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How I Made It: What is Wrong With Me (2020)

'What is Wrong With Me' is a film about drifting relationships and trying to make sense of that drift.

Nadya is a young and attractive girl, living with her boyfriend. He tries to take care of her, to support his girl, but the discord in their relationship is obvious. Nadya gets a job as 1st AD and becomes a close friend of the director. Meanwhile, her relationship with her boyfriend gets worse once her boyfriend goes on a trip with their friends, while Nadya stays home, busy with shooting.

16 Mins | Russian | Drama, Romance | 2020 | Ukraine

In its persistent mission and zeal to promote good cinema, Diorama brings you the experience of the Director of the film - Anastasiia Sanzharovska

What inspired you to venture into short filmmaking?

I’ve studied Applies Math & System Analysis at university, worked in a bank, but filmmaking has always been my passion. And I’m really happy that during a year or two I managed to turn my passion into my profession.

I believe that short filmmaking is a great chance to practice your directing skills, develop your style and make all the mistakes you’d better avoided while working on bigger projects. On the other hand, a short film is a great chance to tell a story that matters to you in your own way – the smaller your project is, the more freedom you have.

What was your background before making this film?

I attended a bunch of master-classes and courses on video editing and filmmaking, during which I shot some sketches and even films, but as for me, they were completely amateur. Then I entered a film school, and during my study I made two other projects to exercise. “What is Wrong with Me” became my diploma short movie.

What was the starting point for you of deciding to make this film?

As I already mentioned, it’s my diploma film. So the starting point was basically to shoot my diploma

I had a couple of ideas which I could develop into films, but I wanted to choose something that mattered to me most back then, something the most urgent. As a result, “What is Wrong with Me” may be considered my self-reflection.

Why this subject matter for your film?

I would define the subject matter of my movie as the choice between comfort and stability from the one hand and freedom and independence from the other hand. This is the choice I had to make for myself when I studied at the film school, so I wanted to share my concerns with my audience. As I’ve always been interested in interpersonal relationships, especially in romantic ones, in my movie I emphasized this aspect of life of my character.

Where did you find this story for this film?

The script of “What is Wrong with Me” is based on my own life.

When I was studying at the film school, my life approach, my goals and values changed significantly, and I started reconsidering my relationship with my boyfriend. That’s why I shot a movie about a choice between calm and simple life you already have and about a risk of destroying your old life and building a new one.

Some of the scenes in the film are very close to what actually happened with me, some depict my generalized experience, some others I had to invent to complete the script.

What were the challenges you faced in making the film?

The biggest challenge for me was trying to separate my life from my movie. As I understood afterwards, it’s good when a movie is based on your experience, but it’s bad when you are filming a movie while being in the middle of this experience. In this last case, you are distracted with your life events, and you can’t fully concentrate on a film.

Each time I rewrote a script, I showed it to my master and received a feedback. As I was extremely emotional about my film, it was difficult to estimate his advices adequately, to calmly decide which advices actually improve my movie, and which I shouldn’t implement. I was also not very confident in myself back then. Sometimes I still wonder what my movie would look like if I wrote the script exactly how I felt right. I hope I will find it out when I work on my next film.

Another problem I faced was lack of film set experience. As I’m a very organized person by nature, I did most of the planning by myself. As a result, sometimes I didn’t have enough time and energy to solve creative tasks. I wish I would have delegated all the organization to my producer and 1st AD. Thus I could have concentrated on directing.

Making short films on a zero or a low budget is a common practice for most short filmmakers around the world. Do you think it affects the quality of production? What would you suggest to first time short filmmakers on a budget to ensure a good enough production quality?

First of all, I think every filmmaker-beginner has to shoot a couple of very short films with almost no budget just to practice his/her skills, to get experience and to make friends among filmmakers. A film school actually does the job for all this tasks, and also can support you with equipments, props and other resources.

Your next steps depend on your project. If a project doesn’t require many complicated locations, many shooting days and many human resources, I would recommend finding crew and actors who share you enthusiasm and believe in your story. Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to persuade them to participate for free. It’s also cool if your DoP has his/her own camera and lights and if some of your friends can provide you a free location. In a word, try to use as little money as you can. Sometimes the necessity to cut down expenses makes you be more creative and invent new solutions for your film, so… who knows

If your project looks too big and too expensive to shoot from your own pocket, check out info about local institutions which provide financial aid for filmmakers. Choose a program that corresponds to your case and apply.

Did you face any problems in releasing or distributing the film? Do you think short filmmakers today have a marketplace to showcase and sell their works?

It took me really long to start applying to film festivals, and some of my film school group mates still haven’t distributed their shorts. There is a number of reasons for that. Sometimes you get a negative feedback from your masters, and feel depressed and scared to show your movie to anyone else. Often you are not fully satisfied with the result and tell yourself something like “Okay, this was my training, but my next film will be much better” and switch to the next project, left you previous film forgotten. Some people apply only to the A-class festivals, pay a lot of money for their movie just to be considered. Then they get rejected and feel disappointed in festivals in general. I guess the best way to overcome all this problems is either to educate yourself in film distribution or to find a good producer who will distribute your film.

How do you think filmmakers like you can overcome common challenges like finance and distribution?

I think there are a couple of options available. Firstly, try to make your production and distribution as cheap as you only can. Secondly, try to apply for financial aid from the institutions which support filmmakers in your country. Thirdly, find a job with big enough income and try to save money for your future film.

Any other interesting facts about this film that you may like to cover, any experiment you did, or style?

My experiment #1 is filming about a situation while being in the middle of this very same situation as I already mentioned, I concluded that it’s better to shoot about one of your previous experiences, not about a current one. There should be a time gap between your movie and your life, otherwise you will not be able to analyze your own work.

My experiment #2 was filming about filmmaking. My main character is a 1st AD, and there are a couple of scenes which depict the process of creating a film. My whole crew truly enjoyed this experience. That was the only day when we didn’t have to hide our bags and lights. On the country, we were putting them to the shot. Moreover, according to my script, the characters were being kicked out from their location (a café). My crew and I also had some problems with local securities, so… it was kind of a destiny.

My experiment #3 was shooting a car without a special gimbal. My DoP created a construction for this shooting day by himself and fixed it to the headrest. During that day, we were driving around the city and shooting our actress, who was sitting behind in the car. She used different music to create a corresponding mood. I think that was my favorite shift.

Is this film going to affect the society, and who should watch it.

Obviously, my film is a relationship drama, a romance. During all the stages of creating this film, from initial idea to premier, I was getting a lot of positive feedback from girls. Most of them said they had similar situations and they felt the same way, that this movie is true and truthful and touching. That’s why ladies could watch this movie to enjoy, to find similarities between the main character and themselves. On the other hand, I believe that if men watched this movie, it could help them to better understand their spouses, to be more attentive and empathetic. In this way, my movie can affect our society.

What would you advice filmmakers making a short film for the first time?

Be brave, be bold, listen to yourself and be honest. Don’t try to be fashionable or to tell the most important and complicated story in the universe. Choose something simple and corresponding to your identity, your personality. Avoid spending too much money and always care about people you work with. The project will end, but if you did everything right, the people will remain with you for long.

Film Poster - What is Wrong with Me

Festivals and Awards

  1. Jaiyq Film Fest 2021.

  2. Lift-Off Sessions September 2021.

  3. Diorama International Film Festival 2021 (Special Jury Award in the category "International Short Films").

  4. The Paus Premieres Festival 2022.

  5. Festival Angaelica 2022.

How to reach the Director

Anastasiia Sanzharovska





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