After the death of her mother, Claire navigates her life being a single mother, her mid life crisis and her distant siblings. Sincerely, yours is an award winning short film project. It is with great pleasure to interview the director of the film, AJ Bate.
What was the inspiration behind the making of your film?
Val Cole (Lead Actor) was behind the initial inspiration. We just finished working on a short film and were looking for our next idea, we started brainstorming, then Val then shared stories of her childhood and upbringing (I won’t say which stories we ended up using in the script). Then I started working on the script, I’m the oldest of 4 siblings, I always noticed how each of us had different interactions with our parents, with me they were a bit more formal as opposed to my youngest brother who they seem to have a more laid-back bordering on friendship type relationship, so I thought what if that was also a driving force throughout this film too.
What is the most challenging aspect of working in this particular genre?
The fear of not being able to rightfully earn certain emotional resolutions or even certain moments, you can fall into the pit of being heavy handed with the drama, almost bordering on being disingenuous. You must toe the line of having your characters genuinely express their feelings but not ruin the scene.
When did you realize that you wanted to work in media and make films and what was the first film project that you created as a director?
When I first watched “Mighty Morphin Power Rangers” I couldn’t stop pretending to be a ranger, I would always create different episodes and act them out. Ever since, I always loved making up stories and worlds in my head and acting them out all over the house, I was responsible for half my parents' headaches, my young brother was responsible for the other half. The first project I directed was a minute and a half short called “Balloon”. It’s about a man that forms a friendship with a balloon.
How did you choose the cast and the crew of the film and what was the most challenging aspect of production?
I’ve always wanted to make something with Val (the lead actor) in it. She has a great actor face that I felt needed to always be on the screen. Which works out because she’s pretty much in every shot in this film. A lot of the people that were cast are friends of mine that I interacted with several times, so as I was writing these characters, I was already writing them in some of my friends’ voices. So, it was a no brainer when it came to a lot of the casting. The crew consisted of my friends and partner. They share the same passion for filmmaking that I have, they loved the script and chose to volunteer their time, they were completely dedicated to the success of this film. Without them I couldn’t have done this.
I thought the challenging part would be our lack of a budget, but I was very lucky to have a crew and cast that were so accommodating. The most challenging part was learning how to communicate with the talent. I didn’t go to film school, so I had to learn all of this on my own. I’d like to think that I got better at communicating my vision the more we got into production, but it was challenging. That’s why I always wanted to start and just make films, because with each project I feel much more confident in my abilities as a filmmaker.
What genre of filmmaking fascinates you as a director and which genres do you prefer to work on?
I would have to say Film Noir fascinates me, I never thought I would enjoy the genre, however some of my favorite movies that blew me away were from that genre, but I also don’t think I would be able to pull it off, since you can easily ruin it and you need everything to go your way. I feel it’s an unforgiving genre, you can’t afford to make many mistakes.
I prefer to work in dramas with a blend of comedy, since those two resemble real life the most. Our lives have dramatic and funny moments in them, and they’re not exclusively one or the other.
How can cinema change the world and have an impact on society?
Cinema has brought awareness to a lot of social issues that most of us weren’t aware of, that’s one way it can change the world. Another is, cinema can help us make sense of messy periods of our lives, seeing someone go through hard times like the ones you went through, can give a sense of comfort and make us feel like we’re not alone. Cinema can help understand our existence as human beings, it might not have all the answers, but if it can make it just a little bit less confusing, then that’s awesome. Also, explosions and Kung Fu are awesome to watch.
What is your next film project as a director?
I’m working on two scripts right now; one is about an old man suffering from Alzheimer’s. He decides to run away from his kids and lives on a cruise ship instead of being put in a home. The other is about a young man who wants to break up with his girlfriend, but it's set in a world where people can only speak a certain number of words a day. I’m pursuing both ideas and seeing which one would be possible to make first.