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Vanessa McMahon


Vanessa is a novel writer, screenwriter, rep and a film producer. She shares her discoveries and film surprises. :-)

 


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Interview With Writer/Director Amman Abbasi for 'DAYVEON' (2017)

 

Interview With Amman Abbasi @ Off Camera

Writer/director Amman Abbasi's debut film 'Dayveon' (2017) is a coming of age story about 13 year-old Dayveon as he navigates his way through the oppressing Arkansas summer heat and the relentless bullying of a local gang after having just lost his older brother.

The film screened to international buyers at the 2017 Cannes Film Festival Market with Visit Films conducting international sales. FilmRise is handling North American distribution.

The film premiered at the 2017 Sundance Film Festival and recently screened at Off Camera Festival in Krakow, Poland where it won an audience award for best cinematography by Dustin Lane. Amman has won Best New Direction at the Cleveland International Film Festival and Visionary Award at RiverRun International Film Festival. 

 

I recently interviewed Amman about his experience making the film. Here is what he had to say:

What inspired you to tell this story and was it based on real events?

AMMAN: This story is inspired during my time working in Chicago on a documentary on a similar subject. Youth and violence in gangs. I took what I learned from Chicago and tried to tell the story in my hometown of Little Rock, AR where there is still gang presence.

 

Why the unique name Dayveon? Does the name symbolize something?

AMMAN: The name is the character of the film. I like the honesty of having the just the name of the character as the title. After all, this film is a portrait of a young boy - so it fits in that regard.

Your film deals with the issues of a child growing up in a world without a male role models. Do you feel this is a worldwide epidemic in today's world?

AMMAN: I don’t have an opinion on this if it is a worldwide epidemic or not. The film is not trying to suggest one thing verse another. Simply, an observation of what some kids may go through here in Arkansas if pushed up against similar conditions.

 

This is your first feature. How long did it take you to make from concept to finish?

AMMAN: It took me about 2 years. I started to write the script as I was in Chicago and then moved pretty quickly into production when I got back home to Little Rock.

 

Devin Blackmon was fantastic. How did you find him and the rest of your cast?

AMMAN: Devin Blackmon is great. Very talented young man with a depth of emotion and intelligence. Also very disciplined. Our casting directors, John Williams and Karmen Leech, deserve a lot of credit for putting together this cast of all non actors. This was an unconventional approach to casting by putting up flyers, ads, knocking on doors, etc. Devon came about after a pretty extensive search in Arkansas where we looked at about 400-500 kids.

You wrote, directed, produced and composed this. Congrats!! Do you think DYI (do it yourself) is the best way to get things made in the indie world?

AMMAN: I really enjoy the guts of filmmaking. All those things you mentioned. It is the process that is really enjoyable. I plan to continue this in my work to some degree. I am not so sure if it is the best way to get things made because I know other great filmmakers who have their own process and they get stuff made and its awesome. To each their own.

 

Who have some of your biggest influences in film been that have inspired you the most?

AMMAN: Dardennes Bros. Polanski. Scorsese. Many more on this list!

 

You had your premiere at Sundance. What was that like? You most recently screened at the Off Camera Film Festival in Poland. Can you tell us about that?

AMMAN: Sundance was intense. It was a beautiful feeling getting to premiere the film to the world with our cast and crew. OFF Camera is a one of kind film festival. The programmers and staff there really love MOVIES. You can tell. This seems pretty obvious for a film festival but you’d be surprised how often film festivals are geared to the business side of film. So it was really refreshing getting to have awesome conversations with the folks from the festival as well as all other great filmmakers they brought in. I have to say I fell in love with Krakow. So much to experience. Wow!

 

At Off Camera, your cinematographer Dustin Lane won an award. How did you and Dustin begin working together?

AMMAN: He certainly did and its well deserved. He has a very patient and observing eye and he puts a lot of time and effort into his craft. Dustin and I were friends before we started working together. We shared interest in the same films, paintings, music, images etc. So working together was the natural next step.

 

Now that your first film has done so well, What will you be working on next?

AMMAN: I’m currently working on some music and painting a little. I'm trying to wash out my brain before I start writing again (although I am writing a little right now).

 

Interview written and conducted by Vanessa McMahon; posted on May 30, 2017

 

 

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