An Interview with Thommy Morais, Director of IDOLUM
Tell us about how you fell in love with cinema and what made you want to make films. Where did you learn filmmaking, and what did you work on before moving to IDOLUM?
Since a very young age, I had the passion to make movies. In fact, even in school I would make videos instead of doing presentations in front of the class. I then learned working on various shows as a dolly grip but also experimenting my own projects with friends. I had the chance to make a documentary in Chile before Idolum which was a very big step in term of experience. You can watch it here https://vimeo.com/ondemand/popi
In the past year, the world has been affected by the Coronavirus pandemic and its aftermath. One of these things has been ‘life in quarantine’ and many films have tried to capture that kind of life. What can make films about quarantines outstanding? Is it their message, the themes they’re focusing on, or the filmmaking and editing techniques?
Yes, this pandemic has been a big challenge for a lot of people. Mental illness and loneliness was all a big part of it and thats where filming comes in. Filmmakers are able to play with those emotions and really connect with the audience that are possibly feeling the same at home and thats what makes it outstanding. The fact that the movie and the audience can be one.
How did you come up with the idea for the film? How much of the film comes from your own feelings and experiences?
Looking back at it, I do relate to the story a lot. When we filmed this, it was the beginning of the pandemic, the beginning of the unknown and I was living alone and lost someone very important to me, pretty much what Idolum is about. But when we wrote it, it was for a festival that would only allow 5 cast & crew. So we sat down together and wrote it in a day. We were just coming up with cool shots and wrote around it. The story was relevant to the time so it just made sense.
Tell us about the shooting process. What are the challenges you faced during the production? What advice can you give filmmakers who want to make similar films?
No time, no money, not enough people, minimum equipment…. Typical independent movie problems. But the real challenge was the pandemic. We had no clue what was allowed or not, if being together the 5 of us was legal or not. The unknown was the challenge. Forgetting the virus, my advice would be to not worry about those typical independent movie problems. Just go out there with your friends and shoot. For this particular kind of movie, your actor is the one carrying the story. So if he can sell it, people will believe it and the rest won’t matter. Just like ours did. Noah Franz and Rachel Jaune were amazing!
Feeling lonely during the Coronavirus pandemic seems to be the central theme of IDOLUM. Do you think films can help people cope with the pandemic and what it has brought them? What was your own intention with this film? In other words, what did you have in mind when making this film in terms of its underlying themes?
I do believe movies can do that. They can be very powerful in many ways. Idolum has more of a sad ending in term of loneliness but maybe people can use that as an inspiration not to get that far mentally… Maybe the feature length has a happy ending… Honestly, we wanted to show that things can go bad and show how important friends are. You cant get caught up on one person. One click or one call, help is easily accessible.
Can you tell us about your festival run? Do you think film festivals have helped your film get seen by a larger audience?
It definitely has, we are all surprise of how much this little project has gotten attention. What started as a small project not to go crazy during the pandemic turned into many festival selections, many awards [including Best Canadian Short] but also many interviews like this one. We all hope that enough people can see our work so we can keep going and show them more. I want to direct bigger and better projects and I want my good friend and Director of photography Matt Young to do the same.
What do you think about the market for independent films? Has it gotten better or worse in the post-Coronavirus world? What about the future of indie films?
I think it has gotten better. People are looking for content and independent filmmaking will give them that. The equipment and technology is much more available nowadays and it is possible to make a good movie with a lower budget if done right. I don’t think it's there yet thought, an independent movie is still treated as an independent movie instead of being seen as what could just be as good if not better than a “Hollywood” one. I do believe in a future were independent filmmakers will be able to make a real living out of their art instead of fighting for a position. Short films have the power to affect the audience in the shortest time possible.
Do you intend to keep making short films or are you planning to turn to feature films?
Definitely turn to feature films. I have a feature documentary as I mentioned earlier but a feature narrative movie is in the work. The usual issue as an independent filmmaker is, where can I get money to make it or if I have it, how can I make money out of it. The filming part of it is easy in a way but the business side of it is on a whole other level. Not gonna lie, I would love to see my name up there with the likes of David Fincher, Tarantino, Michael Bay…. Me
Please tell us about your future projects. What are you working on at the moment?
I am currently working on a few things but mainly just finishing a project for Batwoman actress Nicole Kang called Only Child. I am also hopping to get a second documentary of the same problem but in a different country if everything goes as planned. A feature narrative is also in the work too. But my most important mission right now is to find representation and/or a producer to believe in me and get me those projects. At the end of the day, I just want to make movies, I just want to direct, Its my passion and my life. I may have a favourite genre in thrillers and dramas but I would take anything at this point. As long as I can put my Thommy twist on it. So feel free to contact me at email@example.com