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A New Generation Of Female Filmmakers: Meet Cassiah Joski-Jethi

An Interview With The Girl Whose Career Started After A Chance Encounter On A Train

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by Script Reader Pro in Movie Industry Interviews
October 24, 2016 0 comments
Female Filmmakers

Cassiah is a young English screenwriter and director from London, and is part of the next generation of female filmmakers.

After finishing her degree in Drama and Theatre Arts, she met film director Grinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) on a train and got into the industry with her support.

Cassiah kindly agreed to be interviewed about her writing/directing career and below you’ll find she’s got some great advice for you on how to get started in the industry.

Q: Tell us about your latest short film Polly

A: Polly is set in a dystopian, cult-like society in which each girl is taught to aspire to attain complete perfection, which is manifested through a doll called a ‘she’ which they must carry around with them at all times.

It’s a metaphor for the constant unattainable images that surround young women, and how this damages our sense of identity and self-worth.

I wanted to create a short film that featured an all female cast and focused on social issues, but told in a very creative way. The style of Polly is reminiscent of Tim Burton’s Edward Scissorhands and should create a very unique tone.

I like creating concepts and presenting worlds that are not entirely explained through the script or visual, allowing the audience to interpret and make their own meanings from what they experience.

I think this is important because it prompts a conversation and discourse on the issues explored without the audience feeling as if they have been forced a certain opinion or point of view.

Q: What are the advantages of working with an all-female filmmaker team?

A: My producer and assistant director are both women, and I think it’s great to be able to share and contribute to the project with a unique understanding of the issues explored in the film as we have all experienced the pressure to look and be a certain way.

We are all, perhaps, more open to discussing our own experiences and how we can feed this into the film to make the story, characters and emotions as organic as possible.

Q: What advice do you have for filmmakers when it comes to writing and directing short films?

A: I have always found writing short films more difficult than writing features for some reason, and what I have learned works best is creating a complete world in which your short film exists and pick a specific focal point within the world to explore. This could be a character, a location, a theme.

In Polly, we are focusing on a character who does not fit into the world I have created in the story. In terms of directing short films, creating a very specific visual tone and style is very important because of the small amount of time you have to communicate your idea.

Q: Would you like to share your tips on how to become a successful female filmmaker in a male dominated industry?

A: I had the very fortunate experience of being taken under Gurinder Chadha’s wing (the director who I met on the train) at the very start of my career, and she was a fantastic woman to learn from.

She taught me to be bold and pro-active, which I think is an important way to go forward as a woman in this industry.

I also think meeting and collaborating with as many other female directors /writers / producers is really useful because they can pass along any of advice from their own experiences and how to push through.

I’ve found that people are much more open and willing to help you than not, so it’s always worth asking. Realising that the worst thing people will say is “no” is really vital to learn, and to not take anything personally.

Q: Which festivals or contests do you think every aspiring writer/director should enter?

A: As a woman in film, I think the Under Wire festival is a fantastic platform and a great festival to enter. It’s got great support for female directors/writers/producers and is such an encouraging festival with a lot of good opportunities that follow.

Also, if you are under twenty-five and located in the UK, the BFI Futures Film Festival is great for offering support after the festival, providing a great platform to develop your skills and position in the industry.

Q: What are some of the biggest mistakes you see aspiring filmmakers make with their careers?

A: A producer once encouraged me to value the mistakes you make as that’s how you learn, it’s how your progress, it’s how you grow.

In a way, you can’t really make mistakes unless you don’t fully commit to your idea and vision, as if it doesn’t go completely to plan or it isn’t well received. You learn what to do right next time and it’s all a part of developing your own voice.

And as I’m still in the early stages of my career, I’m sure I will make many mistakes along the way!

Q: What are some of your favorite movies of the past year you’d recommend to watch?

A: Mustang, directed by Deniz Gamze Erguven, is a film I saw in June, and it’s one of the most amazing films I have ever seen. It beautifully captures the essence of youth and sisterhood, whilst exploring femininity and identity in a very impactful way.

The performances are off the scale, and it’s great to have a film with four female leads. It’s relevant, emotive and powerful – everyone should watch it!

I also saw The Hunt, directed by Thomas Vinterberg, earlier this year, which is a great demonstration of powerhouse directing and acting. It’s very thought provoking yet so delicately presented.

Q: How can people find out more about you and your work?

A: It’s great to keep in touch with other creatives and film lovers, so feel free to find me in the social media sphere!

You can follow me on Twitter @cassiahjj. I also have a website www.cassiahj-j.com and I’m on Facebook.

We are also running a campaign to raise money to make Polly, so check that out – we have until November 4th to raise £9000, so please help support our film!

Campaign: https://www.indiegogo.com/projects/polly-an-all-female-tim-burton-esque-short-film-feminism

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