5 questions with Pull director, Haya Waseem at the half-way mark.
Saturday, January 28th, 2017
1Hi Haya! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First this is such a beautiful film, what was the initial seed that made you want to make it? Thank you for having me! The stories I explore in my films always seem to be a combination of different pieces around me; things that intrigue me; that I don't understand entirely.
With Pull, it started with this girl I noticed at the gym. I couldn't stop watching her. There was something in her confidence as she worked out that really struck me and I became intrigued by my draw towards her. I also live in a condo which can be strangely isolating even though you're living among hundreds of people. So I started to weave those ideas together and I started to imagine a girl who's new to the city and alone in a condo jungle and where her loneliness and admiration could lead her.
The kiss goodbye encapsulated this strange emotional space for me where you're left with a certain dissatisfaction, yet being grateful for the beautiful memories of that one serendipitous night.
That undefined moment is what ultimately drew me into making the film.
2You wrote, directed and edited this film. They say the first draft of the film is the script, the second draft is the shoot and the final draft is the edit. I'm curious which part of the filmmaking process you feel holds the most weight? I would have to say the edit. My background is in documentary editing and that's probably where the influence comes from; digging through material, finding the structure and shaping the story.
All the phone calls and the voice over came through the editing phase and I wouldn't have been able to come up with that idea until I started cutting the footage together. And, of course, the structure changes in the edit as well, which I find is only possible in that phase, and critical in shaping the overall story. To some, the editing stage might seem limiting because you've already shot what you have to work with and there's only so much you can do, but I always find there to be a great wave of freedom and inspiration that emerges at that stage and I love that!
3They say that a director should always have an editor because they get too attached to the footage. Since you edit a lot for other directors, I'm curious if you feel an editor is absolutely necessary for a director and why you chose to edit this film yourself? I think it totally depends on the director and the editor and the project. I have cut for other directors and other editors have cut for me. At the end of the day, some directors just don't have the nuance of editing within them and it's necessary for them to have an outsider perspective not only on the story but on pace and structure as well; Someone who is able to suggest changes in a way that no one else is able to do without playing with the content in the edit suite.
I cut my own films because I communicate best that way. I think in pace, and colour, and sound, and editing allows me to express myself in the most precise way. Cutting a montage and reacting to the image and sound is so intuitive and it really comes out of me if I am physically practicing it. When it's something I have written and directed and been so intimate with, I almost feel like editing is an extension of that same branch. I think because my editor's brain is quite primary, I don't have an attachment to footage, in fact, I find it the most satisfying to shift and change and to find a place where it feels RIGHT. That's the best part, no matter how you get there. I can get there if I sculpt!
4Your two leads (Paula Brancati, Chloe Rose) have such a great chemistry and create such a beautiful tension. How did you find these two and what was it about them that made you want to cast them? What was it like working together? Paula and I worked closely on a feature film where I was the editor and Paula was the actor and producer. We developed a great relationship and at the time, I was writing Pull. Paula and I started talking about the film and we both got excited about the possibility of working together and it was Paula who suggested Chloe to me. They had worked together before and Chloe was also in the feature I was cutting so I was familiar with her as well. When we all sat down to talk about the film, it was funny because Chloe is quieter and Paula is more outgoing and the roles almost seemed reversed, but that's ultimately what created that chemistry I think. Paula and Chloe were working together but not as themselves, but versions of themselves that they pulled from each other. I remember there being a moment when we were shooting around Toronto for the night out before we would roll Paula would be making Chloe laugh with her stories and as soon as the camera would roll it was as though they swapped positions. It was a great pleasure working with Paula and Chloe. They created a spark that carried the whole film.
5What's next? What's next!! I am writing my first feature at the moment. It's an expansion of my first short film, Shahzad, which screened at TIFF this year. I am very excited by the team and the story.
I was also a part of Norman Jewison's Director's Lab at the Canadian Film Centre over the past six months, which was a great learning experience, and I'm developing a new short film to continue to try out different sensibilities and experiment with my craft.
Hopefully, more films, more creative risks, more cinema, is what's next!
About the Interviewer: Ben Hicks
Ben Hicks is a writer/director and co-founder of Fandependent Films. Ben is currently working on making Fandependent Films awesome and is finishing up his first feature film entitled Kids Go Free to Fun Fun Time which was selected for the 2017 IFP Narrative Lab.
The film with the most fans wins $1,000
For 2017 we are moving on from screening feature films and will be showcasing shorts.
For our Winter 2017 Festival, we are giving away $2,000 in prizes to the top three films.
The film with the most fans.
The film with the most views.
Our favorite film.
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Please share Pull with your friends and help this filmmaker win!