An Interview With Filmmaker Tal Almog

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Tal Almog is an Israeli film directors whose short film ILOVE will appear in festivals around the world this year; here is a link to his website:

mitziproductions.co.il

Q: What made you interested in being a director?

A: When I was a kid, my grandparents owned a movie theatre in our neighborhood, so whenever I needed a refuge, I could always go there and catch a movie for free. Maybe it was due to my grandparents choice to play sweet Hollywood films in order to attract audience, But when the movie was over, I got a new perspective on the world around me and a fresh take on this thing called life.

After a while I wanted to find out for myself how this magic works. Video cameras were too expensive at the time but my grandmother was kind enough to buy me a used stills camera. I couldn’t put it in words back then, But I found that the better I got taking those photos, the better I could explain the world to myself, and sometimes even shaping it the way I wanted it to be.

Up to this day, the world is still too complicated for me to understand, but when I manage to squeeze it into this miniature world called a movie, It appears, even for a short while, to make sense.

Q: What is iLOVE about?

A: It’s a romantic comedy about a love triangle between a girl, a boy and his smartphone. After receiving a smartphone as a birthday present from his girlfriend, Eric finds it hard to put down. Eventually his loving girlfriend wants to get her boyfriend’s attention back so she asks him to put the phone away. This is when the smartphone starts to get jealous and plans out a digital revenge on her in order to win Eric’s attention back.

Q: What gave you the idea for the film?

A: My girlfriend. She always complains about how much time I spend with my cell phone, and how little time with her. Since I think I’m not the only one that has an affair with his phone, I figure it could make a great film if we actually turn the smartphone into a character, give him his own personality and have him fight for what matters the most – having it’s owners undivided attention. It’s almost natural for most people these days to spend more time with their mobile devices instead of their loved ones. We tell ourselves that we are multitasking but eventually we are all just addicted to this technology.

I personally, would love to spend more time just staring at the sky and less time in front of screens so I think this film might remind people how important that is.

Q: Why do you think people like their phones so much?

A: There is a whole science behind those phones that make them addictive but I think the biggest problem is us, the users. We keep forgetting it’s only a tool that is supposed to help us connect more easily and become addicted to the shiny screens even when there is no real reason to check them. It’s a global addiction issue and I believe now is a good time to admit we have a problem.

Q:. What film festivals can we see it in?

A: Paterson falls film fest, USA,  Fastnet film fest, Ireland, Speechless film fest, USA, Fear No film fest USA, Icon film fest, Israel,Identities film fest, Israel.

Still waiting for answers from Interfilm Berlin and several other film festivals in the US and in Europe. wish me luck 🙂

Q: What is the most challenging thing about being a filmmaker in Israel?

A: Israel is a young country than is often under threat by it’s surrounding neighbors. Unfortunately the reality is that 1 third of our country budget is spent on our army that is supposed to protect our borders. When a country spends that much money on tanks and airplanes, art doesn’t figure high on the list of priorities, and when films are eventually funded they often tell the story of the conflict with the palestinians or other war stories. Nevertheless, the Israeli film community is getting stronger every day, and makes more and more exciting genre films that are immensely successful in film tests worldwide. My hope is that in the next decade along with the peace process, Israel will become a source of innovative filmmaking. I do believe we have a lot of beautiful stories to tell and using imaginative screenwriting together with international co productions might be the key for a new wave of Israeli cinema.

Q: What major themes do you try to touch on in your work?

A: As a director I have embraced the genre of romantic comedy. I have figured that love – the most challenging and rewarding subject in life is also the one most worthy of making films about.

Q: What kind of day job do you have and how does it influence your work?

After graduating from Tel Aviv university film school I have opened my own production company in order to be able to finance and direct the films I had in mind. In my work I operate very much like Batman – On day time I direct music videos, commercials (Lexus, Pfizer, Nike) and TV documentaries, but at night I turn a switch and make the time to work on my passion projects, which are, for the most part – romantic comedies. After making numerous award winning shorts I have dedicated myself to the making of “Rebound”, a dark romantic comedy which has made it to Cannes 2012. This has made a major change in my career that enabled me to receive offers from bigger clients who were looking for more narrative oriented directors. I can say that my passion projects have contributed to my commercial work as much as it worked the other way around.

Q: What do Americans misunderstand about Israel?

A: Many Americans I get to meet believe that Israel is a lot about the army, anti-terrorism and the conflict with the Palestinians, which is what they pick up from the media. These things are barely present in our everyday life. We have a fascinating culture here and an extremely vibrant lifestyle that is a mix of western and mid-eastern cultures. The best thing for Americans to do is pay a visit and experience Israel for themselves.

Q: Who are some of your directing influences?

A: I know it’s a boring answer, but Steven Spielberg is a huge inspiration for me. His style of directing is something that is so unique, it is impossible to copy, and even today he has a lot to offer. His films are definitely the reason I find cinema to be inspiring and worth all the pain and hard work.

My next project will be my feature film “Shtiglitz”. It is a sci-fi -romantic comedy about a girl who is supposed to go on a date with the man of her dreams. On the night of her date, an alien invasion is breaking in her city. She decides a few aliens are not gonna stop her and leaves her house to meet her man. As you can imagine, Spielberg was an inspiration when I was writing the script…

Please note; Eliza’s interviews are done by email. All answers are unedited and come right from the lovely fingertips of her subjects:)

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