Meet Filmmaker Athena Mandis
Our ‘Filmonomics Filmmaker Profile’ series spotlights each of our 2015 Filmonomics participants, giving you an insight into their projects and working practice. This week, we chat to Athena Mandis about falling into film, screwball comedies and the need for thick skin as a filmmaker…
- Why do you think you are a filmmaker?
I fell into film by accident. My passion was theatre. I was fortunate enough to work with David Glass after graduating in Dramaturgy from CSSD. I suppose here I cut my teeth on story, but more importantly got introduced to film and the storytelling opportunities, it helped that David’s style and work was heavily influenced by film. When, by chance I got the opportunity to just go out and make a film, I was hooked on the desire to tell stories through this medium.
- What is the project you are burning to make and why?
I am currently working on two projects: BREAD is a Screwball comedy set in the Greek community of North London – a modern telling of Jason and the Argonauts. This has been a cathartic experience so far as it draws on and my co-writer /co-director’s and mine own experiences of growing up. We want to represent London as it is for us, not necessarily a gangland or twee but multicultural and complex. The other project ANATOLIAN SKIES is an adaption from a novel about the Armenian Genocide. For me this is a story about displacement and a search for home, something that not only is personal, but also is witnessed in today’s refuge crisis.
- Tell us about the latest film / exhibition / book / public figure / article to have inspired you.
The last film that inspired me was MACBETH, I loved the subjectivity of this and the rawness of emotion – Brilliant. In that same tone the article in Screen International on Laszlo’s Nemes’ SON OF SAUL. Both of which potray the visual language of how I want to make ANATOLIAN SKIES – through the subjective view point.
- What frustrates you about what you do? How do you overcome this?
I frustrate me! One has to be so self-motivated and thick skinned in this world that it is very easy to lose sight of your passion and need to tell stories. Action is the only way to overcome this. To do something, however little, everyday. To not worry on the obstacles, to see them as challenges that need to be overcome. Actually to get out of one’s comfort zone, to rise to the challenge and focus on making the work.
- What advice can you offer up to someone who wants to make filmmaking his or her career?
I teach filmmaking at Queen Mary, University of London, so everyday I encounter students who want to make this there career. Those that go far, are the one’s who through naivety are unaware of the pitfalls therefore just go for it. There is something wonderful about this energy. So, really my advice is just go for it. What’s the worse that can happen? So you make a film you feel could have been better. Brilliant, your next will. It’s hard to succeed if you don’t accept that failing is part of that
- Name one way the Filmonomics programme has helped clear the path ahead for you or your project.
Immensely! It has given me the confidence to push forward when I was beginning to feel overwhelmed by the reality of it all. Meeting a group of such talented and like-minded women has been hugely inspiring and has led to some wonderful collaborations. It has helped be clarify my role on my projects and my vision and given me the necessary push to continue. For me it has been a milestone moment. I feel I will look back and it will be the point where things took a different turn. In a nut shell, it gave me the kick that I needed.