Samantha Casella Interview: Director Of Short Film To a God Unknown

Samantha Casella has been creating short films for years, focusing on experimental filmmaking styles and story narratives as her specialty. Most recently, her film To A God Unknown has taken the short film community by storm, with praise for taking the classic John Steinback novel to new heights.

In honor of the short film’s success, we interviewed Casella about her filmmaking journey and what inspired her particular style of filmmaking. 


Why do you make films?

I don’t have a real answer. I think moviemaking for me is an exploration of my inner world: I am fascinated by the darkness that proliferates in people’s hearts and minds and at the same time I’m intrigued by the mystery that hides behind events, whether they are the consequence of a higher will or determined by fate. 


How did you start making film and what was your first film project and how did it go?

My first project was a short film, Juliette. I attended a School of Cinema and the film was my “directing essay”. It was a very simple story, a dialogue between a priest and a woman sentenced to death. Before the first ciak I was a little scared, but then everything went well.


What kind of films inspired you as a director?

I approached the cinema thanks to the movies of Ingmar Bergman, Martin Scorsese, Krsystof Kieslowski and Stanley Kubrick. I am interested by religious themes, by the darkness that engulfs the soul. These directors have explored the good and evil in their movies. I consider it awesome.


What genre of filmmaking are you trying to work on as a filmmaker?

I try to find my way, step by step. I would like directing introspective stories, which leave space for experimentation and with a language not too narrative.

Please name three of your most favorite directors?

At the moment Terrence Malick, Paul Thomas Anderson and Ingmar Bergman. 


What is the most challenging thing about making indie films?

The freedom to decide many aspects of the project, make the movie as a pure creature.


Do you consider yourself an indie filmmaker?

Sure. I think I’ll always be an indie filmmaker.


Do you plan to continue working independently as a filmmaker?

I hope to find a form of support, a producer who makes it happen for the project to move forward in the best possible way. 


To A God Unknown is a poetic arthouse film. How did poetry affect the cinematic language of the film?

Very much. I think my love for literature, for poetry, for art in all her forms have been the basis for this short film.


How do you plan to find a larger audience for your short films and what do you think about the distribution of short films in the film industry?

It is a demanding question. There are some festivals that do a lot for independent filmmakers and this is awesome. The distribution of short films is not easy, but I’m optimistic… We  have to commit ourselves to making quality movies, and the film industry might start to support short films more.

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© Toronto Film Mag I 2020