The Last Message: An Interview with Director Shervin Kermani
16th March 2019 by Will Stewart
Shervin Kermani’s touching, sad, and emotional tale is todays film. A real answerphone message left by the film makers ex frames this sentimental ode the couples relationship. Beautiful and colourfully shot footage is used to communicate Shervin’s current state of mind, and is mixed with mobile phone footage from the lovers happier past. The result is an absorbing and somewhat disorientating piece that does a good job of portraying the emotional rollercoaster of a real life break up.
Shervin was kind enough to send us his film, so I decided to ask him a few questions. Some of the best films on MadeGood.tv are sent in by our viewers. If you’d like to submit a film then please just fill out the form.
MadeGood – Let us know a bit about who you are; what your background is, how you got into film making, that sort of thing.
Shervin – I’m an independent filmmaker based in Toronto. I got into filmmaking by way of acting when I was fourteen years old. At the time, I spent a couple months during pilot season in Los Angeles, and after getting on set and seeing the director composing shots with the cinematographer for the first time, it occurred to me that they were the invisible storytellers and I wanted to do what they did. I eventually studied filmmaking at Ryerson University in Toronto, and received my Bachelor of Fine Arts there.
MadeGood – I see you worked with a cinematographer on this project, and in fact you appear in many of the shots. What was your vision setting out to make this film- did you have a specific idea that you instructed to the cinematographer, or was it more a more collaborative approach?
Shervin – When I heard the message for the first time, I felt this inexplicable urge to retrieve all the videos I had of our relationship and started piecing them together as a means of processing what I was experiencing. It was very emotional in those early days, but a few trusted friends who saw what I had edited, encouraged me to keep going. As it became clear that this could be more than something for myself, I showed what I had to my ex, and she gave me her blessing to make this film.
Working with cinematographer Jordan Kennington was a very collaborative process. I knew that I wanted to shoot footage of mementos from the relationship, and to suggest my experience in the aftermath of the breakup, which was a lot of time spent in solitude and contemplation. It was Jordan who suggested we find a unifying central metaphor for the film, and I eventually settled on water to serve this purpose, as it could represent so much of the turbulence and serenity of the grieving process. We also experimented with glass and other objects in front of the lens, in order to create distortions which sometimes appear as though the images were seen through water (or as some have pointed out, through tears). Not only did we like these distortions, but they seemed appropriate for a film dealing with the ambiguous emotions of a breakup.
MadeGood – It must have been a cathartic process for you to make this film, how does it make you feel to watch it back now. The film is genuinely touching and very personal, how do you feel about that being online? Or perhaps more importantly, how does your ex feel about it!?
Shervin – It was a cathartic process and (especially early on) very difficult to work on. I was naturally a little nervous to put the film out there, but in the end I resolved to trust the impulse that had me make the film in the first place. When I watch it now, I no longer feel the raw immediacy of the emotions I had during the breakup, and I can appreciate the piece not only as a chronicle of heartbreak but also as a celebration of what had been shared.
My ex-girlfriend and I split amicably, and we still maintain a friendship. Though she had given me her blessing from the outset, I made sure to show her the final product before it was released online. It was important to me that she feel good about the piece, and once she saw its final form she told me she was proud of the film. Fully supporting me to make and release a piece that showcases a message she left at her most vulnerable is a testament to her generosity. The film obviously only exists because of her.
MadeGood – This is quite a niche concept for a film, what’s a more typical example of your work? What drives you to make films, and what would you ideally be working on if you had the opportunity?
Shervin – I try to make films that I myself want to see, films that excite my own curiosity and interest. The films I’m currently developing are fictional, though I am also interested in making experimental documentaries and character portraits. Themes of memory and time feature prominently in my work so far, simply because they are of deep interest to me personally at the moment. I don’t know if I’d be working on anything different than what I’m currently developing, though I do have some ambitious feature film ideas I would eventually like to tackle.
MadeGood – What are you working on next?
Shervin – I’m currently editing a short experimental film about romantic missed connections, and gearing up to shoot another short about the dissolution of a relationship. Love is a topic that’s clearly on my mind these days. After those two films, I plan on making my first feature film.
MadeGood – Nice one Shervin. Can’t wait to see the next one!