London based Sapphires Model Management director Neely Reyes didn’t look far for casting. For her first short film, co-directed with Mark Minors, she sought her own agency’s models. In a very cool and fun surprise, the seven minute film will be screened at the Austin International Short Film Festival and the Santa Monica Independent Film Festival.
How can you fit in a large story into a seven minute film?
With a lot of difficulty! Basically we came up with an idea and kept subtracting and subtracting from the script until we had something that could be filmed in seven minutes. The short film format is all about capturing a small piece of a bigger story and I think we did that quite well. It is tough because obviously you create these characters and you’d like to develop them and let the audience learn more about them, but you just can’t do that so you really have to be strict with the story that you want to tell.
When you sought models from your agency to act in the short, how did you discriminate the audition process so you found the right people for the roles? Because you know everyone so well, it must have been more difficult than a normal casting to say someone was better for a part.
Well surprisingly, not all the models want to be actors. The good thing about being a boutique agency is that I get to know my models quite well and find out what they want to do with their careers. So I actually wrote this film with the models I knew wanted to do it in mind. The original lead guy was more difficult because we ended up changing the actor about three times due to various problems, but my lead female was always going to be Katrina. She has a lot of skills that I wanted in the film and she was the one I had in mind from day one…In fact the working title of the film was ‘Katrina’ all through pre-production!
How did you use your styling experience for making a short film?
My styling experience meant that I had a very strong idea of what I wanted the film to be like visually. I had all the costumes and sets planned out in my head from the moment the script was written, which meant that I didn’t need to rely on other people to do the work for me. I worked closely with the costume and production departments to make sure that the film looked as good as it did in my mind.
What does fashion have in common with other art forms?
Fashion, like all art forms is about coming up with an idea in your mind, developing it and then turning into a physical product for others to enjoy. Whether it’s writing a book or designing a dress, it all starts with that one person coming up with that inspirational spark of creativity and then turning it into something real.
How might have your film be different if it were longer?
If the film was longer we would certainly have developed the characters more, especially the leading male as at the moment the whole film centers around Katrina’s performance. Actually, the original script did have a lot more screen time for the male character, but we had lots of problems on the day of the shoot and ended up shooting half of what we planned.
What have you learned from your first time submitting to festivals that you can share with our friends who may have the same ambition?
If you have a good idea then just go for it! It’s cheaper and easier than ever to get hold of equipment to make films that look really professional. That said, now that it’s so easy to do there are literally thousands of talented people out there creating some amazing work, so make sure that you don’t sacrifice on things like story, costumes and set design as these are the things that elevate a short film to the next level.