Case Study: STAR Catherina Iosifidis' short film is part of the SHIFT Short Film Competition.
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Case Study: STAR

Catherina Iosifidis' short film is part of the SHIFT Short Film Competition.

Catherina Iosifidis graduated from the AKV St. Joost in Breda. She is the writer and director of the short coming-of-age film STAR. So far, the film won the St. Joostpenning and got selected for both national and international film festivals. She is now working as a freelance director and filmmaker.

"Even though you end up regretting a decision, at least you made it and it wasn't someone else telling you what to do."

28 augustus 2020

A personal dance

"I did research on different subjects and themes for my graduation film and got a bit stuck in the beginning. I wanted to make something that would be close and personal to me. When I was a teenager I went to dance class and then I got the idea to write a story that takes place in this arena: a dance school." 

"I wrote the story myself and soon the storyline came together piece by piece. I received feedback from many people, other classmates and our teachers at that time. I remember that they told me that the script was very good, but I didn't like it and rewrote and developed it another 10 times. I believe that it helped me in the process of making the film, I actually followed my inner gut and was very critical to myself."

"I also worked on the script with my producer, Naduah Zahradnik, who also really helped me a lot. After the script was finished, I started collecting my crew, which was very stressful because I had to use people outside of my graduation class. I found my DOP Eva Heinsbroek quite early in the process and we worked together on the shotlist. We visited the location for the scenes that should take place in the dressing rooms in order to make the shot list. It really helped us to actually be in the room where we were going to film the scenes. It helped us to visualize how we wanted the scene to be. However, it was a tougher job than I expected. You can tell a story in so many different ways."

Let's dance

"Through my producer I got in contact with the main lead, Siena Verber. I immediately thought that she would fit for the role of Stella. She is not an actress, but a great dancer and studies at the AHK in Amsterdam. Through her we got access to a dance studio at her school in order to film there." 

"We shot the film in two different locations. For both locations we had limited time to shoot. I remember that the first day went very well and easy. The second shooting day didn't go as smoothly as we would have liked. In addition, on the third day we messed up a scene in which Stella wore other clothes than she was supposed to wear. I had a mental breakdown but I knew everything would be okay in the end. I collected my thoughts and on the last day of shooting we did all the scenes, that we had messed up, all over again. In the end we had all the scenes we needed."

"During the shooting process I let go of the script. I knew it was already in my head and I directed the actors and scenes based on my intuition. If I felt that something wasn't working or didn't feel right, I changed it right away or I tried something different. Sometimes I asked my DOP what she thought because we both knew the story and the way we wanted to tell it."

Kill your darlings

"I edited the film with Marre Bonke. It was a lot of fun editing it and to see the story I had on paper grow into a real film. I remember that we really got stuck in a scene in which Stella and her rival Maud are dancing and fighting with each other. We didn't know how we were going to go from one moment to the next because the colors of that scene also changed. Eventually it all worked out. We also deleted some of the scenes and shots. I remember deleting my DOP’s favorite shot of the movie. It was a beautiful shot but it didn't quite fit into the film as a whole. The filming style was quite messy and raw. The shot I deleted was very beautiful in composition but it didn't make sense to place it into the film. Always kill your darlings."

"A fun fact about the film is that I finally decided to not use any music at all. I worked with a group of composers who made music for the dance scenes. But it didn't sound right. The focus was on the music and not on the inner struggle of the main character. I remember calling my composer in order to tell him that I wouldn't use the music they made so far. Luckily he understood where I came from and wanted the best for the end result as well. I'm glad I made that decision because I think it's a courageous choice to make as a director. Eventually, it's what sets this dance film apart from other dance films."

A rising star

"The film was screened at various national and international film festivals. It was screened at the International Dance Film Festival of Bucharest and at Izmir International Short Film Festival. In the Netherlands the film was selected and nominated by Cinekid for Best Dutch Short Live Action. Last year I won the St. Joost Medal, a prize that my school AKV St. Joost awards to one graduation project each college year."

"My advice to other directors would be to follow your intuition. Listen to people's advice and feedback but eventually you have to do what you think is best. Even though you end up regretting a decision, at least you made it and it wasn't someone else telling you what to do. This is a learning process that no school, book or teacher can give you. Make bold moves and be confident in telling your story."


Short Film Competition 2
September 12, 18.00-19.30, Online

Get your free viewing-link here

(c) All visual material is used with the filmmaker's permission.

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