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An Interview with Rami Hilmi, Director and Star of The Tyro

by Mike Haberfelner

January 2023

Rami Hilmi on (re)Search my Trash

 

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Your new movie The Tyro - in a few words, what is it about?

 

Hey Michael… so The Tyro is about a youngish ambitious athlete who seeks the help of a professional retired teacher to assist him in mastering this unique art and sport to be a worthy competitor.

 

Now how did you come up with all the weird training techniques Everest has to undergo?

 

Basically they had to be carefully thought of and designed to suit the type of art that was integrated part of our story, so we needed to come up with the specific training techniques (that you saw) to give the story its credibility.

 

(Other) sources of inspiration for The Tyro?

 

Apart from the actual sport genre targeted in our film, as we feel it wasn’t a subject explored enough artistically, and we have genuine love for it, so inspired us to make a film about it. However, this particular story was also inspired by Rocky (1976) & The Karate Kid (1984), which were a huge part of my childhood.

 

So far you've been known mainly as an actor - so what inspired you to step behind the camera for The Tyro, and based on this experience, could you ever be persuaded to write and direct another movie?

 

A very good question… for the first part of the question, believe it or not The Tyro, wasn’t the first film was on the agenda to direct… we were gearing up to shoot our 1st feature that was in-production, it was in prep for like 9 months and a lot of work gone in to it, and the day we were about to start the shoot on the feature, of course the whole world closed on us with the pandemic putting a stop to everything, and of course a feature with large cast and crew was a no-go. But I was determined to make a film, and this is when The Tyro short was born during the pandemic, with minimal cast and crew in mind to keep with the guidelines, and of course it was the film that was safe to be made, and I knew how I wanted the direction of the film to go and be told… Now regarding me being persuaded to write and direct another film, I won’t be hard to persuade *Laugh* I very much enjoyed being behind the camera and getting creative. In fact I’ve already got another short film that is currently in post-production, close to completion, then will be submitted to multiple festivals.

 

Do talk about The Tyro's brand of humour for a bit!

 

The people who know me well enough, probably know that I don’t like to write or direct straightforward stories/films without adding extra layers, subtexts and unseen twists in the storytelling journeys. And when it comes to humour, I personally am not a fan of films where the jokes and humour seem forced, dry and trying hard to be funny… I very much like the dark humour in films, and of course light humour that is on par with the story, engaging, that naturally fits the film's mood and is unique in its approach. These are the vital points I keep in mind when I write comedy/dark comedy screenplays.

 

A few words about your directorial approach to your story at hand?

 

As I mentioned earlier that we filmed the short during the pandemic period, so we had to adapt and change our approach when filming The Tyro, due to high restrictions being put in place at that time, such as keeping distance and having a limited number of individuals in a group. So those kind of steps we needed to consider while at the same time maintaining the integrity of the story and natural film shoot, so selecting the specific talented cast & crew members who are passionate, committed, and multifaceted, was a must in order for the film shoot to succeed, as we were a very small team, which needed each of us to cover multiple tasks and jobs on the shoot… My approach starting from pre-stage I have taken all the cast and crew through the script, storyboards and visual still images of the locations, to help going through the scenes, explaining the way we are shooting them, the type of angles/shots we need, the locations chosen and why, and giving a guideline how their characters should be portrayed on the screen. It's crucial in my opinion that your cast and crew understands the way you see the film, so we're all on the same wavelength, and how the shooting schedules will be executed… Also as a director on set, I’m open and flexible for suggestions from all teammembers, and on a few occasions their points of view were important and taken on board, which helped in approaching certain angle shots better and smoother.

 

You also play the titular character in The Tyro - so what can you tell us about Everest/the Tyro, and what did you draw upon to bring him to life? And did you write him with yourself in mind from the get-go?

 

Excellent question… well first a disclaimer, a basic rule of thumb for me, I really don’t like to take on an acting role (especially a big role) while simultaneously directing the production, I prefer to keep the focus on ONLY 1 of those 2 jobs, as in my personal opinion they both require different energy levels and focus when doing them. However, on this specific production where the script was written purposely with minimal cast in mind, it wasn’t an issue. So the character of Everest, needed to be this kind of a useless looking character, that when the audience see him, instantly engage in his hopelessness and want to follow his journey... and yes, I have written the character of Everest to be played by me specifically, a) to keep the team small and safe, and b) the specifically designed scenes had to be approached in an unusual manner, and I didn’t want to bring an actor who may get hurt, it doesn't matter if I hurt myself of course while doing them, lol.

 

Do talk about the rest of your cast, and why exactly these people?

 

Sure, well first of all, we needed to choose a principal cast who was also local to the shoot locations, keeping their travels to the minimum, during the restrictions period, so when David Cradduck has been recommended to us by another actor friend of our production, we decided to audition him, and he was brilliant, and we straight away saw he was perfect for the role of Orson Constantine, so we met and went through the the script, discussing the scenes and character, and could see that David was quite open and flexible to suggestions while also adding his own experiences to it. We couldn’t have chosen anyone better for this role, and we were extremely pleased that he also managed to win the Best Supporting Actor award for the film, confirming how good of an actor he is. 

 

Now V Williams, a sport competitor and an actual real champion who was also a local to the shoot, (though was not an actor), but has wonderful characteristic features that I saw Williams to be perfect for this role, and played it superbly.

 

And of course Rudy Barrow [Rudy Barrow interview - click here], who I consider a very good friend and a versatile actor, as I have worked with him on many productions and seen his capabilities, so I like to have Rudy part of our productions whenever possible, so when he agreed to play the role of Lex Lynx (Commentator #1), we were excited to have him on board, as he brings this fresh and special energy to the role which is vital to our storytelling. To be honest, Rudy was already in mind during the script writing process.

 

And our last but not least human cast Jason Impey [Jason Impey interview - click here], who was also our film's DOP, playing the role of Fred (Commentator #2) was a no brainer. Though most people know Jason as a director, writer, DOP & editor, but Jason and I go a long way back, close to 2 decades of working on various productions together, and I’ve seen Jason as an actor on numerous productions, and he does throw himself to the challenges with ease, not afraid to take on roles and give his all, so I knew he can bring this subtle tone and humour to the character of Fred, and the debate between Rudy’s and Jason’s characters worked a treat.

 

Mort the Dog, this cute french bulldog, is a friend of the family, as his Mom a close of friend of ours, and we looked after this little one multiple times when his own family went abroad, so we have a special bond, and when we asked his Mom to have him in our film production, she immediately accepted and Mort was thrilled to be featured in the film and do his acting skills.

 

Last pet but again not least is Gesper the Cat, the friendly pet cat of the neighbourhood, he wasn’t originally cast, but Gesper decided to crash our film set and feature himself in it, and we again couldn’t have the heart to say no to his cute little face, and accepted to feature him.

 

What can you tell us about the shoot as such, and the on-set atmosphere?

 

We have been blessed with our wonderful crew and cast on The Tyro film production, so when we faced multiple issues and challenges, such as macro weather, noise and technical difficulties, they were addressed swiftly and we overcame them easily, thanks to the superb team working hard together, our producer Mery Bernabai, helped us to have and provided us with all the necessary equipments, props, costumes and other production needs on the days. Mery Bernabai also took care of the necessary paperworks, our meals, refreshments and requirements during the shoot … Our DOP (who we’ve mentioned previously) Jason Impey, in nature is extremely flexible and able to find a way to work around the issues that arose, due to his experience and talent… Our executive producer and good friend Tomasz Jurgielewicz, who straight away believed in our project and was excited to support it, so it was a blessing to have him on board, and he even came on set, assisting us while keeping our focus on achieving certain key shots for the scenes … Also our 1st AD Rainy Rixon, who I chose due to seeing her working really well on an extremely pressurised feature film set before, I found her handling the demands thrown at her from that large cast and crew set so well, which impressed me a lot and I knew she would be a great asset on our set. It was nice to have Rainy on board, also she understood my vision and what I was aiming to achieve, so her assistance and suggestions were very helpful to the production… I say the overall atmosphere on set was quite light and full of giggles and fun by all involved, remember it was a comedy we were making, but even if I was making a dark film, I would like to make sure the on-set atmosphere,remains light and relaxed for the whole crew, especially between takes and if involved intense scenes, and always listen to their suggestions and questions, these are all vital points for the success of the film, and also building a long lasting working relationship with all those individuals for future productions.

 

The $64-question of course, where can The Tyro be seen?

 

A good question, and we are working on this as swiftly as possible. The Tyro has completed its festival run now, and we have produced a batch of Blu-rays done professionally, so we will be having them available to purchase on the Chums Productions website soon. Also we are considering approaching the streaming companies such as Amazon and Netflix this year, and check what kind of a deal we can strike with them to have the film available to stream.

 

Anything you can tell us about audience and critical reception of The Tyro yet?

 

We are humbled and thankful that The Tyro was received well by critics and the judging panels, it did quite well in multiple festivals, it won few awards, and became finalists on others, plus honourable mention and official selections, below a few of them: 

Rome International Movie Awards - Winner Best Comedy 

Golden Nugget Film Festival - Winner Best Comedy

Absurd Film Festival - Winner

Monza Film Festival - Honourable Mention

Mediterranean Film Festival Cannes - Official Selection

Lit Laugh International Comedy Film Festival - Official Selection

Vancouver Independent Film Festival - Finalist

We are still planning to pass the film to a few further film critics as well.

 

Any future projects you'd like to share?

 

Sure, actually we have already filmed another short, Cherished Memories, which its its been in post-production for nearly a year now, it wasn’t in the plan to take so long, but unfortunately other commitments had to take precedent, but the film on its final editing stage, so not long now before this one also been submitted to the festival circuit… We also produced a teaser trailer for a period drama feature film set in 8th century England, that is wonderfully written by Gela Jenssen, as we are approaching investors and backers to help raise the needed budget to commence filming the full feature… plus we are planning to shoot 2 shorts back-to-back at some point in the second half of this year, then hopefully the following year (2024), we have certainty all clear and safe to go back and commence our filming on the feature that was planned previously.

 

Your/your movie's website, social media, whatever else?

 

Thank you for asking, please find some of the relevant links to The Tyro, our production company and my personal links too:

 

The Tyro:

Website: https://chumsproductions.com/productions/the-tyro/

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt14392098/

 

Chums Productions & All You Can Eat Films Ltd.

Website: https://chumsproductions.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/chumsproduction

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ChumsProductions/

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/company/64693435/

 

Rami Hilmi: 

Website: https://rami-hilmi.com/

IMDb: https://www.imdb.com/name/nm1972134/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/rami_hilmi

LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/ramihilmi/

 

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

 

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I would like to say a huge “Thank You” to one more crew member we’ve not mentioned yet, who during the film’s post-production period was a vital key player in the success of the The Tyro, and that is none other than our long time friend and film composer Rusty Apper, who has composed phenomenal tracks for the scenes, adding more vibrancy and atmosphere to the film’s storytelling. Though we have been approached by a number of composers who are extremely talented themselves, Rusty was in mind to compose the score from the beginning, during the script writing process. Unbelievably wide range of compositions that he's able to compose with ease, it had put no doubt in my mind he will create something special for our project, and I was proven 100% correct, we couldn’t have asked for better music that suits the film's tone… Lastly, I like to pass my deep gratitude and thanks to all the cast and crew members that I have worked with over the years. Since I started my film and television journey, a number of them became quite close friends, and it has been a real pleasure working with them repeatedly on various productions. And of course a big shout out and a heap of “Thanks” goes to you Michael [Michael Haberfelner interview - click here], as probably goes without saying, that you and I have become good friends over the many years we knew each other, through working together on multiple projects, may the future force be a bright one!

 

Thanks for the interview!

 

Thank you, Michael!

 

© by Mike Haberfelner


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Thanks for watching !!!



 

 

Robots and rats,
demons and potholes,
cuddly toys and
shopping mall Santas,
love and death and everything in between,
Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

is all of that.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to
-
a collection of short stories and mini-plays
ranging from the horrific to the darkly humourous,
from the post-apocalyptic
to the weirdly romantic,
tales that will give you a chill and maybe a chuckle, all thought up by
the twisted mind of
screenwriter and film reviewer
Michael Haberfelner.

 

Tales to Chill
Your Bones to

the new anthology by
Michael Haberfelner

 

Out now from
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On the same day
a Burglar wants to kill you
and your Ex wants
to make up ...
... and for the life of it,
you can't decide
WHICH IS WORSE!!!

 

A Killer Conversation

produced by and starring
Melanie Denholme
directed by
David V.G. Davies
written by
Michael Haberfelner
starring
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Rudy Barrow

out now on DVD