Spotlight: An interview with Ali Barati ("Fish and Puddle")
Ali! Congratulations on a fantastic directorial debut, what an incredible coming-of-age story. Before we talk about the film, we'd like to hear a bit more about your own background- it sounds like you had quite a journey before diving into the cinema world. How did you get into film and visual storytelling?
As a child, despite my great interest in stories and movies, I was more in the field of science, and even science fiction movies encouraged me more, and it was the same for years, but I always went from one branch of science to the another, I felt I loved all kind of sciences, but in the meantime I also won various awards and positions, such as in 2010 when I won a silver medal and an honorary diploma at the Swiss International Festival of Inventions (Geneva), and of course I had a patent, but after that I felt the magical art cinema can help to explore more branches and subjects, and more travel as well. Moreover, I suddenly found myself and I was a filmmaker.
Which filmmakers do you see as role models, and what do you like about their work?
Giuseppe Tornatore, Steven Spielberg and Ron Howard.
Let's discuss your creative process with Fish and Puddle. How did your collaboration with co-writers Mohammad Sadegh Bagheri and Mehdi Namjoo come about, and what made you passionate about telling this story?
Since we were writing about a real person and a true story, it was both simple and extremely difficult, easy because of knowing the story and it was hard due to the secrets of creativity, so I think our collaboration of three people who had different expertise and thoughts helped a lot in shaping the story.
Is the character of Ali Yazdani, the 12-year-old mischievous genius based on a real-life character? Or his adventures?
It is based on both a real character and the story line has been adopted.
How did you prepare for the shoot?
Since I had turned a large part of the script into a storyboard, I entered into the production stage with a good readiness for filming.
Everything looks very authentic in the film. It must have been hard to find these perfect spots to film in! How did you secure the locations for filming?
My whole effort was to choose the best dialect and to be faithful to the essence of the story, so the locations of the film are the same as the main character in those adventures.
What was the most challenging part of the shooting?
The scene that takes place in the forest unfortunately, most of it was removed due to the mismatch of quality. There are short parts in the film and of course the scenes of Armenia that one of its line was completely removed due to the absence of one of the actors.
Working with child actors (or teenagers) can be tricky, yet you managed to achieve good performances and there is much chemistry between the characters. Do you have any tips about working with young actors, and/or actors in general?
In my opinion, if there is enough attention in the selection of actors and the best option is chosen, the interactions will be better and more beneficial, and that an actor who does not have a precise knowledge of himself, his feelings and his body, is not an actor at all.
Who are the key crew members who really helped bring your vision to life, and how did you recruit them?
All the members of the group had a positive and beneficial interaction with me, but the person who gave me advice, especially in the first part of the film, which was very useful to me, was Mr. Seyed Hossein Azadi, whom I used as a consultant in the field of storyboard and the film. I had been hired and of course the most help was given to me by Mr. Hassan Hassandoust, the editor, who has the right to be a master for Iranian cinema and his presence added to the quality of the project.
The score written by composer Behzad Abdi is wonderful and hits all the emotional moments perfectly. What was the scoring process like, and did you use any references to communicate your musical vision?
Mr. Behzad Abdi is one of the famous Iranian composers who, after joining the band, made this kind of music, which I think is both Iranian and universal, through repeated conversations with me.
In the film, you're exploring fascinating human themes and intriguing emotions we get to experience throughout the point of view of the boy. Hope, loss, failure, dream, excitement, regret. What is the message you'd like the audience to take away from the film, and how was it received so far?
I hope everyone understands that the geniuses and influencers in this world have been more from small towns and villages, so it is enough to trust and not look at the small size of cities and the age of human beings, a child may be able to save our world.
Thus far, people have liked the film wherever they have seen it, and I hope everyone will like this film.
What is the distribution plan for the film?
For me, as a director, it is important that many people in the world see this film, whether by paying for tickets or watching it at festivals, but Mr. Anbardar, the respected producer of the film, has plans that will be announced in another space.
You're currently in post-production for your next feature, the horror film Azazil. Have you completed filming yet? What can you share about it?
At the moment we are doing this interview, the editing of the horror film “Qamus (Azazil)” is over.
This is an apocalyptic film about the activities of the devil and how gives birth to his child from a human.
Would you like to add anything or thank anyone?
First of all, I have to thank my family, especially my wife, who produced the film “Qamus (Azazil)” and all the stuff and people who helped me making the noble film "Fish and Pond".
Where can our readers follow more of your work?
My page on Instagram: @alibarati1987
IMDB: Ali Barati (II)
My official website: www.alibarati.ir