. As each person presents his or her secrets it soon becomes apparent that the characters are not disparate and have much in common, even relational. Throughout, only we are the inquisitor and as such privy to the interconnected stories of six broken individuals and one entity.
What sort of themes do you explore in the film?
Ultimately, the film explores the complications of being human in today’s society and how our relationships with other people shape our feelings, whether they are happy or sad feelings. If there was one thing I wanted to have with this film, it was a cast of 5 or 6 characters that explore a range of different emotions, therefore there is a range of themes explored within.
Tell us a bit about how the film came about?
I had recently watched a video essay on Vimeo that explored how characters in films are often at their most vulnerable when they are alone in front of a mirror. It looked at how women will cry in front of a mirror, where a man will smash and break. I loved this idea therefore I simply jotted down the basic idea (in bullet points) and listed character types i.e. ‘Cheating Woman’, ‘Man in Love’ etc. I then sent the notes to scriptwriter Nick John Whittle and he came back with the script complete with a story arc with for these characters.
How did you fund the film?
The budget was very minimal, as all Red Mosquito productions are. The equipment we used was our own; the locations were spread between my own house and Nick’s house. The actors all worked for free. The music throughout the film is royalty free. I’m actually struggling to think if we spent any money specifically for Reflexions.
In all your films, to what extent does money become a barrier? How do you overcome it?
Obviously without any real budget, you are restricted to using what you have access to. This could be why I took on so many roles to produce this film (producer, director, cinematographer, editor). I’m so used to figuring things out without a budget that the question of do we need to spend anything rarely comes up because we are already know that spending money is the last thing we want to do.
What challenges did you encounter when making the film?
This shoot was actually one of the most relaxed shoots I’ve ever been apart of. It could be that most of the time the crew was very minimal and it was generally very straightforward as we had easy access to all the locations and scenes were fairly simple to shoot. All the actors were well prepared with script and gave great performances, so there was very little time wasted.
What, if anything, did you learn while making the film?
By the time we went into production for Reflexions we had already worked with most of the cast in previous productions. Therefore casting was very straightforward and relaxed. As there was a relationship there already, everything felt comfortable on set and that relaxed environment brought out the best performances. I knew this already but it really came in to fruition when producing Reflexions. Good relationships create enjoyable productions, in my opinion.
What are you hoping to achieve with ‘Reflexions’?
Just to make a film I’m proud of and better the last production. We are going to enter into festivals and try and get it screened anywhere and everywhere but ultimately, I just wanted to make a good film. Festival entries, wins and any other accolades are a nice bonus. I do feel like I have achieved what I set out for.
There are a wide number of festivals these days in which you can submit short films. How do you decide which are best to go for?
I have no real preference. When on filmfreeway, I just enter it into where I feel like it could be appreciated. Oh and where it’s not too expensive to enter!
Interview by Phil Slatter