Case Study: About Me

Producer Maryam Tarami on the production of About Me.

Producer Maryam Tarami talks about the production of About Me, a short film by Ali Asgari.

How the idea started and script was developed

“I knew some girls in the Netherlands who had to do a virginity test. They have a migration background and it is normal in their culture. I think it can be tough sometimes for the girls and wanted to shed light on it. I wanted to make this film for women empowerment. Director Ali Asgari also heard about a girl in Italy. He adapted the concept to the Netherlands.”

“Ali wrote the script. He wrote three drafts. We consulted a lot of professionals for the script development. From conversations with doctors to other professionals at the Dutch Society of Obstetrics and Gynaecology. The whole procedure of doing a virginity test in the Netherlands had to be clear. The way the doctor in our film formulates her sentences is exactly how professionals expressed themselves. The script development went smooth and Ali and I were on the same page about the story. Ali wrote the script in English then we translated everything to Dutch.”

The production process and COVID-19 challenges

“The production process was multifaceted. It was a lot of fun, because a young diverse team came together to do what they love. This project was an international collaboration so we learned many new things from each other. From filmmaking elements to cultural elements. Think of experiencing a new filmmaking style to dealing with different cultural norms and values.”

“There were also challenges. This is because we started the pre-production right when the world reopened from the COVID-19 pandemic. I think we had to wait since 2020, because of the lockdowns. Once the world reopened, we were unsure if there was going to be another lockdown anytime soon so we started with a relatively short pre-production. The virus was less aggressive during this 8me, but many people were still getting infected of which some of our crew members. Unfortunately we had to replace some people very last minute. I think we postponed the shooting for a week, because of last minute changes.”

“Another challenge was finding a big hospital location for some of our scenes. You can imagine that hospitals and similar type of locations were hesitant to receive a big group during a pandemic. Real estate companies were also sceptical to rent their buildings for only a few days. Setting up a contract would costs too much money. Some argued that film crews make a mess of the location. There was a hospital set that could be rented, but the hallways were too small and Ali did not like that. It took us a long 8me to find the right hospital location and get the permission to shoot.”

Festival distribution

“We had our world premiere at the Warsaw Film Festival end of October 2022. Our United States premiere was at the Palm Springs International ShortFest end of June 2023. We had good screenings in different countries so far with Q&A's. In this way, we can also experience how the audience receives the film and maybe learn something relevant. Our director of photography (Yavuz Selim Isler) is very active in visiting film festivals both to network and promote the work. He noticed that the audience at PÖFF Shorts in Estonia was very different from Poland. The subject of our film was something new and shocking in Estonia, while in Poland they recognized the issue.”