JULY 10 - JULY 13, 2024

Interview | Inspired

Movie name: Inspired
Director names: Nebal Shafi

 

 

Hello Nebal! Welcome to SIFF!

 

1.Inspired is definitely a great movie. What made you come up with this idea?

I believe my inspiration stemmed from my passion for the psychological thriller genre. I’ve always aspired to create one but with a unique twist. I aimed to tell a story about two characters who are complete opposites, yet one incident could make them alike.

 

2.Why did you select this story? What was the inspiration behind it?

I wanted to tell the story of a struggling artist who dreams of becoming like their idol. However, when he finally meets her, it’s nothing like he imagined. That was my starting point. As I delved deeper, I wanted the audience to empathize with Crystal to some extent, recognizing that her creativity stems from her victims, yet she can never reveal this to the world. These were my inspirations.

 

3.What were the challenges that you faced during the making of this movie?

When I was writing “Inspired,” I aimed to keep the story limited to a few locations to maintain a tight budget. We ended up shooting the entire film in just three days. This made for a challenging shoot, particularly when we had to film all the interior scenes in Crystal’s room in a single day, with a large number of pages to cover. Due to these constraints, we could only afford a maximum of two takes, and sometimes just one, before moving on. Fortunately, the cast came well-prepared, and their performances in those few takes were outstanding. To save time and streamline the process, we chose to use handheld shots throughout. It was a grueling day for everyone involved, with the crew feeling the strain of the demanding pace and workload by the end.

 

4.How do you navigate through an actor’s psychology to attain the performances?

I want to spend as much time as possible with my actors, helping them truly understand their characters—their backgrounds and the motivations behind their decisions. This allows the actors to fully immerse themselves in their roles. I believe in improvisation, especially given our limited time for “Inspired.” We rehearsed extensively, but I never forced the performances; I guided them instead. I set up Crystal’s room with all the props and let the actors naturally interact with the environment, based on what they felt their characters would do.

 

5.Do you think a director, writer, or filmmaker needs to understand psychology to make a great movie? Should psychology be a subject in filmmaking?

Absolutely, I believe that understanding psychology is incredibly beneficial, especially when it comes to writing characters. A deep comprehension of human nature allows characters to be more realistic and relatable within the story. When you grasp the intricacies of how people think and behave, the actions and decisions of your characters become more logical and believable. This understanding helps the audience to connect with and understand the characters’ choices on a deeper level. Given this, I think psychology should definitely be a subject in filmmaking, as it equips directors, writers, and filmmakers with essential tools for creating compelling and authentic narratives.

 

6.We are all inspired by this world. Do you think showing the dark side of inspiration will have a negative impact on the audience?

I don’t believe it will have a negative impact. People interpret stories in their own ways, as movies are entirely subjective experiences. In “Inspired,” for example, I aimed to convey that being inspired is a positive force, but it’s crucial to be inspired by the essence of the art, not to replicate it. Instead, one should create their own unique art. Your individual voice and perspective are what make you stand out. By showing the darker side of inspiration, we can emphasize the importance of originality and the potential pitfalls of trying to imitate someone else’s work too closely. This can ultimately encourage audiences to find and nurture their own creative voices.

 

7.Who is your personal inspiration?

I find inspiration in ideas. Brainstorming and expanding on those ideas is where I truly excel. When this project first began, it was just a simple concept about an artist fixating on someone. However, I didn’t want to create a typical stalker movie; I wanted something more profound. That’s when I realized I wanted the characters to mirror each other, but at different stages of their careers. From there, I kept building on this concept. This process is what inspires me the most—how one idea can lead to another. It’s like a domino effect: I start with a single concept, and soon, a whole world of possibilities unfolds before me.

 

8.Do you prefer horror and thrillers only? Any plans to explore documentaries?

Although most of my filmography consists of horror and thriller genres, I have a deep appreciation for all kinds of genres. Recently, I produced an LGBTQ film called “Cross,” which received rave reviews at festivals worldwide. I believe it depends on the subject matter. As a producer and director, I like to grasp the concept of an idea and determine which genre it fits best. This approach helps make a movie unique and allows me to avoid clichéd storytelling.

 

9.Any plans for the next project?

Right now, I’m working on two feature films and a short film. One of the features, “The Back Benchers,” is in its final draft stage. It’s a light-hearted, feel-good drama that I’m really excited about. I’m also co-writing my second feature, a psychological horror film that’s turning out to be quite intense. However, my most current project is a short film titled “Flower.” I’ve been heavily involved in this one—I produced it, co-directed it, and co-wrote it with my long-time partner, Hyunjin Lee. “Flower” is definitely my most ambitious project to date, with a significantly higher budget. The story is deeply personal, unique, and layered with a powerful theme. We’re aiming for a release by the end of 2024, and I couldn’t be more excited to share it with the world.

 

10.I hope you enjoyed working with us! How was your experience with SIFF?

The Sweden International Film Festival was an incredible experience, and I am truly honored that “Inspired” won Best Thriller at such a prestigious event. The recognition means a lot to me and the entire team. I am definitely planning to return to SIFF with my next movie and can’t wait to share more of my work with this fantastic festival.

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