My good friend Benjamin Franklin once said: “If passion drives you, let reason hold the reins”. To me, this perfectly sums up the personality of Ghazaleh Golpira. It is crystal clear when she talks about her work that she is driven by an immense passion for filmmaking, but this does not mean that her decision to make a career in cinema was not a down-to-earth one. 100% aware of the fact that, as she puts it, “you can’t start right at the top and you need rejections to succeed”, Ghazaleh has a genuine maturity of thought that strongly appears in her work and in the themes she tackles. Today, Ghazaleh is adding the final touches to the first short film that she entirely wrote, directed and produced herself. Ángel Viajera is an eight-minute film set in Spain that portrays the relationship between a young schoolgirl and a negligent adult going through an emotional crisis. Find out more about it in the following interview!
Can you tell me more about your academic background and professional path?
I graduated in French and Spanish but I always made sure during my time at university that I incorporated courses focusing on cinema and filmmaking. After university, I did internships with independent production companies for five or six months, which allowed me to try different arenas of work within the cinema industry. I also built up my skills, my portfolio, and just my general knowledge of the industry. Now, I am considering an MA in film schools for film studies.
Was your decision to make a career in cinema a difficult one? Was it natural for you or were you drawn back by the competitiveness of the milieu?
It was natural in the sense that I chose it purely out of passion. I realized that at the end of the day, nothing makes me more enthusiastic than the perspective of creating films. And I think it is important to see it as a passion more than a career. It can become so corrupt if you do it for no other reason than the money. But I do realize that you can’t start right at the top, you need rejections to succeed and it requires a lot of discipline. Filmmaking is a collaborative process and I think it’s important that you see every position. People are not going to invest in your talent if they don’t see you as capable of doing different things. You have to persist and persist, but in the end it all comes down to “I do this because it is my passion”.
What is it exactly that you want to show in your films?
I realized over the years that I love writing about social realism and things that we can identify with. When it comes to me, I like watching films because I take a lot of meaning from them. I identify with films that take on society, that have to do with family, politics, ageing or relationships. I really think that getting as close to reality as possible is essential in filmmaking.
Can you tell me more about Ángel Viajera?
It is an eight-minute film about a young girl who has a turbulent relationship with her mother. As she is walking in a park, the daughter encounters a man in his mid-thirties who is going through an emotional crisis. Gradually the man recognizes the wisdom of the young girl and he opens up to her. At the same time, he becomes the father figure that she never had. I wanted to show that wisdom doesn’t depend necessarily on age but on life experience, and that connecting with someone can bring chemistry and identification.
How long did it take to produce? How many people were involved? What were the challenges?
I had the idea back at the end of April and I wrote the script, knowing that I was going to get a break from work during which I could make the film. It was tricky! We had to do it in a week-end because the cast were working or studying. So we originally planned to shoot the film over the course of one weekend but due to some technical issues, we overran a few days. Luckily we shot it in six days or so. The main challenges were the lighting and the temperature (34°C in Valencia,). I was also concerned with the fact that the young girl is only 9 years old, so I didn’t want to overwork her. I’d like to praise her for her hard work, I am really proud of her and of all the actors! All of them are Spanish, I met the main actor, José, when I went on an exchange to Valencia, and the little girl is his niece. Even though they are not related in the film, I think that it is important that they are family because it means that they were comfortable acting together. It was a very intimate project, for example I had friends collaborating to help me out with technical and equipment challenges. It was more of an experimental project to see how far I could go with minimal equipment in a foreign country. I wanted to focus more on the creative process than the commercial process.
Why did you choose to set it in Spain?
I think it is because the story is quite an intimate, sweet, nurtured, warm one. It’s a nestled story, a cute, romantic one and I thought that the openness of the culture and of the people in Spain was perfectly adapted. And the weather of course! London is too much of an urban, metropolitan, crowded place, it’s too big, too grand to capture the intimacy of their relationship. And also, very importantly, Spain is the natural habitat of my actors and I wanted them to feel comfortable.
Finally, a difficult question: if you were to describe your work in one word, what would it be?
That’s tricky! I would probably go for existential impetus. I focus on the idea that life has its ups and downs. It reminds me of the film Gravity, which is all about existentialism: when the characters are about to die, they find the strength to try to survive. They can’t give up because there are people waiting for them and needing them. I think existentialist ideas are always going to be beyond my mind and existentialism is very central to my work.