7 questions with Vows director, Tal Zagreba at the half-way mark.
Wednesday, July 26th, 2017
1Hey Tal! Thanks for being a part of our festival. First, I must say I loved this film. What was the initial seed that started it? Thank you so much, this film loves you too. I wanted to depict two perspectives around the same emotionally charged situation. At the beginning the camera follows Amos, the protagonist, on his journey to break the news to his wife Orit. In the second part the camera follows Orit, who realizes her husband wants to leave her, as they walk down, hand in hand, towards their vows renewal ceremony.
I wanted to turn VOWS into a poetic, emotionally charged film, thin in words and rich with semantic expression. The design of the space is universal - a glamorous, jaw dropping house - clean lines, no family portraits on the wall. A cold, externalized wealth. The wedding could seem like an upper echelon event. And yet, it is a mere backdrop for the main drama occurring behind closed doors.
2The screenplay by Tal Miller is incredible. How did you discover the script and what was it about it that made you want to direct it? “Vows” is based on a true story that happened to Tal Miller, the film’s talented screenwriter and producer, and one of my closest friends. Couple of years ago he organized a surprise silver-wedding party for his parents: they came home and were astonished to find 80 of their nearest and dearest in the back yard, among them was the Rabbi who married them twenty five years prior. Tal told me that what is etched in his memory more than anything is the look on his father's face as he realized what he'd just walked into. “For a short, precise moment”, Tal recalled, “My father seemed like a man standing on railway tracks, ready for the train to hit him head on”. When I heard this phrase I felt how the essence of the film strikes me – and I just couldn’t resist it.
3Your opening shot is an incredibly powerful one. How long did it take to get it right and what was the biggest challenge getting it? I know it might sound crazy, but Daniel Miller the DOP and myself improvised this shot on set, without prior preparation: I decided spontaneously to shoot every scene in one shot only - in order to emphasize the "fly on the wall" feeling. In the shooting list we planned something completely different, but when we arrived on set I felt that the flow of the scene must be more naturalistic - so I decided that we must keep it without any cuts. The challenge was to have a sensitive and precise zoom out combined with a focus-change while we dolly out, but Daniel the virtuoso and his camera crew were amazing and figured it out in no time. I must also compliment the brilliant actors in the scene, Dalik Wolinitz and Riki Blich, who burnt the screen take after take - and made this scene into what it is.
4I loved the framing and the blocking in all of your shots. It was all very well planned out and allowed for the actors to breathe, while at the same time, the blocking and camera movement allowed for highlight different story elements. How did your collaboration with your DP Daniel Miller work and how did you create these wonderful shots? Thank you. We invested a lot of thought in every frame. My collaboration with Daniel Miller was amazing from the beginning - we understand and appreciate each other a lot - so the symbioses just happened naturally. Before every shot we went aside, only me and him, and brainstormed what will be the most unique way to tell the scene in one shot. I'm really happy that you and a lot of other people liked the result. I want to thank also to the brilliant music composer of the film, Shay Zagreba, and the talented sound designer, Nin Hazan, which their unbelievable music and sound work really elevated the visuals to a new peak.
5All of your actors give beautiful performances. How did you find them all and what kinds of preparations did you do with them before shooting? Hence the film is based on Tal Miller’s true story we were looking for actors who matched the qualities and characteristics of his parents – this is how we got to Dalik Wolinitz and Shiri Golan - who captured us both from the first moment. For the role of the lover we cast the amazing Riki Blich; For the role of the son we were honored to cast Michael Moshonov, one of the best young actors in Israel; and for the role of his charming sister, we cast the beautiful Maya Wertheimer. I feel so privileged to work with such an incredible cast, which taught me how to be a better director just by letting them guide me through their characters.
6The synopsis said that the film is based off a true story. Do you care to elaborate on that a bit more? Five years ago Tal Miller and his sister organized a surprise silver-wedding party for his parents. A year later his father told his mother that he was leaving her for a new partner. When he started talking with them about their silver-wedding, he found out that his father had originally planned to tell his mother about his decision to leave her that weekend. That big celebration Tal and his sister planned for them became the symbol for the failure of their marriage. Their conversations led Tal to write a single location film taking place at the one event, while conveying both perspectives: On one hand we have a man who is unwillingly trapped in his own silver-wedding party with a woman he wants to leave; On the other hand we have a woman who discovers that her marriage has come to its end just seconds before the vows renewal ceremony.
7What's next? I've just won Gold at the "Young Director Award" competition in "Cannes Lions Festival of Creativity" with “Vows”. In addition, I’ve signed to "Great Guns" for global representation, and “Vows” was one of the films Laura Gregory, the global CEO and founder, and Sheridan Thomas, the Global EP, talked most about when they approached me to sign. These are very exciting times for me, and I hope to make a lot of awesome short films, commercials and music videos worldwide. You're more than welcome to check out my videos here: www.TalZagreba.com
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.
Share this film
Please share Vows with your friends and help this filmmaker win!