Heidi Iro is an award winning Filmmaker, as well as the Executive Producer of Red Bull TV. Having grown up in Austria and also having lived in Canada, she discusses how her upbringing and life experiences fused into one of her latest short films, ‘About A Boat’.
What inspired your latest film, ‘About A Boat?’
This film was inspired by a moment in my life, where I came face to face with dealing with my issues with my parents separation, and the results of not dealing with it at all, until that moment. It was a couple of years into my own marriage, I started having nightmares and started questioning if I was ever going to be a mother, if I even wanted to have children, what I wanted to be in life, if there was more for me than what I had. It was a tough time as my family was in Europe, and I was living thousands of miles away in Canada. So I started writing.
What challenges did you have to face making the film?
My main challenge was finishing the script. When I fist start writing, it comes form a place of truth and pain and heavy emotion. That doesn’t make for a shootable script. It actually took me 6 years to finish it. There was a long stretch in time, where I hated reading it every time I tried to continue.
So I stopped for a while. When I finally got back to it, I had to find a way, to make it shootable, go away from just writing dialogue and story, but build an environment and create moments.
Do you prefer to direct your own script or take on material from another writer?
I have never directed material from another writer. I would actually love to try that. I think it’s tough though. It would have to be someone’s material, who is open to ideas and a healthy discussion. I don’t think I could just execute.
In which way has Austria and your upbringing influenced your work?
Well, the film has everything to do with my upbringing, my family and friends. I don’t think it has a ton to do with having grown up in Austria. Although come to think of it, the location of course is a marvel of Austria, and this has been in my head from the moment I thought of writing this film.
Fall at the lake is my favorite time of the year, when only a few boats are left on the water, before they all go on to the dry dock. In terms of filmmaking, I am heavily influenced by Canadian independent film, as I spent my formative years, in Vancouver.
I realized when we were working together that you had this incredible sensibility, this understanding for your characters, where do you think this comes from?
Major Backstory. I know who they are, as most of them are based on me, and my experiences, or friends or loved ones. What I enjoy most is that I get to create a parallel world, where I can manipulate a moment, a reaction in a different direction, than how it happened in real life. Re-write real life.
So when I direct, I can explain exactly what the character is going through, where his emotions are rooted from. I have to say though, I rarely have worked with someone like you, who was such a sponge for all that, and was able to create such a truthful performance because of it.
It was a blessing to work with you because I knew the story came from such a genuine place. When did you first start envisioning a creative life for yourself?
Good question. I don’t think I ever did. I wasn’t that type of child. I never had ambitions or dreams, kind of like others who know they want to be a doctor or a lawyer (ha, to quote the film). It was always part of me, and things fell into place naturally. I do have to say though, that I wish I had more ambition and more drive, from a place of ego. Maybe I would be more successful.
What has been the greatest lesson you have learned in filmmaking?
Prepare the shit out of things and then trust your instincts, have an opinion and make a call. Nothing worse than trying to figure things out 100% as you go. I am all for improvisation, but only with a fully researched foundation.
Do you have any projects in development that you would like to bring to the screen as a director?
I am dabbling a bit in the documentary genre. I am trying to get funding for a film based on my personal struggles with food, diets and mental health issues related to wrong eating. But I have been really distracted with my day job lately, so I set my goal to finish the research in 2017 and hopefully get to a stage where I can start having serious conversations with people, about the project.