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An Interview with Itai Guberman, Writer, Producer, Director, CEO of MyIndie Productions

by Mike Haberfelner

November 2019

Films directed by Itai Guberman on (re)Search my Trash

 

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First of all, why don't you introduce yourself to those of us who don't already know you?

 

My name is Itai Guberman. I am an Israeli-Australian writer, director and producer. I have made several shorts and a web series and am currently going through the (long) process of completing a feature film. I am the founder and CEO of MyIndie Productions, which operates both as a film production company AND an independent artists community.

 

Could you talk about some of the projects you are working on at the moment, and are there any future projects you'd like to share?

 

At the moment I am in the process of completing my first feature film, Revelation. We have shot half the film, then took a break and experienced some delay in getting back to production. We are now in the midst of pre-production for the second half of shooting. We hope to complete the production in 2020.

 

What got you into filmmaking in the first place, and did you receive any formal training on the subject?

 

I have been a fan of film ever since I can remember. I have been watching a ridiculous amount of films from a very young age and always had an affinity for the arts. I read almost as many books as I see films. I also used to write short stories as a young kid. At around 2006, I had a conversation with a close friend of mine, Peter Angel, and we decided to write and make a short film. We co-wrote a short script, auditioned a number of actors and decided on the cast, partnered up with a DP/editor, who I co-directed the film with, got some friends to help out and went out and shot it.

 

The result was a short film called The Collector, which we actually sent to a handful of festivals and it got into a couple. We then made a few skits for a segment on a public TV channel show and unsuccessfully tried to shoot a feature. We had to fold that production when we realized we'd need more money than we thought. After that, we took a long break from filmmaking, which was just a hobby at the time. In 2009, I moved from Australia back to Israel, my birth country which I left at the age of 13. In 2010, I decided to go to film school and in 2014 completed my Master's Degree in Film & Television from Tel-Aviv University. I've been making films ever since.

 

Do talk about your production company MyIndie Productions, and the philosophy behind it!

 

The production company was put together to give a framework under which I could keep making more films. When the company website went live, I decided to dedicate part of it to an independent artists community. I decided to do that in order to try to help other filmmakers who are in the same boat as us, find more audience, get more exposure, etc. My thinking is that as indie filmmakers, we are all in the same boat and if we band together, we'd be much stronger and get much further. Artists tend to think that they are in competition with other artists, which couldn't be farther from the truth. The success of any indie filmmaker is good for everyone as it places more attention on the indie industry and as a result, creates more chances for others to succeed. We believe that if artists promoted each others' work, we'd be able to share audiences and help one another improve and succeed. There is too much petty jealousy and competition going on. Some think that they can build themselves up by tearing others down which is simply not true, or right. We hope to help diffuse that a little and create a spirit of camaraderie among artists.

 

What can you tell us about your MyIndie Productions co-conspirator (and frequent co-writer, co-director, actor) Asaf Angel, and what's your collaboration like? And how did the two of you first meet even?

 

Asaf and I met at Tel-Aviv University and found we had a lot in common when it comes to film. That passion for filmmaking meant that we were helping almost all of our friends on their productions. We did everything from just being a helping extra set of hands on set, to lighting, to boom, sound recording, cinematography and script editing and advice. As we also helped each other with every project we were making, we started consulting one another often and eventually thought that teaming up would be the next natural step. Once I got MyIndie registered and up and running, Asaf joined and we got to work pretty much right away. To date, we have made several shorts, a web series, two seasons of an indie film review series and, well, half a feature :) Asaf also had a big part in assisting with getting the independent artists community up and running, which we still personally operate today.

 

Let's go through your filmography a bit: Your first movie was I think The Collector from 2007 - so what's that one about, how did it come into being, and looking back at it now, how do you feel about it?

 

The Collector, as mentioned earlier, was when filmmaking was just a hobby. My good friend, Peter Angel (today the CEO at AngerMan Distribution), and I decided to just go out and make a short. We just wrote it, put a cast & crew together and went out and made it. It was great fun and I think that's when the match, or the spark, was lit. It gave me the understanding that I can get all these ideas on paper and use all that knowledge of film to try to make some original projects come to life. The Collector will forever be one of my favourites, as it was my very first film. It was also a collaboration from the get-go. I co-wrote and co-produced it with Peter and co-directed with Thanassi Arthur Panagiotaras, so collaboration from that point on came easy to me. The Collector is a crime comedy that needs to be seen. It is very difficult to say what it's about without spoiling. We are currently trying to improve the footage so that we can post it online in decent quality at some stage, so stay tuned :)

 

With Third Temple, you made a political thriller - so do talk about the movie's plot, and is it in any way inspired by actual events?

 

Third Temple is a script that took the current state of affairs in Israel in 2014 and amped it up to 11... hundred. It is a political thriller that deals with the issues of corrupt governments and how they affect their public. It may be best that I don't say too much about the plot as it needs to be experienced. The idea came from the social protest of 2011 in Israel, which started by people rallying together in demonstrations against the ever-rising costs of living, especially the costs of housing. It became a national story that went on for a while and caused a small change in the government, but hardly enough. Corruption is just embedded too deep in this government that it needs to be yanked at the root one day, but that is unlikely to happen, so largely, the status quo remains. We set Third Temple at 2017 (then three years in the future) and followed from those 2011 events.

 

Your webseries The Bruised Spring's Teens - again, what's the story, and what can you tell us about its brand of comedy? And how does shooting a series compare to making a self-contained film?

 

The Bruised Spring's Teens happened shortly after Third Temple was completed. We were spent and needed a long break after a tough production and not-so-easy post-production for Third Temple and decided to take a couple of months off. After a few days, we were already itching to do something new. I had The Bruised Spring's Teens concept in mind for a while and decided to go ahead and write the first episode. We went into shooting within days. I wrote the other four episodes, we cast two fantastic actors in Tzachi Cohen and the late Tomer Shechori and went to work. Asaf and I acted as a two-man crew, basically handling all crew responsibilities between the two of us. It was cheap and quick and exactly how we wanted it.

 

The premise came from people at film school constantly advising us to "shoot what we know", so I thought it would be funny to make a web series about two guys who want to make a webseries, let the world collapse into itself and let the chips fall where they may :) The BST, as we call it, is a wacky comedy that parodies and spoofs well-known films and one TV series. It needs to be seen to be understood, and even then you might be left scratching your head. Some get it, some don't. We love it :)

 

Your psychological thriller Dolphin - what's that one about, and the inspirations for it?

 

Well, Dolphin actually came about as a result of a discussion with, and a challenge laid down by, a lecturer at university. We had a discussion about weapons, mainly guns and the way they are portrayed in Israeli films and TV. We came to a conclusion that most films and TV don't do it well and it hardly ever looks convincing, aside for in films about the Army. My lecturer said that it is very difficult to do and I disagreed, so he challenged me to make a film in which a gun is used and to make it look authentic and convincing. I am quite stubborn, so I mapped out a script on the bus ride home from university and went on to write Dolphin. To keep a long story short, I proved him wrong. We actually shot Dolphin before Third Temple, but we had some issues with the rights to the music. We re-edited the film and finally released it in 2016. It did quite well, winning Best Actress at Red Phoenix International Film Festival in the U.S., for the wonderful Inbal Eizenberg, who co-starred with Asaf Angel, and it also picked up Best International Short Film at ACAFilms Low Film Festival in Brazil. Not bad considering we only sent it to a handful of festivals. As far as cinematic inspirations beyond the challenge laid and accepted, I guess there are some De Palma influences in there, a dash of Tarantino and some subgenre influences I'd rather not mention so as not to give too much away.

 

Your most recently released film is the horror short Ivy - so what's the plot there, and do talk about your movie's approach to horror for a bit!

 

Well firstly, Ivy was actually not meant to be a short film at all. Ivy is part of the Revelation feature film we are working on. The film is divided into segments and Ivy is one of them. Once we shot it, we decided to use it to "test the water" and see how the viewing public will respond to the material. As it is part of the feature, we could not release it online for free viewing, so we went the festival route. It was quite a big success in a festival run which we decided to cut short once we got our answer. It was an official selection at thirty festivals and won nine awards. We really can't complain :)

 

As for the plot, the short synopsis is "Ivy is a short psychological horror-thriller about a manís struggle to come to grips with his deteriorating mental state stemming from losing the love of his life." I can't tell you anymore, it really needs to be seen.

 

As for my approach to horror, it is quite simple. I believe a distinction needs to be made in horror. As far as viewers and fans, they are mostly covered by two groups: Horror film fans and horror fans. Horror fans love everything horror. They love it when it's good, love it when it's bad and fall over themselves to see it again and again when it is mediocre. Horror film fans are a lot more picky. This is because they are film fans, first and foremost, and anything they watch (they also like other genres, believe it or not) still needs to be a good MOVIE. I think that there are many terrible horror films out there that are very successful as they cater for horror fans. Some of those films are even considered classics, but if you examine them from a filmmaking point of view, they are shockingly bad. As I want to survive to finish my feature, I will not name any. LOL. Horror fans are very passionate about their favourites. But seriously, I don't see anything wrong with it, I just believe the distinction should be made. Some are great films and others are just great horror pieces that happen to also be films, just not very good ones. There are also films that cross over between the two and are pretty great.

 

I consider myself first and foremost a film fan, so my horror needs to have some sophistication behind it and it needs to show some quality, first in the storytelling and script departments and then also in production value. I try to make the best film I can make, not the best horror. I am not a huge fan of gore or jump scares. I don't mind gore or a clever jump scare, one that belongs in the story, but I don't go out of my way to have them in my films. I like to both challenge and entertain my audience and I hope I succeed.

 

You seem to try your hands on a lot of genres - so why is that, and are there any genres especially close to you?

 

As mentioned earlier, I started in writing and making comedy, then moved on to thrillers, then horror. So it was a steady process. While I currently am concentrating on horror, I do intend to make comedies, thrillers and even straight dramas in the future. It's all about story. If the story is good and the production is under a budget we can find, I'll make it.

 

I grew up on Mel Brooks and Jim Abrahams and the Zucker Brothers-type comedies. I also waited with great anticipation for films with Bill Murray, Dan Aykroyd, Jim Belushi, Gene Wilder, Eddie Murphy and other comedians of those eras. At the same time, I also loved any kind of thrillers, French action films and dramas, European horror, any other horror and possibly most of all, westerns. I loved anything from s

spaghetti western to bigger productions and while most people find it difficult to believe, my favourite all-time film is a western. Sci-fi later got into the mix and before I knew it, I realized I did not play favourites with films and just loved all genres as long as they gave me some viewing value, whether plain entertainment or a more intelligent challenge.

 

Over the years, you've moved operations from Israel to Australia - so what prompted that move, and how does filming in Israel compare to making movies down under?

 

I made my first short in Australia under the now defunct company Vagrant Productions. Peter Angel, who was my partner in the company, and I started it in order to try to make films as a hobby, but leaving the option open to pursue it further. After we made The Collector and The Latino Movie Show skits, Peter got married and started a family, so he had less time and we folded Vagrant. In 2009, I decided to move back to Israel as I needed a life change. Once there, I noticed I had the time and ability to do it, so I went to film school. The MyIndie idea was with me for years and I registered the company while on one of my temporary stays in Australia. When I started making films in Israel, I kept them under the MyIndie banner and will continue to do that in the future, no matter where the films are made.

 

When I made films in Australia, I was working as an amateur, which is more comparable to making films as a student in Israel. Once out of film school, it's a whole new world. It's time to start paying cast & crew and look at things more professionally. The budgets need to be realized somehow and they keep getting larger. On the plus side, the films keep improving steadily as well. These days I believe films are somewhat more expensive to make in Australia than in Israel, but upcoming productions will hopefully take places in both countries, as well as the U.S. or wherever filmmaking takes me :)

 

You of course also have to talk about the MyIndie Review Vlog for a bit, and the idea behind it!

 

We started MyIndie Review Vlog for two reasons. The first was to have a platform for indie filmmakers to have their films reviewed and showcased. A video review can look a lot better than a written review, mainly as you show parts of the film or trailer in the review and pique people's interest. The second reason was to give Asaf an outlet as an actor. We both write the episodes, but Asaf gets to review them in front of the camera and we have steadily given him more and more rope to play around with... as long as he doesn't hurt himself ;)

 

How would you describe yourself as a director?

 

I'm not sure. It might be for other people to say. I believe I communicate well with my actors. That is mainly due to the fact that I write the scripts and the vision is mine and so I see it very clearly and that makes it easier to communicate to others. So far I've had a great time with my actors and crew for the most part. I enjoy directing and along with writing, are the only roles I hope to fill in future productions. I don't enjoy producing much, so I hope to do less of it as we go forward. It might not be possible, but it's nice to dream :)

 

Filmmakers who inspire you?

 

Probably too many to mention, so a few off the top of my head... Krzysztof Kieslowski, Sergio Leone, Sam Peckinpah, John Ford, Sidney Lumet, John Sturges, Stanley Kubrick, Brian De Palma and Mel Brooks, among others. More recent influences can include Paul Thomas Anderson, the Coen Brothers, Jim Jarmusch, Quentin Tarantino, Denis Villeneuve, Olivier Assayas, Francois Ozon and probably many others for a variety of reasons.

 

Your favourite movies?

 

Ah, the million Dollar question. Luckily, I am one of the few filmmakers that have a definite answer of a one favourite film, which is The Magnificent Seven from 1960. I just love it and watch it at least once a year. I am also a huge fan of Blade Runner, John Carpenter's The Thing, Pulp Fiction, Donnie Darko, Enemy (2013), Grosse Pointe Blank and many, many more.

 

... and of course, films you really deplore?

 

I hate films that show no originality and simply ride the success of other films. I am not a big fan of remakes, reboots, re-imaginings, sequels, etc., although they do work in some cases. I particularly deplore many of the films today that donít place much care and attention to the story and script. Many can have one flaw in them that can ruin the whole film and was easily correctable had they put attention to that. I feel most script for films released these days are just well below acceptable.

 

Your/your movie's website, Facebook, whatever else?

 

You can find all our project pages on our MyIndie website: https://myindieproductions.com/

 

MyIndie projects on VOD:

Dolphin: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/155001

Third Temple: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/155000

The Bruised Spring's Teens: https://vimeo.com/ondemand/154100

 

MyIndie Review Vlog: https://myindieproductions.com/myindie-review-vlog/

 

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Revelation page: https://www.facebook.com/RevelationFeatureFilm/

Ivy page: https://www.facebook.com/IvyMovie/

The Bruised Spring's Teens page: https://www.facebook.com/TheBruisedSpringsTeens/

Third Temple page: https://www.facebook.com/thirdtemplemovie/

 

MyIndie Twitter: https://twitter.com/MyIndieProd

MyIndie Instagram (not as active as we'd like): https://www.instagram.com/myindieproductions/

 

Anything else you're dying to mention and I have merely forgotten to ask?

 

Yeah. People... #SupportIndieFilm #SupportIndieArtists !! :)

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Robots and rats,
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Tales to Chill
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Your Bones to
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Tales to Chill
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Out now from
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a Burglar wants to kill you
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WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

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directed by
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written by
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starring
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