By Juan Doe
In 2013 we showcased the trailer to “Koyakatsi” a fantastic proof of concept film idea from writer and director Ayoub Qanir, a talented filmmaker and storyteller who we pegged as someone worth keeping an eye on.
With his latest project, Artificio Conceal, a 17 minute mind bender that touches on some very deep and metaphysical topics we wanted to spotlight its selection in the 2015 Cannes Film Festival.
After screening the movie and being thoroughly impressed, we caught up with Ayoub to discuss the project, the process and where he sees it going from there.
1. How did the story for Artificio Conceal come about?
It all started during my road trip through the south of Italy, two summers ago- In Sicily, more precisely. The region was enigmatic, full of charm and history. One of the most piercing elements, Sicily is known for, is being a point of emergence for some of the most notorious Italian gangsters that migrated to America in the early 40’s. The exposure to such density of style and intrepidness gave way to the sensibility and urge to tell a compelling high concept story carved in the world of authentic gangs-try.
Merged with a thick and dense world of stylized and romantic criminal life was my encrusted interest in the essence and Human quest for meaning– I have long-pondered over the thought and concept of what does meaning really mean, and what was subsequently its place in our mapping of the universe, as I describe in my essay– We Are Meaning. And so the base was ready and the film was brewing– I had my two main themed interests set and so begun the writing of what would become Artificio Conceal, today.
2. The film deals with some really stimulating topics, nods to the uncertainty principle, mind hacking and the creation of a quantum clock to name a few, how do you balance all of these ideas while keeping the tract of the narrative intact?
TIME. Time is the answer to most questions haunting our curiosity today, and also to your question. There were many scientific and philosophical developments of interest for me to include in this film. And as much as they may feel disjoint at first, they actually all connect and complement each other through the film. And so, by drafting several versions of the same script and allowing myself the time to process, write, re-write some more and most importantly share with collaborators helped the melange become clear and the message focused.
It is very important to start a concept with multiple string and anchors. Yet, it’s even more important to allow them the proper time to find their adequate place in the story for a most stimulating and provocative narration.
3. Simon Armstrong and David Bailie give first rate performances, how did you get them involved with the project?
I was intensely pleased when I was informed David Bailie heard of my film-project and wanted to be a part of it. It was a delight to count on him and have him be so enthusiastic over the project. Him and I spent months rehearsing his role and polishing his character. David’s involvement gave rise to a great creative confidence that pushed me to reach out to Simon Armstrong and propose the film to him. His agent read my script and gave it to Simon who shared a similar approval. Two weeks later Simon was also on board.
The greatest feeling is that today they love the film and have expressed their interest in working with me again, anytime. And that, for a filmmaker, is truly comforting and confidence inducing.
4. The score of the film was emphatically epic! Can you give us a breakdown of the sound design and who composed it?
The music composition of the film was specifically important to me. I wanted the film to have a grand emotional grab while keeping a tantalizing scope and a subtle kick of experimentalism. It was a lot to ask a music composer which is why I started searching for a musical collaborator more than 6 months prior to filming. I knew I wanted to compose several pieces before shooting– giving the music the chance to manipulate and influence the picture. After a long and specific search, I was introduced to Zelig’s Matthew Wilcock who was excited and enthused about the film and my approach to music. He and partner, Aleah Morisson, jumped on board right away, and we started composing early pieces, that would later get polished and applied to final musical canvas.
5. Was the intent to make this a self contained short film or to create a proof of concept that can be extended to a feature film?
That is a question that I still ask myself sometimes. When writing and creating, the short itself was the end of the line- complete and satisfying creative composite. However, the moment the film started being exposed to viewers, I started receiving several inquiries from producers and agents alike to package and develop the feature film of the latter. As of recently, we have a keenly interested party, engaged in talks to develop the feature. All I can say is that they are one of the most prominent agencies in the industry.
Ayoub Qanir is a film writer director, industrial designer and science advocate currently attending a graduate program in nanotechnology at Harvard University.