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Madalina Mateciuc: Self-discovery through filmmaking26.02.2020

The 2nd edition of Papaya Rocks Film Festival will take place on February 27th in London. Just before the event, we interviewed the director of I Am God – one of the films that will have its UK premiere during the festival.

What does it mean for you to have your film screened at the Papaya Rocks Film Festival?

I have been dreaming of being part of the film industry from a very young age. Before starting to learn how to speak or read, my love for films was always there, a deep curiosity for the visual language, life, and people. My childhood was always surrounded by beauty, nature, but also pain and an old way of living, from which I always wanted to escape through films and music of all kinds, no matter the genre and style. This for me has been a long and tumultuous ride of ups and downs. For I Am God to be screened in a beautiful cinema, among talented filmmakers that share my hopes, dreams and passion is a dream come true.

Do you think nerves will set in closer to your screening?

I’m always very nervous to share my soul on screen with other people. It’s like being naked in front of Jesus.

Tell us a little bit about your work. How did this film come about?

I Am God was a project of self-discovery and self-healing as a filmmaker as the message of the short film is a reflection of my journey: discovery of true love. The film story is very personal to me and many people close to me, as some of my family members and friends and myself have been struggling with different forms of anxiety and depression during the years. I found a way to heal from all the darkness in my life and find my light through the help of meditation and energy healing.

What was the inspiration behind your screenplay?

I guess what inspired the screenplay was my feeling of being completely hopeless, to help the people that I care about to be happier, to be healthy, to be ok. Then I wondered how many people around the world feel the same every day. How many people feel every day as if they were watching a car crash happen in front of their eyes and they couldn’t do anything to stop it? Then I asked myself another difficult question: how can I help, how can I find peace and love for myself, even in my darkest moments? After visiting India and discovering spirituality in its pure form, I had to write about it, conquer my demons and share my knowledge with the world in a positive way. Inner peace is liquid gold!

What was the hardest scene for you to film?

The one in which Ana, the protagonist, suddenly starts crying, alone and lost in the forest. We were finishing our first day of shooting and the weather has been mostly sunny but all of a sudden it started pouring down. This turned out to be a good thing as it created even more of a surrealistic feel to the story, the natural storm reflected the internal storm of the character. It was the hardest scene for me, as I always find it hard to direct my lovely actors to cry for me, but it ended up being the most exciting scene to film on that day. And we only had less than one minute on the card left, but we managed to get two perfect takes. That’s what I call a success!

What were the biggest challenges you faced making this film?

As a self-funded project with a limited budget that was filmed under two days and in bad weather, I feel like we accomplished a lot from our initial vision and beyond. Working with a small crew, having to reduce costs at every step of the way and using only one small light, having no assistants and limited time have been some of the major challenges. Luckily, having a great team attached to the project, including our talented cinematographer, Tatenda Wayne Mazadza, a great production coordinator Asib Akram, lovely make-up artist Cara Harroway, awesome and very patient editor Jonathon Bulter and amazing sound designer Alex Gregson made things run more smoothly. The talented Emma Findlay, that is incredible and natural whenever she appears on the screen and in front of a crew, and the beautiful Scottish landscape have made a big difference in turning this project into both a success and a truly memorable and enjoyable ride.

As a filmmaker, how important is the collaborative process for you? 

 After finishing I Am God I realized that collaboration is film-making and without it nothing in the film is achievable. The stronger and passionate your collaborations are, the better the overall project. I feel like most successful filmmaking is finding the right partners in crime, the people that perceive the environment the same way you do, and luckily all my team members ticked this box. Collaboration is the most important process to me, it’s a journey that can completely alter your project, help you improve and grow from what you initially put on paper. I find it to be the most beautiful and satisfying aspect of filmmaking.

Do you have any advice or tips for a fellow filmmaker?

Learn by doing! Learn by living your life with happiness and sadness! Travel! Try to understand people and always do your own thing! Tell a story that matters! Watch fewer movies and go and make your own! Never compromise! An artist feels it all! Follow your heart!

What are you currently working on?

I have just finished the first draft of a small budget feature film titled Snow, a project about women empowerment and well-being in modern society, based on the I Am God short film. Snow is a story of a hippie painter hiking the West Highland Way, desperate to recover from the trauma of her past. Along the way, she gets rescued by a Goddess. My intention for this project is to create an atmosphere of inclusivity and to bring more of it to screen while directing a film that revolves around women and is about real wonderful women, one which is original, compelling and beneficial for the well-being of other women.

What do you hope people will take away from your film?

I know it’s a film about pain but the pain is what always leads us towards progress and light. I want people to take away whatever feels right to them and leave behind whatever they need to move forward from and enjoy life to the fullest. And to always follow their heart.  

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