Nightcap with Noshtna Smyana [Night Shift]
What drove you to explore the story of Hristo?
Despite being very specific in its details, the story touches on some broader topics that are important and close to us – workers’ exploitation, racial tensions in Bulgaria, friendship and sacrifice. The story is a vehicle to explore and bring out these topics. We thought that even though it’s a darker side of reality, it also offered great cinematic potential.
How well do you know the town and that world of coalmining? What research did you carry out?
We spent almost a full year before filming visiting the towns associated with the business and meeting real miners. We visited locations with real “holes in the ground”, and managed to get in trouble with some local mines’ security guards during location scouting. We also collected a lot of newspaper and TV articles on the topic, and used them as a reference for the set design and art-direction of the film. Overall, we wanted to be as close to reality as possible.
The film could easily be a feature, given the story arc and character development. Do you have any plans to develop it into one? Otherwise, what would you like to work on next?
After our first short, Auf Wiedersehen, we were thinking about doing a “longer short”, and wrote the script with that intent. In the end, we left a lot of shot material on the floor during editing. We are currently working on our first feature film with the working title Giyur, which has been supported with a development grant by the Bulgarian National Film Center. The film concerns the story of a young adult, going through the process of accepting Judaism, struggling to fit in and finding his own calling.
How did your collaboration take place?
In brief, we now joke that we argue a lot and then we make a film. But we now already know each other’s strong sides, and we lean on each other during the different steps of the process, as well as the shooting itself.
What do you think the future holds for short films?
We are hoping they continue to gain wider recognition, as well as mainstream audience exposure, which at least in Bulgaria is yet to happen. We hope to see them on the big screen in cinemas not only at festivals; we want to see them aired on TV (again, this is something that is happening, but not so much where we live). Short films need all the support they can get – institutional, financial, administrative – and we hope this happens more and more.
If we were to go back into lockdown, what cultural or artistic delights would you recommend to alleviate our boredom?
To quote a film title – Whatever Works; anything that one can find comfort in.