Interview with Simone Neviani, Director of Ava
We sat down with Simone Neviani to chat about his latest sci-fi short film, Ava, and pitching a satirical TV show.
You’ve worked across a wide range of roles as an actor, a writer and a director. How did you get started in the industry?
I got my start in theatre, actually. My first roles were in theatre productions and I went to an acting school in Sydney. From there, things started to unfold and I slowly moved into commercials, television and films. When it comes to producing and the creative side of things, like writing and directing, I’m entirely self-taught. And I’ve really done my homework over the past few years. I’ve tried to learn as much as possible.
Ava is a lonely science-fiction romance. What inspired you to tell this story?
I ended up directing Ava after someone I knew sent me the script. I liked the story, but I felt there were some hidden elements to it that could be brought to life, so that made me eager to direct it. It felt like a story that could resonate with people, with its ambiguities and uncertainties. I added a bit more personal stuff and personal ‘flavour,’ I’d call it - the astral projection was my idea, for example.
My biggest inspirations were the sci-fi show Black Mirror, as well as the directing style of Wes Anderson and his symmetrical cinematography. I tried to keep everything in the frame and tell this story about two people through that sense of symmetry and balance. Even the title itself is symmetrical. But making a short film is different to making a feature, so I was watching sequences and clips of films more than entire films. That allowed me to see what would work best with what I wanted.
Are there any filmmakers that really inspire you, or that you really admire?
I come from a more emotional place, so I’m more concentrated on the story than the style. The most recent one that had a great impact on me was Portrait of a Lady on Fire. It was simply beautiful.
The film was your debut as a director. What were some of the most important lessons you learned working on the project?
I think it’s important to be surrounded by people who believe in your vision, and therefore in your project. That’s number one. And give yourself more pre-production time. That way you can plan everything more in-depth, and have back-up plans in case things go wrong. And also it helps with deciding on the distribution aspect. Given that it’s a short film, it can be hard to know about those things. Short films hardly make any money, so it’s not really a business venture. It’s a creative pursuit.
You’re currently working on pitching a new post-apocalyptic comedy show, Hotel for No-Hopers, to a streaming network. How are you finding the process?
Now we’re talking about the business side! We have written the full treatment of season one, and we’re on the 5th draft of the pilot. We’re very happy with where we are today, and we believe we've both mindfully and comically represented those current social aspects that we wanted to portray. I’ve also built a website, which will be going live as soon as we’re done with the post-production of the teaser trailer. It’s going to be three and a half minutes, then there’ll be another version that’s 35 seconds, and you might see that appear on social media. I’m going to release the shorter teaser as part of our marketing campaign hoping to get into conversation with streaming services for its production and distribution.
Do you find yourself more attracted to working in television or films, in the different ways you can tell stories?
I love both. I love going to the cinema, and right now I miss it. The thing with television is that you can find yourself becoming more attached to characters than you do with movie characters because you spend more time with them. Whatever you feel - love, respect, hate, fear. Watching Friends, How I Met Your Mother, Breaking Bad, The Walking Dead - they’re all great shows, and what made them great was also how we all related to and became attached to those characters.