As part of our interview series, Renouveau Media was able to chat with London-based artist & filmmaker Sayna Fardaraghi. Sayna attracted a lot of attention on her short films, most prominently L’observateur, which was inspired by her daily commutes to university. We talked about her artistic path, her inspirations and her upcoming projects.

Iuliana: Hey Sayna! How are you? To get started, would you mind telling us a little bit about your background and what drew you to filmmaking? What was the moment you realized you wanted to pursue this particular path?
Hey! Of course, I suppose the main thing that drew me to filmmaking was watching the film ‘The secret life of Walter Mitty’, prior to that I had absolutely no interest in film whatsoever. I feel that it somehow sparked something in me and gained my interest in the medium, so a couple of years later I started playing with video edits and ways to incorporate video into my art projects. It was until La La Land came to cinemas where I made the full deep dive into the main path of film, not just some experimenting. It was love at first screening I suppose!

Iuliana: Do you have a specialty or favorite subject area for your films?
I think my favourite subject area to explore is the little things, those little details in everyday life that go unnoticed and untouched. We tend to focus so much on our hectic lives that we often forget about those little charms that connect us all together.

Iuliana: What film reality would you like to experience as a temporary guest?
Probably fantastic mr fox, I just wanna taste those apples.

Iuliana: Who are your visual storyteller inspirations? What motivates you to tell your stories?
Nadia Lee Cohen, Amber Grace Johnson & Tyler Mitchell. They all have such a beautiful way of using the medium to create something fresh and exciting to watch, no matter what the subject area is. I suppose them and the world of fashion film are what motivates me most, it’s such a beautiful field where anything is possible.

Iuliana: Your film, L’Observateur, is genuinely one of my favorite short films out there. How did you come up with the idea for this film? Can you tell me the biggest challenges to making this project?
Thank you so much! It was inspired by my daily commutes to university, I’d spend around 40 minutes total on the train traveling to and back every day — eventually, with this pattern I got to know complete strangers just by seeing them in a routine manner. It made me realize how much of an avid people watcher I was and how much I focused on the little details… like the 8:45am guy with his different coloured beanies (which he’d change daily), coffee cup, and exchange of smiles with me as he gets off a stop before mine. I came to a realization that I had to make a film about this and the charms of the people around us – it’s too sweet to not notice!
My biggest challenge was access to kit/resources, I had absolutely nothing to work with so I had to be as resourceful as possible. Of course, quality-wise it was a pain but it taught me a big lesson to think outside the box, and that at the end of the day it’s the story/message that matters most – not having some high-end camera and a crew of film professionals to tie it all together.

Iuliana: What was your goal in creating the film and do you feel that goal was achieved?
The main goal was to make people take notice of the little things in their daily lives, I certainly don’t live in their heads to be 100% accurate buuuuuuuut I have a feeling the film did achieve that. Another goal that I hadn’t realized at the time was to motivate others around me to make little films of their own too, and it actually did! I found so many people similarly to me making little shorts of their own using whatever materials they had in hand, which was a joy to see.

Iuliana: What themes do you generally want to tackle?
Things that are really personal, yet universally explored. I think we often feel like we barely have anything in common and that we live in a world of strangers, but in reality that’s not true at all. We all share more than we think we do, and I want to highlight that and make people feel more united in a memory/feeling.

Iuliana: I know you’re working on a love letters project right now. Can you tell us more about that?
Sure! It’s inspired by me and someone I was talking to for quite some time – during the first lockdown I had this massive urge to send them a letter and get straight to the point with how I felt, but eventually felt stupid and scrapped the whole idea. That didn’t keep the concept out of my mind though, a week later still thinking about it I asked people if they had been in a similar situation and much to my surprise I received around 50 unsent love letters in the span of 2 hours! So, I grabbed my pen and notebook and got to work. Surprisingly enough I’m still talking to that person sporadically and they’re very excited about the project…I wonder how long its gonna take for them to realize or for me to come clean.

Iuliana: Any parting words of advice that you would care to impart to individuals considering a career in filmmaking?
Don’t ever let the lack of materials stop you, if you have an idea you’re really passionate about there is nothing to lose from simply making it!

Follow Sayna on Instagram here.

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