ŽubrOFFka 2016. Short Talk with Natalia Siwicka

At this year’s ZubrOFFka International Short Film Festival, “Yellow Bread” had the opportunity to talk to the young up-and-coming Polish director Natalia Siwicka about her short film “16.03” as well as short films in general and the Polish short film scene.

Can you talk about your background? How did you get into filmmaking?

Natalia Siwicka: I guess I have always dreamt of directing. First – this was still in high school – I thought about stage directing. In the end, I ended up in film school (the National Polish Film School in Łodz). Films were much closer to my heart and, as a viewer, gave me most of the emotions that have stayed with me to this day.

If I understood correctly, you have worked with Tomasz Wasilewski and Anna Jadowska?

N.S.: Yes, among others. I worked with Tomasz Wasilewski on his features “Floating Skyscrapers” and “United States of Love”. With Anna Jadowska, I worked on the set of “Wild Roses” which will premiere in 2017. Working with such great directors is a great experience for every emerging director; I am glad I had the opportunity to work with them.

“16.03” is your 2nd short, is that correct? How did it come about? What prompted you to make it?

N.S.: My fist short, titled “Wanna” was shot at school, as a practical exam for one of our courses. The script for “16.03” was inspired by an urban legend “everyone” spoke about at my film school; this dates back to, I think, 2007 or 2008. Of course, at that time, we passed the story around as if it really happened to one of our friends’ friend, truly believing in it. This became an inspiration to write a script in which I wanted to travel through the story in real time, to capture the emotion of a person confronted with this situation. That’s why I decided to shoot in master-shot and have no interference (like, for instance, editing) in the situation, and just let us truly go along with the emotions of the protagonist.

Can you talk about the shooting process?

N.S.: The shooting process was short, but the preparation took more than half a year. One of our biggest challenge was to find the location that was suitable for the film. By this, I mean three locations that were not far from each other as this determined the length of the short. Of course, there were many restrictions we had to deal with. As soon as we found the suitable locations, I spent every possible moment with my committed DOP Yann Seweryn, going through the exact shots we wanted. We knew we would be able to have only ONE shooting day! So, everything needed to be prepared perfectly. Putting the choreography together was the last part of our preparation. Having an experience as 1st AD, this was the easiest part. The day before the shoot, we had a few hours of rehearsal with the whole crew.

What is your opinion on short films? Do you consider it as a practice for the first feature film as many filmmakers do? Is it a luxury?

N.S.: Shorts are very important, not only as a practice before features, but they also because they let you discover yourself much more. It’s always a luxury to be able to make your film. My experience with “16.03” is one of the greatest lessons so far; one that I would have never read about, or have been taught at school. It was real life practice – from the time I had the script ready to this moment, doing this interview with you –. I am very happy I had this opportunity.

What is your opinion on the Polish short film scene?

N.S.: I think we have very talented young directors. Each of them is a strong individual, something you can actually see in their films.

What are your next projects? Are you working on a new short film?

N.S.: I am working on my full length feature now and I hope that the next time we have an occasion to speak, it will be about my next project.

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