Lights Film School Online recently interviewed Nico Casavecchia about his short film entitled “Salesman in the Mirror”. Before we jump into the interview take a moment and watch the nine minute short film below.
Thank you Nico for taking the time to talk about your short film with our blog readers. Let’s jump in with a couple of technical questions first. First of all, what camera did you shoot on?
We shot the entire film on a DSLR (Canon 5D mark II).
What did you edit the short film on?
I edited in FCP 7.
From idea conceptualization to completed film how long did this project take?
The film is part of a longer collective featuring 6 different directors. We were invited for 24hs to the Camper Hotel in Barcelona and two months later we had shot all of the films. Because the film needed to be shot at the hotel the piece needed to be written wih that in mind. Instead of starting from scratch, I adapted something I had written before and expanded that idea into the short film. Due to the short amount of time I had to prepare the script I wanted to support the dialogues with V.O. as much as possible to allow myself re-writes during the edit. The post production was kind of long due to the lack of budget, it took something like 6 months to complete.
How long did it take you to write this film?
The writing of the script specifically took me three weeks.
Where did you get the idea for this film from?
I was at a party the year before writing the script, I didn’t know many people and I felt kind of apart from everyone, mainly because everyone was high and I was just drunk. It was like being in a different party. I found myself amused with my mental dialogue and I decided to take notes. All those notes were recycled in the script later. I constructed the dramatic context for the short film, but the essence of being misplaced was already there.
What was your writing process like? Did you have any story editors or other people look over the script before you started shooting?
I consulted with a couple of friends before shooting. Mark Schardan, the actor, helped me to oversee the text in english since I’m not a native speaker. The dialogue between him and the Greek guy (who offers him coke) was improvised during the rehearsals, I wanted it to be as natural as possible adding details as they wished. After shooting I re-wrote some parts of the dialogue and made it tighter.
The story seemed to be deeply personal in some ways. I mean we’ve all felt insecure at different points in our lives and we’ve all thought to ourselves “where should I put my hands”. The film doesn’t portray your main character with many redeeming qualities. How much of you, as a person, is in this film? Were you nervous about exposing yourself as a writer / director?
No! I think that’s where the kind of comedy I like comes from, in a way it’s showing a part of yourself that is fragile in an honest way and laughing about it. Hopefully people identify with some of these flaws in themselves and feel engaged.
How long did the film take to shoot?
It was totally guerrilla, we had just a limited amount of time in the hotel and no chance to come back, so we had to shoot it within a 17 hour time limit.
Tell me a little more about this concept of 6 directors and 24 hours in the Camper Hotel. Did you have total creative freedom?
We had total creative freedom to choose any spaces within the hotel we wanted, I decided to use two rooms. In the beginning I had a scene in the bar but I canceled the scene due to time limitations.
All of the directors had to make reservations for a specific time and space in the Hotel. It wasn’t a perfect system because sometimes there were two crews shooting at the same time in the same place. Also, our production upset real guests who couldn’t sleep because of the noise we were making.
You should give the upset guests a special thanks if your credits. Moving along now… the music for the film is great! How did you go about securing music for the film?
I collaborated with friends. The party music came from the first album of Ricky y Rulo, who are friends of mine. And the final song was composed by the singer songwriter Flor Braier. I was so lucky that Flor was generous enough to let me use her amazing song, it fitted perfectly in the mood of the final scene, many people like the film because of that song!
What was the total budget of the film?
The budget was something around $ 3000, but it’s hard to say because some of the expenses where shared with the other filmmakers.
When you enter into a room, how do you look at the space in terms of its lighting potential?
Light to me depends a lot on the budget. When I’m shooting a commercial I can allow myself to light in any way I want. When I’m doing a personal piece is harder because lights are the one thing that we can’t get for free. Eloi Moli, my DOP, was always complaining about our lack of resources, but he always managed to find a way to light the scenes by being clever and finding what he could use for free. We generally try to use locations with sufficient natural light as much as possible.
How are you lighting the shot at 0:46?
I recall Eloi using one kino and the lights you see on camera.
In many of your scenes you have great side lighting or lighting that keeps the shadows towards the camera. Can you talk a little bit about how you approach your lights’ relationship to your subjects?
I have to credit Eloi for that, he uses a really conceptual approach when lighting, which is a double effort due to the budget limitations that we had doing the film. We wanted to create two different moods, one in his room which is a space of introspection, and the party room which is a space of confusion and disorientation. The lighting of those scenes is related with this idea.
Thank you for sharing your insight with our blog readers! Best of luck with your future productions.