Tomer Shushan is a writer and director from Israel whose 2017 short film Inside Shells screened in FIPA, Sao Paulo International Short Film Festival and many other festivals. White Eye is his second short, which went on to win the Best Short Film Award in Haifa International Film Festival 2019. He is currently developing a TV series Torso and his first feature Between the Sacred and The Secular. Tomer talks to us about his work on White Eye…
indieactivity : Give a background of your personal experience with the story, writing and the production?
Tomer Shushan : This story actually happened to me. About two years ago, I was on my way to meet my mentor to finalize a script for a short film I was working on for a few months. It was the last day to send it to one of the Israeli film foundations. On the way, in the middle of the street, I saw my stolen bicycle, some aggressive instinct came out of me, and I could go away without the bikes, then the whole story like it presented in the film happened but with a better end. While I was overwhelmed by the recent experience, my mentor told me to write it down as a script. So I did and I’ve sent it instead of what we were working on. After 40 minutes WHITE EYE script was born and after one year came out as a short film.
indieactivity : Did you start writing with a cast in mind?
Tomer Shushan : No, but I knew exactly what I’m looking for in any of the characters. The good and confused eyes of the Omer the main actor, the helpless look of Yunas the Eritrean refugee, the insecure cup and the powerful Jewish cup. All these things I wanted to find in the real personality of the actors, so I just met them with no auditions.
indieactivity : How long did you take to complete the script? (Do you have a writing process?)
Tomer Shushan : So as I mentioned, it took me 40 minutes to write it down while I was still agitated. Then I wanted to finish it differently, so the audience would feel what I felt. So since that day the script has not changed.
indieactivity : What was your first project?
Tomer Shushan : This is my first independent film after film school. I graduated in 2016 and made in film school four narrative short films, and two short documentaries.
indieactivity : Which scene (that made the cut) was the hardest to shoot?
Tomer Shushan : Since this film is one shot, I can say that the moment that was the hardest and was the most important is the scene where Yunas tells Omer the story of the bicycles from his point of view. Since Dawit (Yunas) is a non actor and had a long text to remember and perform with a language that he doesn’t really speak. For me it was a moment that I was really hoping that will be like I imagined and actually came out really good in all the takes we did.
indieactivity : What worked better in this latest production that mightn’t have worked so well in the last one you did?
Tomer Shushan : In every department everything worked excellent. I guess something about the story and me with better experience carried everyone to be more committed. In film school you go with the people who are willing to go with you. But when you have a chance to cast carefully the team and go with the ones who fit the project perfectly, you can do it ideally.
indieactivity : Is there anything about the independent filmmaking business that you struggle with?
Tomer Shushan : I guess my answer will be quite obvious, to get funds. There are a lot of talented filmmakers that struggle to receive the support from the film funds. You have an idea, you have actors, crew and location but with no funds there is nothing to do.
indieactivity : Where do you think your strengths lie as a filmmaker?
Tomer Shushan : I believe the deep passion I have to make people get excited and to make them confront themselves is what is driving me to do it. I believe that telling stories with my point of view about life and moments with visuals and sounds that blooms in my mind are my strengths.
indieactivity : How was the film financed?
Tomer Shushan : The film received support from The Makor Film Foundation which covered the main budget of the film and I added more personal funds to complete it.
indieactivity : What do you hope audiences get from your film?
Tomer Shushan : I hope that after watching this movie, a person will ask himself what he would do in such a situation, or from that point, when a person is facing the weaker, he will try to look at the situation from a different angle and not just from his own place and ego. Eventually, the material is biodegradable, it has no value without the human psyche that defines it. What defines a person is his actions in the world.
indieactivity : What else have you got in the works?
Tomer Shushan : I’m developing two projects these days. The first one is my debut feature film, “Between the sacred and the secular”.
The film is about an unexpected love story that happens one night in a wedding celebration between a thirty years old waiter and a rich young woman, that comes from two different classes and carries them to a wild night journey of passion which raises a threat of existence.
The second one is a T.V series named “TORSO”. It is about Leon, a private investigator who was hired by the suspicious wife of a police detective. Instead of discovering the husband’s unfaithfulness, Leon reveals his complex secret. Going deeper and deeper in the trace Leon gets the chance to save the life of innocent people.
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