Your new movie Silence
& Darkness - in a few words, what is it about?
movie is a quiet thriller about two sisters, one blind and the other deaf,
who live in the country with their father, who appears to be mentally
unstable. And the question that drives that plot is, whereís mom?
were your sources of inspiration when writing Silence
script was reverse engineered, meaning I wrote it knowing the resources I
had available to me, which included everything from the actors to the
locations to the props on set. So, inspiration was actually derived from
my limitations. I crafted the story around them. I think itís great to
have limitations that force you to focus on what kind of story you want to
& Darkness's three lead characters, who can you actually
identify with the most?
a great question. The truth is, I identify with each of them since they
all came from me. Yes, even Father. I am the first to admit that the
actors brought enormous depth to each character, making them far richer
than they were on the page or in my head. I wish I was as smart and
curious as Anna or as trusting and talented as Beth, but if Iím being
honest Ė Iím probably closest to Mrs. Bishop.
What can you tell us about Silence
& Darkness's approach to the thriller genre?
goal, which dictates the approach, is first and foremost to tell a
compelling story. Once I had the story mapped in my head, I could then
turn to the tone and atmosphere and how I wanted the story to unfold. It
was a bit accidental this story fell under the thriller genre. I never set
out to make a thriller. I just had this idea of how I wanted the audience
to feel while watching this odd family dynamic play out. My intention was
that, for the duration of the film, the viewer would feel like someone was
lightly pressing on his/her Adamís apple. How scenes would unfold, where
to put the camera, when to cut, etc., all hinged on my desire to maintain
that feeling. Naturally, I was aware we were playing into certain tropes
of the horror/thriller genre. However, we made many choices to flip such
tropes on their head, such as: not having a score, not having jump scares,
barely any blood on screen, etc. Yet, it still somehow falls nicely into
the Ďthrillerí space.
talk about your overall directorial approach to your story at hand!
approach as a director is simply to do my utmost to serve the story that
was written. At the same time, I remain open to new ideas that arise while
in the course of filming. Both the actors and the crew made many
suggestions as to what a specific character might do in a specific
situation. Omar Nasr, our DP, and I spent much of our time on set
discussing where to place the camera in order to maximize the performances
of the actors and to maintain a consistent tone.
the respective challenges of your two female lead characters, how hard was
it to find the right actresses for the roles?
start by saying that Mina Walker and Joan Glackin are not blind or deaf. However, casting
them wasnít hard. I wrote the film with Mina (Anna) and Joan (Beth) in
mind. I knew them personally and knew they would be able to do these
characters justice. Watching them play Anna and Beth was probably my
favorite aspect of making the movie.
you tell us about the rest of your movie's cast, and why exactly these
Lage interview - click here],
who plays their father and the townís doctor, is phenomenal. I was
introduced to him via Joan and Mina Ė he was one of their acting
professors at the Atlantic Acting Studio in New York. I saw him in a David
Mamet play and knew he would be perfect.
for Sandra Gartner (Mrs. Bishop) and Ariel Zevon (Mrs. Long), they are
local Vermont actors, which is where we filmed. So, like what often
happens in movies, their casting was based on practicality. They were
great for their respective roles and available. We enjoyed having both on
A few words about the shoot as such, and the
shoot was an amazing experience. We filmed for 18 days in a small town in
Vermont. Iím purposely not giving the name because I feel the people
there might not want their townís name tainted by this kind of movie.
Every person we came into contact with was nice and eager to participate,
bending over backward to help us, whether by donating props or allowing us
to film in their shops or places of business. This film was made on a
tiny, tiny, tiny budget. The actors and crew all slept in the very house
that is the familyís house in the film. It was a five-person crew film,
including my mom, who was on set and helped with the catering. It felt
like an intimate summer camp.
Anything you can tell us about
audience and critical reception of Silence
screened at the DC Independent Film Festival to a full theater. And I
remember afterward someone saying that we created the Ďmost evilí
character they had ever seen on screen, which I took as a big compliment. As
for critical response, weíve heard from many people in the indie/arthouse community, as well as hardcore horror fans who have enjoyed
the film immensely. I think Silence
& Darkness has the potential to
reach a broad audience if given the chance.
Any future projects you'd like
is so up in the air this past year. But I do have a few features that I
would like to see made, as well as a mini-series Iíve been working on
for the last year. I canít really say more than that. I hope I get a
chance to keep making movies and hope to see them in a theater someday.
What got you into filmmaking in the first
place, and did you receive any formal education on the subject?
was definitely the kid who watched way too much television and movies. My
family are big movie-buffs. I was watching The Sopranos at age ten, and
when I was twelve, I remember my grandfather bringing me to his home in
Jerusalem for the sole purpose of screening The Big Lebowski
for me. He
was trying to teach me what not to become in life. But I just came away
thinking this is the greatest movie Iíve ever seen.
for making films, my high school in Israel had a film program. So I
started making short films when I was fifteen, and after my mandatory
military service, I attended NYUís Tisch School of Film and Television
Production, which is where I met the cast and crew of the film.
can you tell us about your filmwork prior to Silence
is my first feature film. Prior to Silence
& Darkness, I made a couple
of shorts; both were comedies that played at several US festivals. They
were a lot of fun to make, and you learn a lot every time you make a
movie, no matter the runtime.
How would you describe yourself
as a director?
donít want to pigeonhole myself, so Iím not going to say Iím a genre
director. I hope to make many movies, and I hope each one is different. I
also write, so, at present, I find it hard for me to detach writing from
directing, although there are scripts written by other writers that I
believe I could take and make the story my own.
Filmmakers who inspire you?
equally inspired by a filmmakerís process as I am with their films. So
here are a few that I find inspiring in both regards: Stanley
Kubrick, Lynne Ramsay, Yorgos Lanthimos, Emir Kusturica, Francis Ford
Coppola, and Iím Israeli and love talking about Israeli creatives.
Joseph Cedar is a fantastic writer/director, and I was lucky to work with
him on his last movie Norman with Richard Gere, who is so much fun and
heartbreaking to watch. Everyone should see his films.
the hardest question to answer. I love Dr. Strangelove, or: How I
Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb. My writing partner
and I always talk about how Silence of The Lambs is a perfect movie, so
Iíll put that on the list. And I have to go with The Big Lebowski
because itís great and it makes me think of my grandfather. And
Kusturicaís Time of the Gypsies, probably the first movie that made me
realize you can do anything in movies.
... and of course, films you really
donít deplore any movie unless you count torture/snuff films. And the
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Anything else you're dying to mention and
I have merely forgotten to ask?
be remiss not to give thanks to the entire cast and crew that worked on
this film. Because the film was made with so few people, it feels like the
process was much more collaborative than on a 100-person set where
hierarchy is king. This film belongs just as much to Pablo Burn, my
producer and creative brother, Omar Nasr, whose ability to utilize natural
sunlight is always astonishing to watch, Colton Fordyce, our editor and
always the smartest person in the room. I donít think I could have made
the film if I didnít know he would be the one putting it together. Sam
Beneitone, our sound designer, who added a layer of texture to the film
that I think at many points outweighs the visuals. And, of course, Mina,
Joan, and Jordan, to whom Iíll forever be grateful for bringing these
characters to life and elevating every scene.
Thanks for the